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When a Simple Majority Equals Socialism

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Twittledee and TwittledumIt seems that the “‘Just Say No’ to Everything” party just can’t seem to get their story straight.

First, everything the President was proposing regarding health care reform, addressing climate change or financial reform, was turning toward Socialism and the only way the “‘Just Say No’ to Everything” party could stop it was by threatening a filibuster which, in the Senate, could only be stopped by 60 votes — a super majority.  Now the Tea Partiers have Scott (#41) Brown in the Senate so it will be impossible for to get a super majority.

But, wait.

Now, the Dems want to go ahead and use procedures that would allow some type of reform to pass with a simple majority — 51 votes.  You know, the type of All-American, fundamentally democratic procedure which says if I get one more vote that the other guy, I win.  This seems to work well in elections even though the Republicans don’t seem to take to that concept very well either (remember Coleman and Franken in Minnesota).

What Does The Tea Party Want?

I think it’s about time that the folks over in the Republican Party wake up to the dangers that pandering to extreme right wing nut cases are presenting to the political process in America.  Extremists are extremists whether they espouse libertarian, zero-government solutions or Islamist jihad.  It can really have no good result and it would be nice to see some semblance of rationality re-enter the political system before all this gets out of control.

So What Does This Have To Do With Real Estate?

Before everyone gets their knickers in a knot about how AgentGenius is a real estate blog and “I get my politics on other sites.”, let me try to put a real estate spin on this.

Without some sort of Government intervention, whether it is direct subsidies like the tax credit or pressure on financial institutions to provide access to credit, the housing market will be in the dumper for a long, long time.  Access to credit is essential not only for potential home buyers.  It is essential to small business owners who will employ people and create income so people can, potentially, buy houses.  At the very least, there will be a resurgence of confidence in the economic system which will lead to a more robust housing market.  This will all lead, I think everyone agrees, to a ripple effect through the economy as a whole.

Tea Partiers and Republicans are doing no one any good by constantly tearing down the positive effects of Good Government.  Therein lies the rub.  Good Government cannot exist as long as rational public servants (i.e., the politicians in Congress) are blinded by threats and screaming and truckloads of cash about to come thier way from corporations courtesy of the Supreme Court.

We need to start over, alright. Congress would be a good place to begin.

“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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47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    March 7, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Ken, although I do not agree with your blanket description of Tea Partiers as extremists – I’m with you on the rest.

    At the end of this month, the Fed stops buying Mortgage Backed Securities. At the end of next month, the tax credits expire. Timed, no doubt, to coincide with the summer selling season so cyclical summer sales figures can blind everyone to the serious effects both of these events will have on the housing market. Oh, and lest we forget, the FHA seller contribution is cut in half, and the PMI goes up. The bottom line is these changes – all of which make it harder or less rewarding to buy a home – will have a negative effect on the housing market – and all are within the control of the current administration.

    I believe the tax credit should expire, and the Fed should stop buying the securities, but without the genesis of some other forms of incentives to free up lending we may be facing a very dire last three quarters of 2010.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Fred Romano

    March 7, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Let the ball drop as they may… lets get this over with and let RE takes it natural course. Prices are still too high in many areas.

  3. Bruce Lemieux

    March 7, 2010 at 10:58 am

    There’s so much un-directed rage and frustration with the economy and the housing market:

    “The government needs to create jobs”
    “The government need to shrink and get out of the way”
    “The government needs to cut taxes, cut the deficit and cut spending – and still create jobs all at the same time.”

    As a society, we’ll be paying for two wars and the near-implosion of our economy for years to come — maybe a generation. I honestly can’t see anything that the government can do to eliminate the short-term pain. Our structural deficit *must* be addressed, but that’s not going do anything for the ‘here and now’.

    As for the housing market, I’m with Fred. We have to let RE continue its correction. The Fed has done an extraordinary job with monetary policy to make financing as affordable as possible, and I expect they will continue to do so going forward. Home prices have come down. Banks are lending to qualified buyers – that’s what I’m seeing. I’m even seeing 95% conventional financing from credit unions. Let the homebuyer credits expire. Let the market take care of itself.

  4. Toby Boyce

    March 7, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I don’t care about the political alignment. The ultra-liberals are just as dangerous as the ultra-conservatives — a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.

    However, I strongly disagree with your entire basis of the argument when you connect this with real estate.

    “Without some sort of Government intervention, whether it is direct subsidies like the tax credit or pressure on financial institutions to provide access to credit, the housing market will be in the dumper for a long, long time.” Why? The economy appears to be on the rebound. The Stock Market was impressed with the job’s report, and what is the number one way to pull us out of this recession? Jobs.

    The economic impact of “supporting” the housing business has helped several of us REALTORS stay in the business – and I’m thankful for the assistance – but I continue to argue that it is “good government” to prop up the economy. The American economy is an amazing machine and it will recover from its cycles.

    Do your sellers have confidence heading into the summer selling season? Mine don’t.
    Do your buyer have confidence heading into the summer selling season? Mine don’t.

    Why? We don’t know if this is the bottom. The government has “propped” the housing market up on a false floor. Now they are going to pull the floor out from under us. Is the ground there to keep us from falling again? Nobody knows.

    Had the government stood back and allowed the housing industry to crash down. We would have fallen farther, faster but it would have been on the “real” ground. Once we start coming back up there is confidence that we are seeing “real” numbers.

    I’ll take the “Invisible Hand” over a “Republican or Democratic” sticky finger in the process any day.

  5. Arn Cenedella

    March 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Ken

    I am sorry but I need to be direct.
    In my humble opinion, you are wrong on just about every point.

    First off, even Realtors should base their political decisions on what’s best for OUR NATION not what’s best for the RE business.

    Let me ask you a question:
    Have you previously ever written about the Senate fillibuster rules?
    Did you compain about those rules when the Democrats were a minority in the Senate?
    I doubt it!
    If you didn’t protest Senate rules when the Dems were the minority than I suggest your position NOW may be touched with a tad of hyprocrisy.

    Did you speak of your outrage when the Dems in Mass tried to change the rules for replacing Ted Kennedy in the Senate?
    I doubt it!
    To refresh your memory, Mass law was that when a Senate seat was vacant, the Governor would appoint the Senator to complete the term. You might remember when Kerry ran for President and there was a Republican Governor, Dems in control of the state legislature passed a law mandating a special election. Do you remember that? Fast forward to last year, Ted Kennedy dies. Dem governor. Dems, guess what, tried to change the law again back to governor appointment.
    Do you remember that?
    This effort failed.

    Since I mention Kerry, do you remember John Edwards?
    Let’s see, the pretty boy $400 haircut weasal cheats on his wife who has cancer – lies about it – fathers a child with a mistress and not only lies about it but has his staff member claim the kid as his.

    Is that the kind of moral leadership a Democratic majority will provide?

    Let’s see what else those wonderful Dems have been up to lately.
    Dem Gov of Illinios tries to sell Obama’s seat.
    Dem Gov of NY former attrorney general Sptizer cheats on his wife.
    Appointed Dem Gov of NY Patterson has State Police harass a woman who has filed a sexual complaint against one of his staff members.
    Rangel forgets to pay taxes on some investment property and guess what blames his staff.
    How about the $40,000 cash in the Lousiana politician’s refrigerator?

    Is that the kind of good government the Democrats will bring?

    Or do you believe a person’s personal conduct has no impact on their public conduct?

    Is that what you mean by good government offered by Dems and liberals?
    I mean really?

    America is in trouble. We need leaders we can believe in, leaders we can trust.

    Our political system is broken and corrupt.
    Unlike you, I realize both Dems and Republicans are at fault.
    Both Democrats and Republicans are running this country into the ground.
    Most if not all of our elected representatives are more concerned with being re-elected as opposed to doing what is best for the Country.
    Yes they take money from corporations but let’s not forget public employee unions that spend just as much money.

    Politicians from BOTH parties use their office for personal financial gain.
    Or do you believe only Republicans do this?

    How can government spending ever be held in check when public employees retire after 25 years service at 90% of the income? Mathemactically it doesn’t work. Every time a public employee retires the personal cost of the government goes up. They pay the new employee 100% and the retiring employee 90% so they pay 190% for a 100% job.

    Of course, labor unions send money to big government Dems and liberals so they can keep milking the public purse.

    Do you support labor’s push for card check, which violates a fundamental principal of our democracy which entitles everyone to a SECRET BALLOT?

    Congress now in control of the Dems is spending money we don’t have on programs that don’t work so they can act like they actually care about the common man and woman. They treat a BILLION like a cup of coffee.

    The words good and government do not belong in the same sentence.
    Can you give me any examples of good government?
    You mean the Post Office?
    Do you mean the Department of Motor Vehicles?
    Or do you mean the Pentagon that spends a $1000 for a toilet?
    Do you mean Social Security which is a Ponzi scheme that would make Madoff proud?
    Medicare?
    Do you mean a government that only spends money they have?
    Or do you mean the government that is mortgaging our kids and grandkids’s future?

    Do you mean our government that can not enforce existing immigration laws?
    All of my grandparents on both sides of my family immigrated to the US.
    My grandparents followed all the rules, why shouldn’t new immigrants follow the rules?
    Of course, the liberal moveon.org Dems of which you appear to be a member will say it is not PC to aks those questions – that somehow even asking those questions is a problem.

    Our federal deficit is what in the Trillions and Dems are hell bent to spend more money.
    The State of California has a $20 Billion dollar deficit.
    The US post office has a deficit.

    Is this all George Bush’s fault?

    The other important point in your post is that liberals and Dems typically believe anyone who does not agree with them is either 1) stupid or 2) morally corrupt.

    Obama and Dems say the reason the US public does not support Obama Care is that they do not understand it – ie. they are too stupid to know what is good for them. I say nonsense. Obama and the Dems promise to cover more people, provide better care, AND reduce costs. Even a 5 year old knows this is nonsense.

    Let’s take global warming.
    I have always been a skeptic. Those that did not buy Al Gore’s vision of disaster were called “deniers”. That we denied the truth – that we must have been bought by the oil companies (morally corrupt) or stupid.
    If the “science” was undeniable, why did various organziations feel the need to fudge data, report as science non factual studies, and supress dissent?
    Why does the UN offical now say in truth temperatures have not increased from the mid 1990s?
    And when we get some cold weather, global warming becomes climate change – that way no matter what happens, the Dems can push for increased government regulation and taxation that costs people their jobs.
    Is that what you mean by good government?

    I live in the San Francisco Bay area – one of the most liberal areas in your country.
    My opinions are certainly in the minority.

    So Ken – do you really believe the problems in our government and our nation are solely due to Republicans? That the liberals and the Dems have played no part?

    My comments are not a defense of Republicans.
    In my opinion, they are just as bad as Democrats.

    How much more insanity do we need to see?
    How much longer are we going to buy empty promises?
    How much longer is each special interest group in America going to push their own agenda to the deteriment of the entire country? The polticians give in and spend our money in return for campaing contributions in return.
    Do you believe only Repbulicans do this?

    Dems point the finger at big corporations and the wealthy.
    Republicans point the finger at labor unions, trial lawayers, and welfare cheats.
    They pit Americans against each other for their personal and political gain.

    When are we Americans going to wake up to the corruption in our political system?

    As long as the politicians keep Americans riled up at the OTHER PARTY, their selfish malfeasance will continue.

    The Wash DC politicians believe they are above the law – they have better retirement, better health care – than the rest of us. They lie cheat and steal believing we are too stupid to see. Day after day, we see our political leaders exhibit behavior we would not approve of in ourselves or our kids. The list is endless. They act like royalty.

    I thought we ended royalty running America in 1776.

    Ken – I don’t know you and I bet you are a good guy.
    So my comments are nothing personal.

    I just ask you to stop, look at things from a different perspective.

    Anericans need to read from a variety of sources so they can form their own opinions and not just buy hook line and sinker what MSNBC or Fox News sells?

    We each are entitled to our opnion.
    And despite all the critics of our country and political system, we still live in the freest nation on Earth that offers its citizens the best opportunity for personal growth and success – nowhere is better.

    What’s the old saying – be careful what you wish for.

    The mood of the country has certainly changed in the past year.
    Lots of people hated George Bush and believed he was the problem.
    Obama won and the Democrats gained additional power in Congress.
    Anericans have seen Obama and the Democrats in action.
    Today, Americans are not as sure Obama and the Dems have all the answers as they were a year ago.
    Don’t know about you but I haven’t seen CHANGE.
    What’s different?
    I see more of the SOS.

  6. Dennis C Smith

    March 7, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    First, amen Arn. Another liberal wanting to use “government money” to solve the problems. Excuse me, that’s my money. And yours. And now it is my children’s and grandchildren’s. And yours. Thank God we have the “party of no” preventing Trillions more being piled onto the national debt. The hypocrisy and whininess of liberals crying about the 60 votes needed for cloture is sickening. No issue when they used the process to block about 100 federal judiciary appointments from President Bush. When they used to threat of the process to block any attempt at needed social security reform.

    As for how this relates to real estate, you are basically saying you want the Republicans to go along with handouts so real estate agents, mortgage originators, and other real estate “professionals” who made gobs of money in a free for all to be able to do so again. No thanks. The best thing about this current real estate cycle are all the crooks, lazy agents and unethical hucksters who have been forced from the market. Those that are left are looking for “free” “government money” to subsidize their income. What is the difference between that and welfare, only that you have to pay income tax.

    Get rid of the tax credits. Let the mortgage rates go where the market will take them. Get the feds out of the over-regulations as they try to create another bubble. Once Obama and his Administration stop making pronouncements about what may be regulated next and the various sectors of the financial industries can look to the future knowing what the rules will be they will loosen up and start to lend and invest. Until then they will hoard cash not knowing what scheme from Pennsylvania Avenue will be cooked up next to take their money.

    In the meantime, go back to elementary school and learn about sets and subsets. The Republicans haven’t stopped anything from passing since the Democrats have had the ability to pass anything they wanted for a year, but because their cap and tax and health care bills were so bad their own party members would not support them. (https://dcsmusings.blogspot.com/2010/02/of-course-its-partisan-duh.html) So quit blaming Republicans for what your own party members can’t support, and by the way the majority of the country don’t want either.

    In the meantime your guys have spent over $1 Trillion propping up our industry and are going to spend another Trillion (https://dcsmusings.blogspot.com/2010/03/your-tax-dollars-at-work.html).

    To quote a great American, “How’s that hopey-changey thing workin’ for ya?”

  7. Rob Hahn

    March 7, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    *stunned*

    Did you just equate Tea Partiers — Americans exercising their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble and engage in politics — with Islamic Jihadis?

    And we’re the extremists?

    /*stunned*

    Regarding the specific Senate rule you’re ranting about… here’s an interesting video:

    You let me know where you stand on your “simple majority” idea, mmkay?

    -rsh

  8. Benjamin Bach

    March 8, 2010 at 6:53 am

    did AG redirect me to the Huffington Post?

    Ken, stop watching Keith Olberman and go talk to people who own small businesses and employ people in your area. We think a bit differently about the gov’t spending money – realize, the government only has money that they CONFISCATE from people (taxes). They have no money. It’s your money (and these days, its the $$ of whoever is buying US bonds)

    PS – I’m from a country with national health care (Canada), and I am cool(ish) with paying high taxes so that everyone has access to some sort of care. That being said, a) our health care system is broken, and b) we actually have the money to pay for our care, as opposed to the US, who is borrowing MASSIVE amounts of money from non-democratic countries.

  9. Benjamin Bach

    March 8, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Oh, Ken you live near DC.

    That explains it

  10. Benjamin Bach

    March 8, 2010 at 6:56 am

    PS Ken, the whole mess started when government policy forced lenders to write loans to people who couldn’t afford them prior, and the influx of buyers drove up demand and prices, until the bubble burst.

    So, government intervention may not be the answer……….

    PPS – go to the DMV or any other government run service. Stand in line for a few hours. Now imagine you’re sick. See how fun the experience will be?

  11. Benjamin Bach

    March 8, 2010 at 7:06 am

    “Now the Tea Partiers have Scott (#41) Brown in the Senate ”

    DUDE – the people of massachusetts have scott brown in the senate. they voted for him, knowing he wanted to vote against the current incarnation of ‘health care reform’ – thats how democracy works. He represents the people, not the ‘jihadi’-esque tea party people you speak of.

    This is hope and change. get over it.

  12. Fred Griffin

    March 8, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Great – a Leftist Political Rant on AG.

    What next, Religion?

  13. Ken Montville

    March 8, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I think I’m seeing a trend here. Compassionate, empathetic liberals = bad. Self absorbed, every man/woman for themselves (assuming women are included), up by your boot straps = good.

    I wish liberals could learn to scream as loud as the right wing. Maybe we just need more training.

    • Rob Hahn

      March 8, 2010 at 11:09 am

      What the hell does any of this have to do with your point: you want to eliminate the Senate filibuster rule and have Obamacare go through on a simple majority vote. Fine.

      Your side was screaming pretty damn loudly back in 2005 about how sacred the filibuster is, and how evil BushMcHitlerHalliburton’s schemes to use the “nuclear option” was tantamount to dictatorship. I didn’t post comments from evil Republicans; I posted video, using words from the compassionate empathetic liberals that you support.

      What changed in five years?

      Unlike some of the others here, I’m all good with political discussion on AG — since it’s categorized as Politics. If that’s where Benn & crew want to explore, fantastic.

      But if yer gonna do politics and real estate, then do politics and real estate. Make some arguments. Peevish “you guys are mean” responses are entirely pointless.

      Or not and just show once again how intellectually dishonest and bereft of logic the Left’s statist position really is. Your choice.

      -rsh

      • Ken Montville

        March 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm

        Rob, I don’t care if you guys are mean.

        The Right seems to have two response to left leaning political opinion: 1) Scream and yell and threaten or 2) demand a footnoted white paper complete with bibliography and index.

        Reading through the comments I can see two, maybe three, reasoned and calm responses to my *opinion* piece. If you want to say that nothing has changed and site all kinds of examples of Democratic misbehavior and hypocrisy, that works for me. I would gently suggest that liberals can roll out the sound bites and examples of misbehavior from many a conservative politician either from Congress or past Administrations.

        However, I wasn’t tasked to write scholarly position papers for the AG blog posts. I am allowed the opportunity to provide a different perspective to what I consider to be a highly conservative, extremely libertarian echo chamber.

        In other words, Rob, other voices need to be heard.

        • Rob Hahn

          March 9, 2010 at 9:04 pm

          I see.

          I’m not asking for a footnoted white paper, Kent. This is a website, not a college campus. (If it were a college campus, especially in California, there would be violent riots and burning furniture, but I digress…) I’m asking for you to either (a) make some sort of a logical argument, or (b) concede that your opinion is based on nothing more than some sort of emotional hiccup.

          And I don’t believe I suggested liberal malfeasance; I merely threw back the words of those who are now pushing for “reconciliation” to bypass the Senate filibuster rules from five years ago when such a thing was an unconscionable destruction of the Republic… according to them.

          If you think something has changed in the last five years such that you can square what then-Senator Obama said about “majoritarian absolute power on either side” with what President Obama is saying, then state it. If you can square the hypocrisy of the Democrats on this issue, then let’s hear the logic behind it.

          Otherwise, feel free to admit that you were completely wrong. It’s okay to admit it when you were wrong. We’ll understand, really.

          -rsh

          • Ken Montville

            March 10, 2010 at 7:41 am

            Rob, Was there really a blond haired, blue eyed, American citizen exercising her Constitutional rights arrested on terrorists charges? Calling herself Jihad Jane? Perhaps you should call the mainstream press (Washington Post, et al) to task. At least, she didn’t self identify with the Tea Party.

      • Brandie Young

        March 9, 2010 at 8:30 pm

        <3 me some @RobHahn

  14. ben bach

    March 8, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Gee Ken tell us how u feel. I think that your last comment, as disrespectful as it is, is a good thing.
    People won’t feel so bad now telling u what we really think

    Love,
    A Self absorbed, every man/woman for themselves, up by your boot straps Jerk (who happens to pay for others to have health care…)

    • Ken Montville

      March 8, 2010 at 7:55 am

      Gee, Ben. I really couldn’t tell how you guys felt before. Everyone was being so subtle and nuanced. I wish you guys would quit being so coy and just tell it like it is. Oh, provide some nicely edited video, too, for those of us that like that kind of thing.

      I’m sure glad we liberals don’t have to pay taxes or deal with any of the societal maladies conservatives do. That makes it so much easier to suggest solutions that might actually work. You know, because we’re so detached from really having to deal with all the things that our conservative, laissez fair, and most beneficent overlords in the financial sector have brought upon us. They were just, you know, using the system to better themselves. That’s the American way.

  15. Ralph Bell

    March 8, 2010 at 8:12 am

    “I wish liberals could learn to scream as loud as the right wing. Maybe we just need more training.” — You do scream as loud, but the problem seems to be that you are in the minority. So to be heard you have to scream louder than the Majority.

  16. Michael Patton

    March 8, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Can anyone say Term Limits?

    What about 1 six year term for Senators – max?

    How about a max of 2 two year terms for House of Reps?

    Let’s try for the “cherry” on top of this Sundae… restrictions on working for any lobby firms for a minimum of 5 years after you leave office?

    The system has been screwed up for many years – it’s no longer a citizen govt… it’s now a professional govt and that was never what our founders planned.

    While I’m at it – our founders never envisioned an era where we would support our citizens with a blank check (think entitlement programs), but rather relied on the wisdom of our local communities. If someone needed to build a barn AND they’d been a good productive member of the community then others within the community pulled together and helped get the job done… kind of a “paying it forward” system.

    Sure my thoughts are simplistic – and I could labor on and on with many points attacking both parties… but to what end? Just more division between us and we defend our positions.

    Maybe things weren’t so bad – a couple hundred years ago?

  17. Dennis C Smith

    March 8, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Now people, you know you aren’t supposed to argue with the liberal, he is right and pure and everything we should aspire to.

    Amazing a site about real estate, with advertisers, has a main columnist/writer attacking readers, and potential customers for the advertisers, over something that really has nothing to do with real estate. Of course Kenny tried to show how his liberal angst over the rules of the Senate somehow ties to real estate, but really the reason for the article was to bash non-liberals and equate many Americans to terrorists and murderers.

    Great site, I’ll recommend it to more people to come and be insulted while solicited for business!

  18. ben bach

    March 8, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Ken, feel free to , you know, address some of the issues of substance raised, instead of asserting that you also pay tax.

    Also, pls don’t call AG readers, sponsors, contributors etc. names. We’re a community here, & while we will disagree, we should all strive to do so with decency

  19. Benn Rosales

    March 8, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Addressing this idea of right versus left and lumping the tea party into the right as if they’re on the right is in and of itself a failure for liberals to understand that the right is equally as afraid of the tea party movement. I don’t think either side understands that the tea party is born of frustration with both sides on many many levels and is a tangible expression of independents.

    On the issue of saying no to everything? We have a White House and a liberal Hill that seems to want to run to the extreme left rather than to the middle misunderstanding Change as a mandate to reverse or over correct in the name of Change. What happened to scalpel versus sledge hammer?

    As for the neatly edited video? Rather than moving to the center and getting something done, it’s called ram through a bill regardless of what the dumb American public thinks, after all, Nancy and Barak knows what’s best.

    As a right wing nut job and extremist conservative, I say yes to this article because it only exemplifies what the left is best at, believing it knows me, what I think, and what’s best for my life and nothing else without a single insight into me or what I really think or believe. A tiny box created by some left wing ivory tower elitist- but I’m not offended, Ken, you’re only representative of 49% of a polarized nation and why should that change today?

    Relation to real estate? Only everything.

  20. Harriman Real Estate

    March 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Benn said: “I say yes to this article because it only exemplifies what the left is best at, believing it knows me, what I think, and what’s best for my life and nothing else without a single insight into me or what I really think or believe.”

    Benn, in one sentence I believe you have managed to state clearly the problem with not just the left, but our entire government as it exists today: they have no clue what the people want or what’s best for them, and haven’t for many years. The days of government of the people, by the people and for the people espoused by Lincoln have long since ended, at least in my opinion. The schism between parties just keeps getting bigger, a wall made higher and more impassable with every heated exchange and barbed response, and no resolution or compromise in sight. I really think they’re all toys-in-the-attic crazy. (apologies to Pink Floyd)

  21. Mike

    March 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Ken, if you are going to express a political opinion, you really need to have a counter argument for many of the points made here. If you don’t, you lose a lot of credibility, just as a Republican would, if he or she had made a similar, political post. To post, and then respond with nothing is weak, in my humble opinion. What is your rebuttle to these points?
    Mike O’Hara

    • Ken Montville

      March 8, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      With no credibility that would make me “in-credible”. I’ll take it.

  22. Justin Boland

    March 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Before everyone gets their knickers in a knot about how AgentGenius is a real estate blog and “I get my politics on other sites.”, let me try to put a real estate spin on this.

    Personally, I don’t get my politics on any sites. I like to keep it that way as much as possible. As my school headmaster used to say, “Conversations about politics generate much heat but little light.”

    • Benn Rosales

      March 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm

      The National Association of Realtors, 99% of our base, are one of the largest political lobbies in the world making politics a category that is not only relevant but probably most critical. What we find most interesting however is the lack of debate of issues before we lobby one side or the other, rather, it’s handed down to us in the form of an issue from DC. I’m not saying that’s bad, but what I am saying is that there is no way that 100% of 1.2 million Realtors agrees with the NAR’s position. It may generate little light, but it’s better than no light and no discussion.

      • Justin Boland

        March 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm

        Excellent points and I agree with ’em, too. I would still say that perhaps poking the hornet’s nest isn’t the best way to kick the project off? It would be cool to use Google Forms to make up a survey of Agent Genius readers and Realtors in general, to probe into these controversial issues and get demographics info that the NAR itself might be too cautious to even bring up.

        Has the NAR actually been facing opposition from Tea Party conservatives in Washington DC? Not asking skeptically, just curious if it’s been an issue.

        • Ken Montville

          March 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

          Justin,

          There was a survey awhile back. I think it might have been in response to a couple of blog posts I wrote that were purely political in nature (such as my position on the death penalty) with no tangential relevance for real estate.

          I currently try to create a fairly concrete connection between whatever I’m writing about and real estate. Sometimes, I do better at that than other times. That said, I wanted to see if anyone was still reading my stuff and, just as importantly, if there were any left leaning AG readers that might want to express an opinion.

          This post and the comments have been a real eye opener.

  23. Arn Cenedella

    March 8, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Ken
    You know I have been thinking about your most recent comment:
    “Self absorbed, every man/woman for themselves (assuming women are included), up by your boot straps”

    And I see the error of my ways.

    I did not realize that working hard for 32 years in the real estate business supporting myself and my family was “self-aborbed”.
    Who knew?

    I guess the millions of immigrants that came to this country with NOTHING in hopes of finding a better life thru hard work were ALL WRONG.

    I guess you would prefer people come here and start getting government handouts from DAY ONE. Because that is the GIVING???? thing to do???

    Now that you have spoken, I understand that supporting one’s family is a bad thing!

    So I quit today and I am headed down to the County office to apply for welfare, Section 8 housing, and food stamps. Ken, I really want to support your vision of Utopia! Please let me know where else I should go to get government money. Clearly, working for one’s own money is BAD.

    Since I no longer have to work anymore, I will have lots of time to spread your gospel – “Why work? It is totally selfish! Do your share to keep govenrment employees employed!Let the government take care of you! it is the right thing to do for your country!”

    Ken – Do you really believe the nonsense you write?

    I was out with some friends last week and we talked about how one should go about the world in their life.

    The general consensus is that each person should do what’s best for their family and them but you do not screw or hurt other people in the process. Meaning you work hard to provide for yourself and family but you treat others with respect and consideration.

    If I can’t support myself or my family, how can i support others?

    I suggest you read Ayn Rand “Fountainhead” or “Atlas Shrugged” to see the absurdity of your ideas played to completion.

  24. ben bach

    March 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Lumping libertarians & conservatives together… Interesting

    Ken you haven’t addressed any of the substantial viewpoints from the comments.

    Its good practice for a writer to answer comments, not just jump in & say that the commenters are wrong/rude/selfish

    • Ken Montville

      March 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm

      Ben,

      Are you sure you’re reading the same comments I am?

  25. Bob Wilson

    March 8, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    “You know, because we’re so detached from really having to deal with all the things that our conservative, laissez fair, and most beneficent overlords in the financial sector have brought upon us.”

    You mean like the former Chairman of Goldman Sachs and recent Director of CitiGroup, Robert Rubin? You remember Bob, don’t you Ken? Clinton’s democratic Secretary of the Treasury?

    Funny think about good ole Bob Rubin is that even his friends hold him responsible for his part in the financial disaster. Since you seem to be more into op-ed pieces than journalistic truth (usually because of the tendency to either forget history or still waiting for Michael Moore to release it on BlueRay or DVD), I will try to shed some light on to the role that Clinton’s “conservative, laissez fair” financial right hand man played in this mess:

    In 1998, Sandy Weill and John Reed founded Citigroup. At the time there was this law, The Glass-Steagall Act, that was enacted to prevent an entity like Citigroup from combining both commercial and investment banking. Citigroup did it anyway, which was kinda sorta technically illegal. That small problem was dealt with though by the Clinton Administration. At the direction of then Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, they dismantled the law and Citigroup lived on, Rubin resigned in 1999 and was hired in the same year by Citigroup, where he held an influential position on their Board of Director and was chair of Citigroup’s executive committee. The rest, as they say, is history.

    If you would like a history lesson on Lloyd Bentsen, also Treasury Secretary under Clinton, I can help there as well.

    At one point in time, he was called a Tory Democrat by the Texas liberal Democrats, and “Loophole Lloyd”. But what you may not know is that he and Bush 42 were close friends whose politics were almost identical, except for one thing. Whereas Bush called Reagonomics “Voodoo economics”, Bentsen got Clinton to embrace much of what Reagan espoused and Clinton’s 2nd term, and the economy, benefited. When Bush came in, he turned away from the clintonized version of Reagonomics.

    We also cant forget the “Friends of Angelo”, which included many Democrats, including Sen. Dodd and Sen. Conrad, former Fannie Mae CEOs James Johnson and Franklin Raines, former HUD director Henry Cisneros, and CNN commentator Paul Begala.

    What you apparently fail to grasp is that the financial collapse was a wholly bipartisan effort that started in the 70s. It was guided by greed, arrogance and stupidity, not partisan politics.

    Another thing Clinton understood (while foolhardy, IMO our smartest President) that I don’t believe you do, is that you cant govern a center right nation from the left. Clinton learned that in ’92 and bolted to just left of center, saving his first term and ensuring a second. Our current President does not hold Clinton in high regard because of that. He is a statist and idealist. He can continue to be a statist, but if his idealism keeps him from moving to the center, he will lose in 2012.

    My Christian right of center apologies if you feel this response is too mean.

    • Ken Montville

      March 8, 2010 at 4:46 pm

      Did I call anyone mean? Sheesh. I didn’t think so.

      Anyway, Bob, thanks for the history lesson. “…the financial collapse was a wholly bipartisan effort that started in the 70s. It was guided by greed, arrogance and stupidity, not partisan politics.” I’ll buy into that.

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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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