Business Week’s Hot Property wrote yesterday about the NAR’s having gotten into bed with Hillary Clinton — who is “sponsoring a bill that bars commercial banks from hiring real estate brokers/agents” — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The National Association of Realtor is routinely, habitually, congenitally anti-free market.
I’m doing the prep work to defend the traditional practice of real estate, but this is my radical yelp: The original and on-going purpose of the NAR is anti-capitalist. The organization was formed to limit entry into the residential real estate business — to push Chester the Barber and others out of the business. The NAR wrote the original state real estate laws to achieve this goal — however poorly. This on-going legislative campaign against banks competing for real estate transactions is just more of the same: “Protecting” mediocrities from fair competition.
It seems never to end. If you’re a member of the NAR, you get hit with spam about once a month about some vitally important piece of anti-free market legislation: Coerced health insurance for real estate brokerages, keep WalMart out of banking, keep banks out of real estate. The NAR is hardly alone in making appeals for legislation, so it is perhaps easy to forget that legislation is imposed by force of arms. What the NAR is doing is taking control of the massive firepower of the Federal government and deploying it to hijack potential competitors.
It’s a protection racket — vicious, awful, evil crime — dressed up in Brooks Brothers suits.
We are apt to think of Communism as being Capitalism’s natural enemy, but there is another, perhaps more insidious foe to unfettered laissez faire. I call it Rotarian Socialism, just to give it a name. Rotarian Socialism is legislation written by and for the membership of a politically-powerful elite. Most of the criticisms you hear about Capitalism are in fact criticisms of Rotarian Socialism.
Truly free markets require freedom, not laws. I have argued before for getting rid of the real estate licensing laws — or, at a minimum, eliminating the broker level of licensing — and for eliminating the real estate brokerage safe harbor exclusion from IRS wage-withholding rules (although eliminating the IRS altogether would be even better). The NAR is already hijacking entirely too much of the American economy. The solution to its problems — and to ours as members — is not more Rotarian Socialism but less, ideally none.
To the extent that American consumers have any common interest, it is to be able to purchase the best quality goods and services, at will, at the best price. The NAR is actually a piss-poor cartel. Chester the Barber got the shiv, but his sub-literate ethically-challenged brother operates under the cover of a state-issued license and a candy-striper’s Code of Ethics. Meanwhile, alternatives to Chester’s idiot brother are forbidden — ultimately — by gunmen and prison wardens. This is obviously contrary to the interests of American consumers.
Don’t hold our breath waiting for any law to be repealed, anywhere. But you don’t have to wake up next to Hillary Clinton to know that the National Association of Realtors is infested with fleas…