Drawing from John Nye’s talk on elites and reform, Noel
Maurer, associate professor of Harvard Business School, talks
about a time in our history when dominant interests found it beneficial
to allow reforms in the country.
In the early 20th century, American conservative elites wanted
to keep the Philippines after defeating Spain but ran into strong
popular opposition from the Democrats. Maurer explains how the
elites changed the public’s opinion by convincing them that
American rule would be beneficial to Filipinos. He talks about
the different reforms that William Taft and other American policy
makers passed in relation to property rights. It was believed
that this would radically improve the material conditions of Filipinos.
Unfortunately this largely failed.
Maurer discusses the reasons for this failure and concludes that
there is no magic bullet. It is not as simple as fixing one thing.
There were other problems that might have been wrong with the
Philippine economy that might have needed to be addressed concurrently.
Thus simply giving formal property rights did not resolve the