You may not think this column has anything to do with real estate. But it does.
In the last couple weeks we have had a primary election. Undoubtedly some are pleased with the results; others, less so. In addition, we have grieved the passings of two iconic figures in our civic life.
But the situation on the local front and the national stage remains, shall I say, “stormy.”
The title of this column comes from more than two centuries ago. A Virginian statesman named John Page – largely forgotten in our history – wrote them to Thomas Jefferson about two weeks after the Declaration of Independence was signed. You would have to agree, that was a very stormy time in our history. The outcome of the impending war was far from certain.
Last time I issued a plea for more visionary thought, visionary leadership, from the Realtor community and from the government at large, because the effects of a whirlwind are indeed being felt here in South Florida, right now.
Have we placed too much faith in large and remote institutions? What happens when there is a problem – do you think a clerk (or politician) in an office thousands of miles away will be inclined to treat you better than would a person in your community?
Consider the plight of a real estate purchaser known to me, who was the victim of wire fraud – in part due to the negligence of one of those large, distant impersonal institutions. An institution that, perhaps not surprisingly, denies any responsibility for the effects of their actions. He is in the whirlwind right now, his hopes and dreams dashed (at least temporarily).
Think also about what happened the last time your health provider prescribed a medication not on a “formulary” designed and approved by nameless, faceless bureaucrats far away – people you do not know and will never meet.
And we have now seen the algal blooms begin to afflict waterfront areas in Fort Lauderdale, as the politicians point fingers and refuse action.
How could we use these situations to catalyze creation of more resilient communities here in South Florida? For starters, we could solve our own insurance problems. More than six million people live between the Keys and Jupiter. Consumer-owned health cooperatives could be formed to take care of our own, by our own rules and own means. If we do that successfully, it would make South Florida an ideal place to start and grow the kinds of mid 21st-century businesses that require and attract high skilled and high wage employees. And who want high-value homes in which to live.
We can vigorously assert our control over our environment. And yes, investments will have to be made, whether by borrowing funds, re-configuring existing programs, or increasing revenues. But the benefits of preserving our lifestyle and serving as a guidestar for the nation would far outpace any increase in costs. They would also, in the long run, increase real estate valuations.
And what of my friend who was the victim of a tragic crime? Do you suppose he would get better treatment from a bank owned by customers right here, that invests in our community, or from a bureaucrat in a skyscraper as she looks at the Golden Gate?
Sometimes, for many of us, things may seem bleak. Do we have the courage to take action, to seek change in the way our Founders did? We are not sheep who must accept the status quo. Money earned here in our community, that recirculates and stays here, has a multiplier effect and makes our community more resilient and more welcoming to all. We can create our own future, and by doing so make South Florida an even better place to live, a better place to own real estate, and a better place for future generations.
If we act, the Angel will step from the whirlwind, end her ride, and live among us.
James Oaksun, Florida's Real Estate Geek(SM), is Broker-Owner of New Realty Concepts in Oakland Park. In addition to having degrees from Dartmouth and Cornell, he is a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI).