A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

The picture on the left demonstrates the importance of private property rights more than words ever could.

Taken in Zimbabwe, and put up by the Center for Global Development, this is an ariel view where the “dry communal lands on the left are sharply delineated from the green private farms dotted with lakes and ponds on the right–so sharply that soil quality and rainfall are unlikely to explain the difference.”

The center then provides a second image, taken after President Mugabe’s attack on private property, and the seizing of farms by the State. The result is sadly predictable. The dams and irrigation systems on the private farms collapsed, making them look more like communal lands, to the detriment of all.

Similar examples abound all over the world. Perhaps the most famous of these is North Korea at night:

South Korea has at its core a system of government that protects private property rights, scoring a respectable 24th rank in the International Property Rights Index. In North Korea, property rights are non existent.

The result? Growth & prosperity in the south, and an economy stuck in the middle ages in the North.

Not only is private property the most important guarantee of freedom, it is also the only guarantee of prosperity, and the only way for developing countries to improve their economic status.

As world-renowned economist Hernando de Soto once stated:

“What we see in the West, which is the reason why it works, is that capitalism is essentially all about property rights, rights that can be transacted in a market to further the distribution of work, the division of labor. And what occurs in at least 80% to 85% of a population of the third world and former communist nations is that that part of the population has assets. They do have assets, as a matter of fact, trillions of dollars, but they’re not paper rights in a property rights system, so their value cannot travel and actually insert itself into a diversified market.”

I leave you with one final graphic:


The picture on the left proves it once and for all.

The Property Rights Alliance, an affiliate of Americans for Tax Reform, annually releases the International Property Rights Index (IPRI), an annual report sponsored by 54 organizations that tracks property rights around the world. It has found that that countries that protect their physical and intellectual property enjoy a GDP per capita up to nine times greater than those without legal protection.

Private property rights really are the only way forward.

(H/T Fr33 Agents)

(Cross Posted at Americans for Tax Reform)

3 thoughts on “A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

  1. Good article.

    It is hard for the final chart to prove anything given that the IPRI is a quite contestable measurement. However I think it is still very informative.

  2. I read a book by Tom Bethell years ago, where he discusses a similar case- an oasis of greenery in the Sahara. Private property meant rhe area wasn’t a ‘common’, so goats were kept off it- hence it stayed green, even though other oases were over-eaten. It’s sad to know that the lesson still needs to be relearned, year after year!

  3. If anything I think the IPRI understates it, as they don’t include countries like North Korea where property rights are effectivly non-existent, meaning the trend line if all countries were included would be even more steep!

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