Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How the squatters won

It's a story bound to warm Hernando de Soto's heart: The Jamaica Gleaner reports on a Jamaican squatter community that resisted government-led eviction efforts and whose residents now have the title deeds to their lots.

But before you can say "the blessings of private property be upon you," note this: most residents are improving their homes with loans from the government's National Housing Trust, not with mortgages from private banks. This is not liberating dead capital, a la de Soto; it's a subsidy program. The same money could have been given to the same people when they were squatters--and their homes would have been improved sooner.

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