“It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate goals of his life.” So wrote the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., per the King Institute at prestigious Stanford University. The typo of “legitimate” is in the original from Stanford article linked here. King theme is an apt lead-in for the headline in this weekly recap of the reports for the week that was which are linked further below, as the next few lines and paragraphs from Dr. King should demonstrate.
Writing to a campus newspaper, the Maroon Tiger, King argued that education has both a utilitarian and a moral function. He said, “Most of the “brethren” think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end.” It was to those notions that King said that education has a “two-fold function. He elaborated.
“Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.
The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”
After sharing a reflection on “the late” Eugene Talmadge, who was a three time Democratic Governor of the State of Georgia, King continued. But let’s dwell for a few lines on Talmadge. He was a purported racist that NBC News reported that “Newly released files from the lynching of two black couples more than 60 years ago show that the FBI investigated suspicions that a three-term governor of Georgia sanctioned the murders to sway rural white voters during a tough election campaign.” That 2007 NBC News report cited the 3,725 pages that the Associated Press (AP) obtained on Talmadge from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the FBI. That purported racist is the man that Dr. King described as an educated person. ““I’m not surprised … historians over the years have concluded the violently racist tone of his [Talmadge’s] 1946 campaign may have been indirectly responsible for the violence [the deadly lynching] that came at Moore’s Ford,” said Robert Pratt, a University of Georgia history professor who has studied the case. “It’s fair to say he’s one of the most virulently racist governors the state has ever had.”
Talmadge was the man that King described as follows: “possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated?” A sobering point, isn’t it?
King was making the case that someone can be educated, successful, and still be a bigot that stood in the way of racial justice in America. By example, King also illustrated that someone can be objective about someone who stood in the way of his own efforts, yet he called him an “educated” person with one of the “better minds” in America. One could unpack the numerous takeaways from that insight from King further, but let’s press on.
Dr. King went on to say that: “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.” He added, “If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, “brethren!” Be careful, teachers!”
For the record, there are things that King believed that are at times different from what evidence – and the views – of this writer. There are wide areas of agreement, but some disagreements. There were certain behaviors that Dr. King purportedly practiced that his fellow Baptist preachers would have condemned as immoral. But life can be messy. Good thinkers and respected individuals do not always and everywhere live consistently with their stated beliefs. The reverse is true too. Some arguably evil people can make piercingly insightful statements and observations. Who said? It is a takeaway from former President Barack Obama.
Everyone, even those that may see several things quite differently that you or this writer may believe, often has some useful or even brilliant insight.
President Obama’s (D) administration did our industry – and by implication, the cause for more widespread availability of federally assured quality affordable housing – few obvious favors. Indeed, the Obama-Biden administration arguably turned a blind eye to several of the issues some of his fellow Democratic colleagues who were federal lawmakers had raised during the prior George W. Bush (Republican) Administration and during the Obama-Biden term too. It was also during the Obama-Biden years that the acceleration of ignoring antitrust laws occurred. That pattern began during the Clinton years into the Bush-Cheney years. Who says? The progressive Open Markets site research, summarized at this link here. Mergers and acquisitions – consolidation – of economic sectors has grown for decades.
With those thoughts in mind, a fresh headline on the right-of-center Epoch Times said: “Why Wall Street’s Love Affair With Beijing Is Sparking Concerns.”
MHProNews has periodically reported for years, with a recent report linked here, on the problematic history of American capital building up the brutal Chinese Communist regime. Some so-called “woke” brands today are among those that were deeply involved in building up and harming the largest rival to the U.S. economically and militarily in the world. The controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology was apparently doing “gain of function” research, benefited by U.S. tax dollars during the Obama-Biden years, which Warren Buffett ally Bill Gates also had clearly documented ties to as well. That’s not just recent news in headlines that a year or so ago were largely suppressed or obscured, but now are finally span the left-right media divide. Rather, it was made plain by federal record and the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s own website, as MHLivingNews reported over a year ago!
For those willing to do the objective – Dr. King might say, educated and moral – leg work and homework, even obscured truths can often be discerned.
Thinking “intensively” – as King admonished – but aiming to think through a moral lens, which he also agreed was essential – is what MHProNews and our MHLivingNews sister-site strive to do day by day. Millions are too busy with the press of their own lives to dig deeply into problems we face today. Those problems did not suddenly pop up. Like weeds in an otherwise nice lawn, the seeds of those problematic issues existed before the weed appeared.
- When the conditions are supportive, weeds – or problematic practices – grow.
- When weeds are not dealt with, they can overtake a nice lawn, just as problematic behavior can subvert and overcome large parts of a given society.
American history is neither all bad nor is it all good. It is a history of people, which are a mix of both.
Some of those individuals were well intentioned and generally good. Others had ill intent that did things that in hindsight are apparently harmful. Talmadge is not a Democrat that party wishes to recall, but there he is in that party’s history. Not all that Dr. King did was saintly, but there in his thoughtful words are deep insights available for with an eye to discern the truth.
When someone, media, or a group says “Wall Street” that is often shorthand for the investor class. Words have meaning. MHProNews has long argued that a distinction should be made between cold capitalism and free enterprise. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates do not have to hang their hats in some posh 5th Avenue or other upscale Manhattan type address to be part of “Wall Street.” They may posture leftist or “progressive” beliefs. They may claim they want equal rights for blacks and minorities, at home or abroad. But there is ample evidence in those links and others that they and others turned a blind eye to the harm they caused Americans at home, and the horrors of Communists that they and other globalist businesses gladly engaged in trade with communists just to make a buck. They and others sold out American workers, including blacks and minorities, in order to build up Communist China.
Soviet Communist leader Joseph Stalin right on this point. There are capitalists willing to sell the rope that the communists can use to hang the capitalists with.
It was Republican President Richard Nixon who ‘opened the doors’ for the modern trade between the U.S. and China. The results have been disastrous. Bad decisions are not limited to any one political party. Bad behavior is not limited to any one political group.
Dr. King was correct. Education is about learning to think deeply. Good education must include both a utilitarian end and a moral component. In that, King was no different than slaveowner yet American founding father George W. Washington. The ‘woke’ were quite rightly repudiated by former President Obama. But then, the evidence suggests that the billionaire class has rewarded the Obamas for their ‘service’ to their cause. The facts are there for those willing to look at the evidence.
America rejected slavery through a bloody Civil War which was the culmination of years of abolition-minded Republican efforts led by President Abraham Lincoln (R). Lincoln was assassinated by an actor who was a Democrat. History is messy. There are good things and bad that one can attribute to members of the two modern dominating political parties.
The rejection of slavery in America clearly has not kept “Wall Street” – meaning investors – from buying products produced by actual slaves or de facto ones in Communist China, Vietnam, or poor central American or Caribbean nations like Haiti, to name but a few. The lure of ‘low prices’ at Walmart or elsewhere turned out to be a middle-class eroding trap. Those who claim to be “green” seem to turn a blind eye to the world’s largest polluter, Communist China. Those “progressive” businesses which claim to decry slavery and want to use racism as a cudgel against political opponents are routinely involved in horrific practices overseas that would never be allowed in the U.S. under current laws. Who says? The award-winning documentary drama, Shadows of Liberty, among other sources. It is worth noting that the highly acclaimed Shadows docu-drama rips Democrats and Republicans politicos and left-right leaning media alike.
Dr. King was a highly intelligent and accomplished man whose thoughts have been quoted here on MHProNews since early in our publishing. But King was not a perfect man, not even close. Those who aspire to wisdom and goodness can nevertheless learn much from King, who by some accounts was not a Christian, though he was a “Baptist” minister.
Truth is wherever you find it. Truth is discerned by moral as well as objective educated or ‘scientific’ measures. But science has its limits, and while most do not talk about it, science accepts some things “on faith” just as believers accept some things “on faith.”
In the headlines for the week that was, the educated who care about understanding through analytical thought will find a range of topics that shed unique light on what has gone wrong in the manufactured housing industry. There are reports that at times elevate the actions of some Democrats, while at times it will diminishing that of other Democrats. There are Republicans who have done harmful things to manufactured housing, but some who did good ones. The truth has to be discerned.
What ought to be obvious based upon facts and evidence is this. Over 20 years after the passage of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000, the law is not even close to being properly implemented. The leaders at the Manufactured Housing for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) have said so for years, see reports linked below for some examples. But so too has Kevin Clayton, the shadow-boss of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), as reports linked below likewise give the evidence straight from Clayton’s mouth.
Oddly, Clayton’s boss Buffett had direct White House access during the Obama-Biden years, and does so now during the Biden-Harris era. If Buffett for any reason lacked the influence-horse power, hardly likely, to get something done with the White House and thus any part of the federal government, then a combination of Buffett, Gates or a few other uber billionaire backers of Obama-Biden and Biden-Harris would.
These claims have the linked evidence of the truth hiding in plain sight.
Before pivoting to the headlines in review below, a reminder is in order for readers new and old.
In our early years of publishing, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) provided to MHProNews all of their news items, which we routinely published. Numerous examples of that fact are linked here. The same was and still is done with MHARR news items. It was MHI that oddly (at the time) insisted in writing that MHProNews stop doing what MHI themselves had previously requested. Namely, that MHI news be shared here. MHI affiliates and members still send some items to MHProNews.
Restated, the arguably big-business dominated MHI deliberately decided not to have their items shown. In hindsight, unlike MHARR, MHI also fails to publish their own ‘news’ ‘updates’ and ‘housing alerts’ on their own website. Some reports linked from this report exemplify that claim.
That begs the question: is MHI too ashamed of their own ‘news’ to put it up for later scrutiny? Are MHI leaders afraid to have their so-called promises later examined to see if they have been acted on or not? Because some of MHI’s own members, past and present, have said as much.
Education should cause people to think through both a pragmatic and moral lens. That is essential to navigate the often-treacherous waters that explain why manufactured housing is operating at only a fraction of its last high during an affordable housing crisis.
Do not miss this week’s postscript, that follow the headlines for the week that was.
With no further adieu, here are the new headlines for the week in review and some recent MHLivingNews, Masthead, and MHARR items.
What’s New on MHLivingNews in June, 2021
New and Recent on Masthead on MHProNews in June 2021
The Latest from MHARR in June 2021
What’s New This Week on the Daily Business News, Stock Market Reports, and More on MHProNews
As a personal reflection related to this writer’s own education, our son will soon enter high school. There were some things done in high school that in hindsight were silly, naïve, or were flat wrong. Hopefully, we live, we learn, and we move on in a fashion that allows the good and the bad to inform our behavior moving ahead.
As my wife and I spoke with a private high school principal this past week about our son possibly attending their school, I briefly shared an account from my own high school years. It was about an occasion that landed me in the principle’s office. Though I was a ‘good student,’ and earned lots of ‘good grades,’ awards, etc., there were times that emotion overruled my youthful reason. The example shared with the principal was of my high school history teacher. He said something in class that in my mind was historically and morally wrong. My teen age response? I took a pickle out of my lunch sack, and with all eyes in the classroom watching, I threw that pickle which hit the instructor.
Of course, I had to apologize later. I still earned an A in that class. I still won numerous awards in history. It was a foolish, emotional response rather than a rationale one.
Watching that HS principal react to that share was worth the price of admission. But it also made the point that I expect my son to learn from his dad’s errors as well as his own.
In my parent’s household, my siblings and I shared immigrant blood. I was the first in the Kovach family born in the U.S.A. Their experiences with Nazis and Communists (see last Sunday’s Father’s Day postscript) no doubt inspired them to publicly encouraged civil rights for all. To the point raised by Dr. King – who along with Caesar Chavez and other civil rights icons were topics of family discussions – my parents to public stands at a time when saying so publicly could get someone’s windows broken out or worse. When things occurred in the political, economic, moral, or religious sphere, they spoke out. They did so rationally.
That does not mean that they were perfect people. But many of their examples are good ones, as last week’s postscript reflected.
In father-son talks with my teen, I’ve encouraged our son to learn from every experience. In the natural order (meaning, apart from a direct revelation/inspiration from the Almighty), there are two and only two ways to learn. They are as follows.
- We can learn from our own experiences.
- We can learn from the experiences of others.
That’s it. Think about that. There are no exceptions.
In my early years, I was considered by some teachers to be ‘brilliant’ in mathematics. Sorry, but in high school, I had an instructor – one who coauthored a math book popularized by a prestigious university – that was so boring that I could not keep my eyes open in his class. I tried several things. They included sitting right in front of his desk. I still could not stay awake as he droned on. I finally dropped that class at my own initiative. It was wrong, my bad, but I allowed that experience to dampen my enthusiasm for math.
Educational experiences, good or ill, did not diminish my love for history, yet the experience of that math teacher did. That history teacher was in time caught up in a scandal where he left his wife for one of his teenage female students. That did not cause me to think less of him as a teacher, though the behavior was clearly a serious of poor choices.
Dr. King’s thoughts on education ideally being both moral and utilitarian are quite insightful. That is how good ‘news’ and ‘entertainment’ should be too. Ideally, ‘good’ news reports should illuminate the mind with reality, rather than cloud the truth or obscure what is – be that good, bad, a mix or indifferent.
Those of us who have spent decades in manufactured housing, which includes this writer, know that our industry is misunderstood. That is a failure on many levels. Let’s probe that, because it is very much at the heart of what has gone wrong in our profession.
- Educational failures. It should be obvious that it as wrong to be prejudiced against a widely proven form of housing – i.e. modern manufactured homes – as it is to be bigoted about a racial or other group. The report by Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies (JCHS) shown among the headlines above is thus disappointing on several levels. As the report reflects, it is an institutional failure for our profession, and arguably for their institution too. That said, there have been useful educational institutional studies about manufactured homes, some of which were previously done by Harvard. Such educational/institutional research realities reflect on the next bullet and others that follow.
- Mainstream news failures. Too often U.S. news is weaponized or agenda driven. American news, per a recent study, ranks lower than that of many other nation’s in its level of trust by it’s citizens. That said, some media sources that would not be the daily staple of this publication or writer has nevertheless produced useful or even good reports on some aspect of manufactured homes. But overall, the bias against manufactured housing is arguably to some extent a failure of mainstream American media. Our colleagues in Canada have said similarly. That problematic reality is not just about manufactured homes, it extends to overall trust in the U.S. media. While socialist and communist countries such as North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, or Communist China are not included in this Reuters research, what the chart below reflects is that among dozens of nations, trust in U.S. news by the bulk of our population is at the bottom of all the surveyed nations shown. Only 29 percent of the population trusts “most of the news most of the time” in the U.S. That’s pathetic, by arguably earned. By the way, the problems with mainstream media inform our method of reporting here. That may explain why we have the largest and apparently most loyal audience in the industry’s trade media. More on these issues in the next bullets following the news trust graphic below.
- Trade association and nonprofit failures. There are arguably good trade groups and poor ones, just as there are good businesses and bad ones, better and worse politicians, teachers, etc. The same principle applies for a range of nonprofits. That said, it is obvious that if mainstream media and much of the educational establishment has failed to convey an accurate picture on manufactured housing, that to some extent the fault must be laid at the feet of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and their affiliates. How so? First, because MHI’s leaders promised some 5 years ago to engage with the media, especially when problematic reports occur. Our periodic spot checks over the years have not found a single example of MHI engaging with a nonprofit, educational institution, or mainstream media in to correct a story. That is true even in cases when MHProNews directly asked MHI to get involved in an issue such as zoning discrimination in Texas and beyond. Still, nothing. The same is true with some of the university or other research involving manufactured housing or affordable housing. MHI can’t have it both ways. In an on-the-record remark cited above in our report last week on Harvard JCHS’ State of the Nation’s Housing 2021, they flatly told MHProNews that no one else in our industry contacted them with concerns. Only MHProNews/MHLivingNews did so. That’s one of several evidence-based examples that says much about just how far from MHI’s claims differ from MHI’s behavior. Or as MHI award winner Marty Lavin has said, pay more attention to what someone (or some group) does than what they say. The case can thus be made that our manufactured home industry is misunderstood to a significant degree because the evidence suggests that for well over a decade, MHI has failed to live up to its stated mission. That point, if true, may be a liability issue for their members and board members, see the legal opinion in the report linked here. But liability aside, that reality sheds light on MHI’s big corporate leaders and their actual vs stated agenda.
- Major companies and manufactured housing. To illustrate the bullets points above, publicly-traded Sun Communities (SUI) Gary Shiffman made a compelling admission. He said that there is no reliable source for information on national manufactured housing data. Shiffman may not have realized it at the time he said that, but that statement is a direct slam on MHI, which claims in part to be just that. As MHProNews fact-checks and analysis, including the one above on MHI’s zoning and placement report reveals, MHI is not a consistently reliable source for any information. Their own website contains self-contradictory information, as previous fact checks have documented. Yet, despite the fact that MHI staff, their bigger members, and their outside attorney that said in writing that he is tasked with monitoring MHProNews, they have routinely failed to make corrections of apparently incomplete, contradictory or misinformation. Companies dominate trade groups. In the case of MHI, a look at their board’s composition makes it plain that it is largely big companies that dominate MHI. Ironically – or perhaps revealingly?! – much if not most of the bad news that mainstream media reports about problematic or “predatory” behavior by manufactured home companies can be directly tied to one or more MHI member brands. It is a stunning list of ‘the usual suspects’ to borrow the phrase from law enforcement and sadly applying that notion to several MHI ‘leaders’ – corporate or otherwise. That is not to say that every MHI member is ‘bad,’ that is going too far. Nor is that to say that every ‘black hat’ brand in MHI has only ‘black hat’ employees, that too is going too far. For instance. A tip from a source inside 21st Mortgage Corporation to MHProNews reflected the fact that there are people in that troubled Berkshire Hathaway owned, and Clayton Homes sister-company brand willing to provide a revealing insight. That insight about 21st practices would not have been known any other way save from a news tip. Tips from other MHI members, other state association members that are MHI affiliates, and insights from the MHI dominated Manufactured Housing Executives Council (MHEC) all demonstrate that there are souls willing to buck the rigged system. Which tees up the next topic.
- Often corrupt and/or inept public officials. Manufactured housing has the benefit of good laws where are not being properly enforced. That begs the question, why? While associations can and should seek to influence that reality, ideally, public officials should just enforce the law without favor. Once more, there are exceptions and it is not the point of this bullet to say what the percentage or mix is of honest, ethical, uncaring, or corrupt members of elected or appointed offices may be. We have obtained useful insights from public officials, as several of the reports linked in this week in review reflect. But there is also examples of stonewalling, deception and misdirection too. Some of those are hiding in plain sight. An example is the FHFA incident reported at the links here and here. But other examples are arguably illustrated by Kevin Clayton, as exemplified in reports linked above makes clear. It is a sad reality that there is corruption and collusion between corporate, special interest groups, and public officials. Some call that the Iron Triangle. Several researchers – examples linked here, here, here, and here specifying manufactured housing – have called it part of “sabotaging monopolies.” Saul Alinsky pen-pal Hillary Rodham (who later married and became a Clinton, wife of President William J. “Bill” Clinton, a U.S. Senator from New York (D), and Secretary of State for President Obama (D), did a paper on one-upping Alinskite thinking. Rodham (Clinton) argued that taking over power, not just fighting against it, should be the goal. Weaponized government is not attributable to Rodham alone. But clearly, numbers have bought into that sort of thinking. Thus, the problem of good laws being twisted, manipulated, or ignored is in part a failure of public officials. Lawmakers from both major parties have periodically said as much. That begs the question. What has to occur to get public officials to consistently do their jobs?
- Manufactured home industry trade media. Such as it is, most of the trade media in manufactured housing does not merit the name. Some of what they publish is apparently little more than propaganda for the major brands that dominate MHI. Indeed, one of the masthead’s of an MHI member brand admits as much, they just do not call it propaganda. But that media – MHInsider – clearly spells out their connections to MHI. It is apparent MHI propaganda hiding in plain sight. MHInsider does not publish reports that question MHI or their major brands. They claim to be the biggest and the best, and to their credit they do publish a slick looking publication. But that slick publication is seemingly not unlike a slick con artist. Furthermore, the known facts reflect that MHInsider is widely ignored by the manufactured home industry’s readers. The evidence to support that claim is from both data (ironically, their own which belles their claims of being the premier publication, which their own co-president previously stated publicly is MHProNews), as well as from visual evidence at trade shows (see the photos below). Propagandists like propaganda, but those who are meant to be fooled by propaganda, once it is discerned, often ignore it going forward. If MHInsider may be the next biggest to MHProNews, then they are running a distant second. How so? As but one point, before MHInsider stopped publishing their readership data – which they halted doing after several MHProNews exposés that disproved their brazen and misleading claims – revealed this. Their best read articles were often thousands of hits or views behind our worst read articles for that same time-period. This review of manufactured housing trade media continues following the photo spread below. MHInsider is a de facto house organ, an artificial echo chamber that sources say may be used to influence public officials and possibly investors too. If so, there are a host of possible legal – beyond moral – issues involved, which goes beyond the scope of this quick overview.
- Manufactured home industry trade media and bloggers (continued). Attorney Kurt Kelley’s MHReview is superior to MHInsider in this respect. While the routinely share the viewpoint of MHI, they have from time to time shown content from MHARR. While they have on one occasion shared an article by MHProNews, they – while asking for contributors have declined content from MHProNews – even though we are the documented runaway largest and most read resource. Somewhat like MHInsider, the evidence and sources suggest that they are lightly read. Also, they are mostly a thinly veiled marketing effort for sponsoring brands, or for their own business interests. But ironically, while being largely pro-MHI, they have from time to time – again akin to MHInsider – published content by MHInsider that is supposed to be elevating an MHI member brand which when carefully examined actually ends up slamming MHI and their major member brands. Both MHInsider and MHReview are promotional pieces that sources say have very limited reach. Indeed, the known insights all point to this reality. if all of MHProNews’ direct competitors’ traffic/readership were lumped together, they would still pale compared to our own (continued below.)
- Manufactured home industry blogger George F. Allen/Community Investor EducateMHC. Let’s begin with this. Each of the trade media fails noted above, here about Allen, and below – if the MHProNews observations, views, and analysis were accepted in the MLKing sense of thinking critically, morally, and analytically – could cause that source to soar over time in readership. But they are content with what they do, because this isn’t the first such snapshot. The linked reports illustrate more on this vexing issue of weak and often misleading competitors. That broad point with Allen merits refinement. There have been times that Allen has fairly critiqued MHI, Clayton Homes, or other so-called “black hat” brands at MHI. He has at times raised similar issues about the problems of consolidation that MHProNews has done. While he did not do so with the same level of documentation that MHProNews/MHLivingNews does, nevertheless, at time he at least did so. The same can’t be said about the publication below, nor MHInsider. Put differently, Allen had the potential for being something good, if he would only be consistent. But as a former client of Allen’s told MHProNews, “With George, it is always AAA. All About Allen.” Oddly, every week Allen admits as much – support him, and he supports you. Here is how he phrases it: “Motto: ‘U Support US & WE Serve U!; Goal: to promote HUD-Code manufactured housing & land lease communities as U.S. #1 source of affordable attainable housing! Attend MHM class.” The MHM class is for a fee and is routinely taught/paid to Allen. The goal Allen describes is a noble one. However, to the degree that he vacillates between back and forth between those who dare question him (e.g.: MHProNews), his publication is unreliable apart from expert discernment. Furthermore, his ‘teaching’ has, as MHProNews has previously reported, apparently included content that the state of New York and others in manufactured housing say violates federal/state law. That said, he is an entertaining person. Because the industry’s independents are hungry for networking, he and MHI provide that, and thus they are the stomping grounds for consolidators who gladly support their respective events. Allen’s blog is bland in appearance and suffers from other ills besides those noted. That said, he at times has fairly spotlighted MHI and MHARR, or for that matter, while he tried to arguably orchestrate an antitrust violation by calling for a boycott of MHProNews – presumably because we were holding MHI and their major brands to account – Allen, Kelley, and Darren Krolewski – have both praised us for those precise activities. Go figure. Allen will without naming names raise an issue, for instance: “We lead off with a continuation of last week’s semi-expose’ of predatory property management practices” but will then routinely fail to connect-the-dots to the fact that those brands are often linked to MHI membership that are causing negative news and regulatory or legal head-and-heartaches. Go figure.
- Industry blogger ManufacturedHomes. In fairness and to the credit of their platform, they too have a slick looking site. They are savvy at tech. As a disclosure, not unlike each of the parties above, at one time, we each had various professional relationships – often with the firm or leader in question being a client of MHProNews. Those relationships ended for a variety of reasons, among them, are apparent differences in views on reporting and how best to advance the interests of the clearly underperforming manufactured home industry. It has been the view and practice of MHProNews and MHLivingNews for years that stating facts accurately with evidence that can be confirmed by those who want proof best serves the long-term interests of manufactured housing consumers and thus all ethical professionals. Others are into mostly cheerleading. Allen, as noted, vacillates back and forth depending on who is paying or rewarding him – see quote above “With George, it is AAA. All About Allen.” – and fails to connect the dots, reducing his value to those willing to sift the wheat from the chaff. Indeed, that is the value of each of the above, when wheat is sifted from chaff. The problem all to often is, that spotting the chaff requires expertise. That set up reveals this about They too, like MHInsider claim to be the best, a claim that they clearly are unwilling to support with factual evidence about traffic to their blog. That suggests the engagement there is weak. MHProNews periodically reveals traffic data to individual reports, or total numbers for a period. Not so, ManufacturedHomes or any of the others since MHInsider in apparent embarrassment stopped sharing such data publicly (to be accurate, MHInsider provides data claiming certain numbers, but if they were true, it only underscores that their reading lists do not engage with their content – which is similar to MHI’s big claims about reach but low performance in deliverable measurements). ManufacturedHomes has hired an ex-MHI vice president. They are now an MHI member. However slick, there are numerous obvious reasons to think that if they are as good as they claim, then the industry would be rising rapidly. But instead, the industry has been slipping for 2½ years instead. It was only in the past 2 months that the trend reversed. It is MHProNews that reports such facts, good or ill, and then identifies the apparent reasons why the status quo is what it is. In a rather public display, the principle of ManufacturedHomes approached this writer at a public event in front of dozens of industry pros. He was apparently angry, animated and complained about a comment like the one posted below found on our website. The comment was generic, but was an remains apt. After all, Clayton Homes uses such technology too, as do others, including this platform. His anger only served to illustrate the reality of the claim. In short, the potential for each of these – or other lesser sites not worthy of mention – is there, but it is often what they do not say that matters more. When French kissing the ample derrières or performing other acts of written and oral gratification on the very routine sources of our industry’s woes is done to their respective shame.
- Last but not least, weaponized nonprofits. The case has been made that the Berkshire brands, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, George Soros, and others have been documented to supply financial support for organizations that are fair weather friends of manufactured housing. They may claim to support the interests, for example, of consumers. But upon closer inspection, the evidence suggests that their statements are designed to obliquely benefit the Berkshire brands and MHI black hats. That is true even when they are seemingly blasting the source of their donations. It is part of the cunning of Buffettism in action. By accident and or design, the bad news reports such nonprofits deploy tarnishes with too broad a brush the entire industry. When asked to reply to such concerns, MHAction – and others – stand mute. They know apparently know – or learned – what the reality is.
Summing up and Conclusion: What does the above amount to?
Politicos on both sides of the two major party aisles have said for years that “the system is rigged.” True enough. But merely saying so is not enough to even begin to cure the problem that they describe. Furthermore, without details and without the keen educated analysis that Dr. King referenced at the top, the mere phrase may or will in time lose its impact.
Buffett nonprofit board member Danny Glover, and Warren’s son Peter, have both exposed in pithy comments the sobering problem of weaponized nonprofits that fail to do what they claim to do. While the statements by Peter Buffett received for a time considerable attention, the statement by Glover has only been given its due attention here on MHProNews and on MHLivingNews. Indeed, even though Peter Buffett and Glover’s remarks have been referenced from time to time by our websites, which each of our rivals and those that we critique read themselves and/or have monitored by key people, oddly, none of the other platforms have to this point never mention those penetrating quotes. While Allen periodically rants about fake news type issues, he does so without teeth or consistency.
The above could be boiled down to these sobering facts. During a widely documented affordable housing crisis, manufactured homes are operating at a fraction of what the industry did in 1998 (at current production levels, perhaps 30 percent (+/-). Yet, MHI’s prior president admitted that the industry could achieve 500,000 new HUD Code manufactured homes sold annually. That means that the industry is operating at perhaps 20 percent of what MHI’s staff leader, with Tim William’s/21st implicit agreement, thought that the industry is capable of doing.
That means that there is widespread agreement that the industry is underperforming. MHI publicly traded members that show industry averages in their investor pitch decks directly make that point, saying we are below those averages. Quite so.
That begs the question. When there are multi-billion dollar firms involved in manufactured housing, how is it possible that the industry underperforms to this level, unless that is their unstated desire? Apollo, BlackRock, Blackstone, Berkshire Hathaway – to name but a few – could put their deep pockets and media assets to work to clear up all of these issues. Indeed, they could flex their muscles in Washington, D.C. or in state/local capitols to overcome the industry’s vexing issues.
That means by inference that they clearly do not want to do so.
America is being slowly consolidated by powerful forces that have financial, political, media, educational, nonprofit, and other clout. Manufactured homes are just one of several possible examples of this troubling trend. What makes manufactured housing perhaps unique is that there is ample evidence, see the summary and reports above as examples, that make it clear that some public officials and others in possible places of influence are turning a blind eye to what is occurring.
That is not a reason to toss in the towel in frustration, fear, or any other negative reason. There was a time when slavery was thought forever embed in American life. That finally changed. Women’s suffrage took decades of effort. That was accomplished. Civil rights and voting rights for minorities was a century of effort following the Civil War.
It is only with a never-quit mentality that these issues will be resolved.
Antitrust, RICO, and other legal efforts are part of the solution, as Samuel Strommen and others have argued.
But it must begin and continue with sound education and reliable information. We get our share of typos (note: it is happening more in mainstream media, as editorial and reporting staffs get pared down). We may get awkward phrasing of a sentence from time to time. On MHProNews and MHLivingNews, we admit our errors and correct them as needed. Following an aha moment that highlights a past misread of reality, we then press ahead with the evidence and facts once an error is discovered. We give opposing views the opportunity to respond to our reports. We cite opposing positions accurately.
Not MHI, nor any of the media noted above, can say the same. MHARR, which is a sponsor – as was MHI and several others noted – exposes much and works to address issues that MHI is failing on. There are things that MHARR does not explore, arguably because it is regulatory-production focused, not an umbrella trade group, as MHI proclaims itself to be.
MHProNews contacted Elizabeth Birch and several MHI member attorneys recently, to give them an opportunity to correct any factual or logical errors in our reports. Silence.
- The CFPB said in remarks to MHProNews facts that support our contention. See the report linked on the Masthead, above.
- Harvard’s JCHS said in remarks to MHProNews statements that support our contention. See the report linked on the Daily Business News on MHProNews, above.
There is, simply put, no other known and published thesis than the one stated here that explains the big picture, as well as the granular details of what has gone wrong in manufactured housing. During an affordable housing crisis, it is a disgrace.
The next phase of our efforts are warming up. Stay tuned as we continue to report on and expose what has gone wrong, while we work with individuals of good will to correct what needs to be addressed. Affordable home ownership is too important an issue to let it languish for decades as it has.
Abraham Lincoln aptly said that no one has a good enough memory to keep a lie straight over time. That and the bookend quote below are evergreen mantras worth preserving. Here is how that quote was expressed. Lincoln, like George Washington, believed that God and morality could not be separated from the equation of a just society. Note that none of these people were living saints. They were people that were a mix of the good and ill. But they strived to live up to their better, higher nature.
Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. author and publisher Mark Twain, was known to exaggerate and lie himself. His experiential insights into sometimes sizable fibs are relevant.
It is imperfect people of good will who must muster the courage to look at reality and deal with it. Who says? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among others.
Lewis E. Lehrman, writing over a decade ago for the publication that the featured image at the top illustrates, said the following. “To read carefully Lincoln’s parable of the ant suggests a lost truth: during most of his political career Lincoln focused not on anti-slavery but on economic policy. Yet anti-slavery and economic policy, in his worldview, were tightly linked. In commercial terms, slavery is theft: “The ant, who has toiled and dragged a crumb to his nest, will furiously defend the fruit of his labor, against whatever robber assails him. … The most dumb and stupid slave, that ever toiled for a master, does constantly know that he is wronged.”
“It is a truth, he [Abraham Lincoln] asserted, “made so plain by our good Father in Heaven, that all feel and understand it.” – insightfully said Lehrman. Justice and truth are cousins. Try to imagine a good society at any time in history where much falsehood or deception reigned. You can’t do that successfully, can you?
Legitimacy, informed thinking, a good ethics go hand-in-hand. The case can be made that a just economy is a healthier and more sustainable economy. When there is more household wealth and net worth, often commonly caused by home ownership, then many of the governmental costs and social ills we face would fade.
While there may be nice atheists’ or agnostics to be found, a far easier time is had finding people of faith that are inspired to do better because of that faith. Lincoln and King both illustrate that truth.
We believe that the best days of manufactured housing could be ahead. But it will never happen if the powerful are allowed to manipulate and toy with millions of consumers and thousands of independents. We must not allow the American Dream to be turned into a feudalistic nightmare. Only visionary people of good will – akin in spirit to those who freed the slaves, gave women and minorities their more proper place in society – can turn bad behavior and coverups into something good. There is work to do.
The good news?
There are arguably millions of more people of good will from a rainbow of backgrounds then there are cunning manipulators who work for their own benefit, while posing for cameras and posturing being secular saints when they are brazen and immoral sinners.
Until the curtain of time falls, there is always more to come. Stay tuned.
“Dare to be a person of faith (cf. Hab 2:4; Heb 10:38).”
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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