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Political Video Blogging on AgentGenius.com

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Introduction to New Contributor

Please welcome AgentGenius.com’s newest contributor, Greg Cooper, Realtor and former broadcaster from Indianapolis, Indiana. As you see in the above video, Greg is kicking off the Sunday political column at AG and he comes to us willing to wear his politics on his sleeve and he asks others to do the same.

The Challenge

As you saw in the video above, we want to know in the comments what political topics are on your mind, what you want to debate or even what you think is going uncovered. It doesn’t have to be real estate related, as most topics in the political realm potentially impact businesses and individuals alike.

Tune in every Sunday morning for some hearty debate from various vloggers, starting with the very very brave Greg Cooper!

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    September 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I’d love to debate the merits of a few things:

    1. the $8,000 housing credit
    2. Michael Moore’s attack on capitalism
    3. health care (tort reform, public option, state line issues, etc)
    4. eco-friendly bills
    5. bailouts
    6. Barney Frank’s CFPA bill
    7. emerging parties (Independent, Tea Party, etc), political divides
    8. politicians on twitter- good or bad?

    I could go on and on, we’re very excited to dive into politics. The perception is often that we should leave the politics to politicians, but the first step in supporting change is to be informed, so I’m excited to see you kick this off!!!

  2. Jim Duncan

    September 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Awesome.

    And that’s a great point about the perception – if we choose to leave politics to the politicians, we all lose (except for the politicians and lobbyists).

    By choosing not to get involved, we the citizens are abdicating our rights and responsibilities.

  3. Rocky V

    September 27, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Politics and real estate will make strange bedfellows.

    “Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
    Proverbs 4:27

  4. Matthew Rathbun

    September 27, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Rocky,

    I respectfully disagree on both the application of Proverbs and the need to separate Real Estate and Politics.

    There is a close relationship in the policies of the government and the effect on Real Estate. The real estate market has led to some horrible federal policies… We can do better.

    The theology of the Proverbs reference is staying on a narrow steady path. I’d be more apt to apply Romans 13:1 and if that’s the case, then I am to obey the government; so why not work toward putting a government in place that is worth serving and leading?

    Regardless…

    I’d like to discuss the following:

    1. The effects of PACs and specifically RPAC
    2. What happens when the only true separation of parties is where the money comes from.
    3. Why does “social change” have to be at the expensive of small business?
    4. Why do we pursue policies like Cap and Trade and Socialized Healthcare, when they are failing elsewhere.

    Other than that, I really like Lani’s list.

  5. Greg Cooper

    September 27, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    These are all great thoughts…..just jazzes me up more to get to them. I’m intrigued to see the response to the Cap and Trade video on several levels.

  6. Joe Sheehan

    September 27, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Discussing policy and discussing politics are not the same thing. Even politicians rarely discuss policy.

    I am all for a discussion of policy and will contribute if I think I have something to say. I will most likely skip over any “discussion” of politics as those “discussions” usually just piss me off.

  7. Linsey

    September 28, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Welcome to AG Greg. This is a daring and intriguing role to take on. I’m looked forward to following your posts.

  8. stephanie crawford

    September 28, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Is all this talk about increasing the tax credit to 15k keeping would-be buyers on the side lines? Shouldn’t we shelve the topic until after Nov. 30th?

  9. Terry McDonald

    September 30, 2009 at 11:54 am

    You are brave ones! But a place for civil conversation is essential. Here is a handful:

    1. RPAC and the symbiotic relationship it has with HBA, is it time to cut the chords? Would it be a bad thing for US real estate to have new home building go back to 1975 levels for a few years until demand requires new homes again? (sorry hba friends have to ask)

    2. Is there a direct line connecting the housing bubble and the efforts by Realtors, HBA, Legislators, and Presidents to make everyone a homeowner? In other words, are we in some way a victim of our own success, or excess?

    3. What can be done to create jobs in the US? It is well known that for every 2 jobs created, demand for one house is created– no artificial sweetener required (like tax credits)

    4. What’s with the happy talk? Is there any REAL recovery with unemployment still rising? Will real estate recover with unemployment still rising?

    to me it’s all about the jobs… if we want real estate to recover, we need to be creating good paying jobs and stop raiding the treasury to keep us Realtors afloat…. yes 8k is great, but 15K? Hell why not buy them the house?

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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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