Ownership Society

Any of you who may be political theorists will know what this post is about just from the title.  One of the required readings for the Political Science course that I have this semester is a book titled “The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party” by Ryan Sager (an excellent book that I highly recommend).  In one of the chapters, Sager mentions possibly my favorite female politician:  Margaret Thatcher.  He talks about how President George W. Bush attempted to apply her successful principles to America.  These principles are known as the “Ownership Society.”  Thatcher believed, as I do, that the private sector creates and supports the system the best when it owns the system.  She took the public housing in Britain that was being leased and allowed the renters to buy the housing, thus making the lessee the owner.  This was enacted due to the belief that people will respect and take care of something that they own more so than if they are just renting.  For example, when a group of my friends went to Florida they rented a car.  They pushed that car to its limits just because they could, and because if it broke….well why worry?  It’s not theirs.  Why, then, would this not apply to government handouts?  Do the people on this system care how they treat what they get, and how much of it is used?  Of course not, and in reality we cannot expect them to.  If you give a man a check and promise him that it will be there as long as he needs it, then he will not feel as strongly pulled to only spend what he must and save the rest (in other words, spend responsibly).  If you give a man a check and say this is his money to help him back on his feet.  It may not be there the next time, or as high.  This amount is what he gets, no exceptions.  If he misspends it, then it is gone.  If he has a stake in it, he will treat it with respect.

The Ownership Society is what America needs to try to find its way back towards.  President Bush tried to implement this, but did a very poor job in doing so.  The absolute failure of which was the first round of bailouts in late 2008.  As long as the executives believe the money will be there to bail them out, they will treat it like it is not their own.  As the United States moves towards a Nanny State, the people are feeling less inclined to move out of the holes they are in.  Every human being has the right to survive.  Not every human has the right to luxury.  When the government gives luxuries, or anything more than necessity, the lives people create are not their own.  They do not feel motivated to treat their lives as if they were to obtain those luxuries.  They become dependent on society, rather than their own will.  Now, this is not limited to a certain sect of the population.  Almost all of us, if placed in the situation, would find ourselves drowning in the welfare system.  It provides only the means for an individual to become stuck in the quicksand of social welfares.  It is far too easy, and the system is broken.  The welfare system can be adapted to a Ownership Society.  A system that will provide the way out of the quicksand permanently, rather than giving only a short breather before tossing people back in, will be the end to the growing income gap the United States is seeing.  A strong, nanny welfare state sucks people into a system of which only a few can escape.  Give the people a stake, and they will fight.  Keep government out, and let the American people run the economy.

Finally, I want to leave you all with something I heard from a prominent minister in the Chicago area.  I hear him speak at an event one night, and what he said seemed the perfect analogy to why, as moral beings, we must oppose the Nanny/Socialist state.  Picture American citizens as rocks at the bottom of a fast flowing river.  The river rushes over them, grinding them down until they are nothing more than sand.  The nanny state would attempt to save them by picking up the rocks, drying them off with a golden threaded towel……and then throwing them back into the river.  The state would then work against itself for an eternity.  What we are called to do as the moral beings we are, is to move the river; to stop the system from turning the American citizens into sand that gets carried away never to be found again.  The nanny state is not Christian, but manipulative.


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