Donald Sensing notes that this week is the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase, and points out that widespread property ownership is critical to successful economic and political development. The land purchased from France by the federal government was sold off to private citizens -- an otherwise unheard of practice in a world where property ownership was highly concentrated among royalty and nobility.
For some reason, I had been under the impression that home ownership rates in American had been dropping over the past few decades, but according to the US Census website, I was wrong. In fact, the rate appears to have held pretty steady since 1965, the first year with statistics on the Census site.
This article by Walter Mead describes some of the essential elements of popular capitalism, and why it is necessary that capitialism be popular in order to be successful. In post-industrial-revolution countries, it is inefficient for individuals to own small plots of agricultural land, and so home ownership takes the place of the small farm as the standard unit of ownership. By government encouragement of home ownership through tax breaks and other subsidies, and with the creation of the self-amortising mortgage by banker AP Giannini, it became possible for every American family to buy into the capitalistic dream. The stock market boom of the 1990s and the increased access to financial markets that the internet has brought to the average man have worked to open up another field of ownership that had previously been largely dominated by the wealthy. Far from concentrating wealth as "liberals" often claim, capitalism is the surest way to diffuse wealth through the population by enabling the people to directly own the assets and resources of their nation. The "means of production", if you will.