Kris Mauren, executive director of the Acton Institute, kicks off the second season of the Free Market Series, a television program for American and Canadian audiences produced by The World Show in partnership with the Montreal Economic Institute and broadcast on PBS affiliates. In Episode 1, Mauren takes apart the “fatally flawed poverty industry” and talks about Acton’s Poverty Inc. documentary. Interview notes:
Many people imagine that free markets are synonymous with self-interest and greed, but for Kris Mauren, freedom is a necessary condition of a good society. As he describes in this illuminating interview, when he co-founded the Acton Institute, the errors of rejecting markets were becoming undeniable. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and of real communism, he says, “we could see the results of generations of socialist experimentation, and the results were not good. And people of good will have to be concerned with results, not just philosophy.”
The Acton Institute’s Poverty Inc. is a full-length documentary about the fatally flawed poverty industry. Despite largely good intentions, billions and billions of dollars of aid have not helped the poor. What the rest of the world needs to climb out of poverty are things we take for granted in the industrialized world: the rule of law, private property, and opportunities for entrepreneurship. As Mauren points out, “Nobody wants to stay poor and depend on other people. People have talents and abilities and they want to do for themselves. Many people are just excluded from the natural order of things and from the economy.”
Many within the poverty industry itself have praised the film, as has famous documentarian Michael Moore. Indeed, by criticizing crony capitalism and people who try to get ahead by shutting others out, this documentary is an opportunity for people from across the political spectrum to come together and agree on some fundamental issues of justice regarding the poor.