Crisis has long spelled opportunities in disguise. That reality is exemplified by a well known quotation from the assassinated Democratic President John F. Kennedy quotation shown below which identifies the source as an ancient piece of Oriental (Chinese) wisdom. Whatever someone’s personal politics – or lack thereof – may happen to be, the quotation below from former President Barack Obama is doubtlessly a truism. Yesterday was the federal holiday commemorating the life of civil rights icon, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, Ph.D., says her famous assassinated uncle was and would be a Republican. Be that as it may, the controversial Baptist pastor was marvelously successful at getting enough Democrats – including people like “racist” President Lyndon Banes Johnson (LBJ) (D) to go along with his goals for minorities, the poor, and working class to join with Republicans who made the voting rights act passage possible. But King himself stands accused of being a philanderer. Not unlike famous Biblical kings such as David and Saul, each of whom were womanizers, former President Obama’s apt point becomes clear. Humans have “feet of clay,” and are a mix of the good and bad, weaknesses and strengths. It is with that backdrop that these early days of 2022 should be considered by affordable housing advocates and manufactured housing professionals.
MHProNews/MHLivingNews in some ways has had an evolution in thought that is similar to that described by the Financial Times Robin Hardin. Hardin said he was a Buffett fan. But over time, he came to understand the dark sides of Buffett. Buffett, said Hardin in his own words, wasn’t a savior of capitalism. Rather, Buffett was undermining the free market.
In fairness to Buffett, he was hardly alone. At one point in the 21st century, Buffett was deemed the world’s richest man. That list is shifting, per the following from the leftist Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) which has as an affiliate Inequality.org. IPS provides this list of the nation’s richest. The say, based upon center-right leaning Forbes data, that the declared COVID19 pandemic has enriched the wealthiest while harming millions of the poorest, retirees, the employed, and small businesses. Ironically, Buffett has said similarly.
Self-proclaimed former Democrat and former left-leaning Washington Post journalist Joel Kotkin has warned that a neo-fascist style of modern feudalism is riding. While there are obviously other perspectives, various voices on the left and right say similarly.
All those facts, perspectives, and quotable quotes are worth pondering. In the housing business, these snapshots from left-leaning CNBC’s Diana Olick in the last 10 days provides direct and indirect reasons why affordable manufactured housing should be soaring during this affordable housing crisis. Said Olick’s headline on 1.8.2022 “Home buyers step back as prices rise.”
“Home buyers are flocking to vacation towns,” states a teaser from CNBC’s Diana Olick in this report on the surge of vacation town, multi-generational home buying. Among the factoids stated by Olick – ‘5 percent of housing shoppers are buying a house sight unseen.’
If so, out of millions of houses sold annually, that may be some 350,000 housing units sold virtually. Per Statista: “In 2020, there were 6.5 million homes sold in the U.S. and this figure was projected to increase to 7.1 million by 2021.” As final tallies come in, that will likely be updated in a planned report on MHProNews in February, when the final totals for new HUD Code manufactured home production come in.
But stop and ponder that estimated 7.1 million housing units estimate. Manufactured homes almost certainly topped 100,000 units for the first time in some 15 years. But that 100,000 single- and multiple sectional manufactured homes is then only about 1.4% of all U.S. housing sales. Here’s how the math works: 100,000/7,100,000 = 0.01408450704. That’s anemic by any metric, especially when the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 is taken into account.
Per CNBC on 9.14.2021: Some 12.3 million American households were formed from January 2012 to June 2021, but just 7 million new single-family homes were built during” that timeframe. In order to do such reports, MHProNews routinely looks at a range of data from a variety of sources across the left-right divide. It is therefore noteworthy that the claims of how many millions of housing units the nation is ‘short’ ranges from 4 to 8+ million. With perhaps 2+ million “illegal immigrants” having crossed the southern border in 2021, the shortage is obviously only going to get worse. These are problems, but they are also opportunities in disguise.
Walmart and Kroger are among the former 24-hour locations that have moved toward limiting the hours their operations are open to the public. This is due to the ‘labor shortage.’ Supply chains are being blamed by some in the PINO Biden Administration for much of the problem behind record inflation. But the polling is shifting away from not only Biden, but also Congressional Democrats. Perhaps it is no surprise that infighting is occurring among Democrats over the resistance of Senators Joe Manchin (WV-D) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-D) against abolishing the filibuster, or otherwise advancing the costly bill and what is said by the GOP to be an attempted federal election takeover bill. Manchin and/or Sinema stand in the way. On the Republican said, numbers of media outlets are touting a supposed tension between former 45th President Donald J. Trump (R), Governor Ron DeSantis (R) over a possible 2024 run. Among the allegations? That if this is ‘real,’ which both DeSantis and Trump deny, it is fueled in part by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). Expect anti-Trump, pro-Democratic media outlets to showcase as many divisions and diversions as possible in the run-up to the 2022 midterms. Why? Because there is a growing consensus that Democrats are headed to defeat in dozens of races that they previously won in 2020 or before.
While those elections are important, and engagement by independently owned businesses, and all employees, retirees etc. obviously matters, the bigger picture has to be kept in mind. What is that big picture? That the politics of division benefits the billionaire/oligarchs and their corporate interests. How that fits into manufactured housing is exemplified in the following.
On Mon, Jan 17, 12:21 PM, the following email was sent to Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) board member and named partner in the MTO law firm, Ron Olson. The M in MTO is for Charles “Charlie” Munger, Warren Buffett’s longtime vice chairman and partner at Berkshire. As thousands of manufactured housing professionals know, Berkshire is the parent company to Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corporation, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF), Shaw, and a range of RV, automotive, conventional housing, financial, big tech, and commercial real estate interests. Then there are the Buffett funded nonprofits, which exert their own influence. Among those nonprofits is the Gates Foundation. With that brief backdrop, here is the key elements of the message to Olson, Kevin Clayton, 21st’s Tim Williams, and others involved with MHI on their board, staff, and legal representation capacities.
|from:||L. A. “Tony” Kovach for MHProNews|
|to:||Ron Olson (MTO Law and multiyear Berkshire Hathaway Board member)
“Clayton, Kevin” Clayton Homes,
Leo Poggione (Craftsman Homes, MHI Chairman,
Eric Hamilton (Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance),
Tim Williams (21st Mortgage),
Matt Webb (21st Mortgage),
Lesli Gooch (MHI CEO)
“Hodges, Tom” (Clayton Homes General Counsel, past MHI chair)
David Goch (WC-B Law, outside MHI attorney)
John Greiner (Graydon Law, outside MHI attorney).
Berkshire Board Member Ron Olson (J.D.), Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams, Leo Poggione, Tom Hodges, Lesli Gooch, et al – Media Request for Comment
Ron, Kevin, Tim, Leo, Tom, Lesli, and attorneys,
We are planning to publish a press release that will contain elements of the report linked below.
Business and Sales Meeting – 2022 Affordable Housing and Manufactured Housing Reality Checks – Shadows, Reflections, Inspirations, Musings from “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” ©
Prior to doing so, we want to give you an opportunity to respond or reach to any of the information, evidence, and claims made in that report. While you are welcome to respond to other items linked below, the specific ask is on that report linked above.
You know the drill. Please email your comments for our mutual accuracy. We’ve copied various attorneys, industry professionals, and state/federal officials in the BCC to document this request.
The x2 weekly emailed news update followed. Some 23 hours after that outreach, there has been no direct reply.
That noted, late Monday afternoon MHI did what they periodically do – they emailed what could be described as a head fake to their email list. Was their theme Martin Luther King Jr. Day? No. Was it about the email above? No. Was it about their failure to sign onto the letter that some of their own members and self-proclaimed “housing coalition” members signed that doubtlessly contributed to the revised hope that better manufactured home loans was coming from the GSEs, per an announcement by the FHFA? No. Was it an announcement that they were suing HUD to get “enhanced preemption” enforced in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000? No. Then what was it?
The message? It explained how someone can apply for an MHI award. “You Did the Work – Now Get Recognized” proclaimed MHI’s email headline. Which begs a question. Why would someone want an award from an organization that a Democratic staffer told MHProNews has a reputation in Washington as being “anti-consumer” – is that the ‘award’ someone wants?
Looking at the award-winners is routinely a look at MHI insiders patting each other on the back, and then passing the award around periodically. But this arguably goes to a keen – if sinister – utilization of a quality in human nature that is capable of being abused. But why would someone want an award from a trade group which has ‘recognized’ firms that have been sued by their own customers, are involved in a SEC lawsuit, are the subject of HUD and other regulatory investigations?
There is an obvious unease that has spread in America. Millions are feeling that their hope for part of the American Dream is slipping or slipped away from them.
Per History is the following in an article entitled Who Killed Martin Luther King Jr. – James Earl Ray MLK Assassination. King’s own widow, states History, doubted the official account.
“On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. An hour later, he was declared dead. For some 50 years, the federal government has maintained that James Earl Ray was the gunman who assassinated King that day. But within Martin Luther King’s family, there remains a persistent belief that Ray is innocent, and was set up to take the fall.
FBI investigators at the time traced the shot to a rooming house across the street, and witnesses directed them to a large bundle dropped on the sidewalk after the shooting. It contained a pair of binoculars, a newspaper with a story about King staying at the Lorraine Motel, and a .30-06 Remington Gamemaster that had fired one shot. All three bore the fingerprints of an escaped convict named James Earl Ray.
Ray, a white supporter of segregationist George Wallace, was a career criminal who’d been convicted at least four separate times for robbing a cafe, a taxi, a post office and a grocery store. A year before, he’d escaped from Missouri State Penitentiary while serving a 20-year sentence, and was on the lam at the time King was shot. An international manhunt led to his capture in June 1968 at Heathrow Airport in London, where he was caught carrying two fake Canadian passports. Ray confessed to the crime on March 10, 1969 and received a 99-year prison sentence, which increased to a 100-year sentence after he briefly escaped in 1977.
But within a few days of confessing, Ray began to claim his innocence, arguing that that he had been set up by a man he knew only as “Raoul.” It was Raoul, Ray said, who had directed him to buy the gun and the binoculars, and rent the room across the street from the motel. Ray said he wasn’t in the room when King was shot, but he was unable to consistently explain where he had been, or keep other important details in his story straight. Over several decades, federal investigators have routinely concluded that Raoul doesn’t exist.
This doesn’t mean that Ray couldn’t have received assistance. Some people had trouble, for example, believing Ray had arranged his international escape all by himself, since he had a track record of getting caught for more minor crimes. When authorities caught him in London, he’d been planning to travel to Rhodesia, a former African state ruled by a white minority in present-day Zimbabwe. …”
Let’s pause their narrative to note that George Wallace was a longtime Democrat turned independent. It is an amazingly successful pivot that Democrats – a party long known historically as the party that favored slavery, broke away from the Union to protect slavery, and largely opposed the Civil Rights and Voting Right legislation that Rev. King’s movement helped enact – managed to embrace minorities and seemingly attract the very minorities that they previously oppressed for years. A difficult, but largely accurate snapshot. Who says? Black professor Carol Swain.
That noted, back to History’s narrative.
“An FBI Conspiracy?
It’s not clear when Coretta Scott King, widow of King, began to believe in Ray’s innocence. But almost immediately after her husband’s assassination, she suspected that the FBI, which had investigated the murder, was involved in it.
“There is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Coretta King said at a press conference in 1999, according to The King Center. It was a theory she maintained until her death in 2006 that has so far never been proven. Yet given the way the bureau had treated her and her family, her suspicion of the FBI and its conclusions about her husband’s killer came from a very reasonable place, says John McMillian, a history professor at Georgia State University.
During the 1950 and ‘60s, the FBI surveilled and harassed King, his family and his associates. The bureau wiretapped his phone and monitored his movements, taking advantage of times when he seemed particularly upset or depressed. In one instance, the FBI sent him a tape that allegedly contained audio of him having an affair. With it came a letter threatening King with public exposure if he didn’t kill himself, and claiming that the sender had evidence of other affairs.”
Why mix this into the headline topic? Simple.
- A) it is historically worth pondering the evidence and its meaning.
- B) Minority homeownership is significantly lower than that of whites.
- C) These are facts that affordable housing advocates ought to look at with clear eyes. Facts matter, even if the facts are uncomfortable.
There are no entirely clean hands in these evidence-based reports. There are not “50 Shades of Grey,” as the popular ‘mommy-porn’ novels and related videos proclaimed. Per Forbes, “But in real-life, the human eye can distinguish more than 500 shades of grey.” A government website says that “the human observer can perceive no more than around 900 shades of gray.” But some say that it could be 15000 shades of grey.
There are times it pays to keep an open mind when it comes to commonly held beliefs that may challenge. As MHProNews reported last year, King’s next hill to climb was for people of all backgrounds who were being kept by problems within the system from their part of the American Dream. That included housing.
As the assassination of Haiti’s president reminds us, opposition personalities can still get murdered. “Jovenel Moïse, the president of Haiti, was assassinated on 7 July 2021 at 1 a.m. EDT (UTC−04:00) at his residence. A group of 28 foreign mercenaries are alleged to be responsible for the killing,” says left-leaning Wikipedia.
But perhaps more commonly, character assassination is a tactic that is used by political opponents. That was the view that black manufactured housing advocate, the Rev. Donald Tye Jr., said was more common in recent decades. If someone is going up against “the establishment,” expect their various tools to be used against you.
The most proven affordable housing crisis solution has been known for decades. But in the Berkshire era of the industry, the industry has been almost magically suppressed by a range of seemingly distinctive sources. While it would be a mistake to say that it is all due to one Warren Buffett and his interests, that is not a bad place to look for evidence. After all, Buffett repeatedly bragged about how the moat works and how the rich are waging class warfare against all others.
Is it any surprise if Buffett’s henchmen won’t defend their track record?
After all, what can they say? Manufactured housing is only operating at about 30 percent of its last high of 1998. Instead of selling 500,000 to a million or more manufactured homes a year, the industry’s cheerleaders are focused on the mere 100,000+ that will finally be achieved in 2021.
It is simply not plausible that manufactured housing would be less understood, lower in production, when some of the world’s richest people or corporations are directly involved. They have the media, information, economic resources, and political resources to get much of whatever they want done accomplished. They have a grip on numbers of Democrats, on several in the GOP, and that’s from the perspective of an evidence-driven political independent (i.e.: moi, this writer).
Left-leaning attorney turned award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald had a point. There is a blinding propaganda at work.
A current board member at MHI has told MHProNews that the trade group operates “like a secret society.” Be that as it may, a case has been made that MHI postures effort for “all segments” but in fact is working for a select group of de-facto insiders. Who says? Longtime MHI member and award-winner Marty Lavin, J.D. Outsider looking in Samuel “Sam” Strommen has explored MHI and come to a similar conclusion, naming some corporate names in the process.
What can Berkshire, MHI, or those in that orbit say to those claims? They can seek to divert attention. They can keep up their photo and video op campaign. They can dangle awards that would place an award winner in a camp that is arguably problematic when looked at dispassionately. The Big Business, Big Tech, Big Media must be quietly freaking that their Big Democrats have witnessed a 14-point shift toward the GOP, per Gallup, in the first year of Biden’s widely disliked regime. Will moderate Democrats in a mid-term election year pivot toward the middle?
There is a need to increase the investigation of Berkshire-owned brands by media, regulators, and public officials. Otherwise, the status quo will more or less rock along. The only way to change the status quo is to challenge it. That’s what Rev. King did. That’s what every leader that fought corruption has done. No wonder that those leaders for change had feet of clay. No wonder that those leaders were smeared, subject to character or other forms of assassination. But that did not keep them from fighting and winning. ##
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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