What do you really own? / by kevin murray

People have a strong tendency to want to compare themselves to other people, especially those of the same age bracket, those of the same neighborhood, those of the same school, and those of the same employment.  One of the more common ways to compare oneself to another, is not so much to compare bank accounts or liquid assets which is often considered to be providing to someone else way too much actionable information and may also be considered to be rather gauche, but instead to list the more obvious and tangible things that a person owns, which often would be their home, followed by their vehicle, and possibly a little discussion about their educational achievements.


The problem with a discussion about property that people claim that they own, is that, often times, those that say they own their home, or that they own their vehicle, or believe that they quite obviously own their diploma -- is that from a very realistic and practical level, more people than not, do not really own those things.  That is to say, those that claim that they own their vehicle, are really only those that have free and clear title to that vehicle, in which all others that have a car loan, therefore have a lien holder to the car that they claim that they own, so that, if they fail to make their payments or become delinquent enough on their vehicle, they will learn the difference between someone that really does truly own their car as compared to someone that is making payments upon their car, for the lien holder has the right to confiscate that car for the buyer's failure to adhere to the terms and conditions of that loan.  Further to the point, those that claim that they own their own home, but yet have a thirty year mortgage to that home, must surely recognize that the actual owner, especially if they should fail to continue to make their payments on time, isn't really the occupant of that home, but actually the lending authority that issued the home loan, for they are the lien holder to that home, and the home represents their collateral which is the salient reason why a mortgage loan was issued in the first place.  Finally, all those students that built up a lot of debt getting their postsecondary degree, believe that they own that degree, and while that is technically true, so too do they own the debt that allowed them to get that degree; so that, this unfortunately means for a high percentage of students that their diploma actually has entwined to it, that student debt, of which, the owner of that debt, has incredibly strong rights to the payment of that debt, that not even bankruptcy  of the recipient of that diploma can discharge that debt from.


In reality, the three biggest debt instruments that a significant amount of people own are mortgage debt, car loan debt, and student debt, which respectively represent in order, $8.88 trillion, $1.129 trillion, and $1.5 trillion that are all owed to the debt holders.  So then, what do you really own?  For, in reality, those that are in debt, don't own those things, though many of them, wrongly believe that they do.