… will obviously be a major Bushite theme for the next few months, at least. I’m sympathetic to the idea that spreading the benefits of ownership more broadly would have personal and social benefits. The current distribution of wealth is much more lopsided than the distribution of income. Moreover, at any given income level, African-Americans have much less wealth than whites. Those are big problems, and worthy of big solutions.
But ownership brings with it risk. Risk-taking is indeed a vehicle of economic dynamism, but risk itself is always bad. Increased economic insecurity seems to be a fact; it would be absurd to make it into a policy goal.
Indeed, one way to encourage risk-taking at an individual level is to have a strong safety net, so that someone who quits his job to start a business doesn’t have to worry that his kids won’t be able to get high-quality medical care, or go to college, if the business fails (as most do).
So should liberals be in favor of an “ownership society”? If that means a society where public policy supports and encourages wealth formation at every economic level, absolutely. If it means a society where only owners are full citizens, and non-owners are treated like dirt, absolutely not.
Now what we need is a leader who can communicate that simple point to the voters.