Let’s begin with what many will want to know every day, not just Veteran’s Day. Yes, you can buy a manufactured home with a VA – Veterans Administration – loan with as little as zero down payment. Millions who have a DD214 could qualify.
That said, veterans by definition are individuals who have or still do serve their nation in one of the armed forces. Freedom isn’t free. We salute our vets and first responders daily, as do so many millions of other Americans.
Before diving into the balance of this report let’s mention anew for first time or newer readers these notions and ideals. Because those vets served to protect and have often fought for the principles that follow.
- MHLivingNews’ management are true independents. We are not registered with any major or minor party.
- We believe as a matter of principle in sound public policies over a specific political party. Bipartisanship or non-partisanship when it comes to housing policy is good.
- There are people of good will in all organizations and groups.
- No two people will agree on everything.
- No one among the quick are perfect, so one must separate the good wheat from the problematic chaff.
- That Democratic and Republican lawmakers who have studied manufactured housing have found it to be an important and valuable option for those seeking quality affordable housing.
7) Positive and useful research, laws, and efforts have come from both sides of the two major parties. For example, both HUD Secretary Julian Castro, a Democrat, as well HUD Secretary Ben Carson, M.D., a Republican have said and done some positive things for manufactured housing.
8) We believe in free enterprise, the right to own private property, and other ideals that from the time of the founding of America – however imperfect – has been widely held to be true.
With that principled backdrop and discloures, let’s now look at the following.
The Problem of Monopoly, Politics and Impacts on Housing or Other Policies
Since before America became an independent nation through the revolution against the British king that officially began by signing the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, Americans believed in certain principles. Some of those have since been misunderstood, never or improperly taught or learned. It is important and valuable to have a clear-eyed notion of history, because those who don’t learn from the past or who don’t know their heritage may end up making mistakes that could otherwise be avoided.
For instance. Not only was America for low taxes, free enterprise, limited government, and was established as a Republic that has Democratic elements to it, but the U.S.A. was forged as a nation that opposed monopolies.
That tea that was tossed into Boston Harbor not only had a crown tax that the colonists dressed as Native Americans opposed. The American rebels also opposed the fact that the tea was being sold by a monopoly authorized by the British government.
Jump in time to after the Revolution and while the current Constitution was being debated. Thomas Jefferson wanted to see certain safeguards. Among them was a Bill of Rights. But another was a safeguard against monopolies. Here is a quote by the head of the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice Antitrust (anti-monopoly division) that makes that point.
When you objectively scan the horizon, our nation faces a host of problems that go back to the issue of oversized power in the market and in politics that is exercised by what could fairly be described as monopolistic firms. Some if not many of these became powerful precisely because they got some benefit from government that others did not have.
Amazon today is huge. But why is it huge? Because years ago, they were allowed to sell goods and services often without having to collect sales taxes. In hindsight, that was an unfair advantage that politicians and public policy gave them. How many small businesses have been lost as a result?
Whether you love Amazon, hate the, do or don’t use Amazon isn’t the point. Rather it is that Jeff Bezos become one of the richest men in the world because of advantages given to his company. He is becoming or arguably has monopoly power because of advantages that politicians gave him.
Isn’t that much like what the founding fathers railed, fought, and warred against when they tossed the tea into Boston Harbor?
Today, there are those who use their economic power to create or influence public policies that establish regulatory barriers that arguably harm not only smaller businesses, but the consumers they would, did, or would otherwise serve.
“Clever. Use government to handcuff your rivals,” says John Stossel in this video at about the 3:58 mark.
“Some of the worst enemies of capitalism are capitalists,” says Stossel in the end of this video.
Let’s note that we would frame that video differently, it is a mixed bag. That said, Stossel raised several factual points. But in fairness, some of the points raised by those he disagreed with are also factually based, even if their policy solutions aren’t solutions at all.
Which brings us to this notion. People on both sides of the two major party divide, or those in minor parties or no parties too, may cite some facts accurately, but then propose solutions that are not going to improve the problem one bit. That kind of mistake may be done innocently. But misusing facts may be done deliberately, as a ploy to deceive people.
Government policies – or failure to enforce good laws – have made getting affordable manufactured homes more difficult in numbers of states, cities and towns across America. As a matter of law, every reader of Manufactured Home Living News (MHLivingNews) should know that the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA) prohibited zoning out manufactured housing for spurious reasons. The specific part of the law that bars that practice is called ‘enhanced preemption’ over local zoning and placement standards.
But under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the practice has continued. Rephrased, while occasionally enforced, enhanced preemption and the MHIA is not always enforced. That’s a mistake, if we want more Americans to be homeowners.
Mark Weiss, J.D., President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has explained the importance of the MHIA and enhanced preemption like this.
On paper, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has said something similar, as we’ve reported before.
But that point made, one must ask, if MHI sincerely want to see enhanced preemption enforced, why have they wanted until July 18, 2019 – 2 years into the Trump Administration – to put it in writing?
If MHI and their larger members are sincere about this enhanced preemption policy – which could provide affordable manufactured housing to millions more people, including veterans – then why aren’t the words “enhanced preemption” found on MHI’s own website?
By contrast, MHLivingNews, MHProNews, and MHARR have made that point for years. A search on the MHARR website last spring revealed several articles that referenced enhanced preemption. More have been written by MHARR since.
What’s going on? Why does MHI say they want enhanced preemption in a letter than Dr. Carson may never have seen (after all, staff read those letters first and they may or may not be passed onto the secretary). Why didn’t they make the point face-to-face in one of several meetings with Secretary Carson?
MHI award winner Marty Lavin, J.D., has made that point before. He says follow the money – mean, look for the benefits that motivate people to behave certain ways – plus pay more attention to the actions of individuals or organizations than just the words that come out of their mouths.
Paltering, Berkshire Brands, and MHI
Here is one possible answer to that, and we’ll close by referring new readers to the related reports below that shed more light on this topic.
On our professional site, MHProNews, we will soon be publishing an article that makes this point. It is a form of deception that uses elements of truth and is known as paltering.
Paltering is “an active form of deception that involves the use of truthful statements to convey a mistaken impression” (Rogers, Zeckhauser, Gino, Norton, & Schweitzer, 2016) said an article entitled “To Deceive Using Truthful Statements” published on Dec 18, 2016 in Workplace Psychology.
The image and pull quote below are from an article by Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Having defined paltering – and there are other deceptive or manipulative techniques like it – let’s go back to a quote we’ve used before.
Democrats and Republicans alike have complained about the system being rigged. We’ve created the graphic below to make that point.
That statement is arguably true, the system is rigged. What John Stossel described in that video above are examples of how billionaires like Jeff Bezos – or Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett?!? – can use their money to influence economic as well as political decisions. Rephrased, they are rigging the system in their own favor.
Some people make honest makes, and may make them based upon some accurate information, but with incomplete knowledge or understanding, and they may come to a false conclusion. Not every politician or public official is corrupt, but some are demonstrably so, because not a year goes by without several in government going to jail and/or getting fined for some corrupt practice.
Some of that corruption involved working with private businesses. That doesn’t mean that every private business is bad. But some are, and some of them that have been were hugely corrupt and deceptive, as evidenced by the infamous multiple billion-dollar rip offs of convicted felon Bernie Madoff demonstrated. But before Madoff was convicted, may didn’t believe that he was guilty of anything at all. CNBC said that his scam was $65 billion dollars.
The point is that people can appear to be honest, but turn out to be cleverly dishonest. MHARR for years has warned professionals and others that MHI was posturing support for good laws, but was in fact working against the interests of the industry and many of its current or potential homeowners. Earlier this year, they wrote an article to describe that process as “the Illusion of Motion.”
The lessons of history can be useful to those willing to learn them.
Freedom is never free. The price of freedom includes eternal vigilance. Yes, in a dangerous world we need military and law enforcement, and they should be respected for the tough job that they do. When most do their work with honor, those that fail to do their service with honor should not be held against all the others.
Similarly, there are honorable and dishonorable people in business. That includes manufactured homes. We’ve long advocated that manufactured homes are the most proven affordable housing option, and reams of third-party research linked below makes that point.
But that doesn’t mean that every manufactured home company is honorable. A company may be big or growing and may be dishonorable. But lots of advertising, or favorable media coverage can create a ‘mask’ of respectability that may not be deserved.
The Lessons from Bernie Madoff
Ponder Bernie Madoff, who was welcomed and celebrated for years, until his schemed finally collapsed. But while some celebrated Madoff, others warned against Madoff for years. Similarly, some have warned against Clayton Homes, Warren Buffett, and other Berkshire Hathaway brands – or the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) that they arguably dominate.
The first news video is one of several that makes the point that Clayton stands credibly accused of violating several laws.
There are angry Clayton customers, that claim that they don’t back up their product as they promise. In fairness, there are happy Clayton customers too. Also in fairness, our views on Clayton evolved as the evidence kept mounting, so if you go back far enough on older articles on MHLivingNews, you may see a different tune. That said, we as experts as well as others should be willing to change based upon new insights and new information. For instance, if you look carefully a Clayton Homes own ‘NPS’ score, it reveals that just under 6 of 1o are essentially saying that they are happy, which implies a significant number are not. That’s evidence that is hard to ignore, isn’t it, when it comes straight from Clayton Homes?
That’s why you have to carefully sift through the evidence. Separate the wheat from the chaff. Most manufactured homeowners end up happy.
Even a black hat brand can have white hat people working for it. Even a black hat organization can produce a good video. But the video on the page linked above has millions of views, and the one below has very few. If MHI were serious about promoting the industry, why is that so? Can’t they or Clayton Homes pay to promote good news, instead of bad news? Do you see how asking the right questions in the context of known facts can shed light on otherwise puzzling problems?
On this Veterans Day, let’s celebrate our vets, remember that they earn those VA benefits like the ability to buy a manufactured home on a VA loan.
But never forget that some create a costume or illusion of respectability. Examples are found linked from this report, dig deeper into those or others found here by the hundreds to learn more. Thanks for making our sister site and this the manufactured housing industry’s largest and runaway most-read combination of sources for manufactured home news, fact-checks and analysis where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (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 prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder 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.