Monopolies – Silent Spreaders of Poverty and Economic Inequality Insights from Henry Simons & Thurman Arnold Applied by Schmitz and Fettig to HUD, Manufactured Housing, Economic Inequality and Poverty

MonopoliesSilentSpreadersPovertyEconomicInequalityInsightsHenrySimonsThurmanArnoldAppliedSchmitzFettigtoHUDManufacturedHousingEconomicInequalityPovertyPhotos

For Henry “Simons, the most important policy change to limit poverty and inequality was “the elimination of monopoly in all its forms.’’” So says a pull quote by Federal Reserve researchers James A. Schmitz Jr. and David Fettig. A few more pull quotes will tee up this MHProNews report and analysis on how monopolistic practices have in their view harmed affordable manufactured housing to the harm of millions of Americans. The implications of Schmitz and Fettig’s research and report on HUD Code manufactured homes on the interests of independent businesses, investors, taxpayers, and others will quickly become apparent.

This 2020 research by Schmitz and Fettig should be seen in the light of the recent report and analysis which updated a 2018 power point that Schmitz and two different colleagues were involved in, linked here. Schmitz, Arilton Teixeira, and Mark L. J. Wright, dubbed what is occurring in manufactured housing “sabotage monopoly” tactics.

For those familiar with Warren Buffett’s “Castle and Moat” stratagem and Buffett’s interest in deploying historic insights in a fashion useful to his business interests, Schmitz and Fettig in the ProMarket column found further below presents compelling and relevant insights that could prove useful for regulators, lawmakers, or others who are serious about breaking up monopolies and the harm that they cause vs. merely talking or posturing about the harm caused by the use of such shadowy tactics.

The researchers in their article are applying historic standards and insights developed by Henry Simons and Thurman Arnold on monopolies and how that applies to antitrust (i.e. antimonopoly) law.

  • “Simons and Arnold knew monopolies employed deceit and misinformation as they inflicted harm on the poor. Monopoly injury, then, could go undetected for years. Wendell Berge, who followed Arnold as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, wrote: “Monopoly conditions have often grown up almost unnoticed by the public until one day it is suddenly realized that an industry is no longer competitive but is governed by an economic oligarchy.’’”
  • The fundamental axiom [is] that in a monopoly economy luxuries expand while the necessities of life contract’’ said Thurman Arnold and “The exploitation of monopolies is always the most dangerous in the things people cannot do without.’’

What was true of the 1930s is also true today, said Schmitz and Fettig in one of several reports from 2020. “First, monopolies are a major source of poverty and inequality. Second, monopolies often hide and disguise actions that lead to great harm among low-income communities. To borrow from the pandemic’s lexicon, monopolies are silent spreaders of poverty and economic inequality.”

According to the brief bio on ProMarket.org, the research and writing duo are described as follows.

James A. Schmitz Jr.

Jim Schmitz is an economist who has been studying monopoly since the early 1980s. He has been a member of the Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis since 1992.

David Fettig

David Fettig is former vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and former award-winning journalist. He has written extensively about economics and public policy.

ProMarket says of itself the following. “ProMarket is dedicated to discussing how competition tends to be subverted by special interests. The posts represent the opinions of their writers, not necessarily those of the University of Chicago, the Booth School of Business, or its faculty.”

Additionally, there is found in the August 14, 2020 – Monopolies: Silent Spreaders of Poverty and Economic Inequality this:

  • Henry Simons was a member of the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago in the 1930s. Simons, along with Frank Knight and Jacob Viner, were widely regarded as the leaders of that great department.
  • Thurman Arnold was a giant of the legal profession who was appointed by FDR to be Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust in 1938, serving from 1938 to 1943.
JamesClyburnHouseMajorityWhipSC-DStudyHistoryQuoteUnderstandPresentPrepareFutureAnythingHappenedBeforeCanHappenAgainManufacturedHomeProNews
One may or may not agree with Clyburn’s politics. But the wisdom of this statement by Clyburn is demonstrably true.

 

From a different research document are these pull quotes from Simons and Arnold.

Monopolies “possess tremendous power for exploiting the community at large and even for sabotaging the system.” Henry Simons1 A Positive Program for Laissez Faire, 1934

Monopolies “consolidate their power by destroying existing independent enterprise.” Thurman Arnold2 Labor Against Itself, 1943

The fundamental axiom [is] that in a monopoly economy luxuries expand while the necessities of life contract. . . . The exploitation of monopolies is always most dangerous in the things people cannot do without.” Thurman Arnold Robert La Follette Memorial Address, Univ. Of Wisconsin, 1942

Monopolies “enter into politics using money and economic coercion to maintain themselves in power, making alliances with other powerful groups against the interests of consumers and independent producers. In short, they will become a sort of independent state within a state, making treaties and alliances, expanding their power by waging industrial war, dealing on equal terms with the executive and legislative branches of the government and defying governmental authority if necessary with the self-righteousness of an independent sovereign.” Thurman Arnold Labor Against Itself, 1943

The plan for this report, analysis, review, and commentary on Schmitz-Fettig and their work will be distinctive but related to the MHProNews on found linked below. The that below and this should be considered in tandem.

 

“Sabotaging Monopolies” Minneapolis Fed Researchers Charge HUD-Collusion w/Builders to “Sabotage” Manufactured Housing Independents “Created U.S. Housing Crisis”-Fuels Homelessness, Harms Minorities, Taxpayers, Others

 

In this instance, the bulk of our commentary and arguably related insights will proceed what they wrote for ProMarket in 8.2020.  That seems to update some of what their thinking is, especially in the light of COVID19 impacts.

 

Disclosures and a Useful Analogy – Schmitz, Teixeira, Wright, and Fettig – MHProNews

Schmitz, Teixeira, and Wright in their 2018 slide presentation found as a download in the report linked here candidly admit that it took them years to unravel what they were discussing about HUD and the purported “sabotage” of manufactured housing.

Their candid admission is useful on several levels. Because they are not alone.

Early into parallel but distinctive MHProNews Investigations, Reports, Analysis, and Commentary into the root causes of the manufactured housing industry’s underperformance, in hindsight numbers of those reports may have been useful, but they were incomplete. That incomplete picture was not caused by a lack of will by MHProNews to give a complete read out to the causes of the manufactured home industry’s underperformance. Rather, it was arguably a simple matter of the learning curve.

 

An analogy will serve to illustrate. This analogy will be applied to MHProNews and our MHLivingNews sister publication, but arguably will be relevant to most any others who may be seriously intent on getting to root issues in our profession or any others too.

 

Millions in America or elsewhere across the globe may have a bright child in their home. But no one reasonably expects even gifted kindergartners to do university-level physics, medicine, or engineering. Learning the ABCs and 123s must come first for youth. It is only later, as knowledge and understanding builds and grows that more advanced and nuanced work is possible. Indeed, all learning is a matter of going through stages of understanding or the learning curve.

That analogy of the learning curve might be said about research and reports on monopolies in or beyond manufactured housing. The learning curve must be considered in that milieu of the applied and time-test principle of separating the wheat from the chaff.

With the learning curve in mind when pursuing reports on MHProNews from some years ago, or the Schmitz-Fettig research that is shown further below, or the prior Schmitz-Teixeira-Wright presentation on HUD and manufactured housing must be kept in mind.

Indeed, even reasonably informed readers have to ponder that same learning curve as it applies to you. Perhaps you as a reader may be quite aware of much of what occurs in manufactured housing. But does knowing much mean this or that person knows it all? Hardly. Buffett says of himself that he reads some 5 to 6 hours a day! He reportedly is reading often detail-rich items. That requires focus in order to glean the insights being sought.

 

Superficiality is the curse of the modern world,” said Matthew Kelly, who is a notable speaker, writer, and inspirational professional success story on his own. When Kelly speaks this insight, he too admits to what is tantamount to a learning curve.

The skim reader may miss the fine detail that will cause the aha or eureka moment.

With that framework, another analogy that most will be familiar with is also useful in this discussion that

Schmitz, Teixeira, and Wright prior presentation or this more recent one by Schmitz and Fettig explored later below is useful.

It is one thing to hear from political figures that span the left-right divide that “the system is rigged.” But it is an entirely different matter to learn the precise ways of how the rigged the system functions or took root. That accomplish that goal demands some time and a degree of focused study or reading to understand.

 

TheSystemIsRiggedSenatorElizabethWarrenPresidentDonaldJTrumpSenatorBernieSandersManufacturedHomeLivingNews
They span the left right divide. How they address or that rigging may be different. But they have often cited similar facts. Near the heart of these issues monopolistic forces often lurk.

 

While most adults are aware of scams and scandals, the notion of massive fraud on a grand scale that would undermine an entire industry, profession, or the political system itself might seem at first to be farfetched. That might border on the notion of a conspiracy theory.

With much of mainstream corporate media pounding away against notions that question prevailing narratives, it is easier to deflect against something that seriously posits an evidence-based claim that a sector or economy is rigged.

That is why the pushback from across the left-right divide on agenda-driven corporate media claims – including, but not limited to concerns about the news media or big tech – are significant.

The formal statements of some 150 anti-Trump professionals in media, academia, and entertainment that nevertheless challenged the de facto censorship or narrowing of ‘permitted’ speech or writing could have been a warning almost Orwellian in its insights. The point here is simple. If media – where people hope to learn about matters – is ‘rigged’ then doesn’t that make it easier for sabotage monopolists to operate with less scrutiny?

 

FreeExchangeInformationIdeasLifebloodLiberalSocietyDailyBecomingMoreConstrictedJKRowlingGloriaSteinemNoamChomskyPhotosQuoteableQuoteHarpersLetterJusticeFreeSpeechMHProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/the-way-to-defeat-bad-ideas-is-by-exposure-argument-and-persuasion-not-by-trying-to-silence-or-wish-them-away-jk-rowling-gloria-steinem-noam-chomsky-150-others-decry-censorship-in/
TheWayDefeatBadIdeasByExposureArgumentPersuasionNotTryingSilenceWishThemAwayJKRowlingGloriaSteinemNoamChomsky150OthersPhotoCollageQuoteableQuoteHarpersLetterJusticeFreeSpeechMHProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/the-way-to-defeat-bad-ideas-is-by-exposure-argument-and-persuasion-not-by-trying-to-silence-or-wish-them-away-jk-rowling-gloria-steinem-noam-chomsky-150-others-decry-censorship-in/

 

Andy Gedo, in debating this writer on concerns raised here about purported antitrust violations operating in the manufactured housing industry, was a fine intellectual debater in several ways. Some simply revert to cheap shots and name calling in a debate. Make your opponent look or sound bad, and even if they are correct, they are nevertheless going to bring some nods of agreement – be those right or wrong. Gedo made several apt points. One is that in a highly consolidated industry, it is useful to look outside for examples that may apply.

 

AndyGedoPhotoManageAmericaManagerLogoManufacturedHousingInstitutememberQuoteAgreesManufacturedHousingIndustryNeedsContrariansDevilsAdvocates-ManufacturedHomeProNews

 

With that in mind, another contemporary analogy based on news and related events could be useful.

Stories about sexual abuse claims that pointed at Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby. Matt Lauer, or others were long denied and/or covered up. Counter narratives were advanced to protect key figures. But when the dam finally broke, they and others in media, business, or politics were toppled.

In hindsight, in the broader social context or for the look into how manufactured housing could be harmed by monopolistic forces, are there things to learn from those seemingly unrelated experiences? Logically, yes. Not only did media, entertainment, influence peddlers, and corporate figures became embroiled in previously obscured sexual abuse patterns. It also became known that Congress itself had what amounted to a slush fund that existed to pay off those staffers who had accused lawmakers of unwanted sexual advances.

‘The system’ protected itself. That protection or obscuring of information is brilliantly highlighted in the quote above from Schmitz and Fettig: “…monopolies often hide and disguise actions that lead to great harm…” Of course, they do!

The very purpose of the obscuring or hiding a scheme or other impropriety – monopolistic, RICO, sexual, a scam, or otherwise – is precisely to protect the operators of a given ploy.

 

The point?

Be it Schmitz and Fettig, MHProNews, or any others that may sincerely be aiming to expose an exploitative plot or illegalities, no one report should be considered as the be-all or end all of any given exposé or investigation.

In a range of fields including, but not limited to, manufactured housing, dental, financial services, retail, and more, billionaires and their big business interests had weaponized the media, legal, and political system to protect their respective interests.

Decades has passed since the breakup of the Bell System in telecom. What happened to antitrust in the interim? The system is rigged is part of the reply.

This is where the insights of researchers Schmitz and his colleagues comes into play. They explained that historically, Simons and Arnold said how monopolistic forces sabotage information as well as competitors.

These pull quotes Schmitz and his colleagues by are priceless in that respect. Indeed, these pull quotes alone are worth the price of admission and the time invested.

 

HowardZinnQuoteGeorgeOrwellSaidWhoeverControlsthePastControlsTheFutureHeMeantHistoryImportantShapingViewNextGenerationMHProNews
One can disagree with Howard Zinn’s views on American history while agreeing with the point made above. He is an example of the principle of separating the wheat from the chaff and why it should be equally applied to all people, organizations, and things.

 

From: “Monopolies Inflict Great Harm on Low- and Middle-Income Americans Henry Simons Thurman Arnold” – James A. Schmitz, Jr. Senior Research Economist are these compelling quotes.

Monopolies “possess tremendous power for exploiting the community at large and even for sabotaging the system.” Henry Simons1 A Positive Program for Laissez Faire, 1934

Monopolies “consolidate their power by destroying existing independent enterprise.” Thurman Arnold2 Labor Against Itself, 1943

The fundamental axiom [is] that in a monopoly economy luxuries expand while the necessities of life contract. . . . The exploitation of monopolies is always most dangerous in the things people cannot do without.” Thurman Arnold Robert La Follette Memorial Address, Univ. Of Wisconsin, 1942

Monopolies “enter into politics using money and economic coercion to maintain themselves in power, making alliances with other powerful groups against the interests of consumers and independent producers. In short, they will become a sort of independent state within a state, making treaties and alliances, expanding their power by waging industrial war, dealing on equal terms with the executive and legislative branches of the government and defying governmental authority if necessary with the self-righteousness of an independent sovereign.” Thurman Arnold Labor Against Itself, 1943

 

Schmitz and his colleagues may or may not be aware of the Washington Post report that arguably – obliquely – points to the very notion of HUD subverting manufactured housing in our own era. But the item below arguably bolters their claim, albeit from a different direction.

 

JulietEilperinWashPostQuotePamDannerLesliGoochLoisStarkeyMHARRManufacturedHousingInstituteRegulatoryReliefMHProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/major-shakeup-hud-manufactured-housing-program-danner-starkey-manufactured-housing-industry-regulators-associations-mhi-mharr-special-report/

 

In striving to revive a historic understanding of how monopolies and antitrust law were viewed decades ago, Schmitz and his colleagues are performing a significant service. Yes, there will be items that merit refinement with them, or here on MHProNews for that matter. But the presence or absence of some item that may merit mention or refinement should not be used to therefor brush aside all that is relevant, useful, and potentially good that is found in their work. They may have specific reasons for framing their report as they have.

That noted, once someone recognizes that information can be weaponized in a form that is tantamount to “sabotage,” several eye opening possibilities emerge. For example, when lobbying and the “revolving door” can become so incestuous as to form “Iron Triangles,” the aha moment begins to emerge.

 

LesliGoochPhDpicSchooledManufacturedHousingAdvocacyManufacturedHousingInstituteLOGOceoMeanderingMissiveManufacturedHomeFinancLunacyBetrayalClintonJonesPICFHFALOGOIronTriangleUnpacked
This isn’t HUD, it is FHFA. But the principle that Schmitz and Fettig make arguably applies. https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/lesli-gooch-ph-d-schooled-on-manufactured-housing-advocacy-manufactured-housing-institute-ceos-meandering-missive-on-manufactured-home-financing-lunacy/

 

Once that clarity of understanding – which requires time and a learning curve – takes place, then how those relate to what has been and continues to occur in our profession or others emerges. Because understanding is the first step of problem solving, clarity of understanding is not only useful, but absolutely necessary.

It is indisputable, for instance, that much of mainstream media has been consolidated into a few hands. Why is it then difficult to believe that those who own, influence, or control those media empires wield enormous influence that is hiding in plain sight?

 

The Lessons of History 

The benefit of biographical or historic studies is precisely in the notion that whatever has been done before can be mimicked or achieved or done again on some level. Buffett says he loves such reading. For those familiar with Buffettism and his slippery ‘castle and moat’ system, the simple statement ‘of course he does’ makes sense. Because the castle and moat are ways of describing how to coyly build a sabotage monopoly without calling it a sabotage monopoly.

 

TheresClassWarfareAllRightMyClassRichClassMakingWarWereWinning-WarrenBuffettQuotesBarackObamaPhotoFreedomAward
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/warren-buffett-declared-class-warfare-buffett-says-fellow-billionaires-were-winning/

Some quotes from those who have studied Buffett will illustrate.

 

RobinHardingPhotoFinancialTimesLogoWarrenBuffettDefintionGoodManagementIsClearIfYouHaveEffectiveCompetitorsYouAreDoingItWrongCastleMoatImageQuoteManufacturedHomeProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/monopolization-of-american-dream-telling-the-inside-story-of-home-ownership-gone-awry/

 

Robin Harding in the Financial Times crafted a compelling case that parallels parts of Schmitz and his colleagues research. Harding did so admitting that he once admired Buffett, before realizing – i.e.: the learning curve at work – how Buffett achieves his results.  Michael Lebowitz does similarly.  He points out how Buffett’s words often obscure their true meaning, what he calls a Walking Contradiction. 

 

MichaelLebowitzCFAPhotoRIALogoWalkingContradictionWarrenBuffettDontTrustHisWordsWatchHisBehaviorManufacturedHomeProNews
See CFA Lebowitz’s analysis at the link here: https://realinvestmentadvice.com/a-walking-contradiction-warren-buffett/ and see how we’ve applied that in our inquiry to Berkshire board member and attorney Ronald Olson at the link found further below.

 

Thus, when something from the past – say the Robber Baron era or a rigged election it has already happened – how can it be denied that it might occur once more?

 

TammanyHallRobberBaronsBuffettsBerkshireBHMediaGroupManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-706x768

 

The so-called Gilded Age or the dual motives for the Boston Tea Party are real and can be studied. It was not only the taxation without representation on the tea that inspired rebels in Boston to toss the tea into Boston Harbor. It was also the crown monopoly that backed that tea trade that was being decried, say certain historians who have studied the issues.

In France around that time, the thinker Fredric Bastiat blasted a monopoly “on education” – i.e. information. Thomas Jefferson supposedly hated much that the press of his era had to say. But Jefferson knew that the answer to bad speech was more accurate and precise speech.

 

https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/politics-downstream-from-culture-mad-as-hell-affordable-housing-and-manufactured-homes/

FredericBastiatQuoteAllMonopolisAreDestestableButWorstMonopolyOfEducationInformationEssaysPoliticalEconomyMHProNews
History does not specifically repeat, but there are echoes or similarities that make study of the past relevant to the present.

Davy crockett creditbastiateinstitutequotesgram postedmhpronews

 

HowLegalPlunderIdentifiedSeeIfLawBenefitsOneCitizenAtExpenseAnotherDoingWhatCitizenCantDoWithoutBreakingLawFredericBastiatGraphicStockMHLivingNews

 

Jefferson lamented the lack of a prohibition against monopoly in the U. S. Constitution.

 

DOJ-Ast-AntittrustAGMakanDelrahimThomasJeffersonQuoteAgainstMonopoliesPhotoPaintingImageManufacturedHomeProNews

 

Lies and misinformation by the American media were supposedly studied by Nazis to learn how to better propagandize the German people. “Yellow Journalism” was a well-known feature of America’s past. If it happened before, why not now?

The grand insight of Danny Glover in the award winning documentary drama, Shadows of Liberty, is precisely that information as well as access to capital can be monopolized. This parallels the point that Schmitz and his colleagues make.

 

DannyGloverQuoteItsNotOnlyAMonopolyOfWealthItsAmonopolyofInformationasWellDailyBusinessNewsMHproNEws
Danny Glover quote from the fascinating video documentary, Shadows of Liberty, you can stream it. The video reveals how corporate influences can suppress a story, or divert attention away from a developing scandal, etc. It also tends to highlight how public officials and media may collaborate in order to forge a narrative that the public buys into. 

 

If capital access can be monopolized, then so too can an economic sector – for instance, manufactured housing – be hobbled by restricting capital save through a limited number of channels. It is in that context that Schmitz and Fettig’s thinking and observations should be construed and valued. A brief postscript will follow. Because they are part of a larger group of thinkers who are pointing to how monopolistic practices are harming our profession, but also so many others. And in doing so, those who deploy “sabotage monopolies” are indeed silent spreaders of poverty and inequality. After all, that is the goal of saboteurs.

 

MONOPOLIES NOT ONLY SABOTAGE MARKETS, THEY ALSO INFILTRATE AND DAMAGE PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS TO ENRICH THEMSELVES.” – Schmitz and Fettig, from their research article, below.

Monopolies: Silent Spreaders of Poverty and Economic Inequality – ProMarket

 

BY JAMES A. SCHMITZ JR., DAVID FETTIG

August 14, 2020

The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the vast inequalities that exist within the US economy. Monopoly power should be at the top of policymakers’ list when they consider reforms to benefit our most vulnerable citizens.

It’s only been a few months since the United States was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, a significant health crisis that has laid bare other crises that face our nation—especially the economic vulnerabilities of the country’s poor and marginalized.

With Covid-19, we learned the ironic lesson that this country’s essential workers were often just one paycheck from going hungry or facing eviction. We’ve seen from up close large swaths of our nation that live in poverty. The pandemic has also highlighted inequality: Groups face vastly different abilities to protect themselves from infection, and, if infected, to survive.

As the US is marshaling its resources to limit the harm of the pandemic, the path forward is clear: Finding better ways to treat those with the disease, to limit deaths, and to find a vaccine to prevent further infections. As many Americans also call for reforms to alleviate poverty and inequality, we would do well to consider the proposals offered during the Great Depression—a period when the US faced similar challenges to today’s economic crises—by some of the greatest scholars and policymakers of the time, including Henry Simons, a leader in economics at the University of Chicago, and Thurman Arnold, the Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust for President Roosevelt (from 1938-43).

Simons presented his proposals for solving the economic crises of the 1930s in his A Positive Program for Laissez Faire. Among his proposals, Simons called for progressive taxation to limit inequality. Yet for Simons, the most important policy change to limit poverty and inequality was “the elimination of monopoly in all its forms.’’

Arnold shared this view. He described the lessons of the Great Depression as showing “The fundamental axiom [is] that in a monopoly economy luxuries expand while the necessities of life contract,’’ and “The exploitation of monopolies is always the most dangerous in the things people cannot do without.’’

What these scholars and policymakers also knew was that monopolies were widespread and took many forms, and were therefore often difficult to detect. Frank Knight, an early mentor of Simons and his colleague at the University of Chicago, observed: “The imperfections of the market, including monopoly of all kinds and bases, create power relations of infinite complexity as to kind and degree. They are by no means limited to ‘big business’ or to ‘trusts’…”

Simons and Arnold knew monopolies employed deceit and misinformation as they inflicted harm on the poor. Monopoly injury, then, could go undetected for years. Wendell Berge, who followed Arnold as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, wrote: “Monopoly conditions have often grown up almost unnoticed by the public until one day it is suddenly realized that an industry is no longer competitive but is governed by an economic oligarchy.’’

What was true of the 1930s is also true today. First, monopolies are a major source of poverty and inequality. Second, monopolies often hide and disguise actions that lead to great harm among low-income communities. To borrow from the pandemic’s lexicon, monopolies are silent spreaders of poverty and economic inequality.

As emphasized by Simons and Arnold, monopolies are concentrations of power formed by groups to enrich members, typically through illegal means. One method used by monopolists is to sabotage substitutes for the monopoly’s goods, typically low-cost substitutes that the poor would purchase. This leads to increased poverty. But since the sabotage disproportionately harms the poor, it also increases inequality. And today’s sabotage often goes unnoticed.

As for the harm inflicted by today’s monopolies, let’s begin with the most important good purchased by Americans: Housing. Today, the vast majority of US housing is produced using methods that have been around for centuries. It’s often called stick-built construction, a highly labor-intensive method of making houses. There is, of course, a much more efficient way to produce housing, a low-cost substitute: factory production of homes. The costs per square foot can be as much as one-third lower with factory methods.

There was a brief period, in fact, when US factory production flourished. Factory production of homes soared during the 1960s, reaching 60 percent of single-family production by early 1970, threatening the very existence of traditional builders, especially those constructing smaller houses purchased by lower-income Americans.

In response, monopolies of stick-builders, including the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), developed extensive weapons to sabotage and harm factory producers of houses. NAHB and HUD strangled the production of factory homes. Production collapsed in the 1970s.

Figure 1 shows the shipments of manufactured homes in the United States from 1947-2019. These homes represent a major part of factory-built homes in the United States each year. The surge in production during the 1960s, and its subsequent collapse in the 1970s, is evident.

 

HUDSubsidiesToConventionalStickBuildersHUDRegulationOfMobileHomesLaterTurnedIntoManufacturedHousingSchmitzFettigProductionShipmentGraphicProMarketMHProNews

 

Consider also legal services, where lawyer monopolies—that is, state bar associations—prohibit anyone who is not a member of the bar from providing legal counsel of any kind. This prevents paralegals, who could effectively provide advice on many issues, from practicing independently. The vast majority of lower-income Americans thus face hearings on evictions, child custody, and wage-theft without legal advice. The same is true of women who are victims of domestic violence.

In health care, monopolies inflict great harm on the poor in many industries, including oral healthcare, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and, of course, pharmaceuticals. In oral health care, monopolies of dentists prohibit the practice of dental therapists, professionals that treat cavities. They prevent hygienists from practicing independently of dentists. Hence, filling of cavities and teeth cleaning are more expensive in locations where they are provided. Much more importantly, it means the filling of cavities and teeth cleaning is not available in low-income areas, both rural and urban, since dentists are not practicing in many of these areas.

The experience of monopolies in oral health provides important lessons that pertain to most monopolies. The monopoly harm to high-income households, who live in areas where dentists practice, is higher prices, though this harm is small if not trivial for them. However, the harm to the poor is great and does not come from paying high prices, but rather from not consuming the goods at all.

While monopolies in oral health care have spread misinformation to hide their sabotage, other groups—including economists—have inadvertently contributed to this insidious concealment. In particular, in searching for monopoly harm, a major exercise is to look for “excessive” prices. But there are no markets, and hence no prices, in the areas where these monopolies inflict the greatest harm.

 

“MONOPOLIES NOT ONLY SABOTAGE MARKETS, THEY
ALSO INFILTRATE AND DAMAGE
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS TO ENRICH THEMSELVES.”

 

Another extremely important lesson is that many of the low-cost substitutes sabotaged by monopolies, like in oral health, have investment components to them. Hence, the poor are blocked from making investments in their households’ futures, pushing them further behind and into poverty.

Monopolies not only sabotage markets, they also infiltrate and damage public institutions to enrich themselves. Such monopolies were formed to sabotage black voting. These monopoly groups, in effect, infiltrated existing voting institutions and hijacked them for their own enrichment. As University of Maryland economist Mancur Olson argued: “… the first important special-interest coalitions [i.e., monopoly] that emerged in the South during and after Reconstruction were small, local, and white-only coalitions, sometimes without formal organization.” One consequence of these coalitions was that “The much weaker black population was in essence denied political organization and often the opportunity to vote through extra-legal coercion …’’

The monopolies that sabotaged black voting rights were to a large extent, as Olson tells us, informally organized. Among other groups, they consisted of hundreds of voting registrars across the south, throwing up roadblocks to black registration, as well as tens of thousands of those operating polling places that harassed those able to register. These groups acted out of the spotlight. We cannot even name the members of these monopolies that created such great harm.

 

HUDCodeManufacturedHomeDetachedGaragePhotoManufacturedHousingSabotageByHUD-NAHBSaysSchmitzFettigMHproNewsFactCheckAnalysisCommentary

When monopolies infiltrate and damage public institutions, the harm often “grows up unnoticed by the public.” The monopolies are not damaging markets, but institutions. Without markets, there are no prices. Again, the usual tool to diagnose monopolies is worthless. With no market, such concepts as ‘’concentration’’ have little meaning as well. These monopolies fly under the radar of such concepts. They spread harm silently.

Over the last decade or so, there has been an explosion in the study and concern over monopolies. Extremely large firms and concentrated industries are rightly a source of concern and, because of their size, attract a lot of attention.

However, we should not let these larger companies distract us from the many hidden monopolies that have silently spread harm to the poor for the last 100 years. Both Arnold and Simons, in fact, wrote about how monopolies in stick-built construction led to the housing crises of their era. When Arnold was at the Department of Justice, he indicted many of these monopolies for blocking the production of factory-made homes.

As argued in Schmitz (2020), the harm caused by monopolies that have mostly avoided detection—often existing in markets with small firms and low concentration levels, as in residential construction, or wreaking their harm in public institutions where prices and concentration have no meaning—very likely cause much greater harm to the poor than the great-sized firms.

The events of recent months have shined a bright light on the poverty and inequalities that exist in the US economy. Now is the time to consider all the many ways that our economic system is aligned against the poor, as well as many middle-income families. Monopoly power should be at the top of policymakers’ list when they consider reforms to benefit our most vulnerable citizens. ##

Related Posts:

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  3. The Monopoly Harms That Antitrust Keeps Missing

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WhyIsSeattleDyingAffordableHousingMisplacedCompassionandManufacturedHomes600x
In Why is Seattle Dying, our MHLivingNews sister site essentially asked the question, which is better? To have manufactured homes properly cited in neighborhoods where they are needed, or to witness an explosion of tent and cardboard encampments? https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/why-is-seattle-dying-affordable-housing-misplaced-compassion-and-manufactured-homes/

ManufacturedHousingMarketDataProductionShipmentsComparisonsToConventionalHousingRentalsNationalAssocRealtorsScholasticaGayCororatonMHProNewsInfographic

 

Postscript

It is not entirely clear if Schmitz and Fettig are aware of the connections between manufactured housing industry giants Clayton Homes (BRK), Skyline Champion (SKY), and Cavco Industries (CVCO) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). But those ties do exist. While the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) is not mentioned, how that fits into this picture – or the influence of other nonprofit groups that often get dark money funding from Buffett and his allies – also merits consideration.

 

ProsperityNowNonprofitsSustainJohnOliversMobileHomesVideoInTheirReportsManufacturedHomeProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/prosperity-now-nonprofits-sustain-john-olivers-mobile-homes-video-in-their-reports/

How that in turn fits with Kevin Clayton’s enthusiasm for Warren Buffett’s apparent use and endorsement of nonprofits in the broader Castle and Moat discussion also merits attention. Because these are arguably tool that fit the description by Schmitz and Fettig of sabotage monopoly practices.

 

IndivisbleLogoProsperityNowLogoMHActionLogoGeorgeSorosWarrenBuffettDonaldJTrumpMHProNewsMasthead
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/masthead/prosperity-now-protests-indivisible-project-warren-buffett-george-soros-potus-donald-trump-mhaction-and-manufactured-housing-following-the-money/
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MHAction has been documented to get funding from Warren Buffett and George Soros, through ‘dark money’ channels. See the evidence. https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/manufactured-housing-action-mhaction-funded-by-warren-buffett-chairman-of-private-equity-berkshire-hathaway/
WarrenBuffettAllyBillGatesPICIsGatesBillMelindaGatesFoundationLOGOTooPowerfulInfluentialReportNewGatesVideoExposeMHProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/masthead/warren-buffetts-ally-bill-gates-is-gates-and-his-bill-and-melinda-gates-foundation-too-powerful-and-influential-report-and-new-gates-video-expose/

DidntWantToMeetWarren[Buffett]BecauseGuyBuysSellsFoundImperfectMarketNotValueAddSocietyZeroSumGameParasiticBillGatesPhotoMicrosoftLogoGatesFoundationLogoQuoteQuotableQuoteMHproNews
There are times that these billionaires literally give the game away publicly. It was Bill Gates who said that he initially did not want to meet Warren Buffett because Buffett found imperfections in markets that he then exploited. But what did Gates in fact do? He and Buffett have become close financial, political, and nonprofit allies.
JudgeThosJacksonPICQuoteBillGatesHasNapoleonicComplexAppetitePowerDerivesPowerFromUnalloyedSuccessQuoteableQuoteMHProNews

RobertFKennedyJrPicQuoteAtBestGatesCampaignScarfUplandFeudalismInVogueAtWorstBuyingSpreeHarbingerAlarmingControlFoodSupplyMegalomaniacNapoleonicComplexMHProNewsLogo
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/monopolistic-napoleonic-complex-late-sen-robert-kennedys-son-devastating-detailed-analysis-of-warren-buffett-ally-bill-gates-plus-manufactured-home-inves/
RippingOffAmericanDreamFeudalismRisingWarrenBuffettBillGatesGeorgeSorosJeffBezosMarkZuckerbergPhotosBillionairesRiggedSystemMHLivingNews
Some months before discovering the arguably related stance of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on how a few billionaires are rigging the system in a fashion that benefits themselves and is causing a new feudalism to emerge, this report was published. https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/ripping-off-the-american-dream-feudalism-rising-warren-buffett-bill-gates-george-soros-other-billionaires-and-rigged-system/

Because millions are unaware of how a lack of manufactured housing harms the economy in general, MHProNews has for some years peered into other related researchers thinking to see what light in sheds on our profession’s plight.

 

Theymakeyouaslaveaneconomicslavejohnrucyahanaanglicanbishiprwandapovertyincdailybusinessnewsmhpronews 2
Still and quote from the docudrama Poverty, Inc.

 

While some readers from time to time complain that too much emphasis is being placed on this or that topic, if that is where the evidence is pointing to – with respect to manufactured housing’s decades of great potential but lack of performance in meeting that potential – then whatever seems useful will be examined. What is noteworthy is what MHProNews site data tells us. With millions of visits a year, there is often a nearly even mix of reader engagement on such issues as this one. We can’t predict which reports will go relatively speaking viral or not. But what is known is that in depth reports get surprisingly high engagement, despite what bloggers tend to think about the value of shorter posts.

Not only are longer posts that get into nuances and details popular reading, site data also tells us that the typical visitor reads multiple articles per visit. That ratio of engagement is higher than mainstream media, per third-party research.

While Schmitz and his colleagues could make refinements, as was noted in our report linked here, the value of their work is still to be applauded.

In reviewing their work, the legal research by Samuel Strommen at Knudson Law is also useful.

 

SouthDakotaUCoyotesKnudsonSchoolLawLogosSamStrommenMonopolizationManufacturedHousingREITsRubeGoldbertMachineHumanSufferingMHProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/bombshell-buffett-berkshire-clayton-homes-21st-vanderbilt-specific-mhi-members-ripped-felony-monopolization-of-the-american-manufactured-home-industry/

 

The fact that Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, their related lending, or officials at HUD – among others who were asked to comment and react – have remained deafeningly silent is noteworthy.

 

MachineHumanSufferingBerkshireClaytonLOGOManufacturedHousingInstRonOlsonLawrenceCunninghamJohnGreinerResponseMTOGWUGraydonLawLogosAllegationsFelonyAbusesKnudsonLawReportStrommen
https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/machine-of-human-suffering-berkshire-hathaways-clayton-homes-manufactured-housing-institute-attorneys-response-to-allegations-felony-abuses-knudson-law/

 

It remains to be seen if those who pre-election 2020 were championing the need to break monopolies up will be as vigorous now that a new regime has come into office. Indeed, it might be surprising if they did so. Why? Because those that claimed that they were pushing for antitrust enforcement to break up monopolies are often getting campaign donations directly and/or through other channels from the very forces that would be the targets of antitrust action.

There are an array of voices across various disciplines that are pointing to often the same cast of characters. They may or may not use a phrase like “sabotage monopoly.” But what they are describing is the same thing as is applied to their specific field of interest.

The methods and harms must be understood in order for them to be ended. If there is hope that history might repeat in a revived antitrust break up movement in the 21st century that mirrors prior successes from the 19th or 20th centuries, it will be articles and research like those reviewed that could help move enough souls to do what is necessary, right, and just. Otherwise, the slow motion “moat” builders will only continue to grow stronger until we wake up in an even more Orwellian world than we already live in.

 

NationalHomeOwnershipRates1990to2020NAHBEyeOnHousingWith2000to2020ArrowMHProNews
During both Democratic and Republican administrations, despite claims by both that they desire to see more home ownership, the overall rate in the U.S. is lower today than in 2000. This is but one of several possible examples of why failure to implement the 2000 Reform law matters. https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/whistleblower-hud-nominee-marcia-fudge-senators-collusion-coordinated-by-manufactured-housing-institute-video-mhi-evidence/

ItsJustAsWrongUseN-wordN-gerDescribeBlackAsUseT-WordTrailerToDescribeManufacturedHomeRevDonaldTyeJrQuotePhotoQuotableQuoteMHProNews

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Revdonaldtyejrquotesmanufacturedhousingindustrydailybusinessnewsmhpronews

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NothingIsChangedUntilItisChallengedSoheylaKovachLATonyKovachTamasKovachRevDonaldTyeJrPhotos

ManufacturedHousingIndustryMarketShareData2018Uploaded2019MHProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/clayton-homes-skyline-champion-cavco-industries-other-leading-hud-code-manufactured-housing-industry-market-share-data/
UnderstandingWarrenBuffettCastleMoatMetaphorsQuotesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews
Since Buffett-led Berkshire bought Clayton, the industry is actually smaller today than then. How is that possible, during an affordable housing crisis, unless they wanted it to be so?

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https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/trump-administration-asked-to-withdraw-brian-d-montgomery-nomination-over-conflicts-of-interest/

 

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Stay tuned for more of what is ‘behind the curtains’ as well as what is obvious and in your face reports. It is all here, at the runaway largest and most-read source for authentic manufactured home “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)

CongRepAlGreenDeskTamasKovachLATonyKovachPhoto12.3.2019ManufacturedHomeProNews
All on Capitol Hill were welcoming and interested with the discussion of manufactured housing related issues on our 12.3.2019 meetings. But Texas Congressman Al Green’s office was tremendous in their hospitality. Our son’s hand is on a package that included the Constitution of the United States and other goodies. MHProNews has worked with people and politicos across the left-right divide.

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.

http://latonykovach.com

Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

 

Related References:

The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.

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