Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Recommended Reading

If you feel like something's fundamentally wrong with the economy but you can't quite put your finger on what it is, then you should read this article at by Terrance Heath:

The Society of the Owned
By Terrance Heath
February 19th, 2008 - 10:30am ET

Part One of a series.

When George W. Bush first spoke of "the ownership society," he led most Americans to believe, and many did believe, that he was talking about them. Now, four years later, it's easy to conclude that the president, his party and conservatism itself has failed to deliver the ownership society.

But the very crises now being described and decried in both the new media and the old can actually be taken as signs of conservatism's success, depending on one thing: identifying who really belongs to the ownership society. Because conservatism, depending on how you look at it, has successfully built the ownership society—albeit a very small, narrowly defined one—and strengthened it by building or expanding its essential support: the society of the owned.

The term "owned" has its origins in the realms of hacking and gaming, but I'm only partly borrowing the slang definitions—"To dominate another person or thing so completely as to humiliate them" and "To be made a fool of; To make a fool of"—here.

As the grandson of sharecroppers, I grew up hearing stories about how the system of sharecropping worked. Farmers worked all season, buying the goods they needed—food and clothing for their families—from the plantation owner, on credit and at high interest. By harvest, they always ended up owing more than their yield was worth, often due to various adjustments by the plantation owner. The bottom line was, as long as they were in debt they couldn't leave. And the system all but assured they never got out of debt. Sharecropping was post-slavery, so they weren't literally owned; just nearly so. Sharecropping itself died with the the advent of farm machinery, but there's a lot going on in America today that looks an awful lot like it. ...(Read the rest)

1 comment:

Poindexter P. Parkenfarker said...

Like we usta say in the fishin' bizness,"don't go shoppin' at the company store, and 'specially don't take a draw before the final fish has landed."