Episode 39: Property Rights in the Philippines

Episode #039
(23:08 min 21.1MB)
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Drawing from John Nye’s talk on elites and reform, Noel Maurer, associate professor of Harvard Business School, talks about a time in our history when dominant interests found it beneficial to allow reforms in the country.

In the early 20th century, conservative elites wanted to keep the Philippines after defeating Spain but ran into strong popular opposition. Maurer explains how the elites changed the public’s opinion by convincing them that American rule would be beneficial to Filipinos. He talks about the different reforms that William Taft and other American policy makers passed in relation to property rights. It was believed that this would radically improve the material conditions of Filipinos. Unfortunately this largely failed.

Maurer discusses the reasons for this failure and concludes that there is no magic bullet. It is not as simple as fixing one thing. There were other problems that might have been wrong with the Philippine economy that might have needed to be addressed concurrently. Thus simply giving formal property rights did not resolve the bigger issues

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann.

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