One of the first things God did for Abraham and the children of Israel was to give them land. Abraham’s ancestors were pagans and wondering nomads. Today we would call them homeless. Why did God give them land? It is because he wanted to teach them to prosper. He wanted to teach them to nurture and use capital.
As I have traveled to many developing nations, one thing is clear. The rich and middle class own land and the poor do not. In a lot of countries there is no middle class. Land and home ownership is the one thing that will permanently lift the poor out of poverty and in to the middle class. However, in many of these nations there is no legal basis to get a title to show that you own a property. In many cases, there can be five or six people claiming to own a piece of land.
Enter the Biblical worldview. Generally speaking, people fail to appreciate the relationship between private property rights and economic development. Karl Marx saw private property as the source of wealth and called for its elimination to promote equality, though it meant equally poor. A country without a formal system for registering property rights limits its own economic development. It also prevents its citizens from realizing their full potential. If it can’t be legally proved that an individual owns the land, they will never defend it or borrow against it to start a business. Simply stated…the road to economic development runs through the local land registration office or courthouse.
The great economic divide in the world today is between the 2.5 billion people who can register property rights and the five billion who are impoverished, mostly because they can’t. Outside the developed world and some advanced regions of developing countries, there are no accessible records detailing who owns land.
Instead of destroying private property to promote a Marxist equality in poverty, perhaps we can bring property rights, and prosperity, to all mankind. Where property rights are ensured, so are the prosperity, freedom and ownership of wealth that brings real stability and peace. So for all the money that goes to help the poor around the world, perhaps some money should go to a more practical solution like helping develop a legally bound system that can identify and maintain records of property ownership. Then pastors and church leaders can teach the poor how to own land.
How Blockchain Can End Poverty: Two-thirds of the world’s population lacks access to a formal system of property rights. Wall Street Journal by Phil Gramm and Hernando de Soto, 1-26-18.