Generally, before the start of each session of a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) business meeting, there is a brief reference made the antitrust guidelines. This, say experts, is important on several levels.
MHI has produced a handout, linked here, which includes the following sentence.
“The general requirements of the antitrust laws prohibit any agreement to restrict trade between competitors.”
That begs the question. What constitutes a restraint of trade? As our Sunday morning topic that leads into our weekly headlines-in-review, the Daily Business News on MHProNews discovered the following doing some basic research.
“restraint of trade
- action that interferes with free competition in a market.”
There can be in contract law both licit and illicit restraint of trade. For example, if you hire an employee, teach that person the business, and had them sign a non-compete agreement that covers a reasonable time frame (two years is common) after a possible separation, that might be a legal restraint on trade. Check with an attorney for details.
But price fixing or other efforts at manipulating or rigging the marketplace is not a legal restraint on trade.
“Restraints of trade is a common law doctrine relating to the enforceability of contractual restrictions on freedom to conduct business. It is a precursor of modern competition law,” said Wikipedia
Here’s how the FindLaw website describes the matter.
“At the most basic level, “restraint of trade” is any activity that prevents another party from conducting business as they normally would without such a restraint. For instance, two businesses agreeing to fix prices in order to put another competitor out of business is an illegal restraint of trade.”
Rottenstein Law said:
“Restraint of trade is an economic injury that involves interfering with another person’s ability to do business freely. Restraint of trade is part of antitrust law…”
So if a company or person is ‘INJURED’ or HARMED by a restraint of trade, or the threat of a restraint of trade that can be the cause of action by civil, state or federal authorities. Note that under civil law, some causes of action – which can at times be handled by an attorney working on a contingency fee basis in a firm that specializes in such cases – can result in 3x damages to the injury incurred. Do you think that may be why those in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis aren’t too keen to confess possible misdeeds?
Here’s another example, from Business Dictionary, that covers possibly licit actions.
“Legal contract between a buyer and a seller of a business, or between an employer and employee, that prevents the seller or employee from engaging in a similar business within a specified geographical area and within a specified period.”
Finally this morning, there is this pull quote from US Legal.
“Restraint of trade means any activity which tends to limit trade, sales and transportation in interstate commerce or has a substantial impact on interstate commerce.”
There’s more on all of these, but that gives industry readers and investors a better sense.
Now think about restraint of trade in terms of what the Mobile Home Militia or #MHM has recently alleged. This is the latest allegation from that group. See that report under the Masthead, further below.
Or ponder antitrust laws in terms of what the document from 21st Mortgage, the quotes from Warren Buffett, and what Kevin Clayton said in the video on this page stated.
Is attempting to interfere with the free communication of business information – say an organized or quiet boycott of a business publication – a possible restraint of trade? Engaged Scholarship says “Protest Boycotts as Restraints of Trade under the Sherman Antitrust Act…” So, yes.
Note that tying, boycotts, restraint of trade, and other such practices that are cited under various antitrust laws have been called for by purported surrogates of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). Some of the have been published, others were done verbally, by email, and so on.
With those thoughts in mind, now look more closely at what MHI’s own antitrust document said about possible, once more linked here as a download for your convenience. Also, ask yourself this. Why has MHI refused to turn over documents that may reflect other possible conflicts of interests between their ‘elected’ leaders and the actions of the trade group?
Hundreds of millions of dollars in fines were reported in 2018 alone by the Department of Justice (DoJ), see November Rain, by the DoJ’s top antitrust cop in the article linked further below. Keep in mind that not only are fines possible under antitrust laws, but federal law gives the government the power to break up a firm engaged in monopolistic practice.
With the breakup of monopolies in mind, while we disagree with Senator Elizabeth Warren on several issues, on that topic, she and her campaign could do the nation a favor. More on that, linked here and here. Once more, we take a ‘wheat and a chaff’ approach to each person, each group. Accept whatever is good – like wheat – but reject what is not – like chaff.
When you look at manufactured housing through the lens of market manipulation, it may become more clear why the industry is still well below historic norms. That is based upon data that the Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute’s own members have produced.
The SPJ is the Society of Professional Journalists. “The SPJ’s code of ethics states that journalists should “seek truth and report it” and that “journalists should be honest, fair, and courageous…” In fairness, we routinely reach out to those we are researching.
MHProNews’ dares speak ‘truth to power’ and hold the powerful to account.
That’s a traditional and respected roll of media.
We are not a trade organization, which is why we’ve encouraged the formation of a new post-production trade group, given the apparent failure of current post-production leadership over the course of many years. The National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) came to birth in 2018, stating their dismay over years of MHI promises without fulfilment. Years before, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) was born to deal with issues that MHI was failing to address for independent producers of HUD Code homes. That said, we respect the right of those who freely want to be members of MHI. There is another question about just how ‘free’ some of those decision are, but we’ll look at RICO law and related another time.
What will happen for other post-production groups? Will retailers, lenders, suppliers or others organize, as NAMHCO and MHARR have done? Stay tuned. Keep in mind that most industry have numerous trade groups, manufactured housing is odd in that it has so few. Is that also a possible reason why the industry is constrained in its growth?
In the meantime, see the reasons for growing alarm and frustration, among a variety of other reports. Below you will find the good news, the bad, and the ugly. Because while we aren’t SPJ members, we seek the truth and report it, coupling it with expert analysis you won’t find anywhere else in manufactured housing.
As usual, we don’t create a text-linked image box for each report, but we never do a topic that we don’t think has relevance to manufactured housing investors and professionals. With no further adieu, let’s dive into the week that was from 3.10.2019 to 3.17.2019.
What’s New on the Masthead
- Mobile Home Militia – “Clayton [Homes] Wants Your Cornbread Too” “Join the Revolution” – ‘You Gotta Have Swagger’
What’s New from MHLivingNews
Celebrities, Millionaires, Billionaires and Their Appealing Manufactured Homes – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
There’s an incongruity stirring in most of the U.S. and Canada. Hundreds of millions think of mobile and manufactured homes as housing built for the poor or lower middle class. Really? Tell that to the celebrities, millionaires, and billionaires who own and love their manufactured and mobile homes. Don’t get me wrong.
What’s New from Washington, DC based MHARR
What’s New on the Daily Business News from MHProNews
- Prefabulous by Clayton Homes, Behind the Scenes of Manufactured Housing’s Powerhouse “Have it Made” Campaign
- “I Can’t Think of a Good Reason to Keep People from Buying Affordable Housing” – Manufactured Home Industry Voices Video
- Historic Welfare Reform Can Spur More Worker Availability, Save Taxpayers, Expert Analysis – plus Manufactured Housing Industry Market Updates
- For Profits (and Goodness) Sake! Educate Your Manufactured Home Team Mates
- “November Rain” – DoJ’s Top Antitrust Cop – Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim ABA Speech on Antitrust Enforcement for Americans
- Court Ruling on Sierra Club vs Rick Perry DOE on Manufactured Home Energy Regulations, Constitutional Law Professor, MHARR Weigh In
- Tim Williams, PBS News’ Bad Bargain, Manufactured Housing Institute, Buffett’s Mirror, and Clayton’s Costume
- Minnie Driver, Millionaires, and Billionaires – Debunking “Housing for the Poor” Image of Manufactured Housing
- Howard Schultz Serious About 2020 Independent Run, Outlines Plans, plus Manufactured Housing Equities Updates
- Investors, Professionals, Planners, Advocates – Examining Affordable Manufactured Home Industry Market Potential
- “Tug of War” – Manufactured Home Community Legislation – “Vicious Cycle Goes On,” Impacting Industry, Home Owners, and Potential Buyers
- Raucous Caucus, Democratic Reality Check by Speaker Pelosi, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, plus MH Market Updates
- “Warren Buffett has Another Headache” from Berkshire Hathaway Owned Brand, Says NY Post “it ain’t from a Dairy Queen Blizzard.”
- DTS Manufactured Home Lending Committee Member Says MHI in “Unholy Alliance” to Divert Needed GSE Support Away from Manufactured Housing
- No Impeachment Says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-D), Trump 2020 Budget Rollout, Plus Manufactured Housing Stock Updates
- Apt Warning for Manufactured Housing Professionals, MH Customers, by Award Winning Journalist Sharyl Attkisson, TEDx
That just about does it for this weekly recap. Let’s note again that we respect the fifth amendment right to remain silent. We respect as well the rights of others to speak up, via the link below.
See the related reports immediately and further below the by line, notices, and business development offers.
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Both of these messages are from the same person. There will be an upcoming report with on-the-record comments from an MHI board member. The company of the professional quoted below has been a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member for a number of years, and is not a member of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).
“The Illusion of Motion Versus Real-World Challenges” | Manufactured Housing Association Regulatory Reform
Motion – or, more accurately, activity – in and of itself, is not necessarily synonymous with, or equivalent to, realprogress, or, in fact, any progress at all.