If It Walks Like A Duck…

Squawks Like A Duck, Even Smells Like A Duck, It Ain’t Necessarily A Duck!

A hat tip to Peter Viles, author of the L.A. Land real estate blog at the Los Angeles Times. Anyone who is an experienced consumer of news, information and opinion via the mass media should understand that we should always take everything that we read or view with a touch of healthy skepticism. Many of us learned this in the course of our formal education, many of us have acquired this knowledge through our life experiences. Some of us, however, never seem able to grasp the concept that everything is not always as it appears.

Viles had previously exposed to his readers that the AngryRenter.com website, while seemingly an advocacy for home renters (i.e. “the common man”), is actually a front for Freedom Works, a “conservative think tank” (or in plain words, a well funded conservative lobbying group). AngryRenter.com solicits signatures on a petition to Congress to purportedly deny passage of a real estate bailout, which reads:

WHEREAS: Most Americans rent or own their home outright, and the vast majority of homes (98%) are not in foreclosure.

WHEREAS: Both banks and borrowers should be responsible for their actions, and the government should not reward reckless behavior.

WHEREAS: It is wrong to force all taxpayers– including renters who are already subsidizing home owners through the tax code– to pay for additional bailouts for big banks and home flippers.

BE IT RESOLVED: That Congress should not pass any bailout programs that reward risky borrowing and lending. Let the free market sort it out!

Splashed mid-way across its home page, AngyRenter.com ascribes the main beneficiaries of any real estate bailouts as undeserving real estate speculators, or home “flippers”.

The claim that less than 2% of American homes are currently in foreclosure, as stated in the petition is not substantiated with any citations by AngryRenter.com, nor do they substantiate their implication that only home flippers would benefit from any bailout. Just like the ballot initiative process that has become prevalent throughout California the past few years, a voter really needs to take the claims made by these “advocates” with a strong dose of anti-venom.

Viles quotes a recent story from the Wall Street Journal to make the same point:

Angry they may be, but the people behind AngryRenter.com are certainly not renters. Though it purports to be a spontaneous uprising, AngryRenter.com is actually a product of an inside-the-Beltway conservative advocacy organization led by Dick Armey, the former House majority leader, and publishing magnate Steve Forbes, a fellow Republican. It’s a fake grass-roots effort — what politicos call an AstroTurf campaign — that provides a window into the sleight-of-hand ways of Washington.

We also learn from Viles that Mr. Armey is subsisting on a $500,000 annual salary from Freedom Works, and is neither a renter, nor an average homeowner, with his home on a 78 acre spread in Texas valued at $1.7 million (which is not small potatoes in the Texas real estate market).

Currently in California there are two ballot initiatives being presented to the voters on June 3 of this year, Proposition 98 and Proposition 99, both of which are proposed California constitutional amendments relating to property rights. Our understanding at BFD is that while Proposition 98 purports to protect property owners from eminent domain, in reality it is actually an amendment to the California constitution to dissolve rent control. Proposition 99 supposedly is a reinterpretation of the eminent domain process that will not result in a loss of the availability of rent controlled properties. Both propositions are couched as reform of eminent domain for California, but California does not need this “reform”. The backers of these propositions are relying on an uninformed electorate responding to scare tactics (playing on horror stories from other parts of the country relating to eminent domain proceedings against homeowners).

Here is what we recommend, vote no on all ballot initiatives. It is too difficult to sort out the truth, and the real agenda behind these initiatives, that are always funded by special interests, and it is not necessary to subvert the core legislative process inherent in our state constitution. This (automatic “no vote”) has become our standard operating procedure when filling in our ballots here at BFD headquarters since the first of the year, and it will remain our standard practice as long as we are voting.

BFD recommends: Vote No on 98 & Vote No on 99.

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