Preface/programming note. This article will tee up a major report that uses at its core several third-party researched items later today. It is also worth noting that while analogies can be useful to make a point that can spark a ‘aha moment,’ all analogies limp to some degree. With those notices made, let’s dive into the headline topic.
There is no lack of movies that can be watched on cable or streamed that feature some aspect of the big con. A classic that fueled the genre was “The Sting.” It is from that movie that this video clip is shown, and the quote in the headline is from that movie clip.
For some years, MHProNews has done the public mea culpa as well as made amends often about not initially seeing what was happening before the HUD Code industry’s very eyes. There is an expression that sometimes the best place to hide is in plain sight. Think about that maxim as you ponder the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis and their machinations.
Think about The Sting, The Grifters, Ocean’s Eleven, Matchstick Men, or any number of movies about con artists. Then seriously ponder is there an aspect of the big con at play in our manufactured housing industry? Is there an illusion, as the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform has called it, that keeps the industry underperforming? How inept can the industry’s so-called leaders be?
Beyond fictional movies, now ponder as well real-world big cons.
For years, Bernie Madoff pulled off a multiple billionaire dollar con job right under the noses of federal regulators. There were warnings, but they were brushed off. About $50 billion was the amount that Madoff made off with, per investigators that finally brought him to justice.
The Echo Chamber in Manufactured Housing
There is another expression. In the world of illusion, misdirection, and propaganda, it is useful to set up an echo chamber. Line up media allies. Or on one level from the vantage point of a big con in manufactured housing, it might be better yet to buy off and/or establish your own network or misinformation in the industry’s bloggers and trade media. Given the scope of the prize, the investment in controlling most industry trade media is peanuts.
Blogger George F. Allen has previously ripped MHI, Clayton, and other big boys in MHVille. Allen warned his readers about the monopolization and consolidation of the industry.
Now, Allen is muted on those issues, more nuanced, and part-time praises the very people he previously called out. Allen called it conspiracies and monopolies some four years ago. But after a reported deal some months ago with MHI, Allen’s flip-flopped without explaining why his previous claims were in any way wrong. Doesn’t Allen and his puppet-masters realize that some profesionals pay attention to details?
In several ways, Allen is arguably the polar opposite of what occurred with MHProNews. While out publisher questioned several oddities in MHI behavior for years, doubting that there was a sinister plot, it did not dawn on our leadership that what was at play in manufactured housing was a big con job backed by various potentially illegal activities. By contrast, if one reads old Allen and then reads his newer stuff, he clearly has flip flopped, per sources, depending on who pays or rewards him in various forms or fashions.
But let’s note that further below, there are reasons to believe that what is occurring in manufactured housing is more than just a con job that is tending to monopolize the industry. That said, let’s move on.
The industry is fragmented into several camps. There are those who acknowledge that MHI is ineffective, but don’t necessarily think that it has become a de facto front for big boys manipulating the system in MHVille. That several MHI members, past or present, have called out MHI for misinformation or ineffective leadership is self-evident by quotes like the following.
That lawmakers and feds are investigating various aspects of the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis in some form or fashion is evident by the linked reports that follow.
While this article is focusing more on the con angle, let us not forget that state association executives – MHEC members – have told MHProNews on various occasions of pressure placed on them to two the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington party line, though it was phrased differently.
It takes skill, corruption – or a coy plan – to be as inept as the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) is at promoting their own industry.
Rephrased, there are aspects of this con that could be deemed RICO violations by discerning investigators. Pressure that uses threats is a form of extortion. Misinformation, deception, and threats that are mailed or ‘use the wires’ are covered by RICO and other laws.
MHProNews’ publisher has invited senior MHI, Clayton, 21st and a Berkshire Hathaway board member and some of their outside or inside attorneys to engage in a public dialogue, discussion, Q&A or debate on these issues. In the past two years, there have been no takers, but previously these very people praised our publications and routinely responded promptly.
When asking MHI toadies MHInsider or George Allen to debate these issues on behalf of their purported puppet masters, they too decline. If they are so confident, why decline? Publisher Kurt Kelley, who has his own controversy now, didn’t deny the concerns. Rather, Kelley said his publication is not going to investigate them.
In the absence of direct input from MHI or others, and to provide balance and fact-checks, MHProNews has instead often used lengthy quotes in full context from documents and/or videos by Kevin Clayton, Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway, and MHI. These have been scrutinized – the words or claims vs. the outcomes of actual actions. What has emerged is arguably a directly unchallenged picture of an industry that has been enticed, pressured, cajoled, misled, and conned into underperformance that results in consolidation. Arguable antitrust violations are involved too.
Allen is among those who has fallen all over himself to attempt to undermine our fact checks, but only through name calling, or demands that we be ‘boycotted,’ which ironically may be deemed an antitrust violation too. Arguably his behaivor is hypocritical – as noted and linked in related reports above – as Allen flipped on these topics, seemingly rewarded by MHI, as sources have told MHProNews. He won’t confirm or deny that, perhaps because of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) which MHI insiders have told MHProNews is common. While MHInsider has steered clear of these issues directly, they have praised Allen and promoted him. Coincidences?
Making the Complex, Simple
It is a tangled web. But it can be made crystal clear in a simple way. It is this. The industry is misunderstood and underperforming. Then why hasn’t MHI taken the advice of its own past Chairman Tim Williams?
Is it because Buffett and the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis has established a web of misdirection and misinformation so effectively that they can say such obvious truths and yet not expect people to actually notice that they are not doing what they themselves have said need to be done?
While state AGs and federal officials are lining up against big tech, one must wonder what are the under-the-surface maneuvers surrounding the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis?
Watch for a special report later this morning, laced with new details by third-party research. That research review will only be found in manufactured housing here on MHProNews.
But as you read this, or ponder what is next, remind yourself of this question. What is the point of every con job? Isn’t it to separate the mark or planned victim from something of value?
In an affordable housing crisis, with manufactured housing as the most proven form of affordable housing, few if anything else in permanent construction has proven to be as effective as HUD Code manufactured homes. Berkshire Hathaway could solo fix the misinformation about manufactured homes, simply by using the BH Media group to do something like what Tim Williams from Berkshire brand 21st quoted above said. Debunk every bit of misinformation. Omaha based Berkshire, Knoxville-metro based Clayton, and the Arlington, VA based MHI could each do the same.
Then why haven’t they done so and repeated that practice until their message broke through? Why haven’t the promoted the use of good laws on the books in a robust fashion? Why have they failed to robustly spotlight what HUD Secretary Ben Carson has given them on a silver platter?
The Nature of the Big Con
The Big Think video says that the con starts with getting us to like the con artist. Many of the people involved in the Omaha-Knoxville- Arlington axis are charming.
The con uses the familiar. People you have seen. People who have shared interests are among those who can be part of a big con, per this Big Think video.
Get your foot in the door. Ask for something small, an easy yes. The door in the face method. Time pressure in exploding offers techniques. Several of these could be used to describe what happens at various association or other events, couldn’t they?
But let’s look no further than what Kevin Clayton said in the video interview near the end of the report linked here. Warren Buffett, said Clayton, has access to experts of all kinds. Are we to think that they don’t know how an MHI meeting at a nice hotel or resort, pleasant times with industry peers, and seemingly straight forward information doesn’t all tend to influence people in subtle to bold ways? As Mark Weiss, J.D. with MHARR called it, there is an illusion of motion. That illusion is part of a big con, in this thesis. It is worth noting that that column by Weiss has been one of the most read. Is it because it resonates?
It is MHProNews’ management’s contention that the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis has slowly and steadily been consolidating the industry for years. The reason is simple enough. There is an affordable housing crisis. Manufactured housing is the most proven solution.
Control that, and you can control an industry which may only have done less than $8 billion in business at retail in 2018. But based on needs and the good laws that are lying largely dormant on the books that manufactured housing could be putting to work might just as easily be doing ten times or more those sales levels, if the correct methods and good laws were deployed. Again, ponder Weiss’ and MHARR’s call for Congress to investigate the mishandling by the Government Sponsored Enterprises of the Duty to Serve (DTS).
Not everyone used in the big con of manufactured housing even had to be aware that they are playing a specific role. A small circle could control dozens by simple instructions or requests.
That’s why the need for public federal and state investigations are necessary. Who says? The community leader linked below, among others.
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There are plenty of reasons for state and federal officials to explore the gutless cheats that are striving to monopolize our once far greater industry. At least some of that should be done publicly with witnesses and documents called in testimony taken under oath. That’s your first look on this Monday edition of factory-built housing’s most-read source for accountability, fact-checks, and growth-focused manufactured home “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.
Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. Connect with us on LinkedIn here and and here.
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