When I hear the phrase "Ownership Society" I know the person saying it has
absolutely no clue what it means to live a life like mine -- a life balanced on the thin edge of a single paycheck.
When I hear the phrase "Ownership Society" I refer the speaker to this
commentary from a few months back by former labor secretary Robert
Reich, who says it far better than I could ever hope to say:
The Republican rhetoric assumes most Americans can save and invest. The reality is, most Americans are deep in debt. Before they can join the "Ownership Society" they've got to pay their credit card bills, their rising variable-rate mortgages and their auto loans. After that, there's no money left because jobs are in short supply and wages are stuck in the mud...
It's true that more than half of American households now own stocks in corporations. But for most, it's just a few thousand dollars worth. And the total value of their current portfolio is less than they invested. They got lured into the stock market during the late '90s when stock prices were pumped up with accounting steroids.
The fact is, an Ownership Society based on the stock market would be a casino. The Bush administration would like you to put your Social Security payments into the stock market, but beware. If your timing is bad, you could find yourself retiring in a bear market. It's happened before. That's one of the reasons Social Security's social insurancewas invented.
And when I hear the phrase "Ownership Society," all I can do is shudder, because I know what happens to people like me ina society like that.