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Disowning the Ownership Society Naomi Klein / The Nation Remember the "ownership society, order discount nicotinell" fixture of major George W. Order discount nicotinell Bush addresses for the first four years of his presidency? "We're creating...an ownership society in this country, order discount nicotinell where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, order discount nicotinell welcome to my house, order discount nicotinell welcome to my piece of property, order discount nicotinell" Bush said in October 2004. Order discount nicotinell Washington think-tanker Grover Norquist predicted that the ownership society would be Bush's greatest legacy, order discount nicotinell remembered "long after people can no longer pronounce or spell Fallujah." Yet in Bush's final State of the Union address, order discount nicotinell the once-ubiquitous phrase was conspicuously absent. Order discount nicotinell And little wonder: rather than its proud father, order discount nicotinell Bush has turned out to be the ownership society's undertaker. Well before the ownership society had a neat label, order discount nicotinell its creation was central to the success of the right-wing economic revolution around the world. Order discount nicotinell The idea was simple: if working-class people owned a small piece of the market--a home mortgage, order discount nicotinell a stock portfolio, order discount nicotinell a private pension--they would cease to identify as workers and start to see themselves as owners, order discount nicotinell with the same interests as their bosses. Order discount nicotinell That meant they could vote for politicians promising to improve stock performance rather than job conditions. Order discount nicotinell Class consciousness would be a relic. It was always tempting to dismiss the ownership society as an empty slogan--"hokum" as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich put it. Order discount nicotinell But the ownership society was quite real. Order discount nicotinell It was the answer to a roadblock long faced by politicians favoring policies to benefit the wealthy. Order discount nicotinell The problem boiled down to this: people tend to vote their economic interests. Order discount nicotinell Even in the wealthy United States, order discount nicotinell most people earn less than the average income. Order discount nicotinell That means it is in the interest of the majority to vote for politicians promising to redistribute wealth from the top down. Order discount nicotinell So what to do? It was Margaret Thatcher who pioneered a solution. Order discount nicotinell The effort centered on Britain's public housing, order discount nicotinell or council estates, order discount nicotinell which were filled with die-hard Labour Party supporters. Order discount nicotinell In a bold move, order discount nicotinell Thatcher offered strong incentives to residents to buy their council estate flats at reduced rates (much as Bush did decades later by promoting subprime mortgages). Order discount nicotinell Those who could afford it became homeowners while those who couldn't faced rents almost twice as high as before, order discount nicotinell leading to an explosion of homelessness.
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (September 2007); an earlier international best-seller, order discount nicotinell No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and the collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (2002). Order discount nicotinellhttp://www.thenation.com/doc/20080218/klein