Here in the U.S., the legal system forbids falsehood, though the law knows that it occurs. After 18 months of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, millions of observers have learned that lying to the FBI is a federal crime. Some have plead guilty, but not to a 2016 campaign violation. Rather, they plead guilty to making a false statement.
Talking heads on TV nod soberly and call it a “perjury trap.”
On an entirely different level, Martha Stewart knows that trap all too well.
So why has lying and deception become so common?
Manufactured Homes and Misinformation
How does misinformation impact manufactured housing, each and every day?
If tens of millions knew the unvarnished truth about our industry’s affordable housing products and services, and there was reasonable:
- and information/attitude parity with conventional housing,
would there have been a million new HUD Code manufactured homes sold in 2018, vs. the estimated 100,000 (+/-) actually expected by year’s end?
“What is Wrong is That We Don’t Ask What is Right.”
– Gilbert Keith (G.K.) Chesterton.
Millions who know Chesterton’s work know that he’s better known as G.K., not by Gilbert Keith. Is that a lie? A deception?
When Cavco’s Joseph Stegmayer goes by “Joe,” does anyone seriously think of that as a lie? No, no more so than MHI’s Dick Jennison is lying for being a Dick, when his given name is Richard.
There are customs dating back for centuries that make it clear that we all have a reasonable degree of flexibility in the use of our own names. This writer for a time had people call her Sophia, thinking it would be easier for Americans to say, when my driver’s license said that Soheyla was my given Farsi name.
Samuel Clemens committed no crime when his writings were under the pen name Mark Twain. Teddy Roosevelt was Theodore. Barry Obama was actually named Barack, and so on.
So, a degree of understanding and common sense are necessary for mature adults as to what is or isn’t a deliberate falsehood.
It’s true that some people put their sexual lives online via social media, videos, photos, etc. in a deliberate fashion. But there’s still a general acceptance among people that one’s sex life is personal, and those details are generally not put forth for all to see. We recently reminded readers that when we ask for news tips, we don’t seek information on people’s private lives, unless it has a clear connection to legal violation, or some wrongdoing in an official capacity.
There are other details that people keep private.
Medical histories, financial access codes, and identification numbers are but a few examples.
Companies have some items that are kept confidential, rightly, on items like so-called ‘trade secrets.’ Those secrets are often legitimate, although some can be based upon a false premise, if those secrets were in fact stolen from another person or entity.
Theft of intellectual property is what much of the hang up is between the U.S. and China in bilateral trade talks. Some want those U.S.-China trade disputes quickly resolved. But the theft of ‘intellectual property,’ of corporate or even governmental secrets, cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year for American businesses. Furthermore, millions of records of former or current federal officials were reportedly hacked by the Chinese, as the following media and others reported.
Other nation-states directly or through third-parties have hacked the information of citizens, companies, and governmental offices.
Yet in the U.S.A. today, it’s Russia that’s demonized more than China, North Korea, or other countries like Iran. Why?
Does anyone recall that Iran’s nuclear program was supposedly delayed by a piece of malware planted by the U.S. and/or Israel? That’s only a point-of-fact made to say that some cyberwarfare tactics are used by all; it is not to say that the U.S. does some of what China or Iran does.
There’s the language of diplomacy, which is often polite. We hear President Donald J. Trump call Communist China’s President Xi his friend. Really? But it’s a bit like Presidents George W. Bush or Barack H. Obama avoiding the use of the term, “radical Islamic terrorist.” Agree or disagree, but those usages are commonplace in public speaking by leaders. They are often not done as a lie. Rather, it’s a means of politely avoiding a difficult reality. Those who’ve used or avoided certain terminology may sincerely think it is to avoid harmfully stirring up public sentiment.
Mature people have to read between the lines. Tim Williams’ given name is TIMOTHY. Is that a lie, for him to go by Tim? Absolutely not. When James Clayton goes by Jim, does that harm another person? No.
MHProNews does not go after silly or private details that mean nothing to a reasonable person. Rather, we focus on issues that impact the industry, and thus should cause concern, alarm, or may legally be actionable.
The Tech Giants
The infographic chart below reflects what information is being collected on you by which tech giants.
Yes, on you.
But that “yes” to tech is arguably to some degree a conditioned response. A shrewd attorney, a sympathetic arbitrator, judge, or jury might invalidate that consent, because that “yes” wasn’t fully informed.
The tech giants wield enormous financial and information power over millions in America and billions more around the world. Those companies – the FAANG brands, that we reported in our market report last night as sliding – are products and services that are so commonplace in our society, that tens of millions don’t question them. ICYMI, you can circle back later and get more details.
A relatively small amount of money from Russia reportedly was spent in the 2016 campaign as disinformation on Facebook. It included both pro- and anti-Secretary Hillary Clinton and/or Donald J. Trump information. Might it have misled a few voters? Not enough to swing the election, or even come close. Who said? Then President, Barack Obama.
Yet because of some segments of mainstream media, as well as some of those tech giants, there are large swaths of the public that believe that actual votes were changed – voting machines or ballots – and that mistakenly think that Donald J. Trump ‘stole’ an election.
1430 AM reports that a new survey by the Economist/YouGov stated that over 40 percent of Americans believe that Russians changed actual votes. That’s not true. Even former President Barack Obama said at the time that it wasn’t even possible to do that kind of election hack.
Since that statement by the former 44th president, Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and others have said that no votes in the 2016 election were changed by Russian interference.
Almost no one speaks about concerns over how former President Obama and then Secretary Clinton allegedly attempted to influence a Russian election, against Vladimir Putin. It’s all part of a tit-for-tat that the U.S. and Russia have done for years. Or how millions of Israelis and Brits fumed when former President Obama made statements that they felt attempted to influence the election of Prime Minster Bibi Netanyahu, or the Brexit vote.
What’s the common point? All of the above are real issues and concerns, and they relate to widely held misinformation. Each of the above notions could be confirmed with a few simple fact checks.
But what’s sinister and impacts our manufactured home industry – and tens of millions of Americans – is how misinformation or misleading postures are used day-by-day within our industry, and inside of our nation. Or how conditioned responses can cause people to give away information that most would deem private.
Manipulation and misinformation have been made commonplace.
Let’s go back to that list of 7 billionaires who supported Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms. It includes Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett. The list below doesn’t include George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer or other billionaires who don’t happen to be in Forbes top ten billionaires, but who nevertheless supported Democratic or socialistic candidates in U.S. elections.
That list of the top ten billionaires includes not just people with enormous wealth, but also those who wield influence over information, media, education, and/or other facets of American life.
It’s for that reason, numbers in our industry – and millions beyond it – are realizing that only the breakup of those oligopolies and monopolies can protect our American Republic.
Note that we didn’t say ‘democracy.’ Yes, there are democratic – direct votes, by the people – elements to our nation. But by law, the U.S. is a Republic. When we pledge allegiance to the flag, it includes the words, “and to the Republic for which it [i.e.: the flag] stands…”
Our publisher is a history buff, in fact, he was an multiple award-winning history major, and had a perfect 4.0 in business that he took as his minor. He saw a quote from a 1938 U.S. Army manual that once made the distinction between the false notion that the U.S. was a pure democracy, when in fact our nation is and always has been since our Constitution was established, a Republic.
That distinction is now missing in many forms of public information.
These are facts, facts, facts. There is no conspiracy implied in reciting facts.
But facts are assiduously avoided by some of the most powerful politicians, as well as among some of the deepest pockets of our nation, and others.
There is media influence in Communist China, where the state openly controls information. The communists always have. Until the Chinese leadership are forced by circumstances to do otherwise, they will likely will continue to control the flow of information. It makes controlling some 1.4 billion people easier.
There is media influence in America. That control is imperfect, compared to what exists in China, because there is still freedom here. There are conservative, centrist, and leftist media outlets in America. That’s one reason why MHProNews periodically trots out the left-right media infographic, shown below. It helps readers spot the possible agenda of the source.
A Cult of Personalities
The New York Post said that the Obama’s are becoming a billion-dollar brand. Not unlike the Clintons, they have established a foundation. Also akin to the Clintons, the Obama’s command a large speaking fee.
The New York Post says that the Obamas have some $50 million they will earn from an agreement with Netflix. There’s another $65 million in the estimated value of book deals. Here’s how they stated it, ”In addition to a $65 million book advance and an estimated $50 million deal with Netflix, both of which she [Michelle] shares with husband Barack Obama…”
Michelle is on a high profile book tour. A common factor, says EIB Network talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, in book deals with major names are requirements to do publicity events. TV, radio, live or canned events are arranged with the ‘author.’ Those ‘author’s’ often have ‘ghost’ or other writers and editors in the mix. No one thinks ill of having an editor or ghost writer.
But where the concern should be is these questions. Why would someone pay such enormous sums simply to have people speak? What message are they sending? Why are they being paid so much? Who gains from their speaking and fame?
You can fault MHProNews for typos or a glitch. You may or may not like every topic that we tackle. Or how we frame an issue. Our sole defense is the truth that we put out more content by far than any other MH industry trade media, plus we are doing professional services and client work too, day by day. On slower days, our publisher and editor goes back and re-edits some long columns like this one, just in case.
But on the facts and evidence, we want it all to be accurate and fair.
On each subject, we strive to bring facts, evidence, reason, and ethics into the discussion. Those issues are ones that matter to every one of our industry’s homeowners or to thousands of independent businesses. It’s also important to the millions of Americans who ought to be our industry’s customers, but have been misled into thinking ill of our housing option.
We source across the left-right media divide – and from public officials, or industry sources – for very specific reasons. First, there is the ancient “wheat and chaff” principle. Wheat must be separated from chaff in nature, before wheat is consumed. Ideally, in sourcing a story, the chaff is threshed out, and the wheat is retained.
By citing sources, if a factual error creeps in, then the cause is known. It’s what a good journalist or researcher should always do.
Manufactured homes are a fraction of the price of conventional housing. But the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) misstated that savings a few years back, in advertorials that they paid to have published. Why did MHI pay for that deliberately misleading information in the first place?
After MHProNews repeatedly spotlighted that issue, MHI eventually pivoted away from that, and now they have an infographic that includes a much better visualization of the savings between a conventionally built single-family house and a modern manufactured home. In doing so, MHI correctly pointed to the U.S. Census Bureau data to achieve that comparison. Good, the source was correctly cited.
But where was their acknowledgment or apology to the industry for their advertorials that misstated the savings? Those inaccurate advertorials are still online.
MHI brags that millions could have seen those stories they paid to place in various news sources. Misleading statistics were used, that readers can still stumble upon. See the MHI infographic, below. Is that misuse of information emblematic of a larger problem at MHI?
Why does MHI posture one thing, when they have at various time done quite another? Why all the razzle dazzle, instead of actual performance that can be measured in new home sales? Are MHI’s top 3 staff leaders inept? Or is there a method and purpose behind that MHI staff leadership madness?
On MHI’s website today, Joe Stegmayer is still listed as their chairman (see graphic, further below). A few years ago, Triad Financial Services President and CEO – Don Glisson, Jr. – stepped aside from being MHI Chairman over a relatively nothing issue that involved blogger George Allen. The issue, per several informed sources, was whether or not Allen would be allowed to speak at an upcoming MHI event. Sources at MHI told the Daily Business News on MHProNews that some staff were strongly opposed to Allen speaking at the event.
But Allen claimed he had been promised a speaking slot.
So, then MHI Chairman Glisson, per those sources, offered a compromise. Give Allen an early morning speaking spot, to keep the claimed promise to the now former community owner and blogger, and thus also limit his exposure to the minimum number of MHI attendees.
That arguably elegant compromise on Allen speaking reportedly brought on a revolt by some, including higher level MHI staff. Why?
Mr. Glisson stepped aside in frustration, essentially saying, ‘I don’t need this aggravation.’
Glisson made no public outcry. He just quietly stepped aside. For those present when that step-down occurred, one minute, Glisson was present, and suddenly, after his decision was shared to select people, he was gone.
Nathan Smith then became MHI Chairman. Later, when TV ads of Smith for SSK Communities reportedly were in violation of federal regulations, did Smith step down? No. When a legal class action was begun by a number of SSK Communities residents, did Smith step down from his role as MHI Chairman? No.
When Tim Williams later became MHI Chairman, and certain troubling reports about Berkshire Hathaway brands in manufactured home lending practices from the Seattle Times became public, did Williams step down? No. When those same Seattle Times reports pointed a finger at Clayton Homes, did Clayton’s Tom Hodges step aside and remove himself from the MHI board? No.
So why would mere allegations about possible SEC violations cause Joe Stegmayer, a former Clayton Homes division president, to step aside as MHI Chairman today? Others cozy with Berkshire Hathaway stayed on. Why should Stegmayer be any different?
The above is telling. Triad’s Glisson has a well earned reputation for being honorable. His firm’s sound business model in manufactured home chattel lending thrived while others in manufactured home lending collapsed in the early 2000s. Track records matter.
MHProNews isn’t saying more or less than what the facts or track records reflect.
How many times has MHI had to pivot from an embarrassing posture? Several, in just recent years, as carefully readers of the Daily Business News know. Where was the transparency that the late Howard Walker said should exist at MHI, that the ELS Vice-Chairman said existed at their publicly traded company?
Why won’t Cavco reveal which stock is in question involving Stegmayer and the bombshell SEC probe? Won’t that information come out, sooner or later?
If Cavco can’t say so publicly, due to some SEC reason, and the SEC won’t reveal it either, why doesn’t Cavco not bluntly say so? Why do they use more nuanced, but evasive, language?
Why did Third Avenue Value Fund (TAVFX) sell off all of Cavco’s (CVCO) stocks recently? Why don’t others in MHVille trade media raise or report on such problematic issues? ICYMI, or want to later share those details with others, see the report linked below.
Are there not sufficient reasons for Stegmayer to step aside from his leadership role at MHI?
What is MHI doing to and for our industry’s image or on regulatory issues anyway? How much of what they do are just a fig-leaf – posturing? Isn’t the bottom line that manufactured home shipments are still at record low levels, a decade after the 2008 meltdown?
Facts matter. As a comparison, why are RVs roaring, while HUD Code manufactured homes are snoring?
“It’s a Disgrace”
President Donald J. Trump has said and done some things that are less than pure. He said prior to his election that he used the rigged system himself, which is why he could fight it – because he knew it first hand.
In short, he was self-revealing. He’s not claimed to be what he’s not.
Millions mistakenly believe something totally untrue about Russia and the Trump Campaign, if that recent poll noted above is accurate. Again, millions were wrongly led to believe that votes were changed. That was accomplished by merely repeating a false impression for days, weeks, and months on end. Recall that in 2017, Project Veritas had an undercover video with a CNN producer that revealed that the Russia Collusion story was a “nothing burger.” But that same CNN producer said that Russian collusion was good for ratings. Welcome to fake news?
That lie or deception about a phony Russian collusion doesn’t mean that everything CNN does is a lie. But it does mean that what CNN or others in media do must be scrutinized.
Fox News isn’t perfect either. They have people or hosts on that can use claims that likewise are incorrect or even deceive, but at least they often show both sides of a given question.
The answer isn’t to throw up one’s hands and not watch news, or not vote, or not be engaged. That’s a fine outcome for those who arguably pull the strings of millions by media and tech manipulation. Those who are not engaged in solving the problem are de facto a vote for those who are engaging in deceptive and manipulative practices.
The ubiquitous Drudge Report ran a headline quoting from President Trump recently that said that he likes to ‘tell the truth as often’ as he can. Wow.
There are things that world leaders know from intelligence and other sources that they don’t tell their populations. It’s been that way for centuries before the printing press. It is also so since the modern internet, broadcast or cable eras.
The broad brush of what is real is knowable, but it requires a little common sense, some understanding, a bit of history, etc.
What a Fed Said to MHProNews
Federal investigators have been on the Berkshire Hathaway trail for years, per the Seattle Times, and reports from federal sources to MHProNews. Warren Buffett himself admitted to being questioned about why he sold out his stocks in Fannie Mae prior to the meltdown.
So, when a federal investigator said to our publisher recently would be no surprise to those who have closely followed this periodic series on MHProNews.
In essence, without defending Buffett, that investigators said that what Buffett – whom one of those investigators referred to as “the Oracle of Omaha” – is doing in manufactured housing, is occurring in other industries too.
Put differently, that Fed said is that what is occurring at MHI, and our manufactured home industry being consolidated by manipulation of the system by major players is only a subset of a greater problem. Our publisher agreed with that agent.
But that is also why for several years, MHProNews has spotlighted issues outside of MHVille. Those elements of the FAANGs, for example, either parallel and/or are interconnected to what has purportedly developed in our industry. Further, as our reports have noted, FAANG firms not only daily touch MHPros and manufactured home owners, some of those same tech giants are getting involved in factory-based construction too.
Where Left, Right, and Center Might Agree?
There are voices in the Democratic Party, in the political center, and on the right that are seeing the threat to the nation from big tech. Some believe that Berkshire Hathaway plays a role in that monopolistic/oligopoly threat too, as the federal investigator referred to above, implied.
There are areas that the 45th President, Donald J. Trump – who has called the Mueller probe a “witch hunt” and “a disgrace” – can work with Democrats and Republicans on that could benefit the vast majority of the nation. Breaking up monopolies is – on paper – one of those areas. It may be the most important one.
Open Markets Austin Frerick argued that monopolies are the most important issue facing America today. See two of several tweets by Frerick, above and below.
AT&T’s breakup in the 1980s under antitrust action by the federal government was arguably good for the country. The breakup of Berkshire and those FAANG companies could similarly be good for our industry and the nation too. Phone service didn’t end, it got better after the AT&T breakup. Breaking up the monopoly/oligopoly of FAANG and Berkshire could – similar to AT&T’s breakup – lead to a renaissance in American small business, and for our industry too.
Note that federal sources tell MHProNews that their investigations include public officials for possible malfeasance.
Pam Danner, JD, are you reading this today? Just asking…
…and the industry should ask why Danner was given de-facto support and purported cover by MHI.
MHI’s Response to MHProNews and their Naysayers
As part of MHI’s response to our reports and analysis, we have several sources that said that they were pressured not to advertise with MHProNews. Huh? At the time, we’d been a member for years, and had been praised numerous times for our “News, Tips, and Views That Pros Can Use” © coverage by MHI leaders.
George Allen, who at various times was persona non grata at MHI, and other ‘friends’ of MHI have allegedly attempted a smear campaign against our publisher. That has taken place over a period of years, along with others connected to MHI, per sources. Our L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach addressed that matter directly to Kevin Clayton, Tom Hodges, the top 3 MHI staffers, federal investigator/officials in Washington, D.C., and others. That email is shown below.
The above has also been provided to federal investigators, who as previously noted, had already been looking into the matters at MHI, and how they relate to Knoxville and Omaha. That’s been going on for several years.
There will be a special Masthead possibly tomorrow evening. Tune in and check it out, won’t you?
The World Didn’t End…
When Legacy Housing, an MHI member, advertised their events last fall on MHProNews, did that doom them? Hardly.
Instead, they had two successful fall events. That is to be expected when you market via the runaway most read-publication in the entire industry. In their public filings for an IPO with the SEC, Legacy Housing said they had their biggest backlog in their firm’s history.
Arguably, those who get spotlighted on MHProNews not only benefit from the exposure, but they are safer from the FAANGs, Berkshire’s and MHI’s of the world. Again, for some evidence of that, see the upcoming Masthead.
- Sound information,
- the rule of law,
- access to capital,
- lending, and
- a level playing field will liberate manufactured housing.
There is, to be accurate, both subjective and objective truth. For example, you may like mustard and ketchup; our publisher dislikes both of those. Those are subjective truths, and in those matters of taste, your truth and ours can collide, but that’s harmless.
Then there are objective realities.
Has MHI failed the majority of its own members?
Several voices at various times have called them out for exactly those kinds of problems. A partial list is insightful.
- Frank Rolfe,
- Marty Lavin,
- Bob Crawford,
- NMHCO leaders,
- Titus Dare, and
- even the MHI exiting president, Chris Stinebert,
Perhaps because MHProNews has pulled those and other disparate voices into one place, MHI and several Berkshire brands have purportedly targeted our publication for elimination. If they could have disproven our claims, why didn’t they? So instead of disproving our concerns and allegations, they go after sponsors, or resort to phony smear tactics?
For those who grasp the reality of the concerns, ponder this. Smoking Gun 3, or more recently, the detailed report linked below, reflects a series of facts. Money and evidence trails are apparently difficult for them to deny. Each fact-based, logic-laced report arguably points to this Occam’s Razor style conclusion.
MHI and their Berkshire brands try to pick winners and losers in our industry.
Why did MHI publish a community count data that agreed with MHVillage, instead of Frank Rolfe’s or George Allen’s manufactured home community totals or estimates? Favoritism? Winner and losers?
Why are MHAction – paid via various money channels by Warren Buffett, George Soros and other deep pockets on the left – targeting
- Rolfe & Company,
- and Blackstone?
- Why don’t they target Tom Lackey and his defenders/trainers?
The truth is there, to be found, when one follows the money and the evidence trail.
But it takes time to ferret out the facts. Then it takes time to frame that truth in ways that make sense to a growing numbers of industry professionals and investors.
We’ve come into the holiday season. Thanksgiving is almost here. We’ll see if or how much readership might take a short break. But normally, if so, it’s usually a modest one (about 10 percent). Our competition in MHVille trade publishing would only dream of having that potentially modest fall off as being their total readership.
That’s true despite the reported dirty tricks by those who don’t want reports like this available. But our readers see the value.
When your opponents uses the tactics of:
- Distract and
you can guess that as a publisher, you are over their targets, catching flak.
And you, faithful reader? Knowledge is potential power. Use it, share it, and base your decisions upon reality, not illusions, lies, or costly faked impressions.
If they drove thousands of others out of business or who sold out for less, then, why would you think they won’t do it to you, too?
- MHARR – which sticks to facts, facts, facts and rarely has to pivot, exists for independent manufactured home producers; and
- the new NMHCO trade group for communities, have or are forming.
Will independent retailer and other MHVille professionals rise up, as NMHCO is striving to do?
The time to prepare for 2019 and 2020 are now. Reports like this are wake up calls. Don’t just read, use the information, double check the facts, and then plan accordingly. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
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