The powers that be in manufactured housing simply can’t have it both ways.
Either Berkshire Hathaway Corporate and their manufactured housing industry unit leaders – as well as Manufactured Housing Institute key staff and members – are intelligent bosses producing great or “superb” results — or they aren’t.
In an interview we will be publishing soon, Kevin Clayton called Warren Buffett a “genius.”
Either Warren Buffett is a folksy billionaire with often humorous insights and superior “genius” level business insights meant in a straight-forward manner, or he is as the Hustle complained a “Shill-ionaire of the people” that is a fancy con man and ripoff artist that exploits the poor and others. That article on the Hustle was under the link of “mobile home real estate scam.” While issues raised in mainstream articles like that one are discussed by certain industry professionals, they are assiduously avoided by industry bloggers others who claim to ‘report’ on the industry to other professionals. Keep it as much out of sight as possible to keep their impacts from weighing on the industry professional’s minds?
There are several historical and more contemporary examples of claims made – like those above – that are self-contradictory in nature when closely examined.
Which ought to inspire questions that seek sincere understanding. Did the position of Buffett, Kevin Clayton, 21st Mortgage’s Tim Williams or others worth mentioning merely change or evolve? Or were their prior statements head fakes or a ruse at the time they were first made? Is there a discernable pattern of behavior?
These questions are not mere curiosity about irrelevant matters. Because if the legal, ethical and regulatory related concerns raised in reports below are valid – and there is direct, oblique and deductive evidence plus reasoning to think that they are – then laws have arguably been broken.
The violations of various laws imply billions of dollars in damages to manufactured homeowners, industry independents and investors. The harm to taxpayers who foot the bill for affordable housing programs could be far higher.
Indeed, the issues raised are serious, costly and widely impactful — which explains why they are treated as such here on MHProNews and our MHLivingNews sister-site. One example of many is shown below.
What follows is a statement made at a partisan event on 2.29.2020, but the statement itself is a nonpartisan truism that very much applies to contemporary and ongoing manufactured housing issues.
Former history instructor James “Jim” Clyburn, House Majority Whip (SC-D) said this. “We study history in order to understand the present and to prepare for the future. Because anything that’s happened before can happen again.” Precisely so.
Note that manufactured housing for decades has enjoyed bipartisan support. Legislation was passed by widely partisan margins. More recently, research by a bipartisan panel of lawmakers once more affirmed what other researchers have. Namely, that manufactured homes are an important part of the solution to the growing affordable housing crisis. Just as propagandists repeat their deceptions – the technique known as the ‘big lie’ – it is equally necessary for those who want to debunk deception to repeat and spotlight what is true.
That wide embrace of manufactured homes by lawmakers makes Rep. Clyburn’s maxim all the more important. Clyburn’s quote above sums up why MHProNews and our MHLivingNews sister site routinely look at historic as well as current events. What happened before is obviously what has led the industry to its currently diminished level. Without understanding what happened before, there is little chance for grasping the underlying causes – and thus the solutions – to the manufactured home industry’s two decades plus of dramatic underperformance.
Clearly intelligent, successful, and well-educated leaders are on record making statements, such as the example from Williams at 21st. When statements made by individuals who have a fiduciary and other legal obligations exhibit significant disconnects — and those disconnects result in self-evident harm to others – that is arguably the grounds for legal, media and oversight inquiries and appropriate remedial action.
There is a case to be made that an examination of the evidence of why manufactured housing is underperforming reveals the following.
- Carefully deployed tactics that were deceptive in nature were meant to defraud others in a manner that masked their true intent.
- The case can be made that doing so shortchanged millions of manufactured homeowners of the true value of their investment in their dwelling. When access to financing is limited, as Williams himself said in the quotation above, then the value of housing is diminished. Third-party research in 2018 that underscored that manufactured housing can and does appreciate in value is astonishing given how limited the financing options have been in the past 2 decades. But Congress passed legislation – and there were already other financing programs – that were meant to remedy that lack of lending. How can it be that nearly a dozen years after the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008 made the Duty to Serve (DTS) manufactured housing law that it is still not being properly implemented? Is there evidence of collusion between certain industry players, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and federal officials?
- Lending and other aspects of this scheme effectively prevented more affordable housing seekers from getting their part of the American dream of home ownership. For example. Problematic and so-called predatory behavior has fueled negative media that often resulted in harm to independent businesses and investors.
- These things collectively harmed taxpayers and the public interest too, because it is tax dollars that pay for affordable housing programs that may not have been needed if the free market and existing laws weren’t manipulated and thwarted.
The above is just a partial list of allegations that have been explored in depth on MHProNews, and to various degrees by others in mainstream media. But mainstream reporters routinely have to do a story and then move on. It is trade media that has the time – and for those who are ethically-minded – the incentive to dig beyond what mainstream sources have reported. Which brings us to the keen interest in these issues by tens of thousands in under a month on just one report.
Investigators, Researchers and Those Impacted Care
That these outlined issues matter to others in and beyond manufactured housing is evidenced by several objective metrics. For example, one of the most popular and ongoingly accessed reports we’ve published is the one linked below, entitled The Case Against Clayton Homes. Published on September 4, 2019, some 5 months have elapsed since it was first-read. During the month of February, that report below had over 25,000 new hits, per Webalizer’s data on just one over a dozen cPanels on MHProNews. There are millions of articles on mainstream news websites that don’t get nearly that many views ever, much less in a single month. Compared to the known data from bloggers and other publishers in manufactured housing, that The Case Against Clayton Homes article dwarfed in February 2020 their total views of all their articles in a given month combined.
The meaning of each item from third-party Webalizer is explained below it.
Rank of Article on cPanel | Hits | Percent traffic on that cPanel | URL or web address
That’s mentioned because it illustrates that this is an issue that industry professionals, investors and other researchers are clearly interested in or even passionate about. That report is linked below.
We noted above that the powers that be in MHVille can’t have it both ways. Either these are valid concerns, or they are not. If they are valid, they merit the appropriate investigative, lawful attention and proper, just resolution. If harm has been done to others, then those causing the harm should be held to account. Isn’t that why laws exist? Don’t laws exist to deter bad behavior and when it occurs, to punish those found guilty of improperly acts?
Attorney and Berkshire Hathaway board member Ronald L Olson has been asked about several controversial issues that relate to Warren Buffett, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage and their respective activities with nonprofits and associations. Olson – as a Berkshire board member – has a fiduciary, advisory and oversight role. As an attorney, he is also an ‘officer of the court.’
Olson’s firm has Warren Buffett’s partner and Berkshire Hathaway’s Vice Chairman Charlie Munger as a name partner. A strategic set of questions were put to Olson, their media contact and to the firm in general. Days later, they sit oddly silent. Why? Are the issues and allegations as serious as MHProNews analysis and that of our MHLivingNews sister site have alleged?
See that report among others that are linked further below.
Make no mistake, the silence may be interesting and useful in and of itself.
Bear in mind that antitrust, SEC and corporate issues are areas of expertise for “super-lawyer” Olson and his self-proclaimed progressive law firm.
We made the leadership of Berkshire, Clayton, 21st, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), and the South Central Manufactured Housing Institute (SCMHI) an offer you’d think they couldn’t refuse, and no Mafia-like pun is intended. This was the offer. Our industry leading platform, that was praised for years in our promotion of various industry events would promote the following at the upcoming Tunica manufactured housing show for free. Let the powers that be select officers or officials they’d like to represent Berkshire, Clayton, 21st and MHI for a public discussion of these concerns with this writer and a few of our own colleagues. They can bring their surrogates in industry blogging to the stage for this proposed event too. Let a live audience of industry independents, media and public officials be in attendance.
Then, in front of both interested an objective observers, with a third-party moderator to keep it fair, let’s discern publicly if our concerns can be successfully explained by those from Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington and their allies in front of a live audience in a video recorded event.
That proposal was put to Berkshire board-member Olson. It was also previously put previously to the SCMHI leadership.
The result? Not only is there a roaring silence, so far the SCMHI has not responded or issued credentials to even attend the event. Are the SCHMHI preparing to pull a Louisville at Tunica? Will they attempt to prevent us from coming to an event, as the Midwest Manufactured Housing Federation (MMHF) has done at Louisville 2 years in a row?
They can’t have it both ways. Either there is nothing to hide, or they think there is and they are ducking for a reason. Note that we have been provided documentary evidence of MHI’s involvement in the MMHF matter. They can’t pretend to be mere observers. Given the composition of the MHI board of directors and executive committee, Omaha and Knoxville can’t pretend not to have influence over MHI.
The powers that be in manufactured housing can’t have it both ways. Facts are facts. History is studied to discern how we got to the place that the industry has been for too many years. All of this is occurring during an affordable housing crisis that should have the industry soaring. Instead, it is snoring.
Warren Buffett’s right about something he may or may not have been serious about. Recall this quote.
Kevin Clayton has personally cited that same statement in a video posted below. But in watching this bear in mind what Michael Lebowitz said, further below. Kevin is, after all, a self-proclaimed disciple of Warren Buffett.
Kevin has called Buffett a genius, which he may be. But if so, then why is manufactured housing underperforming so badly? How is Buffett’s genius been used?
Why is the HUD Code manufactured home industry selling fewer new homes in 2019 than it did in 2003 when “genius” Buffett led-Berkshire acquired Clayton, Oakwood and then a string of lending and industry loans at what Kevin Clayton said of the later were at discounted prices?
They can’t have it both ways.
Corporate officers and association leaders have respective fiduciary responsibilities. They are supposed to be operating above board and speaking the truth. There is not supposed to be paltering or spin when it comes to statements made by certain corporate officials corporate or nonprofit leaders. There are laws and regulations that say as much. Here’s how the late Howard Walker, a longtime MHI board member, put it.
Is all that Berkshire, Clayton, their related lending, MHI, and their “CrossModTM homes” as wonderful as the Ohio Manufactured Home Association (OMHA) Tim Williams said is “superb” leadership? Or as the tide is going out under the steady spotlight on questionable candor, are we seeing clearly who is swimming naked and has been publicly lying about their swimwear?
There may be bigger scams out there in America. But there is an utterly rational, ‘serious as sin’ case to be made that arguably wrongful acts outlined in recent and prior reports represent a far bigger and more harmful scam than Bernie Madoff ever dreamed of and was convicted of doing.
While the scam Madoff was convicted of was different in certain ways, the purported similarities exist too. For instance, Madoff was for years held in a similarly high esteem as Buffett is. But just as Madoff or others who once rode high in saddle and then fell from grace, so too – if they live long enough – Buffett, Munger and others in their circle may be in time be found out to be guilty of RICO, antitrust and other violations. Because there are a variety of sources in and outside of manufactured housing that say that investigations are underway. Perhaps more can and should be forthcoming.
To learn more about the evidence and arguments, see upcoming and recent reports linked below that cover the week of 2.23 to 3.1.2020. Programing Note: Don’t miss the teaser near the end of this post.
There is always more than one issue reported on and examined on MHProNews, as the various topics and headlines below reflect. But certainly the questions and concerns put to Berkshire board member Olson ought to rank high among them.
With no further adieu, let’s dive into the headlines for the reports in the week that was.
Here’s the latest from Inside the Beltway from MHARR
What’s New on the Daily Business News on MHProNews
What’s New on MHLivingNews
Note: this ‘read hot’ report with videos includes Secretary Ben Carson, but it is focused on windstorms that include tornadoes and hurricanes. As we are entering storm season, this is a fact-based report that is not to be missed by industry professionals and researchers alike.
The Latest on the Masthead
Fraud is defined as follows.
RICO laws include the following.
Paltering is defined as follows.
The history of an issue must be understood in order to truly understand how current conditions came to be.
MailChimp reports that our #4 most clicked link in our latest eblast was the sign up for our x2 weekly emailed headline news. Be in the know. From the mom and pop sized operations to the largest names in the manufactured home industry, you’ll find our readers by the thousands. If you aren’t already on it, you are missing out on the news that thousands of industry professionals, investors, state and federal officials and other pros find a useful way to keep up with the world of manufactured housing.
Detecting what has gone wrong in the affordable manufactured housing industry benefits from a level of expertise. But once someone who understands the industry, steps back and looks at historic trends and patterns, the evidence of how much of what has gone wrong is connected to Buffett and his ‘castle and moat’ ploy arguably becomes more evident. Perhaps that is why state and federal officials, researchers plus industry professionals flock here by the thousands daily to see the latest?
About that programing note a.k.a. ‘teaser’ promised above. Check back for a report, likely on MHLivingNews, that will feature the transcript of an in depth interview Kevin Clayton; that new report and analysis will shed still more light on these issues. That and more are still to come, but that’s it for now on this Sunday installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, week in review, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.)
(See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.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
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.