Monday, May 2


Ron Brownstein gives a wider audience to community organizer Mark Winston Griffith's essay Consumer Versus Community:

The central flaw in Bush's ownership society, Griffith believes, is that its key elements actively encourage such tunnel vision. Vouchers that allow parents to send their children to private school, for instance, provide a lifeline for some, but invite them to flee a shared investment in public schools.

Reducing guaranteed benefits under Social Security, and urging workers to make up the difference with individual investment accounts, erodes the program's role as a shared safety net for all Americans. Health savings accounts that encourage younger and healthier workers to abandon group health insurance plans work the same way.

Griffith's entire essay can be found here. It's a compelling, thought-provoking piece. More excerpts:

Yet it is misguided to fetishize homeownership, assign it mystical virtues or measure an individual's value to society based on what he or she owns.  If the goal of President Bush's Ownership Society is to create stakeholders who are responsible, contributing members of society, we need national leadership that can discern consumerism from citizenship.
When the conversation turns to the ownership society, community, political and religious leaders should talk about the responsibility that homeowners have to their neighbors and how they can use their social capital and local standing to rebuild the communities around them. Maybe then, homeownership can be used to inspire a higher moral purpose than "Get Yours."


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