Yesterday was Halloween, which makes today All Saints Day. In years gone by, it was customary in several Christian countries to ‘dress up’ in costumes that were supposed to remind someone of a specific saintly person. Halloween is a contraction that means “All Hallow’s (i.e.: holy, saintly) Eve” – the night before All Saint Day.
Just writing those facts – and that is what they are, facts – will offend or trigger some. That’s not the intention, but it is a reality that speaks to a core issue of our times. There is a crying need to be able to truly listen to another, to see, read, and hear sincerely with a desire to learn from and understand others. That doesn’t mean that someone must automatically agree with another. In an era where divisions are wide, the truth must be discerned. The best principle we have found to date to be applied is the ancient wisdom of learning how to separate the wheat from chaff.
One must find the good and true – the proverbial wheat – and separate it from what may not be good, accurate, or true – the chaff.
Let me briefly explain the featured image, which this writer personally snapped that picture. I was meeting at a local Wendy’s for a drink and conversation with someone yesterday. I arrived early, just in time to see these delightfully clad people who apparently worked for Wendy’s. I asked them to pose for the photo, which they gladly did. One asked me for a copy of the picture, which I texted. We’ll see if it pops up online sometime in the future.
Those are Dr. Seuss characters in that photo, and Seuss was a man ahead of his time in several ways. He was a writer who knew how to illustrate and teach. Seuss was also environmentally concerned. Rightly so. That’s not the core of this article, but I’ll state the obvious. The vast majority of people of whatever political belief and wherever they live want clean air and clean water that yield good crops, food, and drinks that all support good health.
Which brings us to a point to be made for new readers. Whatever your political, religious, or other beliefs, manufactured homes are the most proven form of affordable housing. That doesn’t mean that manufactured homes are perfect. They don’t have to be. Site built housing isn’t perfect either, as a mainstream news video that report about problems with conventional housing linked here reminds us.
To quickly make the point so we can move on to the headline, the links above, below, here and here all document using third-party research that manufactured homes are the most affordable type of permanent housing in the U.S.A. The same claim is arguably true in Canada too, though their Z240 code is different than our HUD Code for manufactured homes.
In explaining that manufactured homes are a superior option that has been proven by millions, that is not to say that there are no problems. If it is made by human or machine hands, there are bound to be some issues. Because there are routinely honest as well as less honest professionals, MHLivingNews’ stress for housing shoppers the need to discern between what we call ‘white hat’ business operators and professionals and ‘black hat’ operators. The Better Business Bureau rating for a firm isn’t the only measure, but it is a useful one. Four quick links for affordable housing shoppers that will help with your discernment process, start here, here, here, here, and here.
Before diving deeper, first time readers should know that I’ve personally owned and lived in several manufactured homes in states from Texas to Wisconsin. I’ve owned and lived in conventional housing from states as far west as Arizona to as far east as Pennsylvania and Florida. My wife’s father was a conventional housing builder in her native country. We personally have a full scope of the housing experiences. We have also have years of experience professionally. When hundreds of professionals on LinkedIn have given unsolicited praise, hopefully that says something too. Or having federal officials, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and university level researchers praise, thank, and or cite your work, all of that should mean something. You can learn more at this link here. This isn’t a mere whim or hobby, we believe in what we do here based upon evidence and experiences galore.
With that backdrop, let’s talk about costumes, authentic, and fake behavior. Quotes like the one below helps sets the stage for what will follow.
Let me stress that some people I fundamentally distrust – based upon study, evidence, and fact-patterns, not mere whim – but nevertheless must admit that those distrusted souls have said or done things that are useful and true. Once more, the principle of separating the wheat from the chaff is priceless.
For example. Warren Buffett is reportedly the third richest man in America. He has said some things that are demonstrably true. But some things he has said are inaccurate or misleading, based upon evidence that is examined in some depth at the link below. What many thought would be the man who would ‘save’ manufactured housing has arguably tolerated firms behavior that have tarnished and harmed manufactured housing, as the video and report linked here demonstrates.
Buffett ought to have a reputation as a head-fake expert. As a colleague of ours has prudently observed, it is more important to note not what people are saying as how they behave.
As a matter of principle, wealth honestly earned serving others ought to be respected. Wealth dishonesty earned by the manipulation of people, ‘the system,’ and media ought to be scrutinized for violations of the law and if laws have been broken, let the legal process be put to work.
Someone can put on a costume and pretend to be someone that they are not. A costume can be done innocently enough, as in the Halloween photo at the top. Writers at time use pen names, that too can be innocent. Dr. Seuss is famous, but his actual name was Theodor Wiesel.
Mark Twain was famous, but his given name was Samuel Clemens.
Abraham Lincoln was a loser who kept trying until he won.
Lincoln is today rightly viewed as one of America’s most important presidents. He was consisting be humble a wise.
There are those who will read this that could care less about political issues. That works just fine for shrewd political candidates. Those that don’t get and stay politically engaged are demonstrably giving more power to those who are. Think about this. Whether you like of loath Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC, NY-D), she became her district’s congressional representative by virtue of low voter turnout. Everyone who didn’t vote de facto helped her become a freshman in Congress in 2018. There are numerous other examples, but that is enough to make the point.
Whatever you think of the three candidates for the White House in 2020, they have that one phrase in common. “The System is Rigged.” To my friends and colleagues who are Libertarians, let me observe that it was ‘a rigged system’ that arguably made Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett the three richest men in America.
I don’t hide the fact that I believe in God or the value of biblical principles. Both can be demonstrated easily enough. We taught our son, who will soon turn 13, some years ago that one must look at science and religion too, understanding that each teaches something different but that can be complementary. There is no problem with people of faith believing in the Big Bang theory, for instance. But the question still arises, ‘where did the matter come from that yielded the Big Bang?’ Or what about this question, ‘what caused the explosion of that matter that gave us the Big Bang?
In philosophy, some look for first or root causes. It’s a prudent process useful in any endeavor. My father – Dr. Francis J. Kovach – was a world class philosopher, a genuine genius, though he was far from perfect. If we are looking for perfect role models, they are hard to find. Even the saints that are celebrated by over a billion Christians today were not perfect. The saints used their free will combined with grace to overcome various weaknesses. Typos are a weakness for me, but I have others beyond pride that need not be said. God isn’t finished with me yet.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which fame first, the acorn or the oak tree? Those are questions our son knew the answer to years ago. If you asked him, he could tell you that God the creator of all made the chicken, the chicken laid the egg. The Creator made that oak tree, which in turn drops acorns so more oak trees can grow. I read about a wise person calculated the odds of a humans coming into existence apart from God. It was 14 to the 28th power. That’s 140,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1 odds. The lottery is a better bet.
From time to time, I mention G. K. Chesterton. He is know for insightful, sometimes paradoxical statements and insights. “What is wrong is that we don’t ask what is right.” Apart from the insights of faith, one doesn’t really know right from wrong, do we? Note that almost a century before our times, Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc both cited cogent examples of why small business was better than big business for the masses of people.
A relatively few shrewd people over a century ago manipulated the system in America that resulted in the so-called robber barons and the so-called “Gilded Age.” Antitrust laws were forged to address those social ills in that era.
Though never perfect, antitrust laws were useful. They are needed once again. There are several things that makes Gates, Bezos, and Buffett a danger to our society. They gained their wealth in part, one could argue, by getting political advantages that others they competed with didn’t have. Bezos, for instance, was able to grow his business in part because in many states he was able to sell goods without sales taxes. That was an unfair advantage. How many smaller businesses have been destroyed in that fashion?
Gates, Bezos, and Buffett have interconnected ties financially, though nonprofits, and politically too. They have clear ties to manufactured housing and prefabricated homes too. Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway owns Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF) and an array of other brands that deal with manufactured housing. Clayton Homes owns several brands so that you as a consumer may pull up to a Freedom Hoes sales center, or Oakwood Homes and not realize that you are doing business with Clayton.
As or more potentially pernicious is the use of nonprofits and media by these wealthy men. Bezos owns the Washington Post. Berkshire owns dozens of newspapers. Gates has Microsoft, which has clear historic ties to MSN, Bing, search results, MSNBC, and so on.
So, Senator Bernie Sanders is right about this point. There is a consolidation of media, not just in business. Much of the news you read, or the searches you do, are controlled by a very few people or conglomerates.
But the solution may not be exactly what Bernie advances. The solution is to go to the root causes of the problems, and deal with the root issues.
Antitrust action gave breath to independent businesses, including farmers and ranchers, over a century ago in America. Antitrust action must be used today.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) top antitrust official cited Thomas Jefferson as follows.
To stop the monopolization of America and the American Dream, good existing laws must be enforced.
For owners of manufactured homes who live in communities being gobbled up by investors who then hike site fees at a stiff clip, rent control is at best a bandaid. The experience of Delaware proved that point. What must occur, using the example provided by NMHOA’s former president Tim Sheahan is this. More construction of more communities must take place. That is doable if existing federal laws are understood and enforced.
Mark Weiss, J.D., is an attorney who is also president and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). He explained the importance of understanding the value and applying existing laws this way.
We see many, but not all things eye to eye with MHARR. As a disclosure, some years ago, there was quite the brouhaha between this writer and MHARR, not because we disagreed on core principles. We agreed on much then and now. But at the time, I was convinced that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) was ‘trying’ to advance legislation and action that was useful to the industry and consumers.
In hindsight, I frankly fell for the MHI costume. It is one thing to posture action, but another to do what is claimed. Arguably they, like Buffett or others posture certain statements, but when their behaviors are carefully examined, they are problematic.
See the above and below to better grasp what is meant. Click those images or links to read those reports.
Buffett, Bezos, and Gates have helped fund nonprofits and media that – no surprise! – do what they want done.
The solution to this isn’t more regulations, regulations often benefit big businesses.
Candidates Warren, Trump, and Sanders all have said things about antitrust action. Fine, that could be a first step. But if those two senators are serious, they could ask for and get public hearings. The can use subpoena powers to get witnesses, testimony, documents. The public needs to see it. Let them put deeds behind those words.
The executive branch has their own powers. We call on the Trump Administration to act as well. But under our system of government, many of those investigations are essentially secret until they go to court and file charges or claims. Indeed, investigations are underway, but they are opaque to the public at this point.
Thus the need for elected officials in Congress to act. No new laws are needed to achieve what must be done. Enforcement of good existing laws are what is needed.
There are other possible steps. Just as state Attorneys General are investigating tech giants like Facebook and Google, so too they should investigate who Berkshire Hathaway and their allies have arguably weaponized portions of the manufactured housing industry.
We are not prosecutors or attorneys. We are pro-manufactured home industry trade publishers, experts, and consultants. The industry will not perform as it could or should so long as people like Buffett get away with what they have for years.
One must separate wheat from chaff.
Buffett wears a folksy costume of ‘go ahead and tax the rich,’ purportedly because he knows the system can be bent to do his will. But comic Jay Leno called him out.
Manufactured homes are a great option. We love them, so do millions of others. But safeguards are necessary for the marketplace to work properly. Most people could benefit from a properly operating manufactured home market, even non-manufactured home owners. To learn more, see the Fear report here and further below the byline and notices.
Adults know what a costume is. But sometimes it is harder to spot artificial behavior that may as well be a costume.
At times, Buffett speaks truth, at times – as Jay Leno pointed out – what Buffett says are arguably head-fakes designed to keep the working and middle class off his back.
With all due respect to the political candidates and pundits that say we need more new taxes, what the Gilded era taught us is that antitrust action is a key. Enforcement of good existing laws, regardless of how rich or powerful someone has become is near the heart of the answer.
Let’s sum up. Once a company becomes ‘big enough,’ higher taxes helps them, it doesn’t harm them, because tax codes are routinely too complex for smaller businesses. More regulations harms small businesses more than big business too. It is easy for the Buffett-Bezos-Gates types to posture that they favor more taxes, but posturing isn’t doing. If they wanted a just society, why have they ducked the taxes and rigged the system to work in their favor and not against them?
But the ultimate answer is that Godly means to address the ills of our times must be learned and deployed. Those should be based upon evidence, reason, and with an aim for true justice. Enough said for today. “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, lifestyle news, 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.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member 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.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.