Dover Bitch

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ownership Society?

Now that the entire blog-o-sphere is buzzing about the Chris Matthews-Erin Burnett encounter that was blogged here first (DB notes in an unseemly, self-congratulatory way since nobody else noted it), I've gotten over the bulk on my sympathy for Burnett and the shock of her insane comments about the bargain China is giving us on poisonous food.

What I've been thinking about mostly since then is this comment:

BURNETT: You know, Chris, just to throw it out there and be provocative, but also ask a fair question, you know, maybe not everybody is able to own a home. We like to think of owning a home as a right in this country.


BURNETT: It might not be.

This is, apparently, the new meme. That people are entirely responsible for kidding themselves into thinking they could own a home when, clearly, they're deadbeats.

I want to make it clear up front that people who took out loans they could not afford absolutely own some responsibility for the hole they dug for themselves. But this did not happen in a vacuum. What about the responsibility of the lenders, who certainly should have understood the repercussions more than anybody? What about Alan Greenspan?

But really, as Bush's brain steps down today, can there really be a greater repudiation of his vision for an "Ownership Society," the foundation of Bush's domestic agenda, his plan to follow the New Deal, Great Society, etc... His mark on history, than this?

Here's how Rove characterized it:

We will build an ownership society by expanding the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance, and preparing Americans for the challenges of life in a free society. We are putting government on the side of reform and progress, modernization and greater freedom, more personal choice and greater prosperity. The great goal of modern-day conservatism is to make our society more prosperous and more just.

The think-tankers loved it. But if Americans can't partake in the Ownership Society, what good is it? If Americans prove not to be infallible, what does that say about the Bush efforts to take away the safety net? If creditors cannot be trusted to give loans responsibly, why give them protection with legislation like the bankruptcy bill?

The answers have always been the same. But if conservatives are going to start placing the blame entirely on the shoulders of the people losing their homes, they're going to have to take a long, hard look at their own dogmatic efforts to reshape America.

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