Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
A pair of graduate students from the U of M came to the office to learn about Minnesota’s system of land title records. Seems they’re hoping to institute a new system in Kenya where land records are not reliable, making investment risky which discourages entrepreneurship and that leaves people in poverty, dependent on government hand-outs. The students propose a computerized system (which will reveal changes and who made them) based on GPS coordinates (that can be re-established in the field by any hand-held GPS receiver).
The students are cargo cultists. They propose a technological solution to a cultural problem. I’m skeptical.
Kenya left the British Empire in 1963 and for the last half-century: “the use of land as an object of patronage to engender support and consolidate power has been exacerbated by corruption, forced eviction, government backtracking, and lack of redress for those who have lost land through violence.”
Suppose the computer gives me absolute iron-clad proof that the land records clerk altered the records to give my land to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s friend. Suppose when I show up in court, the President’s friend arrives with a thick envelope of “last-minute evidence” for the judge, then glances meaningfully at his Reece Squad escorts and says “So, judge, how are the wife and kids? Be a shame if anything happened to them.” What are my chances of getting my land back?
Technology can’t solve that problem. It takes a culture of incorruptibility, of self-less devotion to the Rule of Law, and that culture takes hundreds of years to grow. Kenya threw that away when it kicked out the British. Americans are letting our own Kenyan throw it away today.
Barack Obama’s worst facet? He’s bringing the worst facets of Third World/Chicago governance to a national stage.
I’m going to say that before the IRS shuts me down.