Hurdle or Helping Hand?

In my book, government isn't a four-letter word.

October 1, 2011

We’ve received quite a few letters and blog comments recently in response to our coverage of NAR’s increased involvement in the political arena. Some letter writers are angry. Government, they say, needs to start letting us live our lives and stop taxing, codifying, regulating, restricting, and controlling everything we do.

I get it. I’m not always happy with the government. For instance, I was pretty hacked off a couple of years back when I got a ticket for parking backwards in a public garage. (On the way out, I saw the warning for backward-parking scofflaws.) I’m also frustrated that our property taxes are so high but the town can’t seem to do anything about the epidemic of stolen bikes. (Don’t tell me to be more careful. In our last incident, the thief cut through my son’s lock on a busy street in the middle of the day.)

So, yes, I’m frustrated. Still—dare I say it?—I believe government’s role in our lives is more positive than negative. We depend on government to ensure clean drinking water and air, to combat poverty and disease, and to help us stay safe. Government can strengthen communities with smart policies that help people become educated; build businesses; and buy homes.

Not only that, my experience tells me that people who work in government are no better or worse than those who work in private industry. I have a built-in bias. Both my parents worked for the U.S. Department of Defense. What I remember from my high school years is that they left the house at 6:30 every morning to get an early start on their day and cared deeply about doing their work well. They gave me a strong work ethic and taught me to respect others in all walks of life.

The biggest critics of government also take issue with NAR’s efforts to advocate on behalf of the real estate industry. But if your own association can’t fight for your industry, who can? Members of Congress face myriad pressures, and they need subject matter experts to help them understand how different policies may affect business and the public. It’s up to them to evaluate the competing interests and make wise decisions—and it’s up to voters to hold them accountable for those decisions.

I once felt insulted by Ronald Reagan’s famous quip, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Now, I can laugh about it—and sometimes I can even relate. But I’ll never stop believing that, with an engaged citizenry, government can be a powerful force for good.


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Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is director of content strategy for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor-in-chief of REALTOR® Magazine. In addition, she oversees the quarterly REALTOR® Association Executive magazine and manages a variety of e-communications for REALTORS® and REALTOR® association executives. She has been with the NAR for more 30 years, starting as an associate editor with Real Estate Today magazine, where she covered sales and finance topics.