Executive Summary. All authentic problem solving involves accurate information, an evidence-based understanding of that information, and a clear path towards a viable solution to the problem(s) faced. This outline report and analysis will aim to do the following. It will set manufactured housing’s current status in the broader national context. In doing so, some elements previously referred to by MHProNews plus in several new insights from as recent as last night and today will be woven together. Understanding, context, evidence, and common-sense and pragmatic solutions based on reality vs. wishful thinking will be the goal.
This framework should satisfy longtime readers without losing new or more recent readers. This analysis should be self- evident to those who truly understand and appreciate modern manufactured homes that the federal laws manufactured housing needs to thrive in an affordable housing crisis already exist. With that brief foundation, let’s review the status quo in our profession.
It is time to revive the 80-20 rule.
Areas of “Agreement”
Faithful members and supporters of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) agree on paper on several points.
Among them, on paper, MHI and MHARR leaders agree that zoning and placement issues could be overcome by applying federal law found in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA or 2000 Reform law). The thirst for more competitive lending already has its answer in existing federal laws too.
For instance, on single-family manufactured home lending. The Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs or Enterprises) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a mandate to serve Manufactured Housing via the Duty to Serve which was aimed at single family loans on manufactured homes. Ginnie Mae has long thwarted more FHA Title I (home only, personal property, or “chattel” loans) for about a decade with their so-called 10/10 rule. That 10/10 rule, by accident or design, acts as a moat – a barrier against entry – for Berkshire Hathaway lending. VA, USDA/Rural Housing, FHA Title II, plus other federal loan programs that very few seem to be aware of, exist which could support robust sales of more single family manufactured homes. But there are programs that could be used to fuel brand new developments of manufactured home communities.
- On paper, MHI has long said that it wants to see changes in the Ginnie Mae 10/10 rule, just as MHARR has done.
- On paper, MHI has said that it wants to see DTS fully implemented. So too has MHARR.
- On paper, MHI has said that it wasn’t to see the MHIA 2000 fully implemented. So too has MHARR.
- So, if there is so much apparent agreement, that begs the obvious question. Why are these good and useful laws that would make affordable manufactured housing more widespread not being properly implemented?
The shortest answer, both insightful yet for some unsatisfying, comes from the well-known actor Danny Glover. Glover has served on a board of the NoVo Foundation, which for years has been solely funded by Warren Buffett and is run by Buffett’s son Peter Buffett and his wife Jennifer. Said Glover, “It’s not only a monopoly on wealth, it’s a monopoly on information as well.” The context for that pithy quote was an award- winning documentary, The Shadows of Liberty. That docu-drama aptly laid out, step-by-step, how corporate interests mix with big media to often achieve the political and business goals desired by the various major players. The Shadows of Liberty takes shots at Republicans Bush-Cheney, but also sheds light on problematic Democratic and big corporate behavior too.
The truth is hiding in plain sight. The truth, once unpacked reads something like a blend of George Orwell’s dystopian Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) and Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. Videos that summarize those themes will be posted below to clarify a useful point that professionals should understand, because it is beneficial in detecting the patterns at play.
“Not all Democrats are socialists,” said Senator Marco Rubio (FL-R), “but all socialists are Democrats.”
Sen. @MarcoRubio: “Not all Democrats are socialists but all socialists are Democrats.” pic.twitter.com/B251jlrclv
— The Hill (@thehill) November 2, 2020
There are moderate elected Democrats. Joe Manchin (WV-D) is often cited as a prominent example. But the energy in the Democratic Party is largely in the Bernie Sanders (VT self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) (NY-D). What Chris Plante, journalist turned Washington’s Mall pundit has called “the Biden Harris Junta” are posturing being centrists or more moderates. But when their actions are examined, Biden and Harris are both following the left-wing of their party. White House Resident Biden is not acting as a moderate. That is per Naomi Wolf, a Democrat and Biden voter who during the Bush-Cheney era was warning against their administration’s Patriot Act overreaches.
Now Wolf and thoughtful traditional Democratic supporters such as Robert F. Kennedy J, J.D., and attorney- turned award-winning journalist Glen Greenwald are warning of leftist autocratic rule. RF Kennedy, a controversial but successful attorney and nonprofit leader, has called what is happening in America “the COVID Coup.” Kennedy’s voice is of interest, because the nephew of the assassinated President John F. “Jack” Kennedy is the son of also murdered Senator Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy. RFK Jr is willing to challenge the narrative on a range of issues that include the ‘lone gunman’ claims in both of those assassinations. RFK Jr was a critic of Republican President George W. Bush. But the firebrand is also a critic of former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who infamously but insightfully said “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Former President George W. Bush has made his New World Order (NWO) colors shine brightly. He launched what has become an almost 2 decade long set of conflicts led by the U.S. in the Middle East. As Shadows of Liberty outlined, Bush did so in part through a propaganda campaign that involved media manipulation that included use of misleading intelligence communities’ briefings. Iraq had virtually nothing to do with the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on 9.11.2001. But Bush, his henchmen and allies managed to convince leaders on the left and right in America to support a war on Iraq to rid that nation of weapons of mass destruction that were never found. Thousands of dead Americans, tens of thousands of wounded, and millions of dead, wounded, and displayed people in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan – along with trillions of dollars spent – only destabilized the region.
As CNN reported on 4.19.2021, Bush 43 has effectively condemned President Donald J. Trump. But perhaps more importantly, Bush has blasted the 45th President’s MAGA followers. Bush praised Biden’s performance so far with these words, “He’s off to a good start, it looks like.” The analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large said in part: “The contrast [between Bush and Trump] — on nearly every issue of import to the country — is stunning. And speaks to how radically the Republican Party and what it stands for has been transformed by Trump’s rise…” That part of the left-of-center report on CNN, might as well have been published on right-of-center Breitbart. But that does not mean that Cillizza’s entire analysis is correct. He was correct in saying that: “Bush’s version of what it means to be a Republican is unrecognizable from where the GOP stands today.”
But that blast against MAGA Republicans says more about how the two major parties top-level leaders have operated on behalf of President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. As left-of-center Wikipedia says, “Despite his [Eisenhower’s] military background and being the only general to be elected president in the 20th century, he warned the nation with regard to the corrupting influence of what he describes as the “military-industrial complex…”
Bush, Clinton, and Obama where joined by Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence in gladly attending the installation of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Bush 43 apparently has more in common with Biden than Trump. That is the takeaway. CNN noted Bush saying: “History and the United States has shown these populist movements begin to fritter over time, and so I’m optimistic about democracy.”
By contrast, as Breitbart reported 4.22.2021, “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) says the Republican Party “cannot be wedded to corporate America” as corporations support values at odds with the nation’s working and middle class.” There are those who think DeSantis, a close ally of fellow Floridian President Trump, may become the 45th president’s running mate in 2024. If the 45th U.S. President does not run, DeSantis may be the one-to-watch as he has been an effective leader in Florida.
What CNN effectively helped document is that the energy in the Republican Party (GOP) is with those who tend to back the “America First” or “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) wing of the party.
While that MAGA wing is sometimes described as far right by leftists, a better case could be made that it is a common-sense coalition that has attracted record numbers of Blacks and Hispanics, besides those of European descent. Homosexuals and lesbians, hardly a core traditional constituency for the GOP, have found a place in the MAGA Republican Party. Richard “Ric” Grenell was appointed Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) by President Trump, and was also his Ambassador to Germany. Grenell has made clear that he may as a Republican for the Governor of California. Peter Thiel, billionaire investor in tech such as PayPal and Facebook, is openly gay and was a Trump supported in the 2016 election cycle. Thiel, says Wikipedia, is a venture capitalist who also was involved in Palantir Technologies, and Founders Fund. “Palantir Technologies is a public American software company that specializes in big data” says Wikipedia, which noted that “according to TechCrunch” that Palantir “has ties to U.S. spy agencies such as the CIA and FBI…”
For roughly half of the engaged electorate, Biden is not a legitimate president. Even among those on the right, plus some on the left who think of him or refer to him as “President Biden,” there are large numbers that view Biden as a puppet of the billionaire class, big tech, big media. Those are the groups that DeSantis called “Corporate America.”
That “Corporate America,” say thoughtful voices from the left and right, is dominating the Democratic party at this time. Those business, and billionaire leaders hold sway with a significant minority of elected GOP leaders too, as DeSantis recognizes, but which he says is an influence that the party should be purged of as time advances.
“Corporations are moving to the left for a reason, and it’s not because they have suddenly had a come-to-Bernie conversion. The Great Reset, like so many other movements in history, is all about money and power—and these days, there’s plenty of both available for ruling-class elites to get their fill.” So said Justin Haskins, co-director of the Stopping Socialism Project at The Heartland Institute in a new right-of-center Epoch Times op-ed, which was transformatively unpacked by MHProNews in the link below by providing left-of-center insights that confirm Haskin’s thoughts.
Haskins’ insights make the point that there is frightening amount of money, information, and political clout that is effectively in the hands of the political left and their corporate masters.
In that world view, Biden may be a figurehead, but he is the leftist “Corporate America’s” figurehead.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made that quoted statement below, when that data point about over a hundred thousand business lost to COVID closures was more accurate. But the point that big business has effectively taken control of America – and is crushing small businesses on a routine basis – should be the keen takeaway he is making. That is an important part of the warning needed for manufactured housing independents to realize that their number is coming up, if this leftist, favorable-to-Communist China corporate course is not corrected.
For those like Dr. Joseph Mercola, or the literally thousands of healthcare professionals and scientists who have signed onto the Great Barrington Declaration, COVID is real.
However, COVID and how it has been handled – in the view of thousands of sound minds in the medical and data fields – have said that how the outbreak was dealt with was botched. DeSantis essentially weighed in on that point, saying if he had to do it over again, he would not have locked down Florida at all. Based on the evidence, in the light of current understanding of the COVID19 outbreak, DeSantis has a point. The data reflects it is the least lethal for most people of any comparative health outbreak declared to be a pandemic.
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While some on the right may think that no one on the left can be trusted, voices such as Kennedy and Greenwald are examples to the contrary. There are more honest, or more dishonest, brokers on all sides. Politicos have long ago used the technique of paltering – a Machiavellian mix of truth and deceptive information that aims to manipulate the hearer, viewer, or reader.
The truth is hiding in plain sight. But there is so much deception at play that the truth must be sifted out.
For those who have been paying attention in manufactured housing, the the evidence and patterns reflect the sobering notion that the Biden Agenda will arguably crush still more manufactured home independents.
No less important to strategic thinkers is this point. Manufactured home consumers – perhaps especially residents of corporate land-lease communities – will also be continuously hammered under the current regime.
This is where the MHI position, once carefully examined, is revealed.
MHI is clearly in the corporatist grasp. That point is aptly revealed by their board of directors.
MHI’s behavior is arguably best understood by grasping their pattern of paltering. They say one thing, but often do another that undermines their own claims. Who says? Longtime MHI insider and award winner, Marty Lavin. Indeed, there are so many deceptive tactics being deployed at and within the manufactured home industry that MHProNews created an infographic that helps truth-seeking readers to discern what is a genuine vs. a clever but bogus argument or claim.
Perhaps more important, what MHI has become in the Berkshire era is revealed by third-party research such as Samuel Strommen from Knudson Law. Strommen’s legal thesis which charges “felony” antitrust and possible “RICO” violations that involve manufactured home community operators as well as producers was not challenged by Berkshire, Clayton, 21st, or MHI. Every one of these factoids has meaning and significance for every manufactured home independent.
MHARR President and CEO Mark Weiss has called what is occurring in manufactured home financing “a shell game.” Indeed, it is only when MHARR and MHI comments are put side by side and are carefully unpacked that the purported hypocrisy and corruption of MHI becomes manifest. See examples that are linked here and here.
Founding MHARR President, and still consultant to MHARR, Danny Ghorbani has decried the ways that MHI and several of the affiliated state associations have behaved. Ghorbani, it will be recalled, was a prior MHI VP. When Ghorbani ran the Louisville Show, it was an event that attracted an international audience. Last year, it was a mere shadow of its prior glory. Thinking people should ask, why is that so?
That is the American reality. That is also the reality for our industry’s independents.
In one sense, it doesn’t matter what party you belong to or vote for in this vexing scenario. Political affiliations or a lack thereof are interesting details. As a disclosure, this writer is a political independent who believes in Constitutional and traditional Christian values in those candidates who are voted for and supported. As I’ve disclosed before, our parental family were Kennedy Democrats who became Reagan Republicans. Civil rights support dated back to my earliest memories, as Cesar Chavez or full rights for all minorities was robustly defended and advocated. That too, properly understood, are Constitutional and Christian values.
But irrelevant to this outline the political beliefs or motivations of those who use politics as a tool to advance their corporate agendas. What the evidence reveals is playing out in the USA today is a top-down crushing of not only manufactured housing independents, but all competition for the big corporate elites and their billionaire masters.
It was some years ago, during the Trump Administration, that MHProNews called for robust antitrust action not only against Berkshire Hathaway, but also what we dubbed FAANG-BM. They are not alone among those who need trust-busting. That the Trump Administration began antitrust efforts are clear. What is less clear is this. Did so-called Deep State or more aptly “Iron Triangle” forces in the Department of Justice (DoJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) slow walk antitrust action? Will state attorneys general (AGs) pick up the mantle of antitrust that they too have launched and actually do something meaningful in the way of trust-busting? Or will they take an easy road, and issue fines and create new regulations that will essentially be a new barrier of entry for possible competitors to the corporate giants in big tech, Berkshire, and elsewhere?
Founding father, Thomas Jefferson was an imperfect man in an imperfect society. But Jefferson and George Washington were proven correct, time and again. Modern thinkers like Martha Nussbaum, Ph.D. have made similar points. Elizabeth Stanton reminds us that women have contributed in numerous ways to the long road toward a more just society.
There are voices on the left and right that have for some years sounded the alarm over the monopolization of the American Dream. That has been occurring in several parts of the American economy. As James Schmitz Jr and his fellow researchers have explained in detail, there are real world and harmful consequences to monopolization and the rise of oligopoly. This is why savvy employees of corporate powers should accelerate their tips to MHProNews. Because the consequences of monopoly, say Schmitz and his colleagues based upon years of research that includes a very specific set of articles on HUD and manufactured housing say that society as a whole is harmed.
Only a few benefit from monopolization. That is what the evidence reflects.
As a well-informed reader recently and periodic source pointed out to MHProNews, antitrust fines in China, in Europe, and in or other developed countries reflects the point that at least on paper, monopolization is a global phenomenon. That too, sadly, points to the concerns about Davos set at the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the push for misnamed Great Reset.
Because what the so-called Great Reset amounts to is a new feudalism under a different name. For those who do not recall their high school history, if they got such education in the school they attended, feudalism was a system of overlords that had lesser vassals who pledged loyalty to their master(s). The mass of the people had little or no rights. While not technically slavery, feudalism had several common points.
Many media on the left and some on the right pooh-pooh the notion as mere conspiracy theory nonsense. But a close look at the WEF website and related insights makes it clear that the Great Reset is sadly all too real.
That “reset” of “capitalism” would logically devastate what is left of manufactured housing independents. It should be self evident that the world’s billionaires are not proposing big sweeping social change in order to strip themselves of wealth or power. These billionaire-oligarchs are patient people in several respects. They are willing to take the time to achieve their goals in a fashion that will raise the fewest possible number of alarm bells.
Our segment of the American economy has its unique wrinkles. But as this outline above and the linked reports should make clear, manufactured housing and its independents are not alone in being under assault. Properly understood, affordable manufactured housing would be one of the best possible areas of investment, perhaps approaching the opportunities in tech and far more accessible for most people. But by constraining the industry, the dominant powers behind MHI have contributed to the loss of somewhere near 20,000 street retailers, thousands of land-lease communities, and are consolidating the industry’s remaining independent members are a striking rate.
As Edward Pinto and his colleague Tobias Peter at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Housing Center said last week to MHProNews, there are some 8 million housing units needed in America. Manufactured homes ought to be supported as a key part of solving the affordable housing crisis. That begs the question: why does the data and trends like demonstrate that HUD Code manufactured homes sales are sliding backwards while far more costly conventional housing is surging? Isn’t it obvious that the Berkshire brands and their minions at MHI want it so? What other thesis fits all of the known facts? Are we to believe that obviously intelligent people at Berkshire, their owned and their allied brands, are incapable of growing the industry? That would be utter nonsense to believe. That logically means that they must like the status quo.
Pinto and Tobias are among those who routinely decry interference in the free marketplace caused by government subsidies. Those subsidies often go to larger corporate interests.
As Federal Reserve researcher James A. Schmitz Jr and his colleagues have argued, they say builders and HUD have colluded to subvert manufactured housing for decades. Indeed, their logic is sound when someone imagines that more affordable housing would means less homelessness, other social and economic ills.
Prosperity Now – previously known as CFED – affordable housing expert Doug Ryan has touted manufactured homes as an underappreciated resource.
The National Association of Realtor (NAR) research conducted by Scholastica “Gay” Cororaton has handed the industry a strong case, based on third-party research and facts, facts, facts. So why doesn’t MHI – the industry umbrella association that claims to represent all segments of manufactured housing – mention any of these people and their research on their own website?
The facts are overwhelmingly in manufactured housing’s favor. The misunderstanding about manufactured housing is so significant that a doctoral dissertation, a peer reviewed academic exercise in facts and evidence, was produced by Lisa Tyler, who is now a Ph.D. Tyler, Cororaton, and other academic research that dates back for more than 2 decades makes a case that MHI has either buried or totally mishandled.
If the manufactured home industry was doing some 373,000 new HUD Code manufactured homes annually, this report and analysis would be unnecessary. Prior MHI President and CEO Richard “Dick” Jennison said that the goal should be 500,000 units a year. Then, why is the industry in retreat for over 3 years on total production and shipments?
It is in the light of the facts, trends, and history that the startling clarity about why manufactured housing is underperforming becomes clear. Manufactured housing’s so-called big corporate leaders have not only failed the majority of the industry’s independents. The independents of the industry have arguably been betrayed by Berkshire, their corporate allies, and those in MHI and knee-bending state affiliates. MHI and their state affiliates have become a feeding ground for consolidators. While some may want to sell out, why do they want to sell out? Is it because they were lead down a blind alley by smiling faces that mugged them without their realizing it?
Keep in mind that media across the left-right divide has outlined several significant parts of these problems. But those reports lacked the nuance or granular understanding of manufactured housing to connect all the necessary dots.
It is only through the rear-view mirror, the lens of historic insight, that much of what has gone wrong in manufactured housing begins to make sense. One reason that MHProNews has made a point of getting historic insights from Ghorbani is this. Few have LIVED THROUGH so much of the industry’s history. Ghorbani, and Dick Moore, would be two voices that could authentically claim to have 5 decades of insights.
While this writer does not have as much history as Moore or Ghorbani, as relevant disclosures:
- I’ve been involved in the manufactured home, RV, and other professions with companies large medium, and small since the early 1980s.
- About a dozen years of experience from often robust-volume manufactured home retail sales with high customer satisfaction should matter to other independents. That experience is not insignificant for corporate minds too.
- Years of work with manufactured home land-lease community operations at a regional management level work was performed by this writer. That included instances where good resident relations were developed that fixed previously problematic resident relations, that too is relevant and significant.
- Years of working successfully with financial service firms – think lenders – in marketing repossessions and working to mitigate losses.
- Years of working with producers of HUD Code manufactured homes.
- Few could honestly say that they have been at manufactured home retail centers and communities literally from coast-to-coast, and from the Mexican-U.S. border up into Canada.
- Starting in the late 1980s and moving forward, periodically writing for various factory-built housing publications and finally co-founding MHProNews and then MHLivingNews.
- Attended and addressed as a speaker state, regional, and national association meetings in states from coast to coast, from the deep south up into Canada.
- Was credited, along with Soheyla Kovach, by numbers of industry leaders with playing a key role in the come-back of the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show following the year it was cancelled in 2010. The most robust educational efforts at Louisville and the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show were praised by leaders too, and that organizational work was performed by this writer. The emails, videos, social media, and other praise are all a matter of record.
- Additionally, that combo above, plus years of winning academic awards in history give this writer a unique set of tools with which to discern what has gone wrong in manufactured housing and how it could be remedied.
That is said because, a), it is accurate, and b) because it sets the context for my candid admission that for some years, I too was mystified by what had gone wrong in manufactured housing.
But unlike some, I was not satisfied with just being mildly curious. I kept asking questions, making suggestions to industry leaders, and attending meetings where relevant discussions occurred. Early on, I confess to some level of naiveté. It is in some ways regretted, but in other ways, it was arguably in hindsight useful. I’ve uncovered corrupt practices – for example – in working with client firms. So it is not like I’ve never seen business, political, religious, or other corruption. But for a time, it just did not occur to me that what was occurring was corrupt. Not an ordinary failure. Corruption that has cost our profession tens of billions of dollars, and cost our national literally trillions of dollars. All of this is documented and evidence-based.
It was tips from independents, from state associations, from MHARR, and from MHI members that over time finally caused my personal “aha!” moment. While it is frankly frustrating at times to cover the same ground again, it is also necessary. There is no way to resolve the industry corrupt practices without carefully laying out the evidence. Additionally, it is in my own need to humbly admit that I, as roughly a 30-year industry veteran was for a time buffaloed, that hopefully some other readers will have their own “aha!” moment too.
That Overview Sets the Stage for Understanding, Which Will Clarify Practical Solutions
That lead up should be sufficient to begin a summary which will then set up the possible path for solving these problems.
To be clear, there are those who are simply going along with the flow. They may be pawns of the corporate interests that dominate manufactured housing wittingly or unwittingly. In a sense, they do not need to know they are pawns to be effective lackeys.
That outline above, and what follows below, are significant on several levels. In no particular order of importance:
A) There is a potential coalition many times larger than our industry that can be tapped into. It may not be deemed necessary to some, but it is useful to know.
B) There are individuals in our profession who could arguably facilitate the solution(s) nearly solo, because the have the financial capability.
C) Solving the problems our industry – and others – face is arguably far more profitable than letting the status quo fester.
D) Some have frankly gone along with the flow, perhaps thinking they would or could escape the problems that have for too long crippled literally some 10 to 20 thousand manufactured home independents. But a clear-minded analysis of the broader national picture reveals that even the ‘bigger’ little guys will ultimately get crushed if they fail to act in a timely fashion. That is the relevance of showing voices from left-and-right that are sounding very similar warnings.
E) Feudalism may be attractive to those at the top. But to everyone else, especially those who have enjoyed some measure of freedom for much of their lives, feudalism will not be appealing in practice.
F) Millions of Americans are essentially a-political. They mainly want their chance at the American Dream. They may not want to be a billionaire, or even a millionaire. But tens of millions want a home of their own. They may want to or already own an independent business, in whatever profession. That is significant to our industry’s independent professionals, advocates, and supporters in several ways.
G) There are Democrats who are willing to call out political corruption. There are Republicans who are from the MAGA viewpoint “RINOs.” President Trump has made it clear he intends to steadily rid the GOP of national elected officials through the primary process of those who are not America First oriented. As a pragmatist, 45 will doubtless work with people like Mitch McConnell (KY-R) or Mitt Romney (UT-R), but that does not mean he will ever trust them. The point here is similar to some prior bullets above. There are potential allies to be tapped in both major parties.
H) The solution for the affordable housing crisis already exists. No new research is necessary. The laws that are needed already exist. That too is useful, because both the MHIA 2000 and DTS, to name but two laws, were passed by widely bipartisan margins. Decades of third party research is oddly missing from the umbrella MHI website. But MHProNews and MHLivingNews have carefully been gathering that research and reporting on it for years.
I) That third-party research is useful. Why? Because even though we have laws in place that are useful, they have also gone largely un-enforced. The research will help support the case why sincere Democrats or Republicans, those who do not buy into the Corporate and Billionaire takeover of much of America, will likely need some measure of encouragement.
J) While MHAction is one of several nonprofits that have received Buffett-bucks, they have at times produced useful insights. Among them? “The Many Can Defeat the Money.” That is absolutely true, demonstrably so. Authentic American history proves that time and again.
K) What U.S. history also proves is that “the many” must organize. Politically, much of that energy is objectively in the MAGA movement. Some of it is on the left, but those on the left who have been sold a bill of goods that are in essence useful to the oligarchs and plutocrats can be educated into understanding. This is the essence of pragmatism.
L) What is necessary is for independents to be willing to band together in their own coalitions. MHARR already effectively represents the interests of independent producers of HUD Code manufactured homes. For those who are not yet MHARR members, they should join. There is perhaps no trade body in our industry that has so consistently fought – and periodically won – battles that benefit the interests of independents. Those laws cited further above, the MHIA and DTS, exist in good measure because of MHARR’s leadership and efforts. Yes, the pre-Berkshire era MHI joined in on passing the 2000 Reform law, but that MHIA was the brainchild of MHARR. It is worth noting that MHI, during the Chris Stinebert tenure as MHI’s staff leader, worked with MHARR to pass the MHIA or 2000 Reform law. That too is a valuable lesson. There are people, now and previously, in MHI who have not bought into the Berkshire-backed agenda of dividing up the industry into segments to be consolidated. It is also fair to say that some employees in the major corporate players that are MHI members recognize what has been occurring in manufactured housing. Some of them have been good, periodic sources of inside information. The point is that just because someone happens to be in a big company or an MHI member, that does not make them a so-called black hat. But it is fair to say that many are simply going along, unwittingly serving the interests of big corporations that could well in time harm them too.
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M) MHARR is a producer’s organization. Their members have discussed several times expanding beyond production. But MHARR’s members have repeatedly decided to stay production focused. MHARR has leaned into post-production issues – like zoning, placement, and financing – as far as they are willing to go at this time. They should be praised for what they have done so far. As noted above and previously, IMHO, they merit support. As a stating the obvious disclosure, they are a sponsor. But so too was MHI, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, MHVillage, among others who are MHI loyalists. MHProNews has always maintained its editorially objectivity. As Tim Williams, former MHI Chairman and still corporate leader of 21st has said, it is our independence that makes our support worthwhile. As a relevant aside, it is may be precisely because Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams, Howard Walker, Dick Jennison, Dennis J. Hill, Dan Rinzema, Darren Krolewski, OMHA’s Williams, and so many others have over the years praised our work that makes our endorsement of a notion worthwhile. The industry has cheerleaders. But the Berkshire-era of manufactured housing has proved that pretty pictures, fancy websites, videos, 3D tech or so-called education are all nearly meaningless in achieving true growth unless the core issues that keep manufactured housing down are addressed and resolved. It may also be precisely the fact that because we at MHProNews and MHLivingNews strive to be evidence-based and rationale, and are also willing to admit missteps and then seek to correct them, that makes us a credible voice for authentic progress. Additionally, while this writer and Danny Ghorbani once had a rather public dust-up, we resolved those issues quietly and for the benefit of the greater good in manufactured housing. The fact that Ghorbani and Kovach can pull in a similar direction can patch things up and move ahead should speak volumes.
N) But MHARR’s leaders have made it clear that they support and encourage the formation of a new post-production trade group that they could partner with, much as MHARR did with MHI’s Stinebert and his then-corporate leadership.
O) Only an authentic and granular look at manufactured housing’s rich history can reveal what has gone wrong. It is only in that same historic lens that reveals what the path ahead should be.
P) Something similar should be said about American or world history. The vexing problem that the Berkshire boys have created for themselves in their duplicity is this. They tired to trick, then undermine, the only writer in this profession that happened to have the educational and experiential background to bring their duplicity into a bright light. I doubt there is another writer in this industry that have had so many open or subtle threats and efforts of subversion. The fact that we are still standing is a testimony to God’s grace and what even a modicum of moxie can achieve. My goal for this specific report is that if I died today after this is published, the roadmap to undo the Gordian knot created by Buffett, the Berkshire brands, and their allies would be found herein or linked from this report. My hope would be that our teen age son would have example mildly akin to the one my astonishing, but imperfect, parents showed me in their fights for justice during their era.
Q) What is necessary now is a defense against threats to our vital part of the affordable housing industry. Manufactured homes came of age decades ago, but has been thwarted by forces inside and outside of our profession. Who says? Third-party researchers such as James A. Schmitz Jr. and his colleagues who have specifically said that manufactured housing has been victimized by builders working in collusion with HUD. The National Association of Realtor’s handed to manufactured housing on a silver platter research almost 3 years ago that if properly understood and applied would be part of our repertoire of telling the story of manufactured housing properly and with energy.
R) The irony is that for over a decade, several Berkshire and MHI leaders in our industry have said the right things. But the case has been made time and again by MHProNews, MHARR, MHLivingNews and some others. Those corporate and faux association ‘leaders’ have not done what those Berkshire-MHI leader have talked about! That is objectively undeniable, which is why they have ducked, dodged, and deflected debate for years. It is why they have tried to pretend that we no longer exist. They are acting like rich, spoiled teenage brats in junior high school. But people by the thousands flock here even on a bad day. They flock here in far greater numbers on a good day. Those who jeer and cheer read here, why? Because we hammer away at the facts, evidence, and use reason that is difficult to deny. That is not self-praise. That awakening took time, and the input of too many other industry professionals. Whatever success we have in obtaining this level of communication engagement is due in no small measure to the scores of voices that have provided useful, or even brilliant, insights. Rephrased, this platform has always been a collaborate effort.
S) The pushback to the Obama-Biden years created the fertile soil for what became the Trump-MAGA movement. The Trump-MAGA movement itself was not entirely new. Other times in American history have witnessed populist leader who have risen up and for often similar reasons. That generic similarity was to push back against the monopolization of America by big corporate interests and their billionaire backers. Those populist leaders, like Trump, were imperfect individuals. But each in their own era thread the needle to push back against the long effort that goes back to the early days of the American Republic for the ‘money powers’ to attempt to dominate American business, society, politics, etc. In the case of Warren Buffett and his self-declared “partner in crime” Charlie Munger, they even had the audacity to even challenge God and religion. The Robber Barons, past or present, have long been megalomaniacs. They are intelligent. They are successful. But they are dangerous to our liberties.
T) The good news? Much of these truths are now out in the open. What the Media Research Center (MRC) started to document decades ago about the leftist lean of big media is now quite well known. While they do not all respond with the proper solutions, there are voices across the left-center-right divide that say that the monopolization of America is a reality that is a threat.
U) It is a monopoly of money and information, said Glover. Meaning, big capital, big tech, big media have largely monopolized the system to serve its own interests. With that additional context from the start of this news-analysis and commentary to this point has hereby fleshed out what that phrase means.
V) What must be approached with caution is this point. These “oligarchs and plutocrats,” to borrow the phrase from Nick Hanauer, are creating a feudalistic society. There will be, some would stress already are, billionaire overlords. The overlords have their allies in Republican ranks, but they have chosen as their political vessel of choice the Democratic Party. They use deceptive language and promises that seem to offer the working and middle classes something that they want. They appear to offer the tens of millions of retirees something that they want. But that posturing is just a ploy, a means to an end. Because many of those corporate overlords are literally godless, as is the case with self-described atheist Warren Buffett, or in the case of Bill Gates, posture religious belief while admitting – as MHProNews has documented – that the inspirations of religious faith holds no sway over his own decision making. Just as Biden has been called a CINO – a Catholic in Name Only – so too there are DINOs – Democrats in Name Only and RINOs – Republicans in Name Only. This is what the Capital Research Center (CRC) has aptly labeled “Deception and Misdirection.”
W) Not unlike Communist leaders Joseph Stalin or Vladimir Lenin, these feudalist overlords have learned the art of co-opting voices and platforms that posture one thing, but are in fact doing the bidding of their masters. Controlling the Democrats, while influencing certain Republicans, has its corollary in manufactured housing too.
X) Nor is it necessary for the pawns in this oligarchs’ game to even be aware that they are pawns. Indeed, the argument can be made that the vassals and serfs are doing what they were trained to do. They need no specific instructions to follow their instincts. Tim Williams at OMHA says he has not been asked to defend Berkshire and MHI, for instance. Whether that is true or not is perhaps interesting, but is in a sense, also irrelevant. Kevin Clayton at Clayton Homes, Tim Williams at 21st Mortgage, or Tom Hodges Clayton general counsel and MHI’s chairman does not have to call or email him. Neither does Lesli Gooch, MHI’s CEO. All those foot soldiers have to do is follow their masters. No specific instructions are required. Kevin Borden at MHAction may or may not have given a first, much less a second thought, to the notion that he was working for Warren Buffett’s dark money. The only thing that Borden and his colleagues like Liz Voigt at MHAction have to do is following their leftist training. That is enough to accomplish the work desired by Buffett and George Soros, both of whose dark money trails make them the top donors to the Tides nonprofit, which in turn provides the funding for MHAction. Borden and Voigt may have learned what they are by reading MHLivingNews and MHProNews. Similarly, OMHA’s Williams and Birch may have learned that they too are mere pawns in a larger game by reading MHProNews and MHLivingNews. That is not a put down. It is a logical potential reality.
Y) What is needed is enforcement of good federal laws that already exist. To accomplish that, a single noble soul could make it happen. There is only so much that MHARR or MHProNews can do. There is a missing piece of the puzzle. Ideally, a group of independents would pull together that are white hats and care about the future of America and the future of our much-needed industry.
Z) It is that need for a new post-production group that is necessary. The person or persons who step up an do this could well be hailed in the years ahead as equally important heroes to manufactured housing independents as MHARR has been for independent producers. MHARR, it must be said again, will support a proper effort. It should be noted that as this matter comes to a head, that the Berkshire boys may try to create a faux alternative. There has to be an authentic group that fights for the interests of independents. Such a group may in time work with ideally equally authentic resident groups to transform the interests of both residents and smaller businesses that are hoping for their part of the American Dream.
“AIM High Wisdom” – Problem Solving! Road Ahead for Robust Growth for Manufactured Homes Independent Retailers, Communities, Others
In an ironic and helpful twist of fate, the National Housing Conference (NHC) documented in this graphic below the clear evidence of how vigorous growth could be for growth minded manufactured housing independents if Federal law that provide for “enhanced preemption” were being routinely enforced.
NHC, citing Bloomberg, said that in California, factory-built ADU sales have skyrocketed in the last three years. The surge of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) occurred after they were given statewide preemption in California over local zoning that previously made such sales difficult. That rise is apparently some 700% in three years. If something similar occurred in HUD Code manufactured housing nationally by enforcing already existing federal “enhanced preemption,” the roughly 95,000 annual production of manufactured homes in 2020 could skyrocket in three years to some 665,000 new manufactured homes.
For moat builders and castle-defenders, that is anathema. But for those who sincerely believe in the American Dream, it is doable.
Put differently, manufactured housing could soar to record high levels. That would happen by properly and fully enforcing existing federal laws. No new laws are needed for this to occur.
What makes this ironic is that this information from the NHC came from a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) “coalition partner,” instead of directly from MHI.
In under 300 words following our AIM HIGH caption, that snapshot ought to make light bulbs go off for anyone that wants to see manufactured homes achieve their true market potential.
A brief recap is now going to be useful. That same evidence-based overview should cause numerous questions aimed in search of the truth.
After years of pressure from voices inside manufactured housing, including, but not limited to MHProNews, MHLivingNews, MHARR, and MHEC members –
- MHI again admitted in writing that HUD has federal preemption authority.
- MHI also stated their disappointment that the GSEs have done essentially nothing to provide home only, personal property “chattel” lending on manufactured homes. That Duty to Serve (DTS) mandate is also federal law.
These insights and admissions beg questions. Understanding these long-festering topics of zoning and placement barriers combined with more competitive lending have long come from voices inside and outside of MHI.
Several state association executives – members of the Manufactured Housing Executives Council (MHEC) who are MHI “state affiliates” – tipped MHProNews about purported strong-arm tactics used by Berkshire Hathaway owned brands. How Gold Rules reported those tips.
We can report that none of those tips came from the Ohio Manufactured Home Association (OMHA). Why not?
Fast forward to 2020 and 2021.
OMHA’s Executive Director Tim Williams actively doubled down publicly in support of Berkshire Hathaway and MHI. This cheerleading by Williams occurred despite well-documented conflicts of interest reported to MHProNews by a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) whistleblower. OMHA’s Williams praise of MHI Chairman Tom Hodges, MHI CEO Lesli Gooch, and their arguably mutual problematic history of ‘leadership.’ As savvy industry pros know, and as outsiders looking in should grasp, MHI is dominated by Berkshire Hathaway and other big boy brands. OMHA’s General Counsel Elizabeth Birch defended Williams, while denying the need to investigate allegations of conflicts of interest that purportedly harms the interest of industry independents.
It should be clear that several state associations are no more effective at helping independents than MHI is. While the nascent community-focused trade group NAMHCO arguably made tactical errors after forming, the evidence supports their claim that they were correct in saying that MHI had failed them and their members.
Rephrased, the obvious path ahead for the industry’s growth-minded independents is in avoiding the errors of NAMHCO while pursing full and proper enforcement of good existing federal laws.
In Sports, You Do Not Keep a Coach of a High-Potential Team that is Perennially Losing
When MHI made those admissions – and others like them – after years of heat from MHARR, MHLivingNews, MHProNews, and others, they also revealed just how ineffective they are.
That is not merely water under the bridge. But it is a logical starting place. Because problem solving begins by understanding where the choke points are and where the underlying issues are coming from.
Even a few independents per state, working together under a national post-production trade group umbrella of communities, retailers and others, could team with MHARR after they are formed. Such a post-production trade group, combined with the production focused MHARR, could then go to lawmakers and public officials to expose together the sabotage of manufactured housing from within. That, plus ongoing support from MHProNews is how good existing laws like:
> Enhanced federal preemption under the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA or 2000 Reform law);
> Duty to Serve Manufactured Housing lending mandated by Congress in 2008 under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA);
> FHA Title I, FHA Title II, VA, USDA (Rural Housing) and other programs could get proper attention and robust support.
>> Additionally, such a post-production trade group can do educational and marketing engagement with the public. They can create a bright-line distinction between MHI members – who are often so-called black hats – and the new post-production trade group, who should have a strict code of professional conduct that makes and keeps them as white hat brands.
Not to be overlooked is the possibility of leveraging such a trade group to get state AGs and other public officials to look into possible antitrust, RICO, and other legal action(s). Just as enforcing the MHIA, DTS, and other existing laws will take a joint push, the reality is that absent a similar joint effort, laws that appear to have been violated will likely not occur without a collaborative request from those impacted.
What Might A New Trade Group Look Like?
Beyond the points made above, the head of such a new post-production trade group might ideally be an attorney who is recruited for this role. Like MHARR, having an attorney as its president and CEO could be a fine idea. While this writer would like to work with MHARR leaders in play a facilitating role, the goal should be to prepare a leader capable and willing to fight for a brighter future. That will require a younger talent to be hired. Just as MHARR leaders hired a young Danny Ghorbani, and later Mark Weiss, so too such a new trade group should be thinking long term because Berkshire and their allies think long-term.
For a fraction of the budget of MHI, such a group could do much to get good existing laws enforced.
Frankly, there are individual independents who could fund such an effort solo. If one or more will step forward or not remains to be seen.
But the ideal would be to get a several independents from every state, obviously as many as possible to launch with. Once underway, momentum can grow to attract more white hats into the group.
Small businesses should be able to focus on doing business. With an ethical, honorable, and loyal-to-independents post-production trade group, much could be achieved. Because the laws needed already exist, that should be the focus. Defense against new threats, enforcement of existing laws, educational, and promotional items should all be in the mix of a new post-production trade group.
Beyond saying that MHARR would help foster a successful birth to such a group, their leadership has also said that they would work to in tandem with a post-production association to support enforcement of good existing laws once underway.
All of the things that MHI and their leaders said they would do, but have not, should be on the agenda for robust growth. The disconnects by MHI’s leaders claims and their deeds are so many that it would take a multiple volume series of books to cover them.
Such a MHARR type commitment post-production trade group could also make every member ‘a winner.’ How so?
Instead of voting once a year for this or that favored party to win some plaque or place in the RV MH Hall of Fame, which has arguably been co-opted by MHI’s big boy masters, members of such a group should create their own Hall of Fame.
Additionally, this or that business or location should be a winner just because they ARE a member. Those who are NOT members should be a bright line distinction. A good website with the normal visual tools could be an educational and marketing instrument that would hammer home the themes that could be developed based upon facts.
The plan should be that only White Hat brands are to be involved. If someone is a black or gray hat, and wants to join, it should be provisional. If a black or white hat brands joins, and continues black hat behavior, it should be ejected for multiple years, without appeal rights.
What is the Alternative?
The alternative is to keep going down the problematic path that has existed since Berkshire Hathaway entered manufactured housing.
After thousands of independents have closed up or sold out for less than their true value, why be next in line? Even communities that think they are getting a good deal have to realize that a buyer is only making the investment because they think they will make more money. The graphic below was shown above, but bears repeating.
The Mission of a New Post-Production Trade Group? “AIM High Wisdom…”
As a suggestion, subject to the decision of the members of such a new trade group, a possible name for the group could be the acronym, “AIM High Wisdom.” American Independent Manufactured Home Institute for Generational Household Wealth, Integrity, Security, Dreams, Opportunities Mission.
“American Independent Manufactured Home Institute for Generational Household Wealth, Integrity, Security, Dreams, Opportunities Mission = “AIM High Wisdom…” – yes, that is a mouthful.
But the acronym and the title may also get some talking about what it all means to them and others seeking the Dream of American Home Ownership and more financial independence. Again, that is a placeholder, founding members can make that decision.
The Samuel Strommen with Knudson Law research was not publicly challenged by pro-Berkshire’s attorneys, including a Berkshire board member. Nor was it challenged publicly by MHI. That means there are internal and external voices to manufactured housing that say that Berkshire and a few larger corporate allies dominate MHI. OMHA’s Williams and Birch assert they and others do too.
Why keep feeding the hand that is biting and undermining your interests?
IMHO, after years of studying these issues and reporting on them in a way that has brought literally millions of visits annually to both MHLivingNews and MHProNews, this conclusion is warranted. The solution proposed here is common sense. It is not a new solution. MHARR has advocated for it for years. Ironically or wisely, J.D. Harper at the Arkansas Manufactured Housing Association (AMHA) made a pitch for a third trade group some years ago too.
So too has Dick Moore and Bob Crawford. MHProNews, about a decade ago, spotlighted their call to action on that score, as a look into older articles and reports will reveal.
But it will take someone willing to do more than talk. It will take one or more leaders to step forward, willing to put some cash up, and realize that it could become a tax-sheltered investment in their own future and that of their family, loved ones, and friends.
While those early leaders willing to put up some cash should merit appropriate recognition, they must be broad minded enough to set up a structure that would avoid becoming the next MHI.
Let MHI and their state affiliates have their club.
Let such a new “AIM High Wisdom” – or whatever else it is called – work robustly with MHARR to get the Many to Defeat the Money.
“It’s not only a monopoly on wealth, it’s a monopoly on information as well.” Danny Glover was right about that point. The industry’s forward-thinkers and doers need to stay plugged in here at MHProNews, because in all modesty, no one else in publishing has tried to do anything like what we have been doing for over 11 years. We have always favored growth. It is why we launched first MHProNews and then MHLivingNews. We tried to be ‘Mr. and Mrs. Nice Guy and Gal,’ but that did not work out because some have played dirty for years. Once that reality became understood, we kept pivoting until we have now reached this point in time.
War was declared. Few people declare war more than once. Warren Buffett did.
Take that declaration of war seriously. Accept what people across the left-right spectrum who are warning about a feudalistic society becoming a total reality in America seriously. Enough said on those topics.
For the several days, MHProNews will publish an article a day, not two or three.
Once we return to our normal publishing schedule, we will spotlight a new set of revelations that we have not yet reported relative to Berkshire Hathaway lending. Tim Williams will be a focus, but not the only one in that planned report. Stay tuned.
Several other reports and features are planned and in process.
But we will be referencing back to this report. We will refine and update this with some added information, so reading it more than once is advisable. Because the working plan is to tweak it in the days ahead.
There is work to be done. It will not happen by itself. Opportunity comes dressed in overalls and looks like work. But the good news is that with some work, the opportunity for robust growth in manufactured housing exists. As was noted above, the evidence from NHC and Bloomberg suggests that could be some 700 percent in just 3 years. That is the prize that should be sought.
“AIM High Wisdom” is a possible path for achieving it. It would mimic the best parts of MHARR for the post-production sector and do what MHI claims to want but has never accomplished. That is how the Gordian knot of our industry and society gets untangled.
Stay tuned for more of what is ‘behind the curtains’ as well as what is obvious and in-your-face reports. It is all here, at the runaway largest and most-read source for authentic manufactured home “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, 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 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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