There’s always something to howl about

It’s the REALTOR Party, you can cry if you want to…

…But when push comes to shove, I’m a Midwesterner- practical, down-to-earth, not prone to crying over spilled milk. If something is wrong, let’s fix it. If there is a problem, let’s find the solution and move along. So when push recently came to shove and the NAR rolled out their latest membership shakedown benefit, my Midwestern mind mulled over what was really happening and whether or not there was a fix.

There is a video that’s been making the rounds in Ohio as public union options are being reconsidered. In 2007, Bob Chanin, General Counsel to the NEA for over 40 years, gave a farewell speech to the NEA. This is a fascinating look inside the history of one of the biggest, most powerful unions in the country, but at 25 minutes it’s a bit long. Let me break it down for you: Chanin describes in loving detail how the NEA was once-upon-a-time, a quiet little organization of long suffering do-gooders. Then they got politically organized. He says:

“It is not because of creative ideas, it is not because of the merit of our position, it is not because we care about children, it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power and we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.”

But wait, there’s more:

“When all is said and done, the NEA and its affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions and what unions do first and foremost is represent their members.”

If this doesn’t disturb you, fine. I’m not here to change your mind. And just so I’m clear about this: I’m a REALTOR because I’m forced to be, for access to the MLS, and not necessarily because I want to be (and just for the record, Dear NAR- I’m not anti-NAR per se, but I am anti-coercion. Force is coercion and coercion is thuggery and thuggery is evil. Now that we’ve got that straight… ). It does make me very proud to be a real estate agent though, because, to the very depths of my soul, I love the big idea of property rights and property ownership. That’s the bigger picture for me and that’s the thing that has kept the thuggery from getting too firm a grasp in my own REALTOR/ real estate business. But now the REALTOR Party changes all this. I’m now forced to pay into a PAC- which in essence and for all intents and purposes makes me part of a union in action if not in name. This is problematic for several reasons- one, because I become a direct party to any and all sorts of misguided lobbying that I might find ethically reprehensible, and two, because I can’t serve two masters at the same time and neither can the NAR and what that means is that inevitably there will come a painful moment when the NAR will have to make a decision that will pit its own members (me, you, us) against our own clients. And please don’t lie to yourself- it’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when it happens, although I’d love to be wrong about that (but I won’t be wrong about it). 

So this quiet unassuming Midwesterner can take a push -forced membership- but now I’ve been shoved- forced PAC contributions. This is where I could waste a lot of time whining about this or endlessly debating the pros and cons, but what would be the point? Do you believe that because the NAR is closely monitoring these discussions they will suddenly decide to dump the REALTOR Party? I’d love for you to be right about that (but you won’t). Instead, my simple and pragmatic mind quickly went through the five stages of grief and decided to move on.

I’m thinking about what I can do to be the change I want to see in this world and lo and behold, I’ve decided that for me, the most effective plan of action against the latest NAR thuggery benefit is to make a renewed effort to vigorously engage in an ongoing and relentless campaign of  public education about everything that might affect real estate transactions, including exposing whenever the NAR is doing harm.

Oh I know, I know, mine is but a small voice, in a small town, most clients don’t really care, blah, blah, blah- whatever. Here’s the thing (graphic visuals forthcoming, if you are easily offended, please avert your eyes): I’m not inclined to be gently bent over a barrel by or for any organization, so doing nothing is not in my nature. At the same time, I’m not naive enough to think that my whining about this to the NAR is going to amount to a hill of beans. The way I see it, my biggest weapon is my own grunt on the ground status. By serving my clients and educating them to think for themselves, even in small numbers and one at a time, they will begin to expect, then to demand transparency, better behavior, better service, better real estate transactions, not only for themselves, but for their loved ones. When my clients understand what I understand, they will make their own demands on the NAR and that’s when (and I’m willing to bet only when) real change will happen. Right then. Moving on…

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