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Free Trade or Economic War?

April 6th, 2018 No comments

Anyone going to school in the U.S. after WW II has learned the breakdown in world trade was a primary, though not only, cause of the Great Depression. It is said import tariffs and barriers caused world trade to be constrained. There is little doubt it was a cause.

I grew up believing it and have done so with little retrospective most of my life. As U.S. auto plants closed in the 1980s and forward (I was a GM dealer at the time), I blamed the unions, the workers, and incompetent auto company management. Whole swaths of the country from the Great Lakes to Maine back to the Mason-Dixon Line started to lose industrial plants, in the heartland of America. They became destroyed areas, bereft of jobs and hope. The bombing campaigns of W.W. II Europe couldn’t have caused greater damage.

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Yet with the belief in free trade in the country so ingrained, we blamed the fallen for their fate. I was part of that crowd. It never occurred to me to ask if free trade was so good, why is its impact so disastrous for the U.S.? Not until recently, that is.

And surely our race for government control of every aspect of our economy led to manacled industrial results, especially in heavy industry. But I heard our technology would bail us out. Who needed autos, steel, aluminum and other smoke stack industries, what with their pollution and dirt? Not the U.S. Uhm, we forgot we needed their jobs.

This all played a terrible self-destruction to our heavy industry and their secondary affiliates. The politicians in power either didn’t see the developments, didn’t have answers, or didn’t care. We have seen recently how quickly our economy can respond when unleased. How hard was that?

It’s obvious that the last 30 years, especially our last 8 years prior to 2017, that one of the most important OleMartyBoy Principles was not understood by our heros in government: “You get more of what you encourage and less of what you discourage.” Simple, eh, but entirely overlooked by our government until last year.

YouGetMoreOfWhatYouEncourageLessofWhatYouDiscourageMartyLavin

I understand Free Trade means that each of the parties share similar rules as to access, tariffs, government industrial financial assistance and the like. Each of the parties is to operate in trade under similar rules, with shared understandings.

Still, the economic talking points by the media trumpet Free Trade, when even the dead and buried know there is little of it with many of our trade partners, especially The People’s Republic of China. That is the problem seemingly overlooked when media discussions center on the subject. Often the quoted experts are those who profit from trade, free or not, usually the finance contingent.

When a trading partner has rules heavily skewed in their direction, as in the case of China, it is very difficult to achieve free trade. Does each party have similar access to the other’s markets? Are tariffs similar? Are privately owned companies in the U.S. competing against government backed Chinese companies who can survive long after a privately-owned U.S. company would be long gone, and thus undercutting its pricing? And most importantly, does the other country operate in a relatively free market?

China has over a billion plus person population. It is a giant country that has been backward, isolated and extremely poor. Coming out of W.W. II, it had a puny, agrarian economy. Its communist dictatorship created a command economy. The U.S., as it had done with Germany, Italy, Japan, and non-communist Europe helped re-establish the shattered economies of these countries with trade. China, under the yoke of brutal Chairman Mao, spent much of the post-war period avoiding the U.S. and brutalizing much of its citizenry. Like all old men, The Great Prick, Mao finally died. A special place is reserved for Him in Hell.

The new generation of Chinese leaders decided their best bet to continue to rule the dictatorship was to open their economy to trade so fewer of their citizens starved every year. We now enter in the final phase of that stage in China. It’s emergence as a world power has been achieved by an almost capitalist drive for growth and trade. Now that fewer of its citizens are starving, it has turned its attention to waging an economic war on the rest of the world.

After the war, Germany sprung economically quickly, Japan following behind, then most of non-communist Europe followed suit. Ex-Communist Europe still struggles. China followed very slowly for years. Their agrarian economy, lack of infrastructure, large over-population, and strict communist control hindered easy solutions for China’s emergence.

But once going in the 1980s, to the present, they blew forward. And who became their greatest trading partner and deliverer of free technology they seemed incapable of creating? Why, good old Uncle Sam. Sam made many concessions to the Chinese to help them economically. In fact the emergence was so great, that the New York Times’ ace reporter, Tom Friedman advocated the U.S. should adopt the Chinese model for the economy. We saw how well that direction worked with the economic performance of Tom’s favorite President, Barack Hussein Obama.

I suffered thru much of the 1980’s when Japan, Inc. was running rough shod over our economy and we all believed they would easily control us. They were going to buy everything in America! Lost any sleep on that one recently? We sure did then. They were then the Asian powerhouse, akin to their speed in conquering much of South East Asia during the war, then unable to maintain their advantage against the U.S., just like in the war.

In Japan, the command economy stumbled badly in the 1990s and continues to do so. Picking many winners in the economy early boosted them, but command economies seem incapable of letting the losers die, dragging down all with them, by not cleansing by dying. The losers stayed alive with government help, as many do to this day.

Lying in wait in the Chinese economy lurks the same virus, as it does in all command economies, germinating even as we breathe. The trade deficit in the news is that China is enjoying a $350-$500 Billion-dollar annual trade deficit with the US and a $300 billion-dollar annual technology transfer as a gift, (actually by theft). Quickly, who has the most to lose in this transaction? China or Americans no longer able to go to Walmart to buy more cheap unneeded junk?

The economic talking heads making their living on Wall Street or Washington, D.C. care little about American workers displaced for years. Deplorables! Now the economic bigshots lament the possible trade war with China because it threatens their stew, citing the loss of cheap goods for us to buy. Where were these folks all those years as hard working Americans were thrown from their jobs, in places like Buffalo, Detroit and Youngstown, all dead cities. You know, “free” trade is a must, for the elites.

In this blather over free trade, the one thing I have never heard is that the actions of the Chinese constitute an economic war against the U.S., and has been since Nixon went to China. Dead soldiers, bombed cities, lost industry, and loss of fortune is the result of a shooting war.  They are easy to spot. An economic war is harder to see, but the results are similar; ruined cities, lost industry, citizen agony, broken dreams, destruction of the American economy.  We have been living with that. The results are easily visible. It does seem difficult to see from Wall Street and D.C.

This war is being done on the backs of our workers and industry, and our economy. The trade rules are not similar. Technology is stolen en masse. Their markets are often closed to us. They are very smart people and have been out maneuvering us for 50 years. How dumb can we be?

Even though they now have a first world economy, by choice they have a third world pay scale for their workers. This creates quality goods at a price our companies cannot hope to match. And between their lack of free trade and subsidy of the cost of their goods, how do our companies compete? The answer is obvious, we can’t. Thus this massive transfer of wealth from us to them, allowing them to continue their economic war unabated. This has built their new cities, airports, schools, roads and infrastructure to first world standards.

Their actions in the command economy injures their workers as well, keeping a massive economy acting like they barely succeed with worker earnings. But this action is getting pushback as countries wake up from their slumber.

I am running a contest. Thinking the talking heads will prevail, and we do nothing about the predatory Chinese trade practices, I am looking for a worker’s name. I want to know the name of the last American industrial worker, the one who turns off the lights in the last manufacturing plant in the country, just as it closes. Email me the name and the winner gets $100.00 and a video tour of Detroit. ##

marty-lavin-posted-on-mhpronewsMartin V “Marty” Lavin, J.D.
Burlington, VT
Winter Residence, Miami, FL

Editor’s Notes: Marty is a community, retail, and finance veteran who is an MHI award winner.

Note 2: The content is penned by Marty, but the illustrations are provided by the editor. 

Manufactured Homes – Access & Equity – a Key Cure for America’s Housing Shortages, Wealth-Building Says Activist Donald Tye, Jr.

March 6th, 2018 No comments

Manufactured housing could cure most of the ills we have in this country as it pertains to the housing shortage.

Why then is it not being utilized as it could be?  Especially when it is known what the consent of the governed has been towards its use, i.e.: HUD?

The answer lies in the fact that super-capitalists and monopolies controlled by the few, lobby against the very democracy that afforded them the billions they have at their disposal. They are able to do this by making sure that on every level of the socioeconomic hierarchy, they have agents, allies, or directors forming what is called an Interlocking Directorate. 

These directorates can be very deceptive, because most times their job is not to steer but just to glean information to disseminate to the titular head of the organization. Many an activist, including myself, have fallen prey to this type of hidden maneuvering and manipulation.  Warren Buffett is among such Americans.

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Housing and Civil Rights, Super-Capitalism vs. Democracy

I was never in agreement with parts of the Civil Rights Movement as it pertained to making people do what they otherwise did not want to do. I believe that if you don’t want me in your store, then I should not go to your store.

However, I do believe in equal access.

I believe that people participating in a Democracy should be granted all the same access, holding to the words of the Declaration of Independence; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Simply put, a Democratic Government should give equal access to the governed. To all people who are citizens, black, white, yellow, etc.

It is in this vein that my parents, and I as a parent, disagreed with affirmative action. If you gave me access to: living wage jobs, bank loans to purchase a home and an equally unencumbered education, then I could do the rest by myself! That in and of itself is reparations.

I have said before that home ownership is the quickest way to build wealth.

Our personal experience with buying and paying off a factory-built home, in the days before the HUD Code for manufactured housing came into being, is another indicator that manufactured homes can rise in value side-by-side with conventional housing.

HUD and public officials need to make enhanced preemption of manufactured homes a reality. What else will fix the problem millions face caused by locals and officials blocking access to wealth-creating affordable? ##

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Rev. Donald Tye, Jr.
Actively Retired
Minister, Investor, and Business Professional

 

(Editor’s Notes: Rev. Tye has recently returned from Puerto Rico, where he saw the post-hurricane challenges first hand.  He’s also involved with investors in transformational studies in housing.  Tye is actively advocating for the use of the enhanced preemption passed into law by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.  The links below are related topics that sparked the letter provided by Tye above to MHProNews for publication.

Tye has also provided a sample of legal research from Harvard University on the challenges and problems that can be created by interlocking directorates. Stay tuned for that report…Titles to articles and illustrations are routinely provided by the publisher, as is the case here.)

 

Progressive “Nation” Reports on Monopolies Cites Buffett, Clayton, Others – MH Industry Impact?

YIMBY vs. NIMBY, Obama Admin Concept Could Unlock $1.95 Trillion Annually, HUD & MH Impact

Urban Institute Ask for Correction in Analysis of their Manufactured Housing Research, “Follow the Facts,” “Follow the Money”

Harper – Thank You Rev Donald Tye, Fighting for Enhanced Preemption of Manufactured Homes

July 28th, 2017 No comments

Tony,
I’ve been meaning to take a moment for a couple of weeks now, to send you this message. I apologize for mixing subjects, but – in the end – I believe you’ll find that all these topics relate to one another.

1)    Thank you for your direct question to HUD’s Pam Danner about the City of Kilgore’s plans to further limit the placement of manufactured homes in that city.  I’ve repeatedly questioned why HUD and the administrator’s Office of Manufactured Housing Programs hasn’t acknowledged that preemption was significantly enhanced by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA of 2000).

2)   Several of Rev. Donald Tye, Jr.’s comments which you published brought back memories of an MHI Land Use Conference held in Chicago in the late 90’s.  I remember a speaker at that event – a middle-aged black gentleman, who was (I believe) a member of the Illinois General Assembly.  He coined a term for the discrimination by local governments against many forms of affordable housing, particularly manufactured home placements.

That speaker called it “economic racism.”

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Collage credit, MHProNews.com – this and the headline are provided by the publisher, as is customary with Op-Eds. The statements are those of the writer.

I’ve thought about the power in that statement many times since that meeting, knowing that he had lived-through the Civil Rights movement.

I’ve spent countless evenings in municipal buildings made of cinder-blocks with bad fluorescent lighting. I’d attend meetings, ‘waging a seemingly-endless war on ignorance’ about our affordable homes (and the people who live in our product) with local decision-makers over the past quarter-century.

So, I appreciate and agree with Rev. Tye’s powerful comments.

3)    In conclusion, I believe many in our society view manufactured housing as some sort of ‘housing of last resort’ for:

  • poor people,
  • illegal immigrants,
  • rednecks,
  • divorcees on public assistance and
  • other undesirable elements of the population.

It’s a stereotype/stigma perpetuated by the media which creates and/or re-enforces barriers to the acceptance, and highest use, of manufactured homes as an affordable housing resource.

I remember a small-town mayor telling me – ‘off the record’ of course – his perspective on inclusionary zoning in his city: “It ain’t the houses, son… It’s the people that live in them.” ##  (Publisher’s note: see the graphic, and link below on Rev. Donald Tye Jr.)

JDHarperExecutiveDirectorArkansasManufacturedHousingAssocPostedMHProNews

 

J.D. Harper
Executive Director
Arkansas Manufactured Housing Association (AMHA)
1123 South University – Suite #720
Little Rock, AR 72204

 

 

 

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Click the image above to see one of the articles and topics that these quotes from Tye come from.

 

 

“Hypocrisy!” Keith Olbermann Crossed-the-Line with Misguided “Trailer Park Trash” Comments

April 23rd, 2017 No comments

Wow!! Keith Olbermann should be careful. I’m sure he knows that God humbles the proud, and gives grace to the poor.

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Headlines and these graphic are provided by MHProNews, as is customary with many in media.

This is a perfect example of the hypocrisy from the left. They demand and cry for ‘political correctness’ from the GOP and Christians, but then turn around and place themselves in the judgement seat (which should be reserved for God alone – Duet 32:35) by using the term “Trailer Park Trash.”

Some of the most joy-filled, hard-working and good people that I have had the privilege to know live in Manufactured Home Communities. I’m sure they would not appreciate his terminology, or Olbermann’s judgement on two Rockers and Sarah Palin.

It really is shocking to see the left-wingers squirm when they are not in power. A reminder to all Conservatives: “Pray for Donald Trump, the President is under constant attack.” ##

(Editor’s Note: The above is in response to the article on The Hill about the tweeted comment by Keith Olbermann, see link here.)

ToddGLambLambInvestments1postedIndustryVoices_ManufacturedHomeCommunities-MHIndustry-MHProNews200x200Todd Lamb
Lamb Investments

Tim Williams Encouraged by Regulatory Freeze Ordered by President Trump

January 23rd, 2017 No comments

I am deeply encouraged that less than 24 hours into President Trump’s term, he has frozen new, potentially burdensome regulations.

The immediate impact assists working people and those on fixed incomes – as well as others of low and moderate income – to realize the dream of affordable manufactured homeownership and cannot be overstated.

Onerous regulations were in the process of adoption by the previous administration that would have added thousands of dollars to the cost of manufactured homes, thus pricing tens of thousands of Americans from realizing the dream of homeownership.

Those regulations range from excessive energy mandates, to overkill foundation rules, as well as needless additional regulation of home construction.

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Image credit, MHProNews. The headline and image are provided by the editor.

Manufactured homes are the ONLY form of housing where each home is rigorously inspected and approved by government in the design, construction, and home placement process.

The strong existing consumer protections will continue without the regulatory over kill which would have stifled expanded homeownership and cost thousands of construction jobs. ##

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Tim Williams, OMHA.

Tim Williams
Executive Director
Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA)
244 Bradenton Avenue
Dublin, Ohio 43017

Congressman Dennis A. Ross’ statement on Dr. Ben Carson for HUD Secretary

December 12th, 2016 No comments

I fully support President-elect Trump’s appointment of Dr. Ben Carson as the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This was a very smart choice. Dr. Carson has a unique and first-hand perspective having been born and raised in the inner city.

His life story, background and accomplishments will allow him to better understand the challenges and needs of HUD and the American people more than most.

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The statement on this page is part of a news and analysis report about the Dr. Ben Carson nomination for HUD Secretary, linked here.

As he has done for much of his life, he will continue to be an excellent public servant in this role.

I look forward to working with Dr. Carson to improve our housing policies and to help families prosper in the coming months and years.

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Dennis A. Ross
U.S. Congressional Representative (FL-15)

Paul Bradley on the Pending FHFA Final Duty to Serve Rule

December 12th, 2016 No comments

This and Leslie Gooch’s article both push for a chattel pilot in Land Lease Communities; ROC USA is right with them!  Like Gooch, I see the fundamental issue coming down to what we can work out with the GSEs relative to, as she wrote, “reasonable standards for land leases in conjunction with such homes.

We have Fannie Mae financing homes in some of our communities already, but it’s too limited.  We want a chattel pilot and standard land lease so we can scale.  It should reassure skeptics that home-only loans by the GSEs have worked in Land Lease Communities.  We need DTS to get together as a larger market opportunity for the GSEs.

I am surprised that the Community Bankers’ Association (ICBA) would come out against GSE chattel product – from the many community bankers I’ve talked to over the years, the local bankers want a secondary market for chattel.

One of the concerns that lenders often express about manufactured home loans in Land Lease Communities is that homes there lose value.  But that is not a given.  I can point to examples in Land Lease Communities where homes are appreciating.  

ConcernLendersHaveManufacturedHomesLoansLoseValueExamplesHomesAppreciatingPaulBradleyROCUSA-IndustryVoicesManufacturedHousingIndustryVoicesMHProNews

In fact, the two unique elements of this sector – relatively more expensive chattel products and land lease – can be resolved by the GSEs; they could make this market no different than the conventional residential markets where supply, demand, location and upkeep influence house price performance.  The GSEs, with the right lease terms to secure their and homeowners’ interests, could help fix the problem that causes some manufactured homes to lose value. ##

Paul Bradley
President
ROC USA

(Editor’s Note: The National Mortgage News article Paul Bradley is commenting on is linked as a download, here. For an interview with manufactured home owner – Kim Capen, who likewise points to appreciation of manufactured homes in his community – click here.)

Don Glisson Jr. – CEO of Triad Financial Services – on Dr. Ben Carson for HUD Secretary

December 12th, 2016 No comments

We at Triad Financial Services are hopeful that President-elect Trump and soon-to-be HUD Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, are committed to sensible regulation for manufactured housing and home lending.

As the leading independent lender in the manufactured housing industry, we have seen many regulatory challenges during our 50+ years of serving manufactured home buyers. We are very proud of our extremely low customer complaint rate, and have always had a robust compliance program.

We have always played by the rules and taken a conservative approach – which is one reason we have survived for so many years – along with having a stellar regulatory track-record.

Against that backdrop, the past 8 years have brought us regulations that have burdened our company and increased the cost of lending to our borrowers who can least afford it. We cannot see how many of these new rules and regulations are doing anything to protect the borrowers.

We are NOT in favor of “no regulation,” as we have seen the results of irresponsible lending in the past.

But regulatory overreach has driven several fine lenders – U.S. Bank for example – out of this industry, which means the consumer has FEWER choices.

Inflexible and line-in-the-sand regulations – like the 43% maximum debt ratio that applies to Ability-to-Repay (ATR) – don’t take into account, for example, that a person making $10,000 per month can afford a 45% debt ratio – due to disposable income – while a person making $2,500 per month cannot.

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Is it fair that someone with a 42.9% debt ratio is approved for a loan, but someone with a 43.1% debt ratio is denied?

What about considering where the potential borrower lives? A person in Florida pays no state income tax, but a resident of California pays state taxes as high as 12%.

Again, we are all for sensible regulation and would loathe a “Wild West” marketplace where lenders can run roughshod and take advantage of the consumer.

But regulations that do nothing to protect the consumer and erect hard-and-fast rules – with no room for making exceptions – have harmed and will continue to harm this industry, home owners and potential buyers.

As the CEO of the largest independent finance company in our industry, I look forward to working with Secretary Carson and his staff to help them understand the unique challenges that lenders and borrowers face today. ##

Don Glisson, Jr.,
CEO, Triad Financial Services, Inc.
Past Chairman of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

(Editor’s Note: Parts of this commentary by Don Glisson Jr. are found in an examination of the controversy of Dr. Ben Carson being named by President-elect Donald J. Trump for the role of HUD Secretary; to see that article, click here.)

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Kurt Kelley, JD, Sounds-Off on Dr. Ben Carson for HUD Secretary

December 5th, 2016 No comments

That’s great news.  I have some “Carson for President” bumper stickers.

Dr. Ben Carson is a true American success story.

drbencarsonpresidentelectdonaldtrumpthehillgetty-postedindustryvoicesmanufacturedhousingindustrycommentarymhpronews

For more insights on this controversy, see the Daily Business News story – “Is Ben Carson the Right Choice for HUD Secretary? Depends On Who You Ask.Images and headlines on this blog are supplied by the publisher, not the opinion writer. All views are those of the writer, other Op-Ed or letters to the editor are welcome.

He started with only the love of his mother, yet he became the best brain surgeon in the country and one of America’s most admired men.

Dr. Carson knows what it’s like to be the little guy.  He’s exactly what D.C. needs. ##

kurtkellyjdpresidentmobileinsurance-postedindustryvoicesmanufacturedhousingindustrycommentarymhpronewsKurt Kelley, JD
President
Mobile Insurance

Jay Hamilton on Dr. Ben Carson’s being named for Appointment as HUD Secretary

December 5th, 2016 No comments
 Dr. Ben Carson grew up in Public Housing. He  spent many years working as a Neurological Surgeon in an Urban Hospital Environment. So he witnessed the effect of substandard housing on health.

But even still, a number may see this as an illogical choice. I fully expected Dr. Carson to be named Surgeon General or Health & Human Services Secretary.

President-elect Trump has made it clear that he will place people that are loyal to himself and to conservative values.

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For more insights on this controversy, see the Daily Business News story – “Is Ben Carson the Right Choice for HUD Secretary? Depends On Who You Ask.” As on all industry voices topics, other persepctives are welcome, and the views are those of the writer.

Does that mean that this HUD role is what Dr. Carson requested?  Or was this the only Agency left over that was large enough to reward Dr. Carson for his help and support?

At the end of the day, everyone will serve at the new president’s pleasure, regardless of who we deem “best qualified.”

But unless Dr. Carson or members of President-elect Trump’s team have someone reading MHProNews or MHLivingNews, odds are that neither may realize that manufactured home regulation falls under HUD’s jurisdiction. ##

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Jay Hamilton, GMHA.