Politics & Real Estate – Strange Bedfellows


Real investing is, and has always been, a topic that has generated a lot of interest. Some people are actually accomplished investors while others are dabblers with the remainder being “wannabes”. That’s the American way and nothing wrong with that unless you fall victim to a real estate hustler.

What’s a real estate hustler? If you have ever heard of a fellow named John T. Reed, you will know. A West Point graduate and former Army officer, Reed isn’t exactly your run of the mill dummy. However, he does carry an acerbic pen.

To give you an idea, he has a full page devoted to those folks who sell how to invest in real estate courses. He gives you in no uncertain terms who he thinks is a hustler and who he thinks isn’t.

As one would imagine, he has both critics and supporters. Personally I like the idea he created his guru rating. It at least gives a broader read on the former late night real estate hawkers.

There is an ominous overtone in his pages as well. If you go to his headline page, you will see this in the headline box:

USAA canceled my homeowners insurance and refused to sell me umbrella liability insurance because of this page

I hate to admit this but USAA is my insurance company as well. I have been with them since 1972.

From the letters he reprints it appears USAA has decided to censor Reed for his outspoken political views. Mind you, in my opinion and from I’ve been taught, your political views are not grounds for censorship by ANY insurance company.

I also happen to be a co-owner of an insurance agency. None of the companies we represent list “political views” as a ground for cancellation.

This has me a bit upset. His political views and his real estate guru views are his and his alone and not subject to any sort of admonishment by any entity unless clearly declared illegal by law or done in a slanderous or libelous way.

What upsets me the most is the arbitrary nature of USAA’s expressed objection. If they can cancel Reed for his political views and statements, they can then cancel me because I invest in foreclosures. It amounts to the same sort of sin if one reads their reasoning.

The signal might be that only certain investments are politically correct. The signal might be Big Brother has many ways to keep you in line. I could go on but you get the idea.

I am neither a proponent nor a detractor of Reed’s. What I am is concerned that the censorship line is getting wider and wider. I used Reed’s case only because he is well known in the real estate investment community.

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  1. James –
    I “challenged” you to interview him because that is what the others on the discussion were requesting and you let people know of your proximity of Mr Reed. Beyond that, I thought it would make an interesting interview.

    If you’re reading any more into it, you’re reading more into it.

    JTReed is well known in the REI world and I thought it would be of interest to our readers to find out more about the guy. Nothing more, nothing less.

  2. James – An interview is a great idea. If you can work in the USAA angle that would be great too. I have talked w/him on the phone but that was back in the ’90’s. If I still lived in Vacaville, heck, I’d interview him.

    As for Madden, a friend of mine (now deceased) told me about John. The short of it was Madden is a pretty active investor.

    I look forward to your interview.

  3. Mark McGlothlin on

    Tom – nice angle on JTReed’s unfortunate interaction with USAA. I too have been an intermittent reader of his guru opinions for years, and he can be acerbic (I might have even used mordacious); his willingness to “make the call” on gurus is respected by many (including me).

    While ostensibly JTReed’s issue is a matter of increased risk exposure for he and his liability carrier, your question of whether or not this represents a form of censorship is food for careful thought.

    Can insurance companies direct behavior of their clients? You bet they can – ask your doctor next time you’re in the office how much their liability carrier influences what they say and write every day.

    One of my most respected and oldest mentors suggested that you’ll stay out of lots of trouble in life if you just keep your mouth shut most of the time. Some folks just have more to say than others – let’s hope people like JTReed keep talking about things that need to be discussed – like exposing gurus selling snake oil.

  4. I don’t think it’s realistic to make proclamations about this stuff without some understanding of the politics of het-privilege and how that affects people’s identity decisions on both sides and in the middle.

  5. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the post but you lost me. I haven’t heard the term “het-privilege” before so I don’t know how to respond to that. As for making any sort of proclamations, opinions, statements or otherwise about insurance or John Reed, I for one believe both are in the public realm and since they put themselves there it doesn’t affect their identity an iota.

    I wonder if I had made a statement about Barak Obama and his distinct disdain for those of us in the middle class. Would that have qualified for the same rhetoric? Just curious.

    I look forward to hearing anything else you have to say.

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