Listening to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton repeat stories they claim to have been told by the poor and the unemployed, who are unable to pay for food and medicine and feel miserable about it, is enough to make one think we are living in a Third World dictatorship and not the United States of America. But victimhood and a "can't do" spirit is what the Democratic Party has mostly been about since the Great Depression.
A more positive narrative comes from a new book, "Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit," edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa and published by the Independent Institute. The book is an optimistic triumph and a lesson about the unlimited capacity of the human spirit, properly inspired and unencumbered.
In the introduction, Llosa writes, "Entrepreneurial ability and energy are present almost everywhere. But in those countries that still languish in backwardness, the labyrinth intervention of the state and the absence of adequate institutions have kept that ability and energy from translating into full development." He writes of nations that used to be poor but are no longer, detailing how their people climbed out of poverty. He blames political, legal (and I would add in some cases, religious) systems for stifling prosperity.
Llosa is about creating wealth and his inspirational stories about real people and how they did it ought to be read in every school and in every home that has accepted inevitable failure.
In 1988, the Ananos family of Ayacucho, Peru - the cradle of the Maoist terrorist organization known as Shining Path - founded the Kola Real Company. Coca Cola and Pepsi had pulled out due to the unstable political situation. In just 20 years the Ananos family has transformed a mom and pop operation into the biggest transnational manufacturer of nonalcoholic beverages in Latin America. They now have subsidiaries in Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, four Central American countries and Thailand. By 2005, they had more than 8 million customers and employed 8,000 workers. Their sales totaled US$1 billion.
The Ananos family overcame years of socialist and populist experiments that hurt Peru's economy. They demonstrate what can be done when obstacles are overcome by the power of optimism.