“It’s just amazing, his personality, to be such a genius,” said Kevin Clayton, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned Clayton Homes, about Berkshire Chairman Warren Buffett. But what sort of genius is Buffett? Is he a good or an evil genius? To answer that question, quotes from Buffett about his view on American citizens who become “roadkill” will be examined herein. Also, comments from fellow billionaire Bill Gates and longtime Buffett admirer Robin Harding in the Financial Times should be pondered. But to pull off this Kevin Clayton claimed “genius,” the case can be made that one needs media. For example, reports by CNBC and NPR – see below – often frame Buffett and his brands in this or that fashion that manages to benefit his brands. Those two media operations have ties to Berkshire Hathaway and/or Buffett-funded foundation donations. That noted, why is it that such reports have no disclaimer about likely conflicts of interest next to and/or in articles where such stories are posted? After all, that sort of disclaimer about apparent conflicts of interest is what the Society of Professional Journalists states in the Code of Ethical Conduct states should be performed by reporters and news sources. That apparent failure to do so is another mystery about modern ‘journalism’ – perhaps especially when it deals with glorified billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates – merit additional probing. For an example of that, see the evidence-based report and analysis linked here.
In the absence of clear disclaimers about apparent media conflicts-of-interest, what appears to be ‘news’ may arguably be better viewed as a slick news-like advertorial in terms of its usefulness and impact for Buffett, Clayton, and others who benefit from this pattern.
In the MHProNews analysis on NPR’s latest look into issues related to manufactured housing, linked above and here, one topic has not yet been properly addressed.
That topic will be addressed herein and is related to a graphic posted by NPR about the higher rate of late payments on manufactured homes than on conventional housing. Per NPR, the supplier for the data in the graphic is: “Source: Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data.”
There are several reasons that this graphic matters to our profession. One is explained in the commentary and analysis by MHProNews on the NPR graphic. In brief, this data could well be used in the future by public officials or the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Additionally, the data – on the surface – looks so bad, it may well be that such a news report provides an element of the Berkshire “moat” that keeps more lenders or other potential competitors from entering into the manufactured housing profession.
Tragically, because of what it says about the state of much, though not all, of contemporary news, to properly unpack or ‘fisk’ a report in mainstream media about modern manufactured homes, it requires many times more words than the original report. In one sense, that is not new. It is why witty thinkers such as Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. writer/journalist Mark Twain, made several pithy comments about how hard it is to disprove a lie or the ease with which information can be spun, distorted, or otherwise manipulated.
But to understand in an authentic fashion what has gone wrong in modern manufactured housing, someone being initiated to an objective inquiry should take the time to get the facts as well as the context that gives evidence meaning. Otherwise, all that will may be digested if fluff vs. objective reality.
Additionally, even those working in the manufactured home industry day-to-day – because they are understandably often busy working instead of complementing their work with routine studying – there are those who do not fully grasp what has gone wrong that is keeping the industry at historically low levels of performance.
That underperformance of the industry is clearly stated by Skyline Champion (SKY) in their investor pitch-deck. Skyline Champion, a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member, created this production trends graphic below that shows the historic manufactured housing average production levels. The difference of that average production level, vs. the significantly lower current levels, SKY reasonably argues is upside potential.
While that is a reasonable point by Skyline Champion, that thought also has a logical weakness.
That weakness? Their investor pitch-deck fails to ask and answer what are the causes or contributing factors that explain that underperformance? They fail to address such issues, which means they fail to explain how they plan to overcome them. Their focus on more consolidation – merger and acquisition (M&A) activity – in and of itself will not yield more upward movement toward that historic average that Skyline Champion’s leadership claims to be pushing toward.
When it comes to causation, the single largest, noteworthy change in the industry that preceded that decline for approaching two decades of underperformance was the entry of Berkshire Hathaway into manufactured housing in 2002. As Skyline-Champion’s own graphic reveals, the industry is performing at a lower level today than it was in 2002.
The data below reflects why manufactured housing should be soaring. But it is not.
Investors and others should be pressing, why isn’t the industry roaring
during an affordable housing crisis?
Arguably far more on point are statements by competitor Legacy Housing. Their Executive Chairman, Curt Hodgson, J.D., has been candid with his firm’s analysts and investors saying that they feel that they have to work hard to address those barriers that are impeding more manufactured housing sales.
There are thus two MHI members, each presenting information that if unpacked should point to concerns about how the industry’s post-production or umbrella trade group, MHI, has performed. MHI is dominated by Berkshire-owned brands and allies. It should be apparent that Berkshire is satisfied with current sales levels, no matter what is being said. Their corporate behavior speaks more than their words do, that is the MHI award-winner Marty Lavin, J.D., insight applied.
MHI’s CEO Lesli Gooch recently wrote a good op-ed about how manufactured homes could play a significant role in serving minorities in a way that would lead to wealth creation. True enough, as the report linked below reveals. But what Gooch fails to address is why they have not made this same argument for the past 10 to 15 years? Did they suddenly realize this? Or is this just another talking point that sounds good, but is absent any serious implementation that leads to more sales?
It is in such a context that Warren Buffett’s prior statement to CNBC about the need to care for those who become “roadkill” through no fault of their own should be examined. Because a significant part of that “roadkill” – in Buffett’s lingo – are minorities.
Here is how CNBC reported it.
- “We are prosperity. We should take care of people who’ve become roadkill because of something beyond their control … I think that’s the obligation of a rich country,” Warren Buffett says.
- Buffett said that the benefit of free trade is rather “invisible.” He admitted that the policy has done damage to workers “dislocated” – said CNBC – by free trade. But what is not mentioned in this media interview is that brands that Buffett led-Berkshire has investments in are benefiting from free trade. Meanwhile, American workers are suffering.
- Restated, Buffett slyly made the argument that when unemployment caused by free trade that benefits Buffett or other brands owned/led/invested in by billionaires like himself, it is taxpayers who should pay the bill. Why not have those that cause the dislocation pay for the harm caused by it? It would be akin to professional bank robbers saying that taxpayers should reimburse the bank for loses caused by robberies.
“I’m 100 percent for free trade. I think it has benefited the country enormously and will continue to benefit it. But the benefit of free trade is invisible. … There’s nothing in Walmart that says you saved 8 percent because we bought this somewhere other than American manufacturers,” Buffett said.
“You have this huge national benefit unseen but you ruined the economic lives of people who are 50 or 55. They are not going to be retrained and relocated … they became uneconomic in the world of economy. Rich countries can take care of those people to follow policies which benefit all of us to take care of the relative few who are dislocated,” Buffett said.
Note how those statements by Buffett differs from what many politicians, such as White House resident Joe Biden and other politicos claim about retraining “dislocated” workers? It must be noted that when attention is paid to a topic over time, the disconnects that disprove once-asserted claims often emerge.
“In a country with $65,000 in GDP per capita … you do take care of the people that for one reason or another … have become roadkill,” Buffett told CNBC’s Becky Quick. “We are prosperity. We should take care of people who’ve become roadkill because of something beyond their control … I think that’s the obligation of a rich country,” the Berkshire chairman said.
Note again that there is no disclaimer in the video or in the written narrative that disclosed that a former NBC executive has been serving on the Berkshire board. Nor are other disclaimers made about how many millions of dollars in ads by GEICO or other brands Berkshire owns are being spent advertising on NBC.
A few weeks after the comment above, Kevin Clayton also told CNBC that Trump Administration policies that imposed tariffs on China were a mistake.
Just as Buffett and his buddy Bill Gates – who served for years on the Berkshire board, and with whom Buffett is an investor and trustee in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – posture a willingness to pay more taxes. But when carefully examined, Buffett, Gates, and others routinely use every tax loophole that exists to keep their own taxes low.
Restated, talk of taxing the rich who often are wizards at taking advantage of tax loopholes is arguable more preening and posturing for effect rather than a sincere willingness to pay more taxes.
Let’s sum up the facts and analysis of the above to this point.
- Kevin Clayton praises Warren Buffett’s “genius.”
- “Genius” Buffett, for example, admits that policies he and Kevin Clayton 100 percent favor have dislocated or harmed American workers who Buffett admits will not be retrained.
- There is a large social cost to that “free trade.” Buffett says that U.S. taxpayers should pay for that harm that he and billionaires and corporate giants like his firm are causing by offshoring jobs.
- Buffett postures a willingness to pay more in taxes. But in fact, he and others like him shelter their money in numerous ways. If Buffett were truly willing to pay more in taxes, why doesn’t he just write a check for $50 billion or so to the U.S. Treasury? To MHI award-winner Lavin’s mantra, pay more attention to the behavior than the posturing words that may never be acted upon. And, of course, follow the money.
- Neither CNBC nor NPR clearly revealed Buffett-Berkshire financial ties to their new operations as a disclosure in their report. What looks like an authentic report or a real interview are – when carefully examined – each advancing some part of the Buffett-Berkshire agenda.
- Because fewer manufactured homes are being sold today than when Buffett-led Berkshire entered manufactured housing, more Americans are de facto trapped in rental housing than would have been true absent purported market manipulation. Those so trapped in rentals are not creating the potential for generational wealth creation that manufactured home ownership can provide.
- By publishing information that makes manufactured home loan performance look significantly inferior to conventional housing, without a broader context as to why that is so, that negative look is a potential deterrent or barrier of entry for other lenders that may superficially consider making such loans, look at that graphic, and then say to themselves, better look elsewhere to invest lending dollars.
Applying the logic of the Capital Research Center (CRC), this appears to be an example of “Deception and Misdirection.”
Edward Curtin, citing the Nobel Prize winning English playwright Harold Pinter about “massive crimes” committed by Americans in which “facts don’t matter,” calling it “a tapestry of lies.”
Attorneys Robert F. Kennedy Jr and Glenn Greenwald have both been among those making the arguments that some of their fellow Democratic supporters in the corporate world have massively manipulated the system in ways.
While many do not think about corporate ties to U.S. intelligence, Greenwald and Kennedy have both been among those who have made those points.
CBS – Facebook, Google, CIA – Central Intelligence Agency Social Media Giants “Old Friends,” Jim Edwards – Spy Agency Snooping, Americans, Others – New Light on Dr Robert Epstein, Peter Schweitzer Warnings – plus Manufactured Home Investing, Stock Updates
Four years of propaganda from the CIA/Media/Democratic-Party axis condensed into 1 minute and 20 seconds from NBC News. This is what was done over and over: pic.twitter.com/FcNtf34F1K
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 15, 2021
“Four years of propaganda from the CIA/Media/Democratic-Party axis condensed into 1 minute and 20 seconds from NBC News. This is what was done over and over” said the Greenwald tweet above.
During the Congressional inquiry into CIA Operation Mockingbird, per left-leaning Wikipedia, “the Church Committee’s report and said that around 400 press members were considered assets by the CIA.”
When that media manipulation by government and corporate interests are examined in the light of the award winning documentary Shadows of Liberty, what emerges is the picture of a slick propaganda machine. This is not an American first. As MHProNews has informed longtime, detail minded readers, the Spanish American War, World War I and other conflicts have arguably been fostered in part by media disinformation campaigns.
No wonder trust in business, media, and political leaders is routinely so low.
When someone examines and then sums up known facts, what emerges is a pattern of disruption and harm to Americans that are not being properly reported by much of the mainstream media. Corporate, media, and spy-agency interests often dovetail.
Instead of the rate of homeownership going up since the passage of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA or 2000 Reform law), it has declined instead. Who benefits? Consolidators. That includes Buffett-led Berkshire, and brands like Skyline Champion, and Cavco Industries. All three of those producers are MHI member brands.
No wonder Kevin Clayton brags about Buffett’s “genius.” But from a moral and arguably legal perspectives too, the case can be made that the so-called genius is evil genius.
To learn more about what Clayton calls “genius,” see the linked reports herein, and those which follow further below. Because playwright Pinter and author Curtin have an evidence-based case for “a tapestry of lies” which Greenwald calls a “blinding propaganda.”
It takes a few thousand words to make that point, but once made, the world looks different than what the propagandists and their oligarch masters want most Americans to think.
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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