Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Realtor Party? Count me out

One Realtor’s editorial column with her formerly private, controversial thoughts on the Realtor Party.

Published

on

Realtor Party

Realtor Party

I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member

I’ve been reading and sitting on the sidelines for months, contemplating this “Realtor Party” movement and wondering why I am not at all a card carrying member of this. After some soul searching and research on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) press, below are my problem(s) with this political movement:

What is the Realtor Party? According to their website, “We are the REALTOR® Party: An energized movement of real estate professionals fighting to keep the dream of homeownership alive for this country. Now more than ever, it is critical for REALTORS® across America to come together and speak with one voice about the stability a sound and dynamic real estate market brings to our communities. From city hall to the state house to the U.S. Capitol, our elected officials are making decisions that have a huge impact on the bottom line of REALTORS® and their customers. Through the support of REALTORS® like you, the REALTOR® Party represents your interests.”

The site continues, “As a member of the REALTOR® Party, you…

  • Vote for REALTOR® Party Candidates.
  • Act on REALTOR® Party Issues.
  • Invest in RPAC.”

Why I do not support the Party

While I am for homeownership, I don’ t believe that every red-white-and-blue American needs to or deserves to buy a house. Oh my God! Blasphemy! A Realtor stating she is not for homeownership for each and every American! Yes, you have that right, some Americans don’t want to or don’t need to buy a house. Some shouldn’t. And many don’t have the economic means to do purchase and support the house once it is owned. So there. As a Realtor I make my living my helping people buy and sell houses. But that does not mean that it is a God-given right for every single American to buy one.

Homeownership is a priviledge and unless you have a bag of cash to pay for this purchase outright, you will be beholden to banks and underwriters and appraisers. You will have to prove your worthiness to purchase and repay this debt. And if you don’t have the financial stability to do this, then you may not be able to buy a house. Period.

Voting with the REALTOR Party

As for the points above “As a member of the REALTOR Party, you…” let me address these one at a time.

I will vote for who I want to, whether or not they are the REALTOR Party Candidate of choice. I vote with my head and I vote for who I think the best candidate is, no matter what their party affiliation or whether or not they are the “union endorsed candidate” or not. I do my research and never vote straight party line, Democrat, Republican or REALTOR.

This reminds me too much of when my father, a teacher, would come home from school and hand out little wallet cards telling my mother and grandmother who to vote for. The wallet cards were a cheat sheet filled with teacher’s union candidates. As far as I knew, my father, mother and grandmother walked into the polls and voted for whoever was listed on that wallet card. They didn’t think or question. The card was all knowing. The union was God. That is until the union forsook the teachers in my father’s district in the 1980s and sold them out to another school district. Today I wonder who my father now votes for, without the union to guide him. He probably votes straight party.

Not me. I do my research and vote for the candidates who I believe will do the best job, no matter what the REALTOR party says. So no, I won’t be marching into the polling station and voting for your REALTOR party candidates. I have a brain and an opinion and I’ll be using it.

Acting on REALTOR Party issues

ACT on REALTOR Party Issues…. Okay, that’s an interesting one. The REALTOR Party expects me to contact my local, state and national politicians to spout the party line and urge them to vote for issues that support homeownership and our business. That makes sense.

A few years ago I worked side by side with one of our state representatives to change the way our school districts were handling tax assessments and appeals. I worked with him for several years. Nothing changed. This politician beat his head against the wall and we were so close to fixing something that is very wrong with our state system. Twice, the state’s governor promised us if we got support passed in the senate and house he’d sign the bill into law. Twice, he lied. I got a very up close and personal view of how our government (on a state level at least) works. Those few years of me being at the forefront of this movement were enough.

I will never run for any government office — and I’ve been asked. I’ve been asked to run for school board and turned it down twice. I was asked to run for county positions and ran for the hills (including one very important political position running the county). And I was asked to help recently with a state initiative and I refused. I am burned out. I see how the inside works and it is ugly (uglier than seeing sausage being made).

God bless anyone who wants to attempt this thankless job. I will lend my verbal support but will no longer serve in the trenches. It’s a thankless job where those who are idealistic are beat into the ground and those who have ulterior motives step all over the rest of the soldiers.

Promising to contribute to RPAC as a Party member

And finally, if you are a true REALTOR Party member you will contribute to RPAC. Nope, never going to happen in my world.

I donate each year to our United Way (I am a Pacesetter and send a significant contribution in before the campaign officially starts) which goes to support 13 local agencies. I am a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow (Sapphire) and donate every year to the annual fund for our fundraisers. I send individual contribution checks to the politicians of MY choice.

Why don’t I contribute to RPAC? I choose where my money goes. I send charitable contributions to the charities I choose. I send political contributions to the politicians I choose. I don’t want to send money to some bit PAC or slush fund to allow someone else to decide who deserves my funds. I am sorry if that sounds anal or controlling, but a few years ago, I read a piece about a monument that a group I belonged to had donated millions to. I realized that the millions could have gone to feed the hungry or clothe the homeless in my area, not to this piece of bronze or steel in a park. At that point, I decided to give contributions to the parties and the groups I want to support, not some general fund that I don’t have a say in.

The Groucho Marx quote is appropriate here: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” I am my own person with my own mind. Nobody defines me in one word — not a party affiliation as Republican or Democrat or REALTOR.

I am a REALTOR. I am a wife, mother, daughter. I am a registered Democrat, yet ask me to define my political beliefs and I am a Blue Dog Democrat like my cousin Tim Holden. I am a photographer, reader, writer and blogger. I am an entrepreneur and multiple business owner. I am multi-faceted. I will vote for who I want, who I believe in. I will give money to who I want, who I want to support… No matter who likes it or doesn’t like it.

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Jay Thompson

    July 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Hear that? It’s a small, one-man standing ovation in Seattle… 

  2. ericaramus

    July 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    I will take that as a compliment @Jay Thompson 

  3. drewfristoe

    July 12, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Erica, I agree with a lot if not all of what you have said.  It is your right not to want to be a member of “The Realtor Party”  BUT I do see that it has its place.  Having been involved on the State and Local level, working with The Party, I have seen my work be helpful.  From a national level with Flood Insurance, to a local issue we had with Septics.  

  4. Roland Estrada

    July 12, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I vote Conservative, period! If some the The Realtor Party agenda happens to fall into that slot, fine. 

  5. JayMyers

    July 12, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Love, Love, LOVE this. I agree with almost everything.
     
    This RPAC stuff is getting out-of-hand and downright ridiculous. I really pity the members who sit and complain about special interest groups and lobbyist and wanting smaller government but are either ignorant or blind to the fact they are continually fueling the fire with their contribution to one of the more powerful -lobbyist, or PAC groups in D.C. 
     
    With technology where it is now all members should be able to give their input where this money is used, if they are even interested in doing so is a whole other issue.

  6. JuliaOdom

    July 12, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I could have sworn I was the only one! What is good for Realtors is not necessarily good for the country and I’m not going to advocate for my interests over the greater good.

  7. Jeff Brown

    July 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    As a second generation Reelitor, I’ve watched every level of their so-called ‘leadership’ for over four decades. I’d compare it to the Keystone Kops, but don’t wanna insult the Kops. This new ‘party’ is merely another example. 
     
    I’ve never solved the dilemma: Are they that stoopid, or do they think we are? Or both? At least they’re somewhat entertaining at times.

  8. joemspake

    July 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I am with you 100% Erica.  I have built my business on doing what is best for consumers and not what is best for NAR.

  9. denise.hamlin

    July 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Nicely put Erica. I don’t agree with putting us all in one sack either. We’re as diverse in our thoughts, ideas and motivation as the rest of the nation. Being members of NAR doesn’t mean they get to tell us what to think. We can do that all on our own. @JuliaOdom Nice to see you chime in. Exactly what I would have expected. I’ve missed seeing you around lately.

  10. TAR_bca

    July 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    If you don’t think political advocacy is important to our industry, just ask an appraiser how it’s worked out for them …
     
    The appraisal-industry trade groups were unwilling or unable to have any effect on the implementation of HVCC … and it’s turned their business upside down and put a lot of them out of business.
     
    I don’t agree with straight-ticket voting either, but I know that the Realtor Party, Realtor associations, and RPAC. are all critical parts of the political advocacy game … a game the real estate industry MUST play. @laniar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Before you quit your job, ask yourself these 5 questions

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Frustrated at work? Here are 5 ideas utilizing design thinking and exploration tactics to assess if you really are ready to quit your job.

Published

on

Man reclining on beanbag with laptop, thoughtful. Considering tactics before you quit your job.

We have all been there. We are in a job that just doesn’t feel right for us. Maybe we strongly dislike our manager or even our day to day work responsibilities. We find it easy to blame everyone else for everything we dislike. We question life and ask “Is this what life is all about? Shouldn’t I be spending my time doing something I am more passionate about?” But, we probably like the regular paycheck… Thus, we stay there and possibly become more miserable by the day. Some of us may even start to feel physical symptoms of headaches, stomach aches, and possibly depression. We also may go to the internet like this person seeking answers and hoping someone else can tell us what to do:

“I feel conflicted but I want to quit my job. What should I do?

I was thinking of quitting my job because I dislike what I do, and I feel I am underpaid.

However last week my colleague tendered her resignation too. Needless to say, if I leave too, my whole department will fall into a larger mess and that causes some feelings of conflict within me.

Should my colleague quitting affect when I want to leave too? How do I go about quitting now?”

We can definitely empathize with this – it’s really uncomfortable, sometimes sad, and hard to be in a position where we feel we are underpaid and we aren’t happy.

So, how can you navigate a situation like this? How do you figure out if you should just quit your job? How can you be an adult about this?

Here are some exploratory questions, ideas, and some design thinking activities to help you answer this question for yourself.

  • Before you up and quit, assuming you don’t yet have your next opportunity lined up, have you considered asking for a raise – or better yet, figure out how you add value to the organization? Would your supervisor be willing to move you in to a new role or offer additional compensation?
  • If you don’t have a job lined up, do you have the recommended AT LEAST six months of living expenses in your savings account? Some would recommend that you have even more during a global pandemic where unemployment is at an all-time high – it may take longer to find a new position.
  • Do you have a safety net of family or friends that are willing and able to help you with your bills if you don’t have your regular paycheck? Would you be willing to put that burden on them so you can quit your job?
  • Why aren’t you job searching if you are unhappy? Is it because the task seems daunting and the idea of interviewing right now makes you want to puke?
  • What would your ideal job be and what would it take for you to go for it?

Many people claim they don’t like their job but they don’t know what to do next or even worse, don’t know what they WANT to do. To offer a little bit of tough love here: Well, then, that’s your job to figure it out. You can go on Reddit all you want, but no one else can tell you what is right for you.

Here are some ways to explore what may be an exciting career move for you or help you identify some areas that you need to learn more about in order to figure out where work will align with your skills, interests, and passions.

  1. Consider ordering the Design Your Life Workbook that provides writing prompts to help you figure out what it is that you are looking for in a job/career. You may also like the book Designing Your Work Life which is about “How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work”.
  2. Utilize design thinking to answer some of your questions. Make a diamond shape and in each of the four corners, write out the “Who” you want to be working with, “What” you’d like to be doing, “Where” you’d like to be, and “Why” you want to be there or doing that kind of work.
  3. Conduct informational interviews with people doing work that you think you might be interested in. Usually these conversations give you lots of interesting insights and either a green light to pursue something or validation that maybe that role isn’t right for you either.
  4. Get your resume updated. Sometimes just dusting off your resume, updating it, and making it ready gives you a feeling of relief that if you did really want to pursue a new job, you are almost ready. Consider updating your LinkedIn profile as well.
  5. Explore what you can do differently. A lot of what we can be frustrated about can be related to things out of our control. Consider exploring ways to work better with your team or how to grow to become invaluable. Tune in to Lindsey Pollak’s podcast, The Work Remix, where she gives great ideas on how to navigate working in current times where there are five generations in the workplace. There may be ways you need to adjust your communication style or tune in to emotional intelligence on how to better work with your supervisor or employees. Again, focus on what is within your control.

You may decide that you need to quit your job to be able to focus your energy on finding a better fit for you. But at the same time, be realistic. Most of us have to work to live. Everyone has bills, so you may continue working while you sort out some of the other factors to help you find a more exciting prospect. Either way, wishing you all the best on this journey, and the time and patience to allow you to figure it out.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

New USPS duck-shaped truck design has mixed reactions

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The USPS is getting a fleet of electronic delivery vehicles. We’re wondering if the actual design got lost in the mail.

Published

on

New USPS truck in a fictional neighborhood delivering mail.

So the USPS is getting new trucks and they look like ducks and maybe that sucks… or maybe it wucks. Like “works,” if a duck said it. Just give me this one please.

Anyway.

I don’t know how mean I can be here – there has to be something said for objective journalistic integrity – but I have a feeling most people are going to have a rather sarcastic reaction to the new design. I’m not so sure I can blame them – it has a kind of stubby little nose with a shortened hood and a boxy frame and super tall windshield, which gives the wheels a disproportionately large look compared to the rest of the silhouette. It’s sort of like a Nissan Cube but less millennial cool, which A) is discontinued (so maybe not so cool), and B) is not the car that had those giant hiphop hamsters running around, but I’m still going to link to it anyway.

Elon Musk must be breathing a sigh of relief right now.

The contract was awarded to Oshkosh Defense (which I was thrilled to find out is NOT the adorable kid’s clothing company, even though I personally think that would be hilarious if there was a factory making overalls for tiny humans alongside tactical defense trucks) and officially announced on February 23rd, 2021 to the tune of $482 million. Seriously though, someone is going to mix those up for the rest of all time and eternity; I’d never not think about my own baby pictures if some contractor from Oshkosh Defense showed up.

The release mentions that, “The historic investment is part of a soon-to-be-released plan the Postal Service has developed to transform its financial performance and customer service over the next 10 years through significant investments in people, technology and infrastructure as it seeks to become the preferred delivery service provider for the American public.” It’s called the NGDV – Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, which I happen to adore, and will pronounce as Nugduv, and you can’t stop me anyway. The old one was called the Grumman, by the way.

Some credit this as a radical change, and keeping in mind that radical doesn’t necessarily denote positive or negative, it seems like the perfect word to use here. Then there are those who correctly identify “a mixed bag of responses,” sort of like when you get a bag of candy at Halloween that has at least one thing no one likes. Some call it strange, while others defend it as something every new big vehicle should look like (this is where – as one of many – I found it called a “duck” which oh man do I love, quack quack).

We can also hit up the ever fair public opinion of Twitter, because why wouldn’t we?

JavaScript is not available.

This is how I would draw a car. That is not a plus for this design

I really can’t get over that last one. But I mean, whoa. That’s quite the spectrum. There’s less disagreement on pizza toppings I think. But luckily I think we’re safe there – Domino’s makes people drive their personal cars.

Taking a step back and putting snide commentary away for a moment, there’s some areas that should be discussed. First – and what should probably be obvious – there was a laundry list of requirements and restrictions from the USPS, which made Nir Kahn – design director from custom carmaker Plasan – offer up his own tweets that give some insight on dimensions and design:

JavaScript is not available.

I was involved in an early proposal for the USPS truck so I know the requirements well. They pretty much dictated the proportions – this package sketch shows that to meet the ergonomic and size requirements, there wasn’t much freedom 1/2 #USPS pic.twitter.com/Fk35g98Z83

Kahn mentions that “there wasn’t much freedom,” but also that “it could have looked much better,” and this sort of underlines the entire discussion I think – there were goals in place, and possibly some more aesthetically pleasing ways to meet them, but the constraints won out and drove (hehe) the design more than style did.

Certainly, there are other concerns – the ability for USPS drivers to reach a mailbox while seated is paramount. Others have pointed out that this design – with its large windshield and shortened front – should help with safety around small children (all the better if they are wearing Oshkosh B’gosh, because that implies they are tiny and may not be at all concerned with the dangers of streets). The open field-of-vision will aid in making sure drivers can navigate places that might be frequented by any number of pedestrians, so that’s a plus.

Further, if you get struck by one of these, you’ll basically “just” get kneecapped versus taking it square to the torso. The duck article is the one making this call, and I think there’s some merit there (though it makes me question how the USPS fleet is going to do against the SUVs and big trucks out in the wild). It then goes on to point out that this design has more cargo space, fitting into the idea of “rightsizing,” where the form and function of the vehicle meet in a way that is downsized, but still punches above its weight.

“From smaller fire engines to nimbler garbage trucks, making vehicles better scaled to urban tasks can make a huge difference, not only for keeping other cars moving on narrow streets, but also to ensure that humans on those same streets can access the bike lanes, sidewalks, and curb cuts they need to get around.”

I didn’t try too hard to find stats on crashes in mail trucks, but seems like something that should be addressed.

Maybe the biggest point here is that we sort of have to get new trucks – they are outliving their 24 year expectancy and catching on fire. On FIRE. I mean a mail truck might be the worst place for a fire. I’m not even sure I can’t think up a better answer… Ok maybe toilets would be worse.

The new vehicles can be either petrol or electric powered, have 360 cameras, airbags, and automatic braking. Oh, and air conditioning, which the old vehicles did not have. So yes, literally the worst place to have a fire. But due to the taller vehicles, someone can stand in them now! So escape is even easier! Hooray!

A series of delays pushed back the introduction of new vehicles from their 2018 projected date, with poor initial prototypes and the pandemic being major setbacks. Aggressive bidding led to extended deadlines, which had been narrowed down to a small list of candidates that included Workhorse (who unfortunately suffered a large stock plunge following the announcement). It’s been in the works for at least six years.

In the end, I don’t think we can discount all the advantages here – more efficient vehicles that are safer and provide drivers with modern amenities. That’s a LOT of good. I think once the initial goofy shock is over, the design will be accepted. Everyone thought Nintendo’s Wii was a hilarious name (still pretty much is regardless of being in the public book of acceptable nomenclature), and Cybertruck sales are brisk, so I think we can set a lot of this aside. The Edsel these are not.

So hey, new USPS vehicles in 2023, like an exceedingly late birthday present. All I want to see is a bunch of baby ducks following one of them around oh please let that happen. The USPS kind of has an identity crisis in the modern era, so maybe a funny little cute silly boxmobile is just the right way to get some attention.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

Published

on

decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, or an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!