Capitalism and the Homeowner: Contempt Hidden in Plain Sight

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

Marxists have long suggested that home ownership is encouraged under capitalism because when masses of people own small-scale properties, they identify with and defend large-scale capitalist ownership of true wealth in the means of production. Homeowners in America, then, are comparable to the land-owning peasantry in the Old Countries, unwitting bastions of reactionary economics.
From Marxists, this can sound a bit conspiracy/paranoidish. So, let’s hear it from The Man
[My BF]: “[Greenspan] said that the subprime boom would boost home ownership and was ‘worth the risk.’ ...[because] ‘protection of property rights, so critical to a market economy, requires a critical mass of owners to sustain political support.’”
And political support there has been! Ordinary people insisting on tax cuts for multimillionaires. It has worked amazingly well, indeed, insanely well.
Worth the risk. Greenspan is a risk-assessor extraordinaire, legendary. So, how much pain was he willing to risk inflicting?
For instance, how many millions of life-plans, some carefully provided for over many years, was he willing to see shredded in an instant? How many millions of secure retirements gone to Hell? How many educations snatched from outstretched fingers? How much poverty and homelessness, night-terrors and desperation suicides was he willing to risk inflicting on America?
All of these consequences, we are told, while not inevitable, are definitely in prospect.
But it was “worth the risk.” Clearly, he does not express this as a close call, but as a small price to pay to “sustain political support” for what he still whimsically terms “a market economy.” For the wealth class, It is a small price because it will be paid by small people: the working people, the unemployed, the literally dispossessed. In a famous phrase, the “little people,” who, unlike the rich, have to pay their income taxes.
As Greenspan notes, capitalism requires legions of small owners over the long term: their false hopes, flotsam businesses, and fragile 401(k) sense of ownership. In good times, when obscene wealth is vulnerable to the disgust of decency, they are indispensable. But things change. We have rocky seas. The bet turned bad. But here is the Greenspan world’s courage on display, disregarding the extreme danger of splash marks on their vests, they have the guts to throw the small owners overboard like garbage.
And in the midst of this, the unconscionable cynicism of an Alan Greenspan can be stated publicly in the newspaper, and pass unnoticed.