As the Democratic convention opens, President Barack Obama still seems to believe that his problem is merely a failure to communicate. He should read the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar, who describes the "tremendous conceptual error" of his country's leaders: "The assumption that, in an urban society swamped by migration, a ruler can know everything that is going on in the country and that a new social order can be built on this presumed knowledge."
As de Soto notes, "In such a society, with millions of people whose specialization makes them interdependent, with complex systems of communication between producers and buyers, creditors and debtors, employers and employees, with a constantly evolving technology, with competition and a daily flow of information from other countries, it is physically impossible to be familiar with and directly run even a small fraction of national activities."
That's Peru. The United States is much bigger, of course. Anyone without a high AQ (arrogance quotient) knows that our economy will improve only when we tap American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and DQ (determination quotient). Command and control from Washington don't cut it.
Here's one other relevant de Soto quotation: "It is not rulers who produce wealth: They sit behind desks, give speeches, draft resolutions and supreme decrees, process documents, inspect, monitor and levy, but they never produce. It is the population that produces."
Neither Peruvians nor Americans are ready "to accept a society in which opportunities, property, and power are distributed arbitrarily."