John Stossel writes today about the importance of the rule of law and property rights to prosperity:

Of the 6 billion people on Earth, 2 billion try to survive on a few dollars a day. They don’t build businesses, or if they do, they don’t expand them. Unlike people in the United States, Europe and Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc., they don’t lift themselves out of poverty. Why not? What’s the difference between them and us? Hernando de Soto taught me that the biggest difference may be property rights.

This why it’s simply insane for anyone to think that government can create prosperity. Unfortunately, through our sub-par education bureaucracy that actually buys into that notion, too many Americans are forgetting, or haven’t learned, what DeSoto and people in many poor countries now understand:

De Soto says we’ve forgotten what made us prosperous. “But (leaders in the developing world) see that they’re pot-poor relative to your wealth.” They are beginning to grasp the importance of private property.

Let’s hope we haven’t forgotten what they are beginning to learn.