The Power of the Poor
The Production Globalization at the Crossroads

How can you have a globalized world when 80% of its people are left out?

Today, people are living longer, healthier, and better lives than ever before. Globalization has produced more prosperity in the past 60 years than in the previous two thousand.

But unless we include the 80 percent of humanity that are excluded from the benefits of the system, they will bring globalization down, as they have in the past.

Already the world is in the middle of the greatest migration in human history. We could be in for a very violent and dangerous time. Or we could be in for unprecedented improvement in standards of living around the world.

This handsome program is ably hosted by renowned Peruvian economist and author, Hernando de Soto. It was shot in high definition on location in Peru, with the Maasai of Tanzania; in Shanghai, China and at what may be the world's largest industrial park, Suzhou China and Albania.

De Soto thinks the developing world is going through the same kind of legal and social revolution that the West has undergone. He takes us around the world to deepest Africa, suburban Chicago; a feudal village in Switzerland, an old mining town in the Rockies, Japan, the Lower East Side of New York and more.

We travel to the UN, where de Soto co-chaired, with Madeleine Albright, the UN Commission for the Legal Empowerment of the Poor.

The West successfully revolutionized legal systems, property laws, and developed the modern corporation. Other nations that have instituted private property and business reforms -- such as post-WWII Japan and present day China, have seen their economies take off and middle classes grow.

But the majority of people on the planet still live wretched existences in which, no matter how hard they work, they can never get ahead.

Globalization is at a crossroads because those people who want to join the system don’t feel anyone is reaching out to them. It's not enough that they are hardworking and entrepreneurial. It is also that they are missing the basic institutions we take for granted in the West.

De Soto has shown that the world's poor actually control a vast storehouse of assets and resources. Unleash that latent power, combine it with their proven entrepreneurial spirit, and the poor have the potential to enter the prosperous mainstream.

The Power of the Poor

The Power of the Poor is a story animated by ideas. How could a small group of economists and researchers help defeat home-grown terrorists in Peru? How could they pressure the government to make legal reforms that would lift millions out of poverty? And how could they avoid being the target of bombings and assassination attempts? It takes both courage and ideas that work.

The Power of the Poor is a compelling look at the surprising and vital role of inclusive laws and titled property in establishing peace and prosperity. It is also the story of real people with real struggles—all of whom share a commitment to entrepreneurship.

Filmed on location in HD and hosted by renowned Peruvian economist and author Hernando de Soto, this insightful program tells how corruption, bureaucracy and a lack of simple legal rules have locked two-thirds of the world’s population out of the global economy. Forced to operate outside the rule of law, they have created their own parallel, but limited, commercial systems. “It’s time to let them in,” says de Soto.

De Soto and his team have proven that, even hobbled by great obstacles, the world’s hard-working poor entrepreneurs have created far more wealth than anyone had ever imagined possible—even with the absence of the legal frameworks people in the rich north take for granted. Prosperity is possible, if only we simplify the rules of the game. That means giving the poor titled property and the legal business tools we in the West enjoy. Such will enable them to harness the power of their considerable assets, as these stories illustrate.

Peruvian history proves de Soto right. Facing the growing violence of the Sendero Luminoso, the “Shining Path,” de Soto and his team were able to pass numerous legal reforms that helped lead to the defeat of the Shining Path and set the stage for Peru’s economic resurgence.

To unlock The Power of the Poor is to change the world. If we fail, the world’s ‘humble people’ will turn against capitalism as they have turned against other failed economic systems. Such could make for a very difficult and violent age. But with policies of legal inclusion, there is hope.