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Disowning the Ownership Society Naomi Klein / The Nation Remember the "ownership society, order discount pilocarpine" fixture of major George W. Order discount pilocarpine Bush addresses for the first four years of his presidency? "We're creating...an ownership society in this country, order discount pilocarpine where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, order discount pilocarpine welcome to my house, order discount pilocarpine welcome to my piece of property, order discount pilocarpine" Bush said in October 2004. Order discount pilocarpine Washington think-tanker Grover Norquist predicted that the ownership society would be Bush's greatest legacy, order discount pilocarpine remembered "long after people can no longer pronounce or spell Fallujah." Yet in Bush's final State of the Union address, order discount pilocarpine the once-ubiquitous phrase was conspicuously absent. Order discount pilocarpine And little wonder: rather than its proud father, order discount pilocarpine Bush has turned out to be the ownership society's undertaker. Well before the ownership society had a neat label, order discount pilocarpine its creation was central to the success of the right-wing economic revolution around the world. Order discount pilocarpine The idea was simple: if working-class people owned a small piece of the market--a home mortgage, order discount pilocarpine a stock portfolio, order discount pilocarpine a private pension--they would cease to identify as workers and start to see themselves as owners, order discount pilocarpine with the same interests as their bosses. Order discount pilocarpine That meant they could vote for politicians promising to improve stock performance rather than job conditions. Order discount pilocarpine 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 pilocarpine But the ownership society was quite real. Order discount pilocarpine It was the answer to a roadblock long faced by politicians favoring policies to benefit the wealthy. Order discount pilocarpine The problem boiled down to this: people tend to vote their economic interests. Order discount pilocarpine Even in the wealthy United States, order discount pilocarpine most people earn less than the average income. Order discount pilocarpine That means it is in the interest of the majority to vote for politicians promising to redistribute wealth from the top down. Order discount pilocarpine So what to do? It was Margaret Thatcher who pioneered a solution. Order discount pilocarpine The effort centered on Britain's public housing, order discount pilocarpine or council estates, order discount pilocarpine which were filled with die-hard Labour Party supporters. Order discount pilocarpine In a bold move, order discount pilocarpine 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 pilocarpine Those who could afford it became homeowners while those who couldn't faced rents almost twice as high as before, order discount pilocarpine 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 pilocarpine 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 pilocarpinehttp://www.thenation.com/doc/20080218/klein