I am rereading Hernando DeSoto’s Mystery of Capital to prepare for a few lectures on property rights I do in my Environmental class. Here is one of my favorite thoughts:
The lack of legal property thus explains why citizens in developing and former communist nations cannot make profitable contracts with strangers, cannot get credit, insurance, or utilities services: They have no property to lose. Because they have no property to lose, they are taken seriously as contracting parties only by their immediate family and neighbors. People with nothing to lose are trapped in the grubby basement of the precapitalist world.
I love that last sentence, particularly since so many view the precapitalist world as the penthouse.