Propaganda is defined by the Safari-connected online dictionary as follows. ‘Information of a biased or misleading nature, used to publicize a particular political cause or point of view.’
As with many of our MHProNews articles, we will systematically build step-by-step toward the headline. Let’s begin.
Propaganda could in theory be used for good. But normally propaganda is associated with illicit or immoral causes.
The Bolsheviks – early 20th century communists in Czarist Russia – as well as Nazis, Fascists, Chinese Communists, Vietnamese Communists, Cuban Communists, North Korean Communists, Venezuelan socialists, and Iranian mullahs are among the groups that scores of historians would assert used various forms of propaganda against the people they wanted to rule. Lies, half-truths, and deception are the tools of those who try to deceive others in order for one person or group to dominate or otherwise disadvantage others.
But let’s be clear. Objectively speaking, propaganda could be used in business or in U.S. politics too. In fact, it arguably is, as you will see further below. The warning sign that this writer had while still an MHI member was precisely the discovery that the Arlington, VA based trade group was reportedly using half-truths on their own members in MHI email ‘news updates.’ That discovery was first pointed out as a news tip by another MHI member to MHProNews. We simply looked at the evidence, and upon examination, discovered independently of the claim from a fellow MHI member that what MHI sent out was arguably misleading information on a key issue that the association was promoting.
Over time, other such insider tips, research, and discoveries led us to where we are today. Consider the big tip that lead to the industry bombshell reports linked here and here. As a reminder to whistleblowers, we treat tips confidentially unless the person providing the insight wants to be acknowledged. Insider tips have often led to some of the most popular reports.
Keep in mind that our sources of inside information include, but are not limited to:
· members of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) who are not dual members of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). That includes past and present MHI staffers.
· We have sources within the newer National Manufactured Housing Association of Community Owners (NAMHCO),
· various state associations connected professionals, or those industry pros who have no formal ties with any trade group in manufactured housing.
Then there are other sources we have from those connected with:
· Democratic or Republican lawmakers,
· federal or other public officials,
· the mainstream media,
· various third-party experts,
· independent researchers, and more.
We don’t claim to have the deep pockets or the same type of network of information available to Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, or 21st Mortgage Corporation, to name a few. In theory, MHI could have far more contacts than we do, and each of those named in this paragraph have significantly bigger budgets than our parent company. That’s okay, Goliath was a reputed giant far bigger than David, yet we know how that Biblical tale turned out. David hit Goliath with a rock tossed by a slingshot, and then David took the vanquished giant’s own sword and cut his opponent’s head off. (1 Samuel 17:51).
That’s ugly. That’s embarrassing too. But some fights are life of death. Which merits a segue before returning to the headline theme.
Goliath had taunted Israel’s forces, and Israel represented God’s people. Never forget that Israel wasn’t perfect, as those who read the Jewish or Christian Scriptures learn. The word “Israel” means ‘one who wrestles with God.’ In our own way, don’t we all wrestle with questions of good, evil, right and wrong, and thereby wrestle with the God Who made us all?
Thus, it is vital to keep in mind that the principle of ‘wheat and chaff’ must be applied routinely to all people, organizations, and things. Odds are excellent that your or our biggest, baddest human enemy has some good in them — but it is the problematic that irks us. Perhaps those of ill will can be converted from enemy to friend? If so, given the nature of human free will, that is up to the individual. But sometimes, an opponent must be identified publicly. Some opponents must be called out for what they are, the evidence must be shown, and then they must be publicly defeated. Not every such battle must be life or death. Some backgrounds are in courts, hearing rooms, or in the court of public opinion. So-called ‘Bad guys’ historically have used charity as a cover for doing evil, so don’t fall for smiles from bad actors at mixers, meals, or parties.
Thus history, sound religious, and ethics all teach the lesson that some opponents can only be beaten.
Never forget that despite the mistaken notion – or propaganda? – that religious forces are the greatest killers of all, the history of the 20th century proves otherwise. A researcher at the University of Hawaii documented the point that the greatest killers of all time are those political systems that were driven by godless men. The greatest killers or mass murders committed throughout the centuries have been at the hands of this or that government, king, ruler, or leader.
That historic pattern is why the founding fathers of America wanted to protect citizens from possible overreach by their own government with the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. You or I may or may not have weapons of our own. But the fact that we might have a weapon(s) gives criminals and opponents pause. To learn more about death by Government research, see the link below.
Before leaving the Second Amendment theme and returning to the headline topic, let’s note that while we may or may not agree, people of good will can be opposed to the private ownership of certain kinds of guns. But history shows that it is would-be dictators that disarm their citizens. Perhaps one of the better arguments that defenders of President Donald J. Trump use is that he isn’t a true dictator is that the 45th president is a strong defender of the Second Amendment. Look at Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, or Communist China. They are a largely disarmed populations. The right to keep and bear arms is the right to defend one’s own life and the lives of their loved ones against criminals under whatever label who would unjustly take their lives, freedom, or property against their will.
It is therefore wise not to allow fear of a few misguided individuals who commit horrible acts to be used as a ploy to manipulate the masses into surrendering the right to keep and bear arms. The best defense against overreach by rouge government or criminal elements may be privately owned weapons.
Can the Pen Be Mightier…?
That said, our weapon here are words, ideas, and principles. This is where thinkers, doers, and leaders in our industry – who may agree or disagree with what they read – nevertheless come by the thousands daily, to see what our research or fact-checks reflect on a given topic. Be sure that numbers of the Warren Buffett type of billionaires of the world would often favor candidates who state their intention of disarming citizens. Coincidence?
Now, with that backdrop, let’s turn to the headline. Because the keyboard, videos, and publishing are our preferred means of engaging the enemies of free enterprise that have impacted the manufactured housing industry. These reports should be the basis for inspiring pragmatic action. Indeed, it is already doing so for several in our industry, and those entering our industry. Mark these words. If the industry’s current crop of independents don’t increasingly act on the information they have at hand, new blood entering the industry will. There are visible and less visible examples of that already taking place.
Has Zillow Blown Another Part of Clayton and MHI’s Cover Stories?
There is the first of a series of new reports on Manufactured Home Living News today that will document step-by-step this next notion.
Despite the claims by MHI, Clayton Homes, and some of their largest members that the Arlington based trade group has promoted the industry via advertorials, videos, social media, and other means, third-party research by Zillow – properly understood – documents that the percentage of housing shoppers who are seeking a manufactured home has dropped in just two years.
Let’s restate that for emphasis. The percentage of housing shoppers in 2016 that were considering a manufactured home was higher than the percentage of housing shoppers pondering a manufactured home in 2018.
Rephrased, Zillow has provided third-party researched evidence that supports the contention MHProNews and MHLivingNews have made in recent years that MHI is either arguably:
· or corrupt.
· There is no debatably objective evidence that we can see that MHI or Clayton Homes have fostered a better understanding of manufactured housing and thereby has grown sales for the industry at large. Perhaps that is why in recent years the leaders of Clayton, 21st, or MHI have time and again declined a public discussion or debate over the performance of their respective organizations? If the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis were so confident, why not metaphorically embarrass this writer and others with evidence of their success at something other than more industry consolidation?
· The acid test that even an outsider can easily grasp is that for the past ten months, with an affordable housing crisis raging, manufactured home shipments have been down. When 7 of the top 10 states are in decline, including number one Texas moving in reverse, that’s an alarm bell for the rational in MHVille.
Specifically, if more people were seriously responding to MHI’s claims summarized in the screen capture below from their website’s home page video, then why are new HUD Code manufactured home shipments in decline nationwide? If MHI or Clayton’s ‘image’ ads and ‘story telling’ videos were as good as they claim, then why is the HUD Code manufactured home industry into month ten of a year-over-year decline in new manufactured home sales? Those are questions that even the most brazen MHI sycophant or toady dares not tackle publicly, for fear that they’d be laughed at by their peers.
The Bad News Could Be Good For Some…
There is a widely agreed to affordable housing crisis. Research we have and continue to publish here and/or on MHLivingNews has and will document the case for why manufactured homes should be soaring in sales, not snoring in reduced new installations.
Clearly, Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, and MHI have the media and financial resources to make whatever product or services investments they want to promote more successful sales and profits. The logical conclusion is that the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis arguably don’t want that form of industry-wide success at this time.
What that suggests is that they apparently want more consolidation for now. When the powers that be take the foot off the breaks, the industry can soar, and they could rake in billions annually…
The rental plan that Clayton has rolled out is another item that must be considered in this milieu.
Rentals can be profitable, but tend to require capital access that many independents would lack. Isn’t this just one more form of the Buffett-Berkshire Moat at work?
There are independents companies – let’s name Legacy Housing and Nobility Homes as two publicly traded examples – that are growing their sales and profits while numbers of others are shrinking in sales. So, sales growth can be achieved, despite the artificial headwinds like the John Oliver video themes that arguably was indirectly funded by Warren Buffett.
But that progress is being accomplished at the local market level. That’s a reminder of this next maxim.
All sales are local.
Sadly, while the HUD Code manufactured home industry’s measurable results are shrinking, the consolidation of the industry is continuing. Isn’t it interesting that MHI’s NCC didn’t publish another list of the top community owners in May 2019, as they did in prior years? Would the totals have been a warning flare for independent community owners, who are lulled to sleep by nonsense from the likes of a blogger who have reportedly cut deals with MHI?
There is no need for deception to sell a manufactured home. Site builders, car and RV producers all know that you don’t need a perfect product in order to sell a lot of them.
There is no need to give the industry’s independents head-fakes, if those who promote half-truths or misleading propaganda sincerely want to see the industry grow.
The Zillow data viewed objectively is clear. See the report and analysis linked here.
There will be another report about MHI member-professionals that have clear ties to Berkshire brands about tactics that drew comments from MHEC executives to MHProNews. We will report on that soon too. It’s bold, easily seen effort that is arguably part of a broader pattern causing fewer Americans to consider a manufactured home and land lease community living.
It is, in order words, one more example of how big firms have purportedly weaponized aspects of the system to create choke points that slowly throttle manufactured housing’s short term potential. Bear in mind, that at any time the powers that be want to reverse this trend, they can do so with money, talent, media contacts, legal or financial clout needed, and more.
The number of consumers considering a manufactured home declined in just two years. That’s the opposite outcome that MHI or Clayton claim to want. Isn’t that measurable evidence of the impact of deceptive trade practices? That’s the opposite of what MHI’s touted consumer research was going to lead the industry into, right?
Are the key players in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis incompetent? We think not. Are they deceptive? We believe there is a case to be made that they are engaging in deceptive trade practices, and have otherwise manipulated the marketplace in ways that violate antitrust and possibly other state and federal laws.
MHProNews and our sister site is already working with public officials in both major parties to further document and expose what is occurring. The goal is to bring those responsible to justice.
What does justice look like? In our view, it is could include, but not necessarily be limited to:
· the breakup of Berkshire Hathaway under antitrust law,
· the breakup of the other brands in the FAANG stocks, plus Microsoft, under antitrust and other laws. That’s summed up by #DeFaangBM.
· They and others may that need to be broken up, fined, sued, should perhaps also be imprisoned for purportedly violating various white-collar crime laws.
As pragmatic professionals, we get it that some will buy Clayton products, or use 21st lending, for example. Some have told us that they feel that they have no choice.
But those should be seen as necessary evils to a brighter day when the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) fully support manufactured homes, when FHA Title I and Title II lending is properly reformed, and when more USDA, VA, and private lending occurs.
Or given a breakup of Clayton Homes under antitrust laws, that in turn would level the playing field for the industry’s independents. Until then, independent companies must do what they must do.
Propaganda is often a warning sign. When this writer publicly called for the resignation of Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison and Lesli Gooch for putting put out misleading half-truths to MHI members and the industry, at that time we frankly did not know all that we do now. Tim Williams and others may at times regret having defended Jennison and Gooch, because had they let their heads at MHI roll, we might still be blissfully trusting the big boys. But knowing history, something about human nature, and knowing that Jennison argued on video for slow growth, those were clear warning signs.
There is no one in MHVille that has even attempted to put up a comprehensive narrative that creates a reasonable, alternative explanation that matches the known facts of recent years identified by MHProNews.
Jennison got the slow growth he asked for on camera in the video above. Was that a coincidence? Or was that part of the marching orders given to Jennison by others to help larger firms consolidate smaller ones at a discounted valuation?
Let’s close with this next point to tie the last ribbon on the headline topics.
Someone could in theory be an atheist or agnostic, and yet might still be a person of good will. But in fact, Warren Buffett has said in videos that he clearly cooperated with things that line up with devilish beliefs, not traditional Jewish or Christian religious thought. That’s his right.
Buffett admits in the video posted in the article linked above that he supports a list of causes that would arguably make saints cry and Satan sing.
· Is that coincidence?
· Or is that on some level sincerely evidence of the demonic?
· When someone dances with a Berkshire brand in MHVille, are they dancing with the devil?
· When some support a nonprofit that Berkshire brands or Buffett supports, are they wittingly or not dancing with those doing devilish deeds?
Some may have no choice. But some arguably do have the ability to break free.
We don’t all have share the same beliefs, that’s the nature of free will. But if we wonder why our American Republic or our industry are a mess that is under-performing, do we have to look much beyond the sordid deeds found connected by the actions of some in MHVille?
To learn more, follow the links above or those below the byline, offers, and notices. Stay tuned for the upcoming report referenced above. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, fact-checks, and commentary. See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned the Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma. He has earned multiple awards in manufactured housing and in history. He’s a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to DBN’s MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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