Among us capitalists, we can find many reasons and methods for increasing the ownership of stocks and bonds by average Americans. The hope was and is that such policies would make average Americans less likely to seek socialistic governmental policies and less likely to vote for leftist programs and parties. The obvious problem with this is that it works. People become convinced that their meager investments through mutual funds, index funds, employer-supported funds and all the rest make them part of the investor class. But of course a large majority, perhaps 80%, of securities are owned by the very, very rich. So this whole scheme is a political scheme with no real economic justification. Average Americans would do just as well buying government bonds and other savings certificates and would not be held hostage by capitalism. At least I think so. The privatization of Social Security, much beloved by the GOP, also is motivated in the same way: to make middle- and lower-middle-class Americans confused about being investors. Most schemes thought up by Republicans, when the facade is removed, are designed for much more selfish purposes.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.