Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee used to live in a factory-built housing unit while his state’s conventionally constructed governor’s mansion was being renovated. That’s another story for another time, part of the manufactured and modular housing industry’s fascinating history.
On 11.23.2019, former Gov. Huckabee was lamenting to Jessie Watters on Fox News the problems that occur ‘when law enforcers become law breakers.’ Of course, Huckabee – himself a longtime personality on Fox – stressed that most people in law enforcement do their jobs properly. But when they don’t, serious problems occur.
The specific topic was what members of the FBI, DOJ, and other parts of the federal government have allegedly done aimed to unduly unseat President of the United States (POTUS) Donald J. Trump. That’s obviously a serious charge, one that the 45th president himself has made, along with scores of others. If such a case of an American coup aimed against a president – in this instance, POTUS Trump – is brought and convictions are obtained, it will reflect yet another dark day in American history. It will mean that the so-called ‘banana republics’ of Latin America or elsewhere aren’t just a problem over there somewhere.
It will mean that serious corruption is also an issue here in the USA.
But don’t those who look at the world through non-partisan eyes already sense the reality of that problem?
When Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), Bernie Sanders (VT-I, but self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist and is running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president), and candidate-turned-President Donald J. Trump have all said several times that the “system is rigged,” isn’t that an experience that many of us have personally witnessed? Aren’t those who complain of racism able to point to issues of red-lining in housing or other discernable and sadly historic practices? Hasn’t that harmed generations that followed?
In small towns to larger cities, people of influence support candidates who are willing to ‘rig the system’ in their locales to favor one kind of construction against another. It is often ‘site builders’ against ‘manufactured housing’ retailers and developers.
MHProNews will look at a specific story in the days ahead of a battle where the wealthy are fighting – and so far are winning – a case where a manufactured home developer has the documentation they need, but are still being denied the right to place manufactured homes. Where is the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) on that issue?
The wealthy don’t want manufactured homes near them. Translation, the system is rigged. Who is harmed? All those seeking affordable housing, regardless of color.
But back to Gov. Huckabee’s point.
There are federal laws already on the books that address the core issues facing the ‘rigged system’ as it relates to America’s most proven form of affordable housing, manufactured homes. But those laws are going under-enforced at best.
Bernie Madoff is sitting in federal prison. His scheme lasted for decades. It defrauded large numbers out of tens of billions of dollars collectively. There were warning signs, but they were long ignored. Finally, after persistent calls for action, often from some of the same people, federal officials took a closer look. Indeed, the concerns about Madoff proved real. The legal system worked slowly, but with prompting, it finally acted. The one-time billionaire and jet-setter Madoff sits in federal prison, where he will likely die.
Madoff’s specific circumstances are different than the ones facing manufactured housing today. But there are analogous principles involved. Here is the parallel. There were laws that were being violated by Madoff that for some time went unenforced. After years of efforts, federal officials finally acted. Once they did, they won.
Madoff proves it can happen.
State AG’s point out that antitrust action has historically at times begun at the state level, and were later picked up by the feds. Hold that thought.
For those who look at the stories behind the headlines of much of the last several years, reality looks differently than what many have been led to believe. What has allegedly occurred has several partisan political aspects to it. By mid-December, sources say that Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report will be published. On a parallel front, Attorney General William Barr assigned U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate and possibly prosecute those involved in the origins of the “Trump-Russia Collusion” controversy. Former Trump Campaign adviser Carter Page, who was the subject of a FISA warrant is already calling IG Horowitz’s report “sloppy” based on leaks/speculation in the media. Don’t expect the matter to proceed quickly or smoothly. Some eyes will glaze over as it is laced with nuances and technical details.
When powerful people are involved, the wheels of justice seem to grind slowly.
But if what Page, President Trump, and numerous others have alleged is true, it will be bad but not without prior historic parallels. Elections in America have been tipped, say historians and researchers, due to illegalities. Further, the FBI was engaged in surveillance on Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was personally hostile toward King, and there are reams of evidence held at Stanford University’s King Institute. Such details may cause some to wince, others to say ‘why bother voting?’ and walk away.
But the proper response is arguably the opposite. Freedom is never free. Just ask a cop, military member, or a veteran. The fact that corruption was discovered and eventually dealt with is what matters.
Let’s be clear. The system in America has long been ‘rigged’ at the local, state, and federal levels to greater or lesser extents. That’s a matter of history. But here in the U.S., thanks to the rule of law, the system can be unrigged too. That too is part of American History.
The story of America is the story of a nation whose people have struggled against foreign as well as domestic oppression. That’s a story that has occurred in nations around the world dating back to the origins of human history. As a lover and multiple award-winner in history, it has been my view that the story of humanity is in good measure a fight for freedom and justice against oppression of various kinds. Those committed to be in it to win it, often do prevail. Bernie Madoff proves that. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proves that too. America’s Civil War proves that point, as did our Revolutionary War against England.
But at no time is freedom ever free. The fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union occurred due to several seemingly modest initial efforts, like the Solidarity movement in Poland. The vaunted USSR eventually collapsed. But it was years of struggle to make that happen.
The system in manufactured housing is arguably rigged, there is plenty of evidence for that, but those who have rigged it can be brought to justice.
We periodically feature stories of various lawbreakers involved in our industry, often cases of harm brought to consumers, who are brought to justice. There are people who have been imprisoned on state and federal charges who were involved in manufactured housing related cases.
The system can work. But it often takes motivation by persistent people to get the system to work.
We believe that there is significant evidence of purported corruption that has harmed millions of Americans involving:
- Warren Buffett,
- Berkshire Hathaway,
- Kevin Clayton at Clayton Homes,
- Tim Williams and 21st Mortgage Corporation,
- the Manufactured Housing Institute, along with other nonprofits that have been ‘weaponized’ by Buffett in direct and indirect fashion,
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,
- and specific federal officials, among others.
But when carefully examined, the numbers need to pull of this ploy are relatively small. It is the truth hiding in plain sight, much of it that we’ve already documented by publicly available information combined with news tips. But that data and statements must be examined through the lens of experts who understand the evidence of why during an affordable housing crisis manufactured housing is underperforming so badly, and who benefits from that reality. Bringing down Madoff involved some expertise. Why should we think that this will be any different?
We believe that good existing laws need to be enforced. They include, but are not limited to:
- antitrust, deceptive trade practices, and RICO laws.
- Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA) and its “enhanced preemption” provision, among others.
- The Duty to Serve rural, underserved and manufactured housing markets mandated by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, but there are other federal finance laws that are being thwarted too.
- SEC laws and regulations.
- IRS regulations with respect to nonprofits.
Some of what is occurring may be ‘wink and a nod’ types of soft-corruption and behavior that violates various conflicts of interest by federal officials. Revolving doors and other deferred reward gambits appear to be involved. But that doesn’t mean that what has and is going on is any less corrupt or illegal.
In consultation with some attorneys entirely independent of MHProNews and our management who have reviewed several of our articles, documentation, and reports. Having done so, they agree that there are reasons for concern that merit serious federal and/or state investigations. From there, the system may finally act in the manner that it finally did with Bernie Madoff.
America had its Gilded Age and period of so-called robber barons that manipulated the economic and political system of their era. Money – monopoly power – plus influence over media then or now, where aspects of that historic struggle. That time was brought to heel in good measure by the use of antitrust and related legal action.
We therefor believe that current antitrust law is part of what must be vigorously applied. There are voices in both major parties who have said as much with respect to Big Tech. They must be made to see that it isn’t only Big Tech where a new Gilded Age has arisen. Several sectors of the U.S. economy have been rigged, not only manufactured housing. Let’s note that those who study the headlines in countries abroad often have similar concerns in their nations too.
What that thumbnail should imply to strategic and tactically minded professionals, investors, advocates – and yes, millions of current and would-be manufactured homeowners – is that a natural alliance is available of ‘white hats’ seeking justice against a relative few who’ve arguably manipulated the American Dream in unlawful ways.
Some of the stories below relate to such issues.
As is often the case, we’ve asked those at Clayton Homes, MHI, MHI’s outside attorney, “Frank and Dave,” and others to comment. Messages were confirmed, but the basic response is silence or no comment. Of course. Their respective attorneys should counsel silence, and if they are hauled into hearings or courts of law, they may well plead their 5th Amendment right to remain silent.
But the tragic beauty of what has occurred in our industry is this. These same people have all made public statements of various kinds. There are patterns of behavior that can and have been documented to various degrees. Some of those are on video. Those statements and patterns of behavior can then be aligned with the known facts.
Rephrased, a significant case can be developed from what they have already said and done. It also becomes a matter of following the money trail. Motivated investigators, elected and appointed officials, need to see if laws have been broken, thwarted, and/or manipulated to favor a few at the expense of the many.
Madoff sits in federal prison. The so-called attempted coup against President Trump isn’t the first such darkness in America’s history, as the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln or numerous other known historic events demonstrate.
Corruption and oppression is the nature of government. Who says? How about biblical history?
In 1 Samuel 8 New International Version (NIV, per Bible Gateway), one reads as follows.
8 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a] 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”
Before there were democracies and republics, there were kings and queens. There were princes and princesses. There were dukes and duchesses and so on. God knew what was coming, the Almighty warned the Israelites of what was ahead. The people insisted. They got what they asked for, but history tells us that what God said would occur – war, corruption, injustice and so on – did indeed follow.
There is a need to understand history to grasp what is occurring in America today. We are what could be called America’s Gilded Age 2.0. The new robber barons are tech giants and large conglomerates that often came into their wealth by means of laws being changed, ignored, or going un- or underenforced. For instance, would Amazon be the power that it has become if they had to collect sales taxes like all other retailers had to do? By tipping the law on sales tax enforce to favor Amazon or others, didn’t that eventually lead to this time where they are a giant? Would thousands of mom and pop retailers still be in business if the anti-monopolistic vision of the founders been vigorously perused and enforced instead?
The Trump Administration’s assistant attorney general for antitrust action has said that existing laws are sufficient to take on big tech. If so, then it is sufficient to take on Berkshire Hathaway too.
But to make sure that it happens, state attorney generals ought to be engaged on behalf of our industry, just as is occurring as dozens of them are marshalling resources against Facebook and Google. Love or hate Google or Facebook, those public officials merit our public support. They are fighting a very significant fight. Let’s hope they don’t back down or let them off with a slap on the wrist, as has occurred in Europe’s antitrust actions.
Affordable housing is every bit as much a crisis as the threats posed by big tech. Good laws are on the books. They are being thwarted and manipulated often by those who claim to be the industry’s champions. The evidence must be scrutinized. Those impacted and experts should be interviewed.
The reports for the week that was follow. A careful reading of several of those, mindful of the linked information and data, will paint a picture that could reveal a bigger scandal than that of Bernie Madoff. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Madoff sits in a federal cell.
Former Governor Huckabee has a point. When law enforcers become law breakers, it threatens the fabric of our society. That must be addressed, no matter how high up the corruption goes. As voices on both sides of the political aisle often say, “no one is above the law.” Okay. We agree. Let’s see that “no one is above the law” principle applied in every valid instance, including, but not limited to those that involved affordable housing, manufactured homes and their related financing.
How this is handled could make or break political and other careers.
With no further adieu, we turn to the headlines from the week that was from 11.17 to 11.24.2019.
What’s New on Manufactured Home Living News
What’s New from Washington, D.C. from MHARR
What’s New on the Daily Business News on Manufactured Home Pro News
David Dworkin, National Housing Conference, Compared and Contrasted with Lesli Gooch, Manufactured Housing Institute on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Proposed Modifications to FHFA on Duty to Serve Finance Plans
That’s all for now. Thanks as always to our sponsors, clients, tip sources, and readers like you for making us the manufactured housing industry’s runaway biggest and most-read source for manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Weekly headline news recap, affordable housing, manufactured homes, lifestyle news, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.)
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.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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