Saturday, November 24, 2007

Class Stagnation

Comments from Left Field whined Not that this comes as a surprise, exactly. Anybody who’s been paying attention knows that the American middle class has been losing ground for a quarter century because the wealth has all been moving to the top while the responsibility has been moving toward the bottom.
As I commented over there, "There is nothing to prevent people who wants to make the effort to improve themselves from climbing up the ladder. People just want to sit and whine for the government to do it for them."
But there are a couple of surprises in the Pew Research study released this week. The first is that the study was a collaboration between 5 different think tanks, three conservative, one liberal (the ratio you’d more or less expect to find), and one non-partisan - Pew, that led the study. And there you have it - the bogus Bushian concept of the “Ownership Society” in all its furtive glory applied to blacks by a black historian of black culture. Of all people, shouldn’t he know better? I mean, the signal that property ownership doesn’t mean all that much
If you would rather pay for an appartment or a rent house, and not have those payments go to home ownership, you have that right. Nothing forces you to be smart.
in the face of racism and classism is in the very “subprime mortgage debacle” he references. The main targets of the scam were the poor, the old, the sick, and minorities, preferably all four at once.
No only the ignorant to stupid to read the contract, or who came from a public school program that did not teach them how to read.
“Home ownership”, whether getting or keeping, was the bait for the trap, the goat tied to a tree that entices starving villagers into rifle range to be slaughtered by their enemies.
Anyone that signed a sub prime mortgage without reading it tied themselves to the tree.
Home ownership is not, of course, a Bad Thing. But neither is it the automatic panacea for racism and classism absent other criteria like economic and social justice. As a stepping stone out of poverty and/or inequality, it is in fact more or less useless without them. It may work, it may not. Its efficacy is determined by circumstances, not itself, the most important of which is probably social mobility - the openness of any society toward upward economic movement by the lower classes, and - as the WaPo’s Eugene Robinson wrote in yesterday’s column, that door now carries a “Closed” sign.
Closed only to those not willing to expend the effort to improve themselves.

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