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“Incestuous” Lobbying? Kings of K Street, Revolving Door, Big Tech, Berkshire Hathaway – Follow the Money

June 25th, 2019 Comments off
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Videos are further below. Collage by MHProNews.

When it comes to risk, here’s a reality check,” says FINRA. “All investments carry some degree of risk…within [a] country…political risk and currency risk are notable factors…”

 

Investopedia says that “political risk and macroeconomic risk…affect the performance of the overall market…” The centrist Financial Times points to the dangers to investments posed by political risks too.

Investors and professionals will be discerning 2020 candidates, as will the broader population. But in a nation of hundreds of millions, the lens candidates are viewed through are clearly going to differ.

The perspective of the millennial racked by student debt may well be more attracted to a candidate that promises to deal with that issue than those candidates who say there is no money to pay for such a debt-elimination program.  By contrast, the investor or small business owner may look dimly at those candidates who pledge higher taxes and more regulations.

That’s not to suggest that all businesses or investors are more centrist or right-leaning.  Some of the world’s and America’s richest men often bet on Democratic candidates, as the Daily Business News reported in the run-up to the 2018 midterms. The recent revelation that the Koch brothers could be supporting more Democrats in 2020 is just one indicator that the wealthy see politics and lobbying as a tool of business that they play which can pay hefty returns on investment.

The business of politics influences the creation of new regulations, the suspension of regs – and sometimes the failure to properly enforce existing laws – that can help or harm businesses. 

This Daily Business News item on MHProNews will look at lobbying and the revolving door in general, and then pivot in the third part of this article to more manufactured housing specific items in this 30,000-foot level report.

 

Mainstream, Investment Takes on K Street, Revolving Door, and Business

Gearing up for a big fight in Washington, four of the biggest tech companies are increasing their lobbying efforts,” says CBS News’ YouTube page to introduce their recent video report posted below. “Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are drawing out lobbyists with connections to the government as they face mounting scrutiny for alleged anti-trust violations. Kenneth Vogel, Washington reporter for The New York Times, joins CBSN to discuss.”’

 

 

As an editorial note about the video above, Vogel lays out several of the facts quite nicely. But if one detects a tone of ‘regulation over breakup’ in his analysis, MHProNews would observe that ‘regulating’ these companies is arguably not going to work as some think. The regulations in place haven’t worked, or the vexing scenarios Vogel describes wouldn’t exist. ICYMI, see what Professor Ed Lotterman says on the topic in the report linked from the text-image box below.

 

Real World Economics’ Professor Ed Lotterman says “Playing Monopoly is More Than Just Rolling the Dice”

 

Several of the Democratic 2020 candidates – Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren jump to mind – as well as a growing number on the political right have said that they think these tech giants need to be broken up under antitrust laws. Some of those same Senate Democrats have signed a letter asking the CFPB to dig into concerns over Berkshire Hathaway owned Clayton Homes and their associated manufactured home lenders.

In the CBS News video, Vogel touches upon several useful underlying themes to understand, including the ‘revolving door,’ which will be the focus of an upcoming manufactured housing industry specific exclusive report.

With regard to the New York Times’ Vogel’s narrative, antitrust law and how it is used is likely to be a campaign topic in the contests ahead. Clearly, Big Tech will be fighting it, as they have for years.  It is likely no coincidence that the Trump Administration’s antitrust division at the Department of Justice is reportedly opened investigations into some of the firms named above.

While they may approach these subjects from a different perspective, when both major parties spot a similar problem, that may be a sign that critical mass on an issue is approaching.

The video below is from the Obama Administration era, and thus is a bit dated.  But it makes clear just how large the lobbying business is, and why big business is willing to invest so much in it. The ROI on lobbying is stunning. This Motif investing video also has a touch of dry humor in the music an imagery.  The sources for the data are often shown in the bottom right corner of the screen.

 

 

As Motif summed it up, “If you follow the “Kings of K Street” motif, you know that companies that invest in influence have a leg up.” What that means is that smaller businesses and investors have to play smarter or they can get run over.

 

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MHProNews looks at the facts, considers the sources, follows the evidence, and the money. 

 

MHProNews recently spotlighted how the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has spent its lobbying dollars via their political action committee, the MHI PAC.

 

Democrats? Republicans? Political Campaigns Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) PAC Supported

 

Berkshire Hathaway, as thousands of industry pros know, is the parent to Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF), plus a number of other manufactured housing industry connected firms.

But Berkshire’s ties with the so-called tech giants are deep and growing, so that should not be overlooked in the snapshot outlined above.

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates of Microsoft fame have long-standing ties, including Buffett donating billions in Berkshire stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where Buffett is a trustee.

BillMelindaGatesFoundationWarrenBuffettTrusteeLeadershipPhotosDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Collage from the Gates foundation website.

 

Berkshire now has roughly a billion dollars of Amazon stock.  Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Buffett certainly collaborated on various levels years before that formal investment.

Berkshire also owns stock in giant Apple. According to CNBC on May 3, the value of Berkshire’s holdings in Apple in late 2018 was some $40 billion dollars.

So, when one is thinking about the tech giants, don’t forget that Berkshire and Buffett are not likely that far off. 

 

“Have…Giants…Stifled Competition,” Antitrust Battle Lines in D.C., plus Manufactured Home Market Updates

 

Berkshire’s own lobbying is prodigious. See the summary in the graphic that follows.

 

BerkshireHathaway2018OpenSecretsCampaignContributionsManufacturedHousingIndustryMHProNews

Thus the tech giants plus Berkshire all share an interest in fighting antitrust action. Never forget that for Buffett and Berkshire, regulations can be a tool on their side that is wielded against other lesser firms.

 

Raw Power Over Manufactured Housing

The raw power to destroy independents is linked below.  That hot-linked text-image box takes a reader to the report which purportedly documents collusion and violations of antitrust laws.  Based upon years of research, MHProNews believes that only an AT&T style breakup of these firms under antitrust laws will suffice in the end. 

 

SmokingGunEvidenceOfAntiTrustMonopolisticCollusionMoatClaytonHomesKevinClayton21stMortgageTimWilliamsWarrenBuffettMHLivingNewsMHProNews

In a series of direct quotes in context, a document from 21st Mortgage signed by their president Tim Williams, Warren Buffett’s direct quotes from that same year’s annual letter, and video recorded comments by Kevin Clayton, all line up in what attorneys who reviewed it see as ‘smoking gun’ evidence of antitrust violations. They demonstrate how thousands of independent retailers, communities, and several producers – among others – where purportedly directly harmed by action that could be deemed an antitrust violation. See for yourself: https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/bridging-gap-affordable-housing-solution-yields-higher-pay-more-wealth-but-corrupt-rigged-billionaires-moat-is-barrier/

 

But as a much-needed lead up to federal antitrust action, Congress can hold open hearings to spotlight on camera how Berkshire brands, MHI, and the ‘big boys’ dominating our industry impact consumers, investors, and most others.  In a similar vein, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), a trade group that represents independent producers, is calling for just such congressional investigations on the finance topic: see that from MHARR, at this link here

There are resident-community leaders who are coming to a similar conclusion.

 

MH Community Leader Robert Van Cleef – Public Call – Federal Investigations of Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Manufactured Housing Institute

There will be an exclusive, special report planned for later this week on the revolving door and how that is connected to and impacts manufactured housing. That impacts thousands of industry operations. So if MHVille matters to you, don’t miss it.

 

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Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com. Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Related Reports:

You can click on the image/text boxes to learn more about that topic.

Antitrust – “You Can’t Penalize Success But Can Penalize Bad Behavior.” Former Ast AG Bill Baer, plus Manufactured Home Market Updates

Washington Leak – Justice Department Prepares Major Antitrust Investigation

Senator Cory Booker – ‘We Need a President…to Enforce Antitrust Laws,’ Digging Warren, POTUS Trump

 

Democrats, Independents, Elephant in the Room, Third Parties, 2020 Kickoff, and Manufactured Housing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Tech, Big Brother, 1984, Manufactured Home Professionals, and You

June 5th, 2019 Comments off

BigTechBigBrother1984ManufacturedHomeProfessionalsYouDailyBusinessNewsMhProNews

Prager U” has a formula that works.  They create videos that are typically under 6 minutes long, have a narrator that some will know, and that woman or man will provide a relatively balanced view of a topic for consideration.  This video, posted on 6.3.2019, had 427,548 views in under 48 hours.  If only manufactured housing could say the same about a pro-industry video.

 

The thrust of the Prager U concept is educational. They take a controversial issue and strive to shed light on it. Prager U is branded, but in a mild way that keeps millions coming back to see their next video.  Yes, they are generally conservative, but do so citing the views of other political or moral perspective.

In fact, that’s the point.  They look at what the opposition says, and then they do a fact-check and analysis. 

Sound familiar?  It’s Prager’s video version of what significant parts of MHProNews content has been in recent years.  In fairness, this has been done for years by media, but has grown more popular on both the left and the right.  So one takeaway is that the Prager approach is a proven one. Manufactured housing industry leaders should sit up and take notice.  

On this specific video, “Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, explains how and why Big Tech is making Orwell’s 1984 a 21st century reality.” 

Their YouTube page says, “George Orwell’s fictionalized world where Big Brother reigns supreme is no longer a figment of the imagination, but a prophetic vision of present-day threats.”  It would be hard to name many businesses today that operate in our factory-built home industry that don’t use one or more of the services that are spotlighted by this video.  

What this video doesn’t do is call for boycotts or even an antitrust breakup. MHProNews has argued for antitrust action, and word earlier this week that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are gearing up antitrust investigations sent the FAANG stocks down.

 

Washington Leak – Justice Department Prepares Major Antitrust Investigation

 

The earlier report MHProNews did on the Creepy Line took an in depth look in text and videos into the ways that big tech is purportedly manipulating data that harms companies and can tip elections.

 

“The Creepy Line” Video DocuDrama, Manufactured Housing – The Problem, Solution, and You

 

While Bozell doesn’t call for a breakup, he does make it clear that the situation is serious.  It is.  Monopolization isn’t just a manufactured housing industry problem; it is a broader economic threat that impacts a score of industries. This video is one of about 100 that as of this post being drafted YouTube has ‘restricted.’  What is there about this video that is anything other than a simple exercise of free speech?

 

 

Among the 2020 issues we expect to be significant is consolidation, monopolization, and antitrust. It’s a topic most of our colleagues in manufactured home trade publishing simply won’t go near, perhaps out of fear for what the industry’s Big Brothers in Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis might do.

As the powers that be in manufactured housing are viewed by numbers as a cause – rather than a solution – for the industry’s underperformance, the FAANG threat to economic, political, and free speech freedom should be seen as part of the bigger picture that arguably should include Berkshire Hathaway and Microsoft, perhaps others too.  While the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis bears responsibility for the widely misunderstood manufactured home industry, don’t overlook the supporting role played by these tech giants.

Learn more from the related reports, below.

This is your pre-dawn installment of manufactured home “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com. Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

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Dr. Ben Carson Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Manufactured Housing Conference Remarks New Orleans, Louisiana, Hyatt Regency Hotel, May 7, 2019

Census, HUD Official Residential Construction Report for April 2019, Dare to Compare to Manufactured Housing Data

MHARR Weighs in, HUD Secretary Carson Letter – “Discriminatory…Exclusionary Zoning of HUD-Regulated Manufactured Homes”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Affordable Housing, Obscuring the Truth, Innovations in Housing, and Manufactured Homes

 

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