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Every 2012 voter should understand
‘ownership society’ cause and its cost

BushW hile running for re-election in 2004, President George W. Bush voiced his intention to foster an “ownership society,” grandly stating, “America is a stronger country every single time a family moves into a home of their own.”

Who could argue with that? Certainly not the strong Republican majorities in both houses of Congress that cheered “W” on and solidly backed his every policy and proposal, no matter how reckless. Certainly not Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who in younger years was an acolyte of Ayn Rand. Nor were Wall Street banks, other mortgage lenders and insurance outfits inclined to stand in the way of a looming bonanza.

There was ample reason for skepticism, even without understanding the bizarre financial-industry alchemy that was about to foist credit default swap chicanery and other con-game machinations on an unsuspecting world, the main one being how heavily in debt most American paycheck workers already were.

But that inconvenient truth needn’t stand in the way, the banksters, mortgage insurer AIG and federal lending authorities decided. They would just lower the standards for mortgage lending until anyone with a pulse could qualify.

foreclosure sign

A too-common sign of the times, thanks to big-business greed and Republican misleadership.

We know all too well how that worked out, wrecking not only the U.S. economy but knocking the world economy off track in a big way that still haunts us. We remember too well how savers and investors suffered $7 trillion in losses before they knew what had hit them. We recall only too well how companies shed workers at the rate of more than 200,000 a month, until we had jobless numbers not seen since the Great Depression.

Even now, as the man elected to clean up Bush and the Republicans’ mess seeks re-election in a political climate where those same Republicans have pushed unhelpful memories of the blighted 2001-2009 passage as far down the memory hole as possible, we get fresh evidence of the price of Republican misleadership.

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The homeownership rate in the U.S. fell to 65.4% in the first quarter, hitting a 15-year low amid still-high foreclosure rates and a stronger market for rents.

The rate is lower than the 66% from the fourth quarter and the 66.4% from the first quarter of last year, according to the Census Bureau. The rate hit a high of 69.2% in 2004, before the housing bubble burst.

The housing market has been trying to recover ever since. Several reports this month
have suggested that the market has turned a corner, with pending home sales up and housing values bottoming.

But foreclosure rates are still high (and may continue to increase following a landmark settlement with loan servicers earlier this year).

In the first quarter, 74.6 million housing units were occupied by owners. Homeownership is down in every region, falling to 59.9% in the West. The region, which has the lowest rate in the country, hasn’t had such a small percentage of homeowners since at least 2006.

Rates among minorities continue to trail the nationwide numbers. Black homeownership is at 43.1%; the Hispanic rate is 46.3%.

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To those given to saying our two major parties are basically alike, one being as bad as the other, we will point out a couple of decidedly partisan facts.

First, no Democratic administration or Democratic majority in Congress has ever set the country up for a major economic collapse or put us in a situation that made it necessary for taxpayers to bail out whole industries. Republican misleadership gave us the Great Depression of the 1930’s, the savings & loan debacle of the 1980’s, and the housing bubble collapse that triggered what some call the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Second, no Democratic administration or Democratic majority in Congress ever prosecuted a war off budget, pushing the entire cost on to future generations of taxpayers. The George W. Bush administration and Republican-controlled Congresses of 2001-2006 put the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq both off budget. They selfishly and recklessly did that to prevent a public backlash against the wars, and to help ensure Bush’s re-election in 2004.

These are significant differences that every taxpayer and voter should be clear about. What’s more, they are differences everyone who’s clear about them should make clear to everyone they know.

Americans can’t afford any more Republican misleadership, from the White House, from Congress or, worst of all, from both.

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10 Comments

  1. Dave Dubya says:

    No, we can’t afford more Republican misrule. The problem is, we have a corporate media that does so little to remind the people who forget so easily.

    Sigh..

  2. To those given to saying our two major parties are basically alike, one being as bad as the other…

    Mr. Anderson, I’m one that understands they’re “basically alike”, in the sense that both are corporate-controlled and dominated, and although I realize there are differences — subtle, and as finely woven to be almost undetectable most of the time — I recognize that today’s Democratic Party hardly resembles the Democratic Party of decades ago, and today’s Republican Party doesn’t resemble what it once was in any form or fashion. Well-fed and nourished by Big Money, both have reshaped their past allegiances and hardened their ideologies; neither stands for democracy and neither stands behind the American people. Granted, the Democratic Party is easier to swallow, but both are dangerous in their current form. One has nauseating side-effects and creates chronic pain; the other is caustic and crippling, the acuteness bringing on societal and economic turmoil much more quickly and profoundly.

    Our current political system will not deliver with a simple prescription; a total reshaping and adherence to “a new lifestyle” is our only hope to avert an almost certain, and possibly premature, death.

  3. Demeur says:

    I knew when my small place became worth nearly a quarter of a million dollars and banks were lending 125% of a homes’ value that something had to give. It took no genius to figure that one out. And yet people held on to the dream that somehow prices would continue to rise to infinity.

    And JG is right the system is now totally corrupted but exactly how one can find a “new lifestyle” when one was living an austere existence in the first place is anyone’s guess.

  4. S.W. Anderson says:

    Dave, some corporate media do a pretty good job of reporting what’s going on. Unfortunately, the public pays less attention to them than to the big-three networks and a handful of talk radio shows dominated by right wingers.

    J.G., I agree with many of your criticisms of Democrats, but don’t see them as quite as far gone or hopeless as you seem to. We can agree that change is needed.

    Demeur, your point about the absurdly inflated value of homes is right on. I focused on what the banksters, Fed and other policy makers should’ve known before housing prices escalated because of the overheated market they created.

  5. Tom Harper says:

    I was in the same position as Demeur. For years, when I was still in California, I kept fuming about home prices going up and up and up. Then I retired (sooner than I expected) and we sold our postage-stamp-size house for a jillion dollars, moved to Washington and bought a much larger place with tons of money left over. Our timing was perfect, through no credit of our own. (This was late ’04). It didn’t take long for the house of cards to collapse. Now a lot of our old neighbors are trapped in underwater mortgages.

    Now of course millions of people are getting foreclosed in this glorious “ownership society.”

  6. Bad cops, like good cops, have a job to do.

    1. S.W. Anderson says:

      Yes, but the question is, who do bad cops do their job for?

  7. Jack Jodell says:

    This “ownership society” has meant little more than economic slavery, doom and gloom, and financial ruin to millions of Americans and others globally. Like many Republican ideas, it is beautiful on paper, but once you move from the paper to reality, it becomes an absolutely horrific nightmare. Corporatism and “free market” economics shou;d be avoided by nearly everyone at all costs!

  8. S.W. Anderson says:

    Tom, I’m glad you were among the few to luck out in this situation. As you say, so many got screwed. As George W. said, “Elections have consequences.”

    Jack, that’s right. They promise you the moon and stars, but they always deliver something that’s really intended to benefit their big-money backers, first and foremost. If everyone else gets hurt bad, them’s the breaks, as they say.

    When will people ever learn not to believe their bait-and-switch scams?

  9. Jolly Roger says:

    I was screaming about what had to happen wayyyyyy back. I think about the third or fourth post of Reconstitution, in 2004, was about house prices going one way, and wages another.

    Chimpy had a different kind of “ownership” in mind when he talked about an “ownership” society. His economic policies have led to penury and near-slavery for millions, so HIS brand of “ownership society” is just around the corner.