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Opinion Editorials

The Death of Civility. Was It Ever Alive in the First Place?

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Family Arguning Over Real EstateMaybe it’s the circles I run in.

Can You Scream A Little Louder?

Lately, I’ve been reading blogs in the RE.net both here on Agent Genius and elsewhere where both blog posts and comments seem to be getting shriller and shriller.  A post may start out innocently enough.  The subject might be Raising the Bar, Duel Agency or maybe even a bone to pick.  Sometimes the author is reasoned and even insightful. A lot of times, not so much.

Then, put on the Kevlar®.  The comments start coming in and, one wonders, if the commenters even re-read their stuff before hitting the Submit button. All kinds of accusations and assertions are made.  Not the “Kind Sir, I believe you may be mistaken about your point of view.” type.  Nah. We start calling each other unethical, uneducated, uncaring, criminal conspirators or — my favorite — morons.

Conversation at a New Level

All of this takes the conversation to a new level.  Unfortunately, it’s not a higher level. It reminds me of the word games some teenagers play about your Mama (“You’re Mama is so ugly the mirror cracks when she puts on her makeup.”). Sometimes these start out in the spirit of fun but, many times, they rapidly disintegrate into arguments and bad will where none existed before.

It also reminds me of many real life transactions where one Realtor starts screaming at the other when one aspect of a transaction doesn’t go exactly according to plan.  Sadly, this seems all too frequent.

I know I’m engaging in a lot of wishful thinking.  It’s a fantasy of mine that the level of discussion in the real estate blogosphere can be both interesting and civil.  Who knows?  Maybe some day.

In the meantime, I’ll share I line I heard on Prairie Home Companion last night (we liberals love our NPR):

“You must’ve been conceived at home.  That’s where most accidents happen.”

Take that!

“Loves sunrise walks on the beach, quaint B & Bs, former Barbie® boyfriend..." Ken is a sole practitioner and Realtor Extraordinaire in the beautiful MD Suburbs of DC. When he's not spouting off on Agent Genius he holds court from his home office in Glenn Dale, MD or the office for RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Fulton, MD...and always on the MD Suburbs of DC Blog

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Joe Sheehan

    February 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Thanks, Ken.

    You stated it perfectly. I have a very difficult time agreeing with someone’s opinion when I am so offended by the way it’s presented. Thanks for taking the time to say this.

  2. BawldGuy

    February 21, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Hey Ken — You’ve recognized a decades long trend which has sadly become the norm for much of the country. I’ve always thought the origin of this trend was the first time Cassius Clay, later Muhammad Ali, began openly and loudly disparaging his latest upcoming opponent. This was then taken another step downward as he’d then transition into a loud and shameful monologue about how good he was, how superior he was, and the like.

    What changed was when the principle we were all taught as kids, bragging is rude, shameful, and unbecoming, was then modified. Free license was granted by changing it to- If you can do it, it ain’t braggin’. Of course, that’s the most insidious form of lie. If a dominating athlete says he can do something at will against another athlete, it’s bragging period — especially if he can do it. If he can’t do it, he’s simply a loud-mouthed fool.

    Once Ali’s behavior was deemed acceptable by a large segment of the population, it spread like a virus. The result is what you observed in your post.

    I prefer class, dignity, and acting as if you’ve been there before. I’ve been personally attacked online many times, as most of us have. I prefer one of two responses. I either point to the ‘scoreboard’ if appropriate, or ignore them altogether. My preference has been the latter. Arguing with haughty arrogance fueled by ignorance and inexperience is akin to debating whether it’s gonna rain a week from next Tuesday. It also tends to make one appear as foolish as the arrogantly ignorant fop who’s running their mouth, insulting anyone who dares disagree.

    Speaking for myself, I much prefer the class and dignity of a Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird to the ‘look at me’ generation of clowns we now have to endure. Though I’ve used sports figures as examples here, I think you’ve amply shown this virus has reached and infected most segments of our culture.

    Sad.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm

      Ken, Jeff and I know each other personally and chat on the phone frequently and I think we agree because we are cut from similar cloth (which is probably why Benn and I are friends with him in the first place).

      My dad said when we were children, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. And if you do, you might get smacked in the back of the head.” Of course he meant by him or an opponent.

      I had an email conversation just yesterday with a friend on AG and he noted that it’s interesting that some commenters use the very tactics to attack the writer that they are condemning the writer for. My response was that it’s not the real estate blogging space, it’s everywhere- people are stretched thin and times are hard and desperation is seeping through peoples’ writing voices in comments across the board.

      This tone will change as the economy recovers.

  3. MIssy Caulk

    February 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Ken, I have that little fantasy too. But like Lani it is not just online.

  4. Gwen Banta

    February 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Ken, if people took just 10 seconds to remember that every word they say or write is a reflection of the person whom they truly are, they might care more about the monikers they attach to people. In my opinion, the road to civility has been closed for repairs for a very long time…

  5. Janie Coffey

    February 23, 2010 at 1:17 am

    there is certainly a certain contingent who feel empowered, superior, emboldened to opine loudly and negatively about any and all topics. I often wonder if they realize their current and potential clients can read those comments as well, but I guess when they put them out there, they either feel they are fully justified or simply don’t care. Sad but true but glad I am not the only one saddened by it.

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.

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unemployment

Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note…so let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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Opinion Editorials

COVID-19 acts are unfortunately too short sighted

(BUSINESS NEWS) The biggest flaw in the CARES act is simply that it won’t last. Numerous issues have extended the life of COVID-19 but the act hasn’t matched it.

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rev pay issues act

The CARES act gives an additional $600 weekly to those on unemployment assistance. The idea being that, combined with the $380 already granted by unemployment, the payments would roughly equal the wage of the average worker prior to the pandemic- about $1,000 weekly.

But on July 31st, the expansion that CARES provides will expire, and benefits will return to pre-pandemic amounts. Those currently receiving the maximum payment will see a 61% decrease in their income. In states that offer lower benefit payments, that percentage goes even higher. All of this comes during a national rental crisis, and moratoriums on evictions across the country are also nearing their ends or being extended last minute.

This isn’t the first or only “yuge” hole in the federal government’s COVID-19 safety net. Many Americans (this writer included) have seen neither hide nor hair of their promised stimulus checks. The HEROES act, which is being billed as a second round of stimulus money, remains under debate- as it has been for several weeks.

And the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain businesses to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who may be sick (or caring for someone who is) has plenty of problems too, namely the laundry list of exceptions to it.

This is just the most recent push to return to the pre-virus economy before effective protective measures have been put in place for workers and consumers alike. After all, with cases of COVID-19 spiking again in the US, it’s apparent that the act is still absolutely necessary. Our lawmakers either lack patience, or compassion – take your pick. Frankly, I say it’s both.

Not only have countless health experts warned that reopening too early will be disastrous, but if a second lockdown is in our future, all of the time, money, and human lives that went into reopening will be wasted.

There is a silver lining among the storm clouds on the horizon. Because ballooning unemployment has created long wait times for benefit applicants, unemployment assistance programs are shelling out retroactive back payments to those deemed eligible.

Good news, at least, for laid off workers who have been waiting months to hear their fate.

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.

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women-owned business

Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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