The Fantasy of an Ownership Society…



Back in the day it was 20 percent down to buy a house, and everyone (even yours truly) had to work for years to save this money however that all changed when we entered a new era and sorry to say it wasn’t the Age of Aquarius.  It was the age of the “Ownership Society” where every family like it or not was going to own a piece of the American Dream.  Yes, you read that correctly like it or not they were headed to home-ownership or should I say home-hardship.

First what got me thinking of this was a story in the USA Today titled Empty Houses: The Ownership Society is Over, it also struck me how much this is like the current healthcare debacle (material for yet another post).  As the common denominator here is someone else tried to imply their opinions of “right” on the populous as a whole. Here it started with the Clinton’s that everyone should be a homeowner and that would make for a better world or at least country.

However first off, home ownership is not for everyone, in my mind it is only second to rearing a child as there is a large amount of responsibility one takes on.  As there is constant up keep of the property, continued investments, extended financial commitments for things like property taxes as well as community obligations.  In short it is a lot of work and in the American model we also built it (wrongly) as a means to retirement where a couple would sell the family home and use the profits to retire and the government even supported  this with tax breaks at age 55!  However in the end it assumed a false economy in the ever rising home value would always rise.  This in turn led to the false belief a couple didn’t have to save as much cash as the difference could come from their home, so spend instead!  Bad move as if everyone thinks this way it doesn’t work and the American people found out the hard way.

However back to the socialization of ownership, as during the Clinton Administration one could say the program of “no home left behind” was kicked off and whether you wanted one or not you where getting one.  As policy (yes governmental) was going to get us there making it so much easier to own then rent (ever hear something called sub-prime), however forget all the responsibility hiding behind the curtain.  So we fed the funnel with a bunch of undesirable houses in questionable locations to people without the means to manage the situation they were going to be tossed into and we wonder why there was a problem?  Also in fairness the Bush administration did nothing to slow this train wreak either (by the way, where were all the SOX rules protecting us from this?).

One of the modern political misconceptions is we the people need to be told what is best as this is a perfect example of Dudley Do Right done wrong.   Today as shared in the USA Today story, these misfit homes are now once again sitting vacant and lonely much like some Hollywood C-List horror movie waiting to be made while the world moves on to build more rental units.

Yet we still have an administration and general governmental belief system that they are superior to Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand


About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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2 Responses to The Fantasy of an Ownership Society…

  1. While policy may have been well-intended, the devil is always in the details. In this case over-zealous banks saw it as an opportunity to scam the uninformed and the economically marginal. Which made a big mess – backed by US tax dollars – and extended the pain to those who knew their responsibilities going into home ownership. When a system crumbles there is no distinguishing between right and wrong, everyone is impacted in some way shape or form.

  2. Joseph Campbell says:

    I’m still also waiting to see someone [in the major Media] ask the question, why are we spending so much money on SOX as well as using it to run companies from our boarders and indices!

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