In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Homestead Act, which gave people 160 acres of free land simply for agreeing to live and farm on it. It was, from the perspective of the settlers, a great gift. It allowed them to do something that they hadn’t been able to do prior to the grant: to become small farmers, to work for themselves. It gave them agency.
The economist Hernando de Soto has used the Homestead Act as an example of how much economic development is possible with the right legal mechanisms to property, and I imagine this is true. But for me, this example points in a different direction. I think about how much agency is possible with the right gift.