“What is truth?”
– Pontius Pilate
per John 18:38
“You can’t handle the truth! …
You don’t want the truth because deep down in places
you talk about at parties; you want me on that wall, you need me
on that wall! We use words like honor, code, loyalty,
We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending
something, you use them as a punch line.”
– Colonel Nathan R. Jessup,
fictional character from the movie
A Few Good Men.
“There’s nothing mean or villainous about stating
the truth. In fact, most appreciate it when you do.”
– Kurt Kelley, JD,
financial services provider, to MHProNews.
“…Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
– Jesus of Nazareth,
per John 8:32 NIV
“Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming.”
– Nick Hanauer
Who wrote in Politico
“To: My Fellow Zillionaires. You probably don’t know me,
but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist.”
The essence of Nick Hanaurer’s message could be boiled down to this notion. There is more money to be made the right way than the wrong way. Furthermore, doing it the right way will avoid a violent revolt. That’s part of what this report will explore.
A plutocrat, per Google’s online dictionary, is “a person whose power derives from their wealth.” It is similar to an oligarch, which is “a very rich business leader with a great deal of political influence.”
A fascinating point is increasingly being raised by people on the political left and the political right. Democrats and Republicans alike are saying that “the system is rigged.” Nick Hanauer, who will be referenced quite a bit in this report, is uber-rich because of investing early on with Jeff Bezos in Amazon and for selling another company he started to Bill Gates led Microsoft for over $6 billion dollars in cash.
From Tom Steyer to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg or President Donald J. Trump, the number of billionaires who are now openly in politics is perhaps surprising. But billionaires behind the scenes is nothing new. Speaking of Bloomberg, per Fox Business, is now said to be prepared to spend not just $1 billion dollars of his estimated $53 billion dollar fortune to unseat President Trump, but is said to be ready to spend $2 billion in his bid to have himself or another Democrat take the White House in 2020.
There are, as former President Barack Obama has said on several occasions, two entirely different set of ways people view America, that often vary according to which news source is followed.
As trade publishers that follow news across the left-right media divide, there is no doubt that media often has an agenda. Frankly, we do too. Our agenda is pro-affordable manufactured housing, pro-consumer, pro-manufactured homeowner or community resident, and pro-independent ethically operated ‘white hat’ businesses. We believe that the unsaid part of the quote from Jesus above is in several ways essential to the conversation in America. “If you follow my teachings, then you will truly be my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).
This site has a majority Christian audience, because the U.S. and Canada are mostly self-described Christians. But that doesn’t mean that Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists agnostics, atheists or others are excluded. As political independents, we’ve pulled thoughts from Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and others. We periodically remind readers of various festivals and historic celebrations with both religious and political connections. An upcoming example is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, who himself pointed to the celebration of Christmas and the message of Jesus. To say that the founders of America were flawed is to also say that Dr. King was flawed, because they were. This writer is imperfect and so are our readers. If you or we were perfect, we wouldn’t be needing to read or write at all, would we?
Thus, wisdom should be to find the wheat and separate it from the chaff. The wheat from Nick Hanauer will follow, with a few points of critique to illustrate what’s lacking and why that matters to industry professionals, investors and public officials.
What’s wrong in manufactured housing is a microcosm of what’s wrong in America. For his flaws, former President Bill Clinton (D) had some powerful one-liners. So too have other presidents that span the political spectrum, including President Trump.
With that introduction, let’s look at some powerful pull quotes from Hanauer’s:
“The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats.” In doing so, let’s stress that MHProNews, while believing in the right to self-defense and all that goes with that, should always be understood as trying to avoid violence, which Hanauer understandably believes is coming if there is no change. After the pull quotes, we will tie some of those thoughts together in our analysis with the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. day, which is celebrated this year on Monday, January 20, 2020.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr. Ph.D.
Paraphrasing Hanauer, he says that if the current plutocratic economic system isn’t reformed, history says there will inevitably be two outcomes. Either a police state or a swatch of the population will grab their pitchforks and go after the uber rich. But the billionaire makes another apt point, which is that the billionaires would be wise to recognize that paying workers more benefits everyone, the rich included. He argues for a sustainable corporate model, not one based solely on what he describes as greed by the few at the top.
So, here are some pull quotes from a column he wrote for Politico in 2014, during the Obama Administration, in which he lightly critiques the former president too, along with other Democrats and Republicans. Each bullet is a quotation from the article linked above. They are not necessarily in the same order as was originally published.
- “Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.”
- “Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly.”
- “If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.”
- “The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is.”
- “…so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer.”
- “The model for us rich guys here should be Henry Ford, who realized that all his autoworkers in Michigan weren’t only cheap labor to be exploited; they were consumers, too. Ford figured that if he raised their wages, to a then-exorbitant $5 a day, they’d be able to afford his Model Ts.
- What a great idea. My suggestion to you is: Let’s do it all over again.”
- “Which is why the fundamental law of capitalism must be: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators. Which means a thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around.”
- “Because here’s an odd thing. During the past three decades, compensation for CEOs grew 127 times faster than it did for workers. Since 1950, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio has increased 1,000 percent, and that is not a typo. CEOs usedto earn 30 times the median wage; now they rake in 500 times. Yet no company I know of has eliminated its senior managers, or outsourced them to China or automated their jobs. Instead, we now have more CEOs and senior executives than ever before. So, too, for financial services workers and technology workers. These folks earn multiples of the median wage, yet we somehow have more and more of them.”
- “In any large group, some people absolutely will not do the right thing. That’s why our economy can only be safe and effective if it is governed by the same kinds of rules as, say, the transportation system, with its speed limits and stop signs.”
- “Wal-Mart is our nation’s largest employer with some 1.4 million employees in the United States and more than $25 billion in pre-tax profit. So why are Wal-Mart employees the largest group of Medicaid recipients in many states?”
- “There can never be enough super-rich Americans to power a great economy. I earn about 1,000 times the median American annually, but I don’t buy thousands of times more stuff. My family purchased three cars over the past few years, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. I bought two pairs of the fancy wool pants I am wearing as I write, what my partner Mike calls my “manager pants.” I guess I could have bought 1,000 pairs. But why would I? Instead, I sock my extra money away in savings, where it doesn’t do the country much good.”
- “So forget all that rhetoric about how America is great because of people like you and me and Steve Jobs. You know the truth even if you won’t admit it: If any of us had been born in Somalia or the Congo, all we’d be is some guy standing barefoot next to a dirt road selling fruit.”
- “It’s not that Somalia and Congo don’t have good entrepreneurs. It’s just that the best ones are selling their wares off crates by the side of the road because that’s all their customers can afford.”
- “Republicans and Democrats in Congress can’t shrink government with wishful thinking. The only way to slash government for real is to go back to basic economic principles: You have to reduce the demand for government.”
- “If people are getting $15 an hour or more, they don’t need food stamps. They don’t need rent assistance. They don’t need you and me to pay for their medical care. If the consumer middle class is back, buying and shopping, then it stands to reason you won’t need as large a welfare state. And at the same time, revenues from payroll and sales taxes would rise, reducing the deficit.”
- “This is, in other words, an economic approach that can unite left and right. Perhaps that’s one reason the right is beginning, inexorably, to wake up to this reality as well. Even Republicans as diverse as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum recently came out in favor of raising the minimum wage, in defiance of the Republicans in Congress.”
- “One thing we can agree on—I’m sure of this—is that the change isn’t going to start in Washington. Thinking is stale, arguments even more so. On both sides.”
- “But the way I see it, that’s all right. Most major social movements have seen their earliest victories at the state and municipal levels. The fight over the eight-hour workday, which ended in Washington, D.C., in 1938, began in places like Illinois and Massachusetts in the late 1800s. The movement for social security began in California in the 1930s.”
- “Sadly, no Republicans and few Democrats get this. President Obama doesn’t seem to either, though his heart is in the right place. In his State of the Union speech this year, he mentioned the need for a higher minimum wage but failed to make the case that less inequality and a renewed middle class would promote faster economic growth. Instead, the arguments we hear from most Democrats are the same old social-justice claims. The only reason to help workers is because we feel sorry for them. These fairness arguments feed right into every stereotype of Obama and the Democrats as bleeding hearts. Republicans say growth. Democrats say fairness—and lose every time.”
In the 2019 Ted Talk posted above, Hanauer advanced a few interesting notions in his proposed new economic model.
- “Successful economies are not jungles they are gardens.”
- Inclusion creates economic growth.
- The economy is people. Including more people in more ways is what causes economic growth
- “Greed is not good. Being rapacious doesn’t make you a capitalist it makes you a sociopath.”
- Economics are a choice, not a law like physics.
Unpacking Hanauer – MHProNews Analysis, Commentary and Manufactured Housing Applications
As with almost all human thought, other than divinely inspired thinking, Hanauer is a mix of wheat and chaff. Several of his facts, akin to say Senator Bernie Sanders, are correct. But some of what he left out begs questions. Citing even several correct facts don’t necessarily mean a correct total conclusion or analysis.
Part of Hanauer’s plea is for workers to make more, fine. But he stresses a mandated higher pay. On January 2, 2020, left-of-center CNBC said this about the effects of Seattle’s higher minimum wage.
“Overall, implications for businesses and workers alike have been nuanced. While there are benefits for workers who saw higher pay, others may have seen fewer hours. Some businesses flourished, while others struggled in the face of greater regulation and intense competition in the city’s hot economy.”
That CNBC report went on to say that there is “No consensus among economists
Studies of the effects of the Seattle wage hike have had different findings: A 2017 University of Washington study found that while wages went up, hours worked declined, resulting in less pay for low-wage workers.”
What arguably makes more sense is to establish the economic conditions that allow smaller businesses to earn more, which allows them to pay more. It is the smaller business, says federal and other research, that has historically created the most jobs. But that has slowed in the modern era, arguably in part because the more complex the regulatory and other barriers have become, the harder it is for a business to start up, or stay profitable and operational.
Beyond the mandated minimum wage issue versus foster conditions that truly lift all boats, there are other points that Hanauer missed.
By intention or design, Hanauer fails to address how the Amazon he and Jeff Bezos profited from so well became the powerhouse that it is today.
Government enacted laws during the Clinton Administration that benefited internet businesses. Yes, some early internet firms worked while others didn’t. But not having to collect sales tax, for example, gave Amazon an edge that has only recently been taken away. Meanwhile, thousands of smaller independent local businesses were harmed.
Hanauer is quite correct in saying that workers need to be paid more and that it makes no sense to allow wages so low that the workers are getting taxpayer funded benefits. But fellow Democrat Robert Reich made a case of how consolidation and monopolization are undermining pay as well as choices. See the deeper dive into that topic, linked below.
What Hanauer, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and others are often do is the following. They state useful facts about income inequality or the like that get their audiences nodding. But then the solution that they propose, perhaps not surprisingly, tend to defend their own economic moats. More on that in a few moments.
Hanauer is correct in saying that “Being rapacious doesn’t make you a capitalist it makes you a sociopath.” Greed must be tempered by law and moral restraint. It is popular in some circles to slam George Washington and all of the founding fathers, but it is noteworthy that several of the black leaders in America embraced the good, applauded advancements, while rejecting what was wrong. Wheat and chaff. To do otherwise is to hate one’s ancestors and heritage. It is there to learn from and be inspired by. Both bad or good should inspire correct actions.
The solution is thus in good measure understanding what makes for a healthier society and the enforcement of the laws that make that possible.
Instead of Hanauer questioning:
- the failure to enforce antitrust laws,
- or the ways minimum wages are subverted by outsourcing jobs or via illegal immigrants being paid less,
- Hanauer falls back on the trite response of charge more taxes to the rich or mandating a minimum wage that indeed may hurt some smaller businesses.
The very reason to unpack and analyze some of the thinking of corporate leaders like Hanauer is to find if there is something new there which addresses or misses root causes and the needed solutions.
- Ever higher taxes
- Heavier versus more reasonable regulations
- Favorable or unfavorable media and messaging
- Regulations or enforcement that picks winners and losers,
those are closer to the heart of the problem.
Unmentioned or under-emphasized in much of his thesis is how outsourcing, illegal immigration or a lack of enforcement of current laws have long been fueling the very issues that the tech-online billionaire has raised. By enforcing good laws and preventing the undermining of the U.S. economy, wages would rise. And sure, it makes sense to pay your workers more any time that is possible.
Yesterday on 1430 AM, talk radio personality Todd Herman said that there are those in Washington who fear the public becoming wise to just how corrupted the system has become. Interestingly, he said that a congressman told him that if the citizens understood how corrupt Washington is, they would be coming with pitchforks.
So once more, on the left and right, there are observations and predictions made that often fit certain facts or historic trends.
The Magic of Manufactured Housing?
Manufactured housing is uniquely poised to be of service to large swatches of the population.
The federal laws needed to provide access to more manufactured housing are already on the books. They need but be enforced.
The laws with respect to antitrust activity – anti-monopolization laws – are just waiting to be used.
It isn’t the point of this column to read Hanauer’s secret thoughts, why he would say so much well and then miss such obvious points as those noted herein. But it is worth noting that in that, he is not alone. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and others among the uber-rich are playing a similar game.
Wealth is not being condemned in this column, so long as it is honestly earned. It is wealth earned by rigging the system that is rightly being called out.
It is normally the work of trade associations to advance the collective efforts of an industry. That can and should be done in a manner that doesn’t foster consolidation or other problematic issues.
Manufactured housing laws were passed by widely bipartisan margins. That was done with joint efforts when the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) joined the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) to back the passage of good laws that protected consumers and supported more affordable housing.
But those laws are not being properly enforced. The result is historically low levels of manufactured housing sales.
As a June 2, 2017 article published on MHProNews cited Bob Crawford, then president of famous and award-winning Dick Moore Housing said: “For years, we have wondered WHY there was so little pro-industry advocacy from MHI to government movements, proposals, rules, etc. that were [often] not in the best interest of this industry.”
Dick Moore Housing is one of those A+ rated Better Business Bureau operations that has been in business for some 62 years. There are no complaints – not even closed ones – shown on their website record as of this writing.
There will be a special report planned that will spotlight a problem with respect to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and a top personality there that was revealed by an insider news tip that used documents to make their point. Stay tuned. Once that is published, it will be linked up from this report.
Only the truth will set the white hat independents and ethically minded investors of manufactured housing free. Only ethical behavior by industry professionals will merit the support of public officials, who will otherwise act to punish bad actors, as reports like the one below reflect.
What is certain is that MHI’s outgoing president said that a key had to be for the industry to provided great service to consumers.
The pitchforks or a police state are coming, warns Hanauer. He is right in saying that a properly functioning market isn’t a dog-eat-dog jungle, rather, it is a well-tended garden. He is also arguably correct in saying the following.
With respect to manufactured housing that’s rooted and supported by facts MHProNews and our MHLivingNews sister site have spotlighted.
The only way to effect positive change is to understand the cause of a problem and then to dare to challenge the status quo with the truth. That truth should then be followed by intelligent action based upon reality, not fantasy. See the related reports, below the byline and notices.
As usual, there is always more information and insights ahead. That’s all she wrote for this Saturday installment of manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips and Views Pros Can Use“ © – MHVille’s runaway #1 news source, where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (News, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary.) Notice: all third party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.Soheyla is a co-founder and managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. Connect with us on LinkedIn here and here.
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.