Give Me Steem: My name is Doug McKnight and I Was Number 139
The fire is gone.
On February 13, 1989, I interviewed with an international appraisal firm. These guys traveled all over the U.S. and to other countries to create reports on the market value of commercial real estate, machinery & equipment, and intangible business assets for corporations and investment funds. With nothing more than an undergraduate degree in finance and economics, I was hired on the spot as a commercial real estate appraiser. This would be my profession for the next 28 years.
When my home state of Pennsylvania introduced state certification two years later, I became Pennsylvania Certified General Appraiser number GA000139L.
By June 2017, however, most of what had originally attracted me to this profession was gone. I wanted to work in a field in which I would always have more to learn, but, at this point, I have already taken all the classes that qualify for mandatory continuing education credits. I wanted to be in an unregulated profession, but these burdens only increase. Consequently, I began searching for a new line of work and allowed my certification to expire on June 30, 2017.
I live in the Philadelphia suburbs within a mile of Valley Forge National Historical Park (not far from the King of Prussia Shopping Center), but I’ve probably visited your town on one of my business trips. I’m a complex dude with many interests, so I’ve written this with a bunch of sub-headings, allowing you to skip to the parts that interest you.
How I Found Steemit
I’ve had an interest in bitcoin for a couple of years but have also approached it skeptically. Every other successful currency got started with a commodity that had some other use, which was then used as money. The crypto currencies are the first to have no use other than as money.
Over the years, my skepticism has given way to a certain level of understanding. I can now see how a resource can serve as money even if it doesn’t have any alternative use, provided it is scarce.
I’m also keenly interested in exploring how blockchain technology can be applied to real estate and smart contracts. In addition to the applications to single-family homes, such as streamlining title searches and escrow accounts, the commercial real estate industry might also be able to incorporate this technology into securitization, mergers, and acquisitions.
As an element in my efforts to learn more about this I have joined the International Blockchain Real Estate Association (IBREA) LinkedIn group. I am currently working on creating a greater Philadelphia area chapter of this group.
In order to learn more about crypto currencies, I searched YouTube and found Jerry Banfield’s videos. Jerry was very forthright about the mistakes that he’s made and explained his recent success with Steemit. He seemed like a guy I could trust, so I decided to give this a try. Upon reading the name of the currency, a Peter Gabriel tune popped into my head. I thought It would be fun to share it here:
<iframe width="591" height="360" src="
Steam by Peter Gabriel
As a teenager, I was already quite an avid reader. In addition to buying books and maxing out my library cards, I would occasionally select a book to read from the book case in the family room of our family home.
Hidden in the corner of the top shelf of the book case was The Fountainhead. I discovered it when I as a senior in high school. My mom warned me that this book might be too advanced for me, but that only encouraged me to devour it.
So much of what confused my pubescent mind suddenly became crystal clear. As I went off to college, I read every other book that Ayn Rand had written. I subscribed to The Objectivist newsletter. I even listened to old vinyl records of Ayn Rand’s presentation that I found in the university library. When a girl named Andrea posted an ad in the school newspaper asking if anyone would be interested in starting an Objectivism club, I immediately responded in the affirmative.
We grew our club to eight members, and I would expound upon the benefits of free markets and objectivist philosophy to the group every week. My friends started calling me “you objectivist” thinking it was a slur, but I took it as a compliment.
Upon graduation, however, I started to doubt some of cherished beliefs. I read the book by Barbara Brandon, describing her mistreatment while working with Ayn Rand. I discovered books by Murry Rothbard, and was puzzled as to why he had been expelled from Rand’s group. Finally, about five years after graduation, I decided that Rand was too rigid and that the libertarians had it right
I had come to the realization that a variety of opinions is necessary for the best ideas to emerge. No one person can know it all, and the best ideas are those that have endured the most difficult challenges.
I discovered the Mises Institute and joined the Austrian scholars’ list service. This was before the days of internet forums and long before social media, so we all had to send emails to every other member of the group every time we wanted to contribute. In subsequent years, I would visit the Mises Institute twice. My first visit was while I was on a business trip. Tom Woods was working there at the time and he gave me the grand tour of the facility. My second visit was for the last Austrian Scholars Conference.
I’ve been active in a local Libertarian Toastmasters’ group and the Montgomery County (Pa.) Libertarians. I’ve also been involved in the Checkpoint Minutemen Facebook group, and have worked with Severin Freeman, of Cop Block fame, and others to shut down police checkpoints.
Economics & Commercial Real Estate
I became enthralled with economics when I took my first micro-economics course in college. The idea that human action follows certain recognizable patterns fascinated me. I promptly added a minor in economics to my finance major.
My professor for that class was of the neo-classical school. He somehow managed to get a classroom with a view of the field house and pointed out that the shape of the roof of that building was the shape of a marginal utility curve. In more advanced classes, he would tell us that “you don’t have to know this” before scribbling complex econometric model equations on the blackboard. This, of course, ensured that we didn’t try to learn them.
As I approached my senior year, I was confronted with the necessity of selecting among several courses that were classified as required electives. One of these courses was real estate appraisal. In this class, I learned that appraisers spend plenty of time outside of their office This prospect appealed to me, so I decided to pursue a career in this area. Meanwhile, I was developing an intense interest in the Austrian school of economics. As it happens, these interests work very well together.
The firm that I worked for after graduation was not supportive of the most prestigious commercial real estate appraisal professional organization, the Appraisal Institute, so I took all their core courses on my own dime during my vacation time. They had the misconception that Alfred Marshall had reconciled the conflicts between the cost and marginal utility theories of market value, so I attempted to correct this by publishing “The Value Theory of the Austrian School” in The Appraisal Journal. My second article, “ A Practical Guide to Evaluating the Functional Utility of Warehouses” won the Armstrong Khan award for the most significant contribution to real estate valuation literature of the year.
Over the years, I’ve appraised quite a variety of commercial and industrial properties. I’ve appraised properties in every North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code except leather tanning. I’ve appraised properties in 42 U.S states, three Canadian provinces, Mexico, Japan, and the Netherlands.
I was one of those who also read the articles. In the early 1990’s, an issue of Playboy included two articles about dancing. On one page was the beginning of an article titled “Why You Can’t.” The article on the facing page was “Why You Should.”
The articles convinced me to take ballroom dance lessons at a local studio. I learned how to fox-trot, waltz, cha-cha, and ballroom-style tango, but my favorite dance was swing.
With the encouragement of other students, I got involved in the United States Ballroom Dancing Association. I wrote a monthly column for the local chapter newsletter about new venues for about a year and a half and helped run two dancing competitions, but competitive dancing wasn’t my thing.
Instead, I got deeply involved in our local swing dance community. I took lessons in Lindy hop, balboa, and collegiate shag and began regularly attending swing dances. I have also been to the Swing Out New Hampshire dance camp and the All Balboa Weekend in Cleveland.
I now consider myself quite an accomplished swing dancer and am more than happy to mix it up with any women who are interested whenever we can find some 4/4 music.
Shortly after graduating from college, I came across a classmate from high school. While I had been working on my degree and supporting my fraternity, not necessarily in that order, he had joined the local fire company as a volunteer. He convinced me to attend the fire prevention night at the firehouse that weekend.
When I watched the firefighters put out the burning shack that they had built for that purpose, I was hooked. I joined and was an active member for the next decade.
Being in an affluent area, our fire company always had plenty of money. We had the best equipment and were encouraged to take any classes we wanted to at the local fire academies at fire company expense. I took full advantage of this opportunity and became certified in a wide range of fire and rescue skills.
About eight years into my service as a volunteer structural firefighter, a fellow member of my company convinced me to become a wildland firefighter. In this capacity, I spent two weeks in Wyoming fighting wildland fires as part of the Pennsylvania specialized crew program. I also attended the New York State Wildlfire and Incident Management Academy several times.
In addition to the interests I’ve already described, I also have interests in reading, writing, cooking, physical fitness, and hiking. If you share any of my interests, please let me know.