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Federalist’s Harsanyi Argues Senator “Elizabeth Warren’s Plan to Break Up Big Tech Would Be Bad for America”

March 18th, 2019 Comments off

 

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The debate over the breakup of big mega-powerful corporations is heating up. In the American Republic, a healthy exercise of thoughtful free speech is a good thing.

 

 

Many of those discussions start with a call to break up Big Tech, which voices on both sides of the left-right political aisle have been calling for with an increasing sense of urgency. Google, and Facebook certainly have a direct impact on manufactured housing every minute of every day, given their dominating presence online.  Other tech giants, like Amazon, Apple, Netflix or Microsoft have their own impacts on specific sectors, but broader ones too.

 

Given the ripple effect in an economy, the loss of mom-and-pop, start ups, or other smaller-to-mid sized  businesses to monopolistic forces obviously impact owners, workers, and others that could be your customers or investors.

 

MHProNews has made no secret of the fact that we support the true break up of the FAANG brands, Berkshire Hathaway and Microsoft under antitrust law.  While disagreeing with several of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s policy stances as bad for business and the nation, on the specific topic of antitrust – there is more common ground.

 

MHLivingNews has looked in depth at a speech by Senator Warren to the Open Markets group, in the article linked below.

 

MHProNews in a Masthead column painted a picture of how factory-built housing industry Democrats may see value in supporting Warren over more openly socialistic candidates in that party. That column clearly says our historic support for President Trump’s pro-growth agenda.  That article is linked below.

 

With that tee up, we now present another perspective on the hot topic by David Harsanyi, who “is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of the forthcoming “First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History With the Gun, From the Revolution to Today,” says the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal.  What follows is his unedited commentary.

 

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Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has a new plan to break up Big Tech companies.

The proposal entails appointing a bunch of regulators to undo mergers that her administration would deem anti-competitive. Warren’s plan would classify any company that runs a marketplace and makes more than $25 billion a year as a “platform utility” and prohibit them from selling their own products.

Considering the prevalent knee-jerk loathing of Big Tech and capitalism in general, it’s likely to be a popular idea. Many conservatives, angered at social media platforms, will also find the notion of breaking up these companies agreeable. But there are number of good economic and idealistic reasons to oppose Warren’s plan.

For starters, Warren’s plan would not only strip the incentive for big companies to invest in growth and innovation; it would inhibit small business innovation, as well.

It’s true that Big Tech frequently swallows enterprises to eliminate competition. Yet many times smaller tech firms don’t have access to capital that allows them to bring big ideas to fruition, or they simply can’t take the risk. Big corporations can do both.

I look forward to the day that market forces, rather than meddling politicians with aversions to the profit motive, smash Apple for good. But does anyone believe a gaggle of technocratic political appointees are going to do a better job of allocating investments?

“Twenty-five years ago,” Warren writes, “Facebook, Google, and Amazon didn’t exist. Now they are among the most valuable and well-known companies in the world. It’s a great story—but also one that highlights why the government must break up monopolies and promote competitive markets.”

The fact that Facebook, Google, and Amazon didn’t even exist 25 years ago tells us the exact opposite. It highlights how quickly innovative ideas can transform the marketplace in an era of relative deregulation. I’d tell you to ask the executives at Woolworth’s or Blockbuster—and soon AOL, MySpace, and Sears—but there aren’t any.

Apple or Amazon were early adapters of the market’s new realities. Now, some of their businesses are forced to compete with other giants like Walmart or Samsung. This has been beneficial for consumers.

Now, if Twitter and Facebook want to stay on top, they probably should stop antagonizing half of their marketplace. Then again, in 25 years, it’s quite likely that a bunch of new platforms will overtake both, no matter what they do.

That hasn’t stopped Warren from acting as if tech companies like Google are the new Standard Oil.

“I want a government that makes sure everybody—even the biggest and most powerful companies in America—plays by the rules,” Warren claims. This misleading turn of phrase has become standard on the left, which often acts as if companies are breaking the law or using “loopholes” when they fail to adhere to the imaginary regulations.

Tech companies aren’t breaking any rules by ignoring Warren’s fictitious strictures. We already have a place to adjudicate the usefulness of mergers, and it’s called the Justice Department. They already do a terrible job without any more help.

And if the Justice Department is susceptible to partisan pressure—Democrats are now arguing that President Donald Trump ordered it to block the Time Warner/AT&T merger—surely a second regulatory body based on capricious progressive concepts of the common good would likewise be ripe for abuse.

A number of voters, regrettably, seem to believe that increasing regulatory oversight helps alleviate the destructive relationship between government and business.

Yet, by giving politically motivated regulators expansive powers to dictate how and when companies can grow, Warren would not only imbue government with more power to pick winners and losers, she would further incentivize CEOs to placate government officials and politicians rather than do what’s best for their companies and consumers.

It would be a lot more productive if we left markets to compete and instead broke up government power.

“Curious why I think FB has too much power?” Warren recently asked on Twitter after Facebook took down some of her ads. “Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power. Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn’t dominated by a single censor.”

A person doesn’t need to be exceptionally perceptive to notice that Warren’s grievance regarding a “single censor” shutting down debate on social media is weakened by the fact that she went to a competing social media platform to perpetuate the debate.

Nor did it take much work to find out that virtually every major news site had thoroughly covered her plan to break up Big Tech.

Her own tweet debunks the notion that a sole social media site can dominate news coverage or a national debate. Taking Instagram away from Facebook would do nothing to induce the social media giant to embrace truly open debate.

However, forcing a private entity to run ads that call for its own destruction is an unambiguous attack on free expression.

In the end, Facebook contends that it removed Warren’s ads because they violated company rules against use of its corporate logo. “In the interest of allowing robust debate, we are restoring the ads,” the company explained.

That makes the tech giant a far more robust space for free expression than your average news channel. And as sure as state intervention into TV news “fairness” would backfire so, too, will opening the door to Big Tech intervention. ##

 

The original article is posted at this link here.  It stands in contrast with voices like Professor Scott Galloway, of NY Stern, who said the following.

 

Note that the Daily Signal is the journalistic arm of the Heritage Foundation, which boasts that President Donald J. Trump has already begun to implement about 60 percent of its policy proposals.  So it is a force to be reckoned with.

In a posted reply to the above, our MHProNews publisher L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach said as follows.

LATonyKovachMHLivingnewsMHProNewsPHotoEditorially, we’d disagree with Senator Warren on several topics, but on the issue of the growing power of big tech or other monopolies, there may be an opportunity to forge a significant degree of left-center-right consensus.

“American history has long had a streak of antitrust and anti-monopoly.  Those tea bags that got tossed into Boston Harbor in 1773 were both taxed by the Brits and were a crown-sanctioned monopoly – the East India Company at its peak operated much like a government of its own in India. “In his speech to the House of Commons in July 1833, Lord Macaulay explained that since the beginning, the East India company had always been involved in both trade and politics, just as its French and Dutch counterparts had been,” perWikipedia.

This questions of the intersection of big business and ideally limited government isn’t as black and white an issue as many others that divide the left and right.  But the rationale to break up big tech shouldn’t be limited to just FAANG companies. Berkshire Hathaway, and Microsoft ought to be part of that breakup call too. #DeFaangBM #OpenMarkets. In our industry, we see the harm that is…routinely being done to independents.  The time to break these giants up is now, just as those rebels saw the need to toss the tea into Boston Harbor.”

 

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Other perspectives on the topic of the value of breaking up monopolistic companies – including, but not limited to Berkshire Hathaway – are welcomed.

 

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A closer look at American history reveals a long-standing struggle between big money powers that used their influence over government to in turn influence the marketplace. That occurred in the railroads, oil, banking, and more.

That’s this morning’s “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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Rent Control & MH – Politicians “Are Carpet-Bombing Our State With Regulations That Will Deliberately Destabilize The Housing Market And Leave It Obliterated”

March 2nd, 2019 Comments off

 

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The quotation in the headline is a reaction cited in detail further below to legislation passed in Oregon for statewide rent control. Rent control is often hailed by resident groups in our industry.  The activists at MHAction are just one example of support among manufactured home community (MHC) resident groups.  A search of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) website today under the search phrase “rent control” brought up articles that appeared to have no connection with “rent control,” although they did have the word “rent” in numerous articles.

 

Put differently, on the post-production side of our industry, several resident groups are promoting rent control, and at least visibly, MHI is mostly silent on the issue.

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By contrast, MHProNews has spotlighted this troubling topic for several years.  One example is the article linked below.

 

Enemies of Manufactured Homes, Communities; Rent Control, MHAction, George Soros, Ignorance, & Entropy

 

For whatever reasons, numbers of voices on the political left are pushing rent control. It should be noted that not only Democrats, but sometimes Republicans flirt with price controls.  During the Nixon Administration, the imposition of wage and price controls was tried and failed.  Rent control has routinely been proven to fail too.

 

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The video below from Canada is balanced report that provides an real-world example of the unexpected problems or so-called “unintended consequences” of rent control on manufactured home communities.  A similar pattern occurs in conventional housing too.

 


With that introduction, what follows below is an interesting look by the right-of-center Daily Signal’s Joel Griffith about the recently passed Oregon rent control bill.  Griffith’s column, shared under fair use guidelines and in accordance with the Daily Signal’s policies, will be followed by some additional commentary by MHProNews.

 

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Oregon’s Proposed Rent Controls Would Shrink Supply of Housing

by Joel Griffith

Oregon just took a big step this week toward becoming the first state in the nation to impose statewide rent controls—a step in the wrong direction.

Senate Bill 608—which has now passed both houses of the Legislative Assembly—limits annual rent increases to the inflation rate plus 7 percent and imposes stringent restrictions on the ability to evict tenants without cause. (It exempts new construction for 15 years.)

A united Republican caucus was joined by only three Democratic House members in opposition when it passed the lower chamber Tuesday. Only one Democrat opposed the legislation when it cleared the state Senate on Feb. 12.

The Willamette Week reported that Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, is likely to sign the measure into law.

Unfortunately for Oregon residents, public policy crafted in defiance of economic reality yields poor results, good intentions notwithstanding.

Rent control is the cause celebre of the chief sponsor of the legislation, state Sen. Shemia Fagan, D-Portland. She knocked off incumbent state Sen. Rob Monroe in a Democratic primary last May in part by sharply criticizing his opposition to rent control.

Her win proved instrumental in shifting the entire Democratic caucus to the left on the issue. Her stern message to fellow Democrats: “They need to take a message from my victory. My community is not interested in watering down my victory.”

Across Oregon, stringent zoning restrictions, density limitations, and aggressive environmental regulation limit supply of housing while increasing the costs of construction.

Rental costs reflect those realities. Capping rent increases does nothing to make housing less costly to build. But it will have the perverse effect of shrinking future supply by deterring new construction and incentivizing landlords to spend less money on upkeep and remodeling.

With rents capped, demand likely will increase further, but with supply unable to keep up with demand, housing shortages will likely continue.

“Oregon Democrats are carpet-bombing our state with regulations that will deliberately destabilize the housing market and leave it obliterated,” said Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for a group of Republicans in the Oregon House and Senate. “And in the smoldering remains, they will cry out that Senate Bill 608 wasn’t enough.”

The legislation also denies landlords the option to give a tenant a one-month “no-cause notice” to vacate a unit after 12 months of tenancy. Ostensibly, the intent of the sponsors is to protect tenants from higher-priced rents elsewhere or the inconvenience of relocating.

Legislators neglected to take note that a no-cause notice is also the best way for a landlord to remove a tenant engaged in harassment of his or her neighbors. In effect, this new prohibition will restrict compliance with Fair Housing Act protections against harassment.

Salem, Oregon, property manager Melodie Atkinson warned in a Feb. 8 op-ed in The Oregonian that “taking away landlords’ ability to issue these no-cause notices removes a valuable tool in protecting other tenants from one who has been harassing them or engaging in behavior that falls short of a for-cause eviction.”

 

She added, “Under current law, residents are better protected, and bad actors creating a hostile environment are given ample time to make alternative arrangements.”

Criticism of rent control as bad economics is hardly limited to landlords or to free-market conservatives.

As far back as 1965, Gunnar Myrdal, one of the visionaries behind Sweden’s welfare state, warned, “Rent control has in certain Western countries constituted, maybe, the worst example of poor planning by governments lacking courage and vision.”

 

Economics professor Assar Lindbeck, Myrdal’s fellow Swede, cautioned in 1972, “In many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing.”

In 1989, communists running Vietnam linked the abject condition of Hanoi’s housing directly to rent control. Then-Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach said, “The Americans couldn’t destroy Hanoi, but we have destroyed our city by very low rents. We realized it was stupid and that we must change policy.”

Although the Oregon legislation may score cheap political points, rent control and handcuffing property managers does nothing to solve the affordable housing problem.

It’s no surprise that with its already onerous restrictions on landlords, rents in Portland soared 42 percent from 2010 to 2017, more than triple the overall rate of inflation. Now, these ills are likely to adversely affect the rest of the state, too.

 

By contrast, reforming land-use laws—in effect, increasing supply—would be a big step in the right direction. With increased supply, rental prices could plateau or even decline.

The governor defends land-use regulations as a reason why the state’s wine industry thrives. Even if that were true, the unaffordable rental costs would amount to a hidden tax on the general public (many of them working class) in order to allow wealthy vineyard owners to thrive.

Adding new controls will only force renters to live in more dilapidated conditions and preclude additional units from being built.

That’s what you might call a Pyrrhic victory for Fagan and her fellow advocates of rent control.

— end of Daily Signal article.

A Pyrrhic victory is a reference to a classical phrase from ancient history.  It means a win that is so costly, that it may as well have been a defeat or loss.  As Dictionary put it, “This expression alludes to King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who defeated the Romans at Asculum in b.c. 279, but lost his best officers and many of his troops.”

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For Democrats or others who promote rent control, however good their intention may be, the results are routinely the same. It turns out badly.

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Impact of Rent Control on MH, Other Independents?

But there is another point about rent control that ought to be made. How does it impact independents vs. larger corporations?

  • As with many burdensome and complex regulations, rent control often forces the ‘mom and pop’ sized businesses, out of business.  In the manufactured home community sector, that routinely means that larger community operations end up purchasing – often at a discounted value – a manufactured home land-lease property.
  • Or, it may mean that a community is sold for redevelopment and closed forever as a source of affordable manufactured home living.

Ironically, these are the opposite of the outcomes that left-wing MHAction claims that they want.

MHAction recently torched several of the giants in manufactured home communities via a ‘white paper.’  That white paper was spotlighted by the left-of-center Washington Post, see the MHProNews review of that article linked below the byline and notices.

The National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners or NAMHCO was formally established in 2018.  A Google search this morning makes it appear that NAMHCO does not have a website yet.  So, it is too soon to see what NAMHCO’s posture on this topic might be.

But it is worth noting that Paul Bradley, President of ROCUSA came out against rent control in a letter to the editor here on MHProNews. MHAction, and those like yourselves, are you listening?

Letters to MHProNews from western manufactured home communities trade association executive director, Sheila Dey and another from Sam Landy of UMH Properties, plus others on the rent control topic are also linked further below.

At this time, on this vexing post-production issue, this site is the primary national platform where those who question the value of rent control can come for intellectual support. For pragmatic reasons, independent MHProNews has and will continue to oppose rent control as eventually having the opposite effect that its proponents claim to want to promote.

That’s today’s “News Through the Lens of Manufactured Homes, and Factory-Built Housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, 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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NPR and Fair Housing: Is “Liberal Bias” Creating Fake News?

February 1st, 2017 Comments off
NPRandFairHousingIsLiberalBiasCreatingFakeNewscreditIMediaEthics-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: iMediaEthics.

A recent op-ed by Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, puts a new spotlight on the coverage provided by NPR and poses serious questions about how the organization covers news.

Is National Public Radio’s description of an Obama urban directive as something that merely ‘links [government] funding to desegregation’ fake news?” writes Gonzalez, in The Daily Signal.

Well, it’s so slanted that if you had no prior knowledge of the program, and heard NPR’s depiction of it, you would just say to yourself, ‘Sounds good to me.’

NPRandFairHousingIsLiberalBiasCreatingFakeNewscreditITheDailySignal-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Mike Gonzalez. Credit: The Daily Signal.

But to many conservatives, including the man that President Donald Trump has nominated to be the new secretary of housing and urban development, Dr. Ben Carson, the Orwellian ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing’ is a tortured interpretation of the Fair Housing Act.

The stated goal of the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” portion of the Fair Housing Act is to allow for the building of high density, low income housing in suburbs to better reflect the racial makeup of the nation.

FormerHUDSecretariesEndorseBenCarsonforPostcreditFoxNews-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Dr. Ben Carson at his confirmation hearing. Credit: Fox News.

In an op-ed to the Washington Times, Dr.  Carson commented on the rule, saying that “It would require that such affordable housing be built primarily in wealthier neighborhoods with few current minority residents and that the new housing be aggressively marketed to minorities.

In practice, the rule would fundamentally change the nature of some communities from primarily single-family to largely apartment-based areas by encouraging municipalities to strike down housing ordinances that have no overtly (or even intended) discriminatory purpose —including race-neutral zoning restrictions on lot sizes and limits on multi-unit dwellings, all in the name of promoting diversity.”

Gonzalez then points out that recent NPR coverage of Ben Carson and his nomination leaves out details.

That view was not reflected in NPR reporter Pam Fessler’s unflattering piece on Carson following his nomination. The piece referred positively to the housing program as ‘stepped up enforcement of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which is intended to reduce segregation,’” wrote Gonzalez.

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Credit: National Mortgage News.

Given NPR‘s reporting, including their recent reports on manufactured housing communities, Gonzalez poses the question: should the Trump Administration end government funding of NPR?

 

The MH Industry Speaks

RichardNodelOwnerNodelParksManufacturedHomeCommunities-postedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews-

Richard Nodel, owner, Nodel Parks, photo credit: LinkedIn.

Negative coverage of our industry is something many media outlets are guilty of, but I am a patriot first, said Nodel Parks owner Richard Nodel. 

Anything that is an abridgment of our constitutional rights is a greater threat to all of us than just a negative news article. Let’s fight bad information with good information and not have to resort to un-American activities like censorship of the media. Just because we don’t like the report, do we try and shutter the source?”

Others in the industry see it differently.

We need to send a message to liberal media outlets, like publicly supported NPR,” said Lamb Investments principle, Todd Lamb.

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Todd Lamb, Lamb Investments.

If there is going to be government funds they need to be non-biased or fair to all sides. Now is the opportunity for conservatives to strike back at what we have endured for ten or more years. Gone are the days when a journalist would pride himself on hiding his own opinions or views. I used to enjoy listening to NPR. Now,” Lamb said, Im in favor of pulling any and all funding from it!”

On the issue of media coverage of the MH Industry and politics in general, Lamb said, “I agree with Tony Kovach, I agree with Dr. Ben Carson, and of course, I agree with our new President, Donald J Trump.

UMH CEO Sam Landy, whose company was front and center in an NPR manufactured home community focused article, believes that accountability, above all else, is key.

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Sam Landy. Credit: REIT. For a Cup of Coffee interview with Mr. Landy, click here.

NPR and UMH both care deeply about people. UMH has operated manufactured home communities since 1969. We believe enforcement of our rules and regulations is best for the majority of the people who live in our community,” said Landy.

NPR is reminding us that we must exercise our authority with compassion. We welcome outside oversight and criticism as it allows us to objectively evaluate our actions. We believe in each case covered here we in fact did the right thing for our residents, and that we did it in a compassionate manner. We welcome NPR‘s follow up.

MHProNews and MHLivingNews Publisher L.A. “Tony” Kovach also commented on the op-ed by Gonzalez.

With huge deficits and mounting debt, should U.S. taxpayers be funding any media,” Kovach says, “other than video feeds from CSPAN or social media posts by agencies that allow citizens to follow their government’s actions?

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L A ‘Tony’ Kovach, credit, MHVillage.

Kovach continued, speaking to “agenda journalism (as opposed to legitimate editorializing, which should be in a different part of publication) is the recent case of NPR’s attack on private investor owned manufactured home communities.

MHLivingNews.com and MHProNews.com dug into those issues, revealing facts that NPR simply ignored. When we contacted NPR for comments on clearly overlooked third-party information that ran counter to their narrative, their reply? That they stand by their reports,” said Kovach.

For more coverage on the fallout from the NPR feature on manufactured housing communities, click here. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.