Axioms and pithy quotes are useful precisely because they convey much in a few words.
“It is always darkest before the dawn.”
“When I slow down, I go faster.” – Ken Blanchard.
“Remember that time is money.” – Ben Franklin,
in his Advice to a Young Tradesman (1748).
I spoke earlier this week with Charles Payne of Fox Business fame. The topics included the impact of monopolistic practices on American business, politics, FAANG, Clayton Homes, and antitrust law. We’ll plan a transcript of that discussion for a future date, but let’s merely note for now that it was Mr. Payne who used the term “Moat” and he said that the intersection of those topics are good points.
There is no relationship claimed or implied by mentioning that call. Facts are what they are, not what someone tries to construe or imply.
For much of my professional life, getting things done rapidly and effectively was a priority. That was Ben Franklin, ‘One Minute Manager’ – MBO – thinking. There is a time and place for that. For longtime readers, you know we believe in the principle of separating wheat from chaff. There is good and bad in all of us mortals, and in all products, organizations, and so on, with only a few Divine exceptions. Once more, facts are what they are, not what we would spin, hope, imagine, or dream them to be.
So, while we disagree with Warren Buffett on several things (chaff), we agree with him that some things simply take time (wheat).
I’m not going to go through the highly linked and cross-referenced executive summary linked below here. Time is money.
Suffice it to say, that for those too busy now to dig into that executive summary linked above, and if you are serious about manufactured homes and/or affordable housing, then by all means, it is worth the time to dig into it. Years of insights and research are packed into about 600 words that are cross-referenced with specific examples for more insights. Once more, think of the example of Buffett and the fact that he reportedly invests some 5 to 6 hours daily reading (wheat).
Some things just take time.
Understanding Buffett, along with other like-minded uber-billionaires and their moat-building strategies – like it or not – is essential to successfully navigating the American economic and political landscape. Let’s work and pray that it won’t always be so. But until the time that it might change, reality is what it is. Ignoring reality is a good way to wake up to a 2×4 metaphorically or literally hitting you across the back of the head.
I won’t go into the painful lessons learned from moat builders who literally targeted us, but didn’t count on who we were, and how determined some people might be. David was a shepherd before he became a king. In those days, a shepherd was the lowliest of the low. But that ruddy shepherd slew the mighty Goliath. That may have seemed in the story to have just taken an instant. But that moment of defeating the giant Goliath was years in the making. Some things simply take time.
There are good reasons to mention being targeted and surviving the moat-builders and their minions in factory-built housing. We are proof that they are not invincible. There are others who have proven it too.
By the way, not everyone who is targeted is known by those moat-builders personally, but some are.
One lesson is that for certain moat-builders, it isn’t always personal. To slow-motion-monopolists, it is just about the money and power. They are willing to take time to achieve their goal. That means you darn well better be willing to take the time if you want to win honorably.
“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger,” said Friedrich Nietzsche, who by mentioning that quote (wheat) should not be thought that other claims of his that are chaff are thereby endorsed. Wheat and chaff are a massively useful concept. Democratic Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both say something similar to what President Donald J. Trump (GOP) has said. “The system is rigged.”
That wheat quote they share brings us to our next point.
Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Choke Points
In life, there is a need for a certain level of independence once someone reaches maturity. But it is a mild form of madness to think that we are completely independent of others. People need other people.
Yes, someone can go into the wilderness and survive, that’s an exception. A few today – and expect it in increasing numbers – will embrace a robot instead of a human. But for those who are grounded in true reality, not some artificial construct of the mind, for those who get it that God is, and we are too, there are ultimate realities and lesser truths. A belief system based upon a falsehood will at some point fail.
The moat-builders have something broadly in common. They have learned how to spot the weaknesses in a system or circumstance. They then build a strategy, often a slow moving one, to take advantage of those ‘choke points.’ This writer isn’t the only one who thinks so, my focused conversation with Charles Payne or interaction with others leads me to realize anew that many thinkers who see those things similarly. Once more, I’m not speaking for Payne, reality is what it is. On a different political level, the Open Markets society warns against monopolists too (wheat), which is to be separated from their chaff.
Let’s define briefly solidarity and subsidiarity by citing the following: “The principle of solidarity is simply that no man is an island entire of himself,” says a post by the Acton Institute, “The second principle avoids the big government solution. Subsidiarity is the principle that every problem should be solved at the most local level possible.”
The Acton Institute post cited Rev. Dwight Longenecker, who insightfully (wheat) said: “We continue to believe the stereotypes despite the fact that the greatest philanthropists and benefactors to the good of the human race have been wealthy capitalists while the greatest monsters, murderers of the poor by starvation, displacement and ethnic cleansing have been communists.”
Rev. Longenecker continued, “Saying this is not to fall into the other extreme of imagining that all capitalists are therefore humane philanthropists and all left wingers are genocidal maniacs. Instead it is a suggestion that the only way through the impasse is to first of all shed the ridiculously simplistic stereotypes completely and search for a new way of thinking.”
Bingo again. Brilliantly said.
Taking the Best of the Various Political Viewpoints
Some of our friends, colleagues, and those in our circle don’t get it when we say why the principle of wheat and chaff are so important in business, and why the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity are necessary as well. We know blindly loyal Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians, for example. Each group has something to commend it. But each has something that is a weakness too; wheat and chaff. I can quote former President Bill Clinton in the (wheat) phrase that will follow without endorsing some of the problematic and controversial (chaff) behavior of that same person.
“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America,” said President William ‘Bill’ Clinton in his first inaugural address, per Yale Law. That pithy line is powerful, and we believe is apt for our era.
Best practices. History. Business. Economics. Politics. Solidarity. Subsidiarity. Basic ethics and morality based upon eternal truths, not shifting sands of human whim or opinion. Weave those respectable things together, and you will have a system that respects the individual for the good that every individual has and can bring. Ideally, it is about mutual victories.
Every era must go back to basics, that’s reality too. The ideal of win-win or mutual victories among people of good will are how ‘the moat builders’ will be defeated.
To some extent, you need us, and we need you. That’s a reality of Solidarity and Subsidiarity.
You can recreate the wheel, as some are trying to do in MHVille, which costs time, money, expertise and they may or may not be successful. Or you can rent the use of the wheel that already exists.
The moat builders in MHVille tried to destroy us and others. But thank God and by grace, we refused to fold our tent and run. It took time, but instead of killing us off they have made us wiser and stronger. It isn’t arrogance to say that we have the single strongest trade media platform in the entire manufactured housing industry, bar none. That’s simply a fact.
In a modest sized today industry, thousands like you that logon daily underscore the value of what we strive to do on MHProNews and our general-public focused sister-site, day by day.
We do not do MHProNews solo. We never have. No one is an island. There are those who utilize our platform for marketing, knowing our audience is the most engaged. Thanks, we value the opportunity to serve others, but it is also prudent on their part. It is pragmatic for people to team up with us.
They are not alone.
Our factory-built home industry has to a significant extent been weaponized and is being monopolized, but this industry isn’t alone in those realities. Those who haven’t studied the facts, evidence, and money-trails with an open mind are not in a position to deny the accuracy of that claim, which spans the left-right divide.
The weaknesses of our industry – the choke points – have been targeted by often powerful forces. That’s not melodrama, that’s documentable reality. Why would the uber-rich and politically connected do so?
Because manufactured homes are just that important to the future of American life.
What the Warren Buffett types of the world have learned is arguably diabolically cunning. Scripture and ancient writings say that there was a war in the heavens. In that battle Lucifer – once a brilliant angel of light – was cast out. Before humans were cast out of the Garden of Eden, Lucifer – a.k.a. Satan – was driven out of heaven. It’s a historic pattern.
We each have free will. Angelic will, as a side-note, is different than human free will. An angel has greater knowledge and clarity than a mortal, thus, when they make a choice, and it is done forever. There is no redemption for an angel after a fall from grace, they knew what they were going to get before they made their decision. Those immaterial beings are either an angel, or they become a devil. By contrast, for us mere mortals – we who are a combination of body and spirit – there are numbers of ‘second chance’ opportunities, so long as we have that life-breath within us.
But once we shed this mortal frame at the time of physical death, the opportunity for correction or ‘one more chance’ is gone after death. Hey, that’s not my call, but it is how it is because that’s how the Creator set it up, and I’m humble enough to accept it as reality. Someone can deny spiritual realities, or not understand them, but that doesn’t change reality any more than denying gravity makes jumping off a cliff without the proper gear deadly.
The answer for any lack of knowledge is always to seek true understanding.
Some opponents must be defeated. The Nazis had to be defeated at great cost. The old Soviet Union also had to be defeated, and that too had its price. Closer to home, the American era of the so-called robber barons – the monopolists of their time – they had to be defeated. Which brings us back to our time.
Properly understood, all of human history is a struggle between forms of freedom and forms of slavery.
I mentioned to Charles Payne the notion that some people who say they are socialists are actually rejecting what they see as the crony, corrupt forms of vulture capitalism that has been allowed to spread due to a lack of proper enforcement of antitrust and other laws. He said that was a good point. He then went on to talk about moats and such. It was Mr. Payne who directly raised the notion of moats. We’ll strive to do a transcript of the conversation at some point in the future.
But a key point for today is simple. Solidarity and subsidiarity. We need each other. Time is money. Morality matters. You are expert at some things, we are experts at others. That’s the basis of a free market exchange that can benefit both parties. We may never meet, we may never talk, we may never do business directly with one another. That’s life. But if you are a repeat visitor than the odds are that you are finding something here worth coming back for; and in turn others who want to do business with you who support our platform know that thousands like you are here daily. That’s another route to mutual victories.
The big boys in MHVille arguably tried to kill us off or drive us out in a variety of ways. They failed. I’m not thanking them or ripping them, rather, just saying what is. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior.
The clock is ticking. Those who behave treacherously often come to a bad ending.
- Bernie Madoff didn’t get away with it. He’s in prison.
- However Jeffrey Epstein met his Maker, by his own hand or that of another, isn’t as relevant as the fact that the once wealthy man who purportedly traded young girls and women with men of wealth, power, and influence died in prison. From affluent jet setter with his own pleasure island and mansions, to dead as a doornail in a concrete cell. Did Epstein have time to sincerely make amends? Only God knows.
- One could go on and on with examples of the once-powerful Hitler ended up just as beaten, broken, and dead.
You have your weaknesses, we have ours. You have your strengths, we have ours. Solidarity and subsidiarity. We need each other. Time is money. Morality matters. We don’t expect perfect clients, and our clients shouldn’t expect perfection either. But the proof that we perform – often despite long odds – is staring you right in the face. The evidence reflects that for all the money that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and their string-pullers have to throw around, our traffic and reader engagement smokes theirs. Interesting, isn’t it?
In the end, with patient endurance, given the will and skill, the good often visibly triumph over evil. That process of defeating diabolical forces is messy. Some wish for a different way to do battle, sorry, it is what it is.
We prefer to use the disinfectant of sunlight on issues that others have ignored or brushed around the edges for far too long. The approach we take makes some uncomfortable. Sorry, we tried it for some time in more subtle ways first. That didn’t work as well, even though we had good traffic. Thank God, this sunlight, produce-the-evidence, provide the fact-checks, follow-the-money method of unpacking the sometimes fine lines between fake from real news is working as time is slowly revealing.
I can’t say at exactly what point Feds, state, politicos, private legal and/or business forces will successfully beat those who have ‘rigged the system’ in manufactured housing. Those who have rigged the system in MHVille have thereby harmed thousands of businesses in our industry, untold millions of Americans, investors, and taxpayers too. I can only tell you that the war is on.
That war was undeclared and waged against our industry independents for years before people of good will frankly woke up, and helped us become aware too. The patient input from industry pros – and surprisingly the input of those who pull the strings – properly understood began to make sense of manufactured housing’s underperformance.
Underperformance of the industry helps the moat builders. Posturing efforts that fail are part of the method of the moat-builders. Fueling both sides of the fight is another method these debatably diabolically clever moat-builders use.
You can be the most honest business professional of all time, and the moat builders will beat you if they aren’t stopped. That’s reality.
Some take that to mean, ‘if you can’t beat them, joint them.’ Sorry, that’s wrong too. Millions of children learned decades that ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’
Redefining morality doesn’t make something that’s wrong ‘right’ either. Morality isn’t a popularity contest. Our son was about 6 years old when he learned to explain to adults how God exists, through the simple notion that acorns come from oak trees, and oak trees produce acorns. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Evolution doesn’t explain that, but an almighty Creator does explain the world that we know. Free will explains why there are good and evil people. By the way, once creation occurs, evolution absolutely can and does occur. But creation must take place first, before things can ‘evolve’ from there.
Objective reality matters in all circumstances.
Without spotlighting the junctures between:
- The Law
- Historical Patterns
- Common Sense
- Follow the Evidence
- Follow the Money Trail
and not necessarily in that order of importance, this once far greater industry debatably won’t break free.
Let’s be clear. The odds are that manufactured housing will someday in the foreseeable future dwarf the industry’s heyday. The sheer demand for affordable housing mandates that to be so. But the question is will a handful of ‘robber barons’ dominate that industry of the future? Or will it be thousands of independents of all sizes that will compete in honest ways that are good for consumers?
Equal Justice Under Law
Most manufactured housing professionals I know don’t want a handout. They just want equal justice under the law. They want a level playing field. They want the law to work. They want to earn an honest living. They honest don’t want to worry if their trade association – perhaps in collusion with other nonprofits – sold them out to the highest bidder.
We wear many hats here. I’ve said in my role as publisher before that we will work with members of both major parties, independents, law enforcement, and legal authorities along with other people of good will to achieve what the law already requires.
We are steadily building a coalition that seeks to unchain manufactured housing, honorably and legally.
It hasn’t been easy, and it won’t be, but it will be worth it. Why? How so?
Housing is over a trillion dollar a year industry. Of course, some will want to weaponize and thereby monopolize that this industry via unethical and arguably illegal moats. That also means that some will have the chutzpah, élan, foresight and joie de vivre to do what’s right.
Here’s one more secret hiding in plain sight. There are more of us imperfect people of good will than there are of those who are not only imperfect, but also lack scruples. You can’t wish those who posture integrity but behave immorally away. They must be beaten, honestly so.
- If you sell or sold out to the oligarchs, you’ve sold out at a discount.
- If you join them, you’ve become them, and just as Hitler and Jeffrey Epstein passed away in an ugly death, they will pass away too.
- Please don’t buy their smoke, mirrors, spin, and lies.
Step-by-step, this battle is being won. Thank God for that and thank too those who grasp Solidarity and Subsidiarity enough to make this effort possible. Their support of our platform makes this work of disinfecting sunlight possible. But the good news is that they benefit from that support.
Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Buffett was right when he said that some things take time, but this time for people of good will be worth it. He was right too when he stressed the need to look in that rear view mirror, not just the windshield. We plan ahead, but we understand by looking back and pondering the evidence with an open mind. That’s how successful and honorable businesses succeed long term.
Only by melding the bullets listed above, only by collaborating at the local level can the dark forces that have slowly engulfed manufactured housing be defeated. When that occurs, when millions learn how impressive the value proposition is, it will be time to celebrate.
Last point before we wrap up. Within the ‘big boy’ organizations are people of good will. Never forget that, because they are often willing to provide insights as needed that likewise make this sunshine-disinfectant process possible. We thank all who provide us with useful tips.
Until then next time, if you aren’t already one of the thousands on our email list, sign up as thousands of others have. If you want to grow sooner than later, check out our professional services linked here, see what others have said, and then give us a call.
Time is money, so, use that time wisely – and honorably. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, fact-checks, and commentary. See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned the Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma. He has earned multiple awards in manufactured housing and in history. He’s a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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Shocking, True State of the Manufactured Housing Industry, plus Solutions for Profitable, Sustainable Growth – May 2019 | Manufactured and Modular Housing Industry News
For busy professionals, holidays often provide a good time to review facts, themes, issues, and trends to gain useful perspectives. Let’s begin this review of the true state of the manufactured housing industry with a litany of facts and their source relative to U.S. housing, affordable housing, and manufactured homes.