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What are we talking about this week? The Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Obama’s “winning” the Nobel Peace Prize has dominated much of the blog and even mainstream media conversations, but does it really matter? At all? If so, to whom? A quick look at Google Trends shows the worlds’ real focuses – and the Nobel Peace Prize is nowhere near relevant (but for the recent few days) – sharing company with iraq, health care, the recession …

Google Trends_ nobel peace prize, recession, health care, iraq,.jpg

Reading the recent discussions and articles about the Peace Prize, one thing becomes clear: It doesn’t matter. It’s great that the world looks more favorably, but the President has yet to truly accomplish anything significant (much the same can be said of Congress).

The world’s indifference doesn’t diminish the Peace Prize’s irrelevance.

To see what matters to the world:

How about some context? Let’s add “football” to the mix:

Google Trends_ nobel peace prize, recession, health care, iraq, football.jpg

I hope to sell one hundred billion dollars of real estate this year, buy an island, retreat and retire. Do I get a prize for hoping?

Let’s add the Prize to the pile of irrelevance and move on to issues that matter.

I’m glad we’ve gotten that out of the way. Now let’s collectively move on to things that affect us.

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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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    October 11, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Okay, but you have to admit that the hardcore Obama supporters’ making a joke of this prize is pretty entertaining and watching the “we brought you into this world, we can take you out” mentality unravel. Even Huffington made a slideshow of those who have not won, noting it was undeserved.

    But fine… Football 1, Nobel 0. The topic is already losing ground and disagree or agree with the process, it doesn’t improve or destroy any politician, so I agree- it’s irrelevant.

  2. Jim Duncan

    October 11, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I also ran the Trends with American Idol, but football made my point so much more effectively. If we hard somehow transform the meaningless drivel and insignificance that has been associated with this award into something useful, we’d be on to something.

    But distractions such as this are one part to politicians’ maintaining their power and influence.

  3. Bob

    October 11, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    While I agree with the irrelevance of the Peace Price, I thought Obama handled it well. And I think its good when the words “Peace” and “America” are used in a positive manner by others in the world because that IS what America is ultimately about.

  4. Craig Barrett

    October 11, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Irrelevant? But Jim, President Obama almost swayed the IOC to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016 😉

  5. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    October 11, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    You know, some Real Estate professionals make a big deal about production volume or dollar volume. Many Brokers make a big deal about it. “John Doe did 200 transactions for $125,000,000 last year.” Who cares? The Broker and the person getting the award and recognition. A few peers look up to him/her and real estate gurus sell tons of product around it. Is it relevant in the search engines? My guess is it might be less than the Obama Nobel Peace Prize.

    Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what the search engines say. The prestige and, hopefully, good will that the prize engenders is relevant enough in my book.

  6. Brian Block

    October 11, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Jim, funny, but the first place I found out about the Nobel Peace Prize was on Facebook and something you posted! I was still in Lynchburg and just saw the FB post on my phone and just figured it was a joke. Little did I know that I would return home and find out that BHO had actually been selected!

  7. Lani Rosales

    October 12, 2009 at 12:11 am

    What I love that you guys are all doing is referring to the Office as PRESIDENT Obama. WTH is up with journalists on ALL cable stations calling him Mr. Obama (not President Obama, not Mr. President, or otherwise)?

    Regardless of political affiliations, this irks the hell out of me, how disrespectful of the Office! Does that bother anyone else?

  8. Kevin Nuut

    October 12, 2009 at 2:08 am

    You are polling the Internet for relevance? Is that an oxymoron? Also, which is more irrelevant, the peace prize or people blogging about it’s irrelevance?

  9. Paula Henry

    October 12, 2009 at 9:31 am

    It’s very telling what concerns “the people” and what should concern the leaders. Not to say the leaders should start talking football, however, if they did, they would find a common ground from which to start.

    And yes, Lani – it does bother me.

  10. Jim Duncan

    October 12, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Kevin –

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t see the oxymoron – what is a more relevant assessment? Blind surveys or commentary and comments by those who stand by their opinions?

    I’d put the peace prize at a notch above blogging about its on the scale of relevance.

  11. Craig Barrett

    October 12, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Yes Lani, it bugs me a great deal.

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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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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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Politics

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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