I said in an earlier repo piece that "The person with who bears the risk of decline in value--that person is the owner."
A commentator over at deLong responds with acerbity "Gee, we own the big banks. Very illuminating." (link).
Good point. And a convenient reminder that ownership can be a burden as much as a benefit. I guess Thoreau understood that; also the Buddhist monks. But I also recall how I read a few years back in one of the law & econ books how it was a "puzzle" that New England farmers practice "ultimogeniture"--i.e., the farm goes not to the first kid but to the last one still at home.
I fired off a brisk explanation--I grew up there and I know those damn farms are a burden and the one who gets it is the kid who is still around when papa becomes too enfeebled to do the work.
And as I think of it, am I not correct to recall that in the Roman Empire, you might disclaim an inheritance so as to avoid the liabilities that came with it? So we are all a bunch of poor overburdened younger sons?