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Government Creeps Further into Every Facet of American Life

The plans for a markup next week – still tentative as of late Friday – appeared to signal growing congressional support for the idea, which President Barack Obama also backed during the 2008 campaign. And here is part of the bill, HR 390: College Football Playoff Act of 2009 – Congress finds that — (1) college football games, including post-season football games, depend upon competition between college and university teams traveling in interstate commerce;?… (3) the total economic impact in the host cities from the 5 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games in January 2008 was estimated at more than $1.2 billion;?… (6) the colleges and universities whose teams participate in the post-season football bowls experience significant financial windfall including increased applications for enrollment, recruiting advantages, increased alumni donations, and increased corporate sponsorship that provides a competitive advantage over universities whose teams are ineligible or statistically at a disadvantage from the BCS bowl competitions because of their conference affiliation.

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At least we can be confident that the government is focused on what’s really important.

WASHINGTON – House lawmakers are gearing up for a vote as soon as next week on a bill aimed at forcing a national college-football playoff.

Approval of the legislation by an Energy and Commerce subcommittee would represent the most significant action yet by Congress in its oversight of college football. The plans for a markup next week – still tentative as of late Friday – appeared to signal growing congressional support for the idea, which President Barack Obama also backed during the 2008 campaign.

And here is part of the bill, HR 390: College Football Playoff Act of 2009

Congress finds that

(1) college football games, including post-season football games, depend upon competition between college and university teams traveling in interstate commerce;?
(2) the competitions involve and affect interstate commerce and are therefore within Congress’s constitutional authority to regulate;?
(3) the total economic impact in the host cities from the 5 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games in January 2008 was estimated at more than $1.2 billion;?
(4) collegiate athletic conferences whose teams participate in each BCS bowl game share $17.5 million in revenue;?

(5) the BCS system recognizes the important economic impact to a city hosting the BCS championship game and therefore rotates it among cities; and?
(6) the colleges and universities whose teams participate in the post-season football bowls experience significant financial windfall including increased applications for enrollment, recruiting advantages, increased alumni donations, and increased corporate sponsorship that provides a competitive advantage over universities whose teams are ineligible or statistically at a disadvantage from the BCS bowl competitions because of their conference affiliation.

Translation:

2 – They live in America, we should regulate and tax them.
3 – They have money! We want some!

Shifting FHA guidelines, HVCC, bank failures, unemployment … do a search for “health insurance” on GovTrack – there are 2475 bills … and this is what the House debates?

Why don’t they do this crap in their free time?

What does this have to do with real estate? Directly, not very much. Indirectly, this represents yet another example the government interjecting themselves and interfering in American life.

At what point do we say, “enough is enough”?

Contact your Representative, start with the co-sponsors of this bill.

Rep. Joe Barton [R-TX6] (Sponsor)
John Carter [R-TX31]
Michael McCaul [R-TX10]
Gary Miller [R-CA42]
Bobby Rush [D-IL1]

Dad, Husband, Charlottesville Realtor, real estate Blogger, occasional speaker - Inman Connects, NAR Conferences - based in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native Virginian, I graduated from VMI in 1998, am a third generation Realtor (since 2001) and have been "publishing" as a real estate blogger since January 2005. I've chosen to get involved in Realtor Associations on the local, state & national levels, having served on the NAR's RPR & MLS groups. Find me in Charlottesville, Crozet and Twitter.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. BawldGuy

    December 6, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Patience, Jim. The rise of America’s majority, which has, at least in my lifetime, been to the right of center, is on the horizon. It’s a tsunami, a hundred year flood, or whatever else you’d prefer to call it. IMHO the 2010 elections will make Clinton’s ‘off year’ election debacle in 1994 look like a prelude to the real thing. Furthermore, by 2012, me thinks the current administration, (if they’re still in office) will embrace the hope their election loss won’t be too much worse than Carter’s in 1980.

    My hope? That once and for all, conservative’s, after having grown a pair, remember what it’s like to walk the walk instead of being the bitches of the left.

  2. Matt Stigliano

    December 6, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Jim – First, thanks for the mention via the link. I’m pretty darn proud of that post. As for the BCS (which I care nothing about, so perhaps I’m a little biased) I find it incredulous that any politician should be sticking their nose into this. It’s amazing – and not in the usual good way. They’ve been talking it for quite some time and now they’re actually doing something about it. I guess I have to give them credit for taking some action instead of just yapping back and forth about it. Of interest, 3 out of the 5 co-sponsors hail from Texas, so I can’t say I’m surprised. I stick out like a sore thumb down here with my disinterest in any kind of football – high school, college, or NFL. Nothing matches Texas’ fascination with football. Nothing.

    They broadcast high school football on network TV down here. Yep. You read that right.

  3. Lani Rosales

    December 6, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Jim, thanks for providing the Rep links, I see three are in my own state (which is surprising). The Congressional note seems to imply that NCAA teams just somehow don’t know that they have an economic impact (despite a long legacy of compensating coaches according to their wins aka economic impact). NCAA isn’t stupid and the almighty dollar speaks louder than anything else, so I smell a government sniffing around and it’s pretty ratty if you ask me.

    I want Congress to focus on resolving health care appropriately, higher involvement in fighting human and drug trafficking, implementing effective alternative energy programs for the biggest energy users (commercial, industrial) rather than regulate a suburban mom’s use, etc. Seriously, I LOVE FOOTBALL but I don’t give a crap about going to the Uncle Sam Bowl, do you?

    PS: Jeff, holy cow. I’m breathless!
    PSS: Jim, you know that’s my favorite moment in all of sports history, right? Playoffs?!?! lol

  4. Saurabh Das

    December 6, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    So just to be clear, the only thing your blog post has to do with real estate is that the “wrong” people are in power so surely this will somehow be bad for real estate. Yeah, I’ll get right on the calls.

  5. Ken Montville

    December 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Well, let’s see. College football is not really about college. It’s about football. “Student athlete” is an oxymoron. It’s not about the game, per se, but about the revenue it can bring into the college, its sports program and the nice “stuff” that money can buy. Since they bring in revenue through TV ad deals plus merchandising and they have to cross State lines to play (and sell) that sounds pretty much like interstate commerce to me.

    Of course, they should stay out of it. But after giving billions away to the financial industry and auto industry titans (some of whom are probably alums being hit up for contributions to the sports programs), the govmint needs some bucks to help pay for Iraq and Afghanistan among other things.

    Geeze, I’d rather them go after those highly lucrative college sports teams than raise my personal taxes.

  6. BawldGuy

    December 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Some how honed the ability to say nothing, but with elegance, to an art form. I’m envious.

  7. Jim Duncan

    December 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Saurabh –

    Thank you for the comment. A question – did you read my post?

  8. MIssy Caulk

    December 7, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Jim, this is the height of pride and is so wrong.

    Gosh darn it can’t they keep their grubby paws out of anything.
    Excuse me while I go puke.

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Politics

The House Judiciary antitrust investigation holds big techs’ feet to the fire

(POLITICS) CEOs of Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon set to testify in House Judiciary Committee antitrust investigation hearing today.

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The House Judiciary Committee is closing in on the end of a year-long investigation into tech giants Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, to evaluate possible antitrust abuses. CEOs from all four companies were set to testify on Monday, July 27, 2020. The hearing has been pushed back to Wednesday, July 29, to allow members of Congress to pay respects to civil rights leader Representative John Lewis (D-GA) who died of pancreatic cancer on July 17.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Sundar Pichai of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) have all agreed to testify. This will be Bezos’ first time in front of Congress, whereas all the others have testified before on different matters. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was invited to testify by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), but is expected to not attend.

The Antitrust Subcommittee began the investigation in June 2019. Each business has been the subject of scrutiny for their roles in dominating their respective industries and playing an outsized role in market competition for smaller businesses. The Committee is interested in evaluating current antitrust laws and whether they apply to, or should be updated for, these mega corporations. They have already heard testimonies from smaller companies like Sonos and Tile about these companies’ alleged monopolistic practices.

The focus of the investigation for Apple is on the App Store, and whether it has implemented policies that are harmful for app developers. Google has a tight hold on the online advertising market. Amazon – which during a five-week period early in the pandemic saw an increase in value equivalent to the total value of Walmart, the world’s largest firm – has been criticized for its treatment of brands that sell on its e-commerce platform. Facebook is being investigated for its acquisition practices, cornering the social media market with purchases like Instagram.

Amazon is expected to face additional scrutiny for its treatment of warehouse workers during the pandemic. Facebook and YouTube (a subsidiary of Google) have been the subject of regular criticism about monitoring hate speech on their platforms, and their treatment of the workers responsible for doing so (Facebook in particular).

The hearing is set to occur virtually in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Watch the hearing live at 12:00 p.m. EST Wednesday, July 29 on the House Judiciary Committee’s YouTube channel. Please do note the hilarious irony of streaming a Congressional antitrust hearing on YouTube, which is owned by Google, which is owned by Alphabet, which is testifying at said hearing. God Bless America.

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Politics

Additional unemployment benefits outside of the CARES Act

(POLITICS) Unemployment is at an all time high in the United States and individuals need to be aware of reapplying for additional benefits.

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unemployment broke

June saw some additional jobs in the US and unemployment fell as of early July, but CNBC advised pausing on any celebration just yet, saying that “The employment crisis is still worse than any time since the Great Depression, the country’s worst economic downturn in its industrial history.”

The unemployment statistics in our country right now are really scary – especially for individuals and families that see a looming deadline of July 31 for the supplemental $600/week provided by the Federal Government through the CARES Act put in place in March. There are discussions on extending these benefits as many families have not been able to replace their incomes or find new employment opportunities, but it doesn’t seem like anything has been finalized there yet. Congress is in the middle of a variety of options:

  • Discontinue the additional $600/week but allow those on unemployment to continue to file and receive their state benefits (usually up to 26 weeks or possibly extended up to 39 weeks by The CARES act)
  • Send out additional stimulus checks (Congress is currently exploring a $X Trillion stimulus package)
  • Extend the additional funding (on top of the weekly amount allotted by state) but cut it from $600 to $200
  • It’s also been put on the table in the House of Representatives “The Heroes Act” to extend the additional $600/week until January 2021 ($3 trillion).

There are some additional benefits that are available (different than the funds by the CARES Act), but you may have to reapply for them. So, make sure to check your state’s unemployment pages and your filing status. Some states do not require you to reapply and you can continue on with extended benefits.

According to CNBC, “The additional aid expires after the end of the year. (This is a different program than the one paying an extra $600 a week through July 31.) For some reason, the [Department of Labor] has taken the position that people have to file for the additional PEUC benefits,” said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.”

No doubt that this can cause additional stress and uncertainty especially when you have questions about your filing and are unable to get through to someone on the phone. With the way that the unemployment cycle is setup, technically July 25 is considered the last date for that cycle (and July 26 for New York), so be sure to check and see what the next steps are for you if you are currently filing.

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How will pausing the reopening of states impact the recovery of the economy?

(POLITICS) The resurgence of COVID-19 has left Americans with a lot of questions about our nation’s economic future. That ambiguity is seemingly a feature, not a bug.

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COVID-19 reopening economy

The rest of the world watched as the United States dramatically reopened “the economy” last month. Now, it seems we’ve changed our minds about that.

The White House has repeatedly said that it will be up to individual states to form their own pandemic response plans moving forward. But letting local governments devise their own solutions has produced large gaps in their preparedness, as well as profound confusion around the best practices for balancing the country’s public and economic health.

California, which represents the largest economy in the US and the fifth largest in the world, was one of the first states to put serious quarantine restrictions in place. The decision to relax those orders only came after anti-lockdown protestors demanded that Governor Gavin Newsom reopen the state’s beaches, businesses and churches. Newsom may now regret this capitulation as California just called for a second round of statewide lockdowns.

Other state legislators are slowly following their lead, as the threat is becoming very dire in some places. Florida, for instance, is now a global hotspot for COVID-19 and Miami is being called “the new Wuhan”. The state is also currently struggling against another wave of unemployment, partly because their economy is heavily dependent on summer tourism (which has persisted despite the spike in cases, but not nearly at pre-pandemic levels).

Florida, California and Texas are altogether responsible for 20 percent of all new COVID-19 cases globally.

Every state is fighting two battles here. Coronavirus relief efforts in the US are still seriously underfunded, and most health organizations here lack the resources to effectively test and treat their communities. But the problems that have emerged for workers and small business owners, like evictions and layoffs, have also been devastating in their own right.

In essence, the United States reopened in an effort to curb the nation’s financial freefall and ballooning unemployment. Economists predicted at the beginning of July that reopening would allow the US to avoid a recession, and all would go smoothly. These projections likely did not account for a spike in cases that would halt this economic rebound.

That’s not to say the circumstances here haven’t improved at all over the past months; currently there is no acute shortage of ventilators, and doctors have had some time to refine their strategies for treating the virus. Overall, the national unemployment rate is slightly declining, while working from home is going so well for companies like Twitter and Facebook that they will be permanently switching much of their staff to remote work.

By comparison, though, New Zealand took the pandemic much more seriously than the US did, and they are objectively in a better position now in all respects. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cracked down hard and early, closing the country’s borders completely, and instituting rent freezes nationwide. As a result they have virtually eradicated COVID-19 within their borders. A report from S&P Global also expects New Zealand’s economy to recover quickly compared to the rest of the world.

While this tradeoff seems like a zero sum game – as if we have to pick either our health, or our wealth – it is not. In fact, we could very well end up with neither if our lawmakers don’t proceed with caution.

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