How the One Percent is Systematically Destroying the Middle Class

The idea of a property-owning democracy has long roots in American political thought. In their book, The Citizen's Share, Joseph R. Blasi, Richard B. Freeman and Douglas Kruse argue that the Founding Fathers wanted everyone (well, everyone who was white and male) to own a small slice of property. Both Madison and Washington praised the relatively equal distribution of property in the United States (compared with Europe). Thomas Jefferson wrote, "It is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state." Indeed, the concept is still popular today, even on the right. James Poulos writes, "Without an ownership society, where citizens are prudent stewards of broadly distributed private property, freedom tends to become what it was in revolutionary France -- an abstract ideal that can easily arouse destructive political feelings that know no bounds." But new data suggests America may no longer be such a society, and that has worrying implications for democracy.