Humanity's natural state is abject poverty. The truly interesting question is how did some portion of humanity escape this natural state? In a word: institutions. That's the conclusion reached in the brilliant new book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, by MIT economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey notes that Acemoglu and Robinson have persuasively identified the cure, but also admit that no one knows how to get the ailing patients to take the medicine.