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The things you can learn!! Switzerland at the beginning of

by Ziks511 / December 29, 2009 12:00 PM PST

the 19th Century was the poorest country in Europe. At the end of the 19th Century it was one of the richest. Everybody heard about Eugen Gruber? Not likely, just like the Swiss. He sat down by himself and out of the legal and extra-legal laws and customs that 4 different language groups had worked with in previous centuries. His legal code ran to 1000 pages and completely revolutionized the economy and the social system in Switzerland when it was adopted. Mostly it was about property, citizenship (i.e. recognizing it and formalizing it), and access to capital.

Great program on PBS called The Power of the Poor, primarily about and presented by Hernando de Soto, the Peruvian legal scholar and community activist who defeated the Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path guerillas) and whose ideas are contained in the book The Other Path. It's a fascinating look at the differences between broadly democratic societies like those in Europe and North America, and the post Soviet East and the Third World. He created the Institute for Liberty and Democracy which has helped press for legal reforms and expansion of democracy in order to create a more inclusive society instead of leaving the legal impediments to the admission of the poor to the broader society in place.

Great program and certainly not left wing since most of the legal reforms were instituted under Alberto Fujimori.

Rob

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