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No God, Jerusalem or Manufactured Housing?

September 16th, 2012 14 comments

by Michael Barnabas

You don't have to be Jewish to feel deep concern about what took place at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Responding to political pressure to put the word "God" back in their platform as well as to once again name Jerusalem as Israel's national capital, DNC delegates where asked to pass the motion by a 2/3 vote. The video I've asked to be posted below tells the tale. For those who question the commitment by Democrats to fair elections, please watch this CSPAN video and share it with others.

Once you've watched this objectively, everything else is spin and commentary.

Among the emails that come into me are from a White House 'group.' Some months back, there was an outreach by that White House group to the business community. The president, it was said, wants to help ease burdensome regulations, to make it easier on small businesses.

Excuse me?

How can we take such an election year outreach to small businesses seriously, by those who executed Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare?

Talk to an independent manufactured home builder. Ask them, with consumer complaints at new lows, why is HUD pushing more and more 'voluntary' – and other – regulations? Why don't we have the Duty to Serve implemented by the GSEs/FHFA?

The energy sector creates demand for factory-built housing, in places such as North Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states. The current administration's policies, up until election year, were favoring gas prices of $8 to $9 a gallon for gas, as this video clip of testimony by Energy Secretary Steven Chu demonstrates.

While this next video clip has been pieced together, it reflects in President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's own words, a path designed to foil coal fired energy production in the United States.

Without belaboring the point, some believe that anti-domestic energy policies such as these were a path to promote green energy by making conventional domestic energy sources harder to come by. Such policies directly harm domestic energy firms. But they indirectly harm our industry, which often provides housing for those workers, especially when they are in areas with high demand for housing.

We scarcely hear about enhanced pre-emption for HUD Code Homes these days. Why not? Wasn't it part of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000?

Community operators created some 10 billion worth of paper to finance manufactured homes in their land lease locations. This was a free enterprise solution designed to fill the gaps created when lenders who vaporized – such as Conseco – went good-bye. But SAFE, Dodd-Frank and a plethora of other laws and regulations have so squeezed this 'captive finance' free enterprise solution in MHCs, that now community owner/operators are turning to rental homes in their properties instead.

Rentals?

Rentals in once all owner occupied communities?! The entire business model of community operators is being changed by the Regulators and their political allies who passed and fund those regulations. Shame on us if we let the party of Regulation be rewarded.

I'm appalled that some still want to believe in "hope and change," when we are heading "forward" towards a new fiscal cliff and a new recession in 2013. Some commentators already believe we are already back in recession.

How could we move "forward" by following the advice of those who gladly took Fannie and Freddie's PAC money? Politicians such as Congressman Barney Frank and then Senator Barack Obama? ACORN, community organizer Barack Obama and the Clinton Administration worked together to force lenders to issue loans to those who were not credit qualified. No doubt there were Republicans who colluded. Shame on all involved.

But it is gutless by Republicans to let the Democrats dish it out and not respond to such fables, blaming Bush II for the mortgage/housing meltdown when Democrats had a firm hand in the cookie jar that caused that whole fiasco.

They should call it the mortgage/financial services industry's version of Russian roulette.

When government interferes so massively in the free market, of course there will be unintended consequences.

But to falsely blame supply side economics for the mortgage/housing collapse is a creative lie or brutal ignorance. Neither the option of lie or ignorance are worthy of credence or support.

We don't hear much in Manufactured housing circles about how the run-up to the mortgage meltdown harmed our Industry. But it did! Easy qualifying, liar loans and the like created a false opportunity for hundreds of thousands of conventional housing buyers. A percentage of those buyers were or normally would have been manufactured home owners. As some manufactured home lenders about those owners who walked away from their HUD Code homes to get conventional houses during the run up to the mortgage/housing bust.

That put pressure on MH lenders and the MH market in general. As MHs where being left behind, of course values dropped, just as they have more recently in conventional housing neighborhoods plagued by foreclosures.

So federal policy harmed our industry in the early 00s, as thousands of our home owners left what become over-leveraged HUDs for what turned out to be over-leveraged conventional houses.

You can thank those politicians who made that happen to us then and more recently.

But let's not thank them by rewarding them with our support or our votes. That is like rewarding the thief by putting him in charge of law enforcement.

When politicians plunder the public treasury to fund with borrowed and tax payer money programs contrary to the Constitution and the public interest, it is time to end such madness.

Research I've seen indicates that some 44-47% of voters will vote for President Obama no matter what he says or does. That means the rest of us who are capable of a critical analysis and independent thought better show up at the polls and cast ballots wisely.

While applauding columns like the one on Voter Fraud, I was frankly disappointed when MHProNews published an interview with Congressman Joe Donnelly. Donnelly may be a co-sponsor of HR 3849, but he also voted for HERA 2008, which gave us the SAFE Act. Donnelly voted for Dodd-Frank. So while I understand the desire for 'balance,' I question the timing or "political correctness" of publishing the Donnelly interview during campaign season.

What we need when the industry is already in the lifeboats and are looking at possible new waves looming on the horizon is enhanced clarity, not confusion.

When even Time Magazine, Newsweek and the New York Times Magazine are publishing stories and OpEds that call into question or openly attack the Obama Presidency, MH trade publications need to be coming out loud, clear and strongly in favor of less government, lower taxes/regulations, a sane pro-domestic energy program and more free enterprise leadership.

The first pair of drafts of this article I was asked to edit and tone down. So this is the toned down version. I was also told that the editor would add a disclaimer and an invitation for responses. So be it.

Back to the top. Sham votes matter. They speak volumes.

Election year political posturing, via asking independent business owners and executives how to reduce the burdens or regulations matters too. It is the age old trick of seduction at work. We are being divided and conquered.

We are watching borrowed money and our tax dollars being turned against us to destroy the greatest economic system and the most free society in world history.

9/11 and U.S. Embassies ablaze reminds us why Jerusalem and God matters to America, and why that Democratic sham of a platform vote matters.

Manufactured housing matters too. President Obama stood in Elkhart, IN – an area where so many manufactured housing plants and suppliers are – talking jobs. Are there connections between all that is being covered in this column? Yes. They are just different corners of the same bolt of American political cloth.

If we sweep the current left wing crop of Democrats and RINO Republicans aside in favor of more free market oriented leaders, manufactured housing can blossom and grow again. All we need is a level playing field.

Some speculate that Ben Bernanke may have decided on QE3 – de facto printing money – to boost stock prices short term to help Team Obama win re-election. Whatever his motivation, the credit down grade cited below reminds us that the Bernanke/FED/QE3 policy is misguided. It will harm the middle class and seniors. Economic history reminds us that you earn, not print, your way to success.

“Ratings firm Egan-Jones cut its credit rating on the U.S. government to "AA-"

from "AA," citing its opinion that quantitative easing from the

Federal Reserve would hurt the

U.S. economy and the country's credit quality.” – CNBC

If we have supply-side Republicans in charge of the House and Senate, but fail to sweep out Architect Obama – the leader of our changed and hopeless society – we have not done enough.

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

26th President of the United States

For anyone who votes to re-elect the man who wants to move us 'forward' off the looming fiscal cliff, such a person could qualify as unpatriotic by Roosevelt's definition.

Don't let that happen. Half measures won't be enough. ##

(Editor's Note: All Industry Voices and other opinion columns, including the Masthead blog, et al, represent the views of those who write them. They do not necessarily represent the views of MHProNews.com or our sponsors. It has been our long standing policy to invite guest columns from people with opposing perspectives. You can send your own letter to the editor or OpEd column on a subject connected to factory built housing to the email address linked here, with Industry Voices in the subject line. Thank you.)

Post submitted by
Michael Barnabas

Intolerant Tolerance

August 3rd, 2012 2 comments

Michael Barnabas posted in MHProNewsby Michael Barnabas

For the purposes of this column, it shouldn't matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. It shouldn't matter what your nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation happens to be. There are a number of trends in our land that should concern business owners, executives and professionals – including the 250.000 or so professionals involved in manufactured housing – that could bite you or others one day. We might call this trend, intolerant tolerance. We have potentially profitable lessons to learn from this, but there are concerns that must be understood and dealt with to avoid negative, sudden impact.

Unless you've been on vacation off the planet, you have likely heard about the controversy that has erupted when mayors in Chicago, Boston and other public officials have come out strongly against the expansion of Chick-fil-A in their respective areas. For example, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that Chick fil A's values were not "Chicago values." He therefor wants to block a new job-creating location that the chain has in mind to open there.

Chick-fil-A's Facebook page says, "The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."

Is there anything missing in that statement worth troubling ourselves over?

So why should that company be targeted by those who happen to hold a different personal viewpoint? Are we approaching a point where if your beliefs – or mine – don't happen to be the same as those of a local, state or national official, that we better fall in line, or else face threats against our business or profession?

Objectively – and sadly – one must answer this question today with a 'yes.' Which is precisely why we as business professionals need to take action at the polls and in jury boxes when called upon and in sounding off via letters to the editor and with public officials.

You don't have to be an expert in European history, or of Hebrew descent, or in one of these other groups to ponder the importance of the following:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

This was originally attributed to German Protestant Pastor, Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).

Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A – whose views are the ones in question – is, to my knowledge, a Southern Baptist. So it was noteworthy when this public response came out on July 29, 2012 about the controversy:

Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval…”

– Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago.

Good for him.

What we are witnessing is a series of over-reaches by local, state and federal government. This isn't new, but it has reached a pitch in the last few years that is unprecedented in America for at least two generations.

The entire purpose of the American Constitution and our system of limited government is to protect citizen's from over-reaches by others who may wish to misuse the power of government to oppress others.

Thus the point by community owner –Jefferson Lilly– made in his recent Industry Voices column are spot on in importance, because his issue and this one both come back to this simple point about limited governmental powers under the Constitution.

Making many issues facing businesses – and manufactured housing – SIMPLE

We don't elect kings and queens in the United States. We don't elect dictators, benevolent or otherwise.

We elect officials who take an oath of office that calls upon them to abide by the strict limits of their office's powers. When government officials, elected or otherwise, go beyond their limited authority, the result is that someone's rights are being trampled.

This ought to be junior high school civics 101, but sadly, this is often not properly emphasized in too many schools. It is under-reported by too many in the media, because those reporting often have their own agendas. So many citizens learn about this much later in life; if at all.

The first question that should come to any U.S. Citizen's mind when government over-reach seems to be taking place ought to be: is this law or regulation constitutional?

The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution as the first 10 Amendments.

Per Wikipedia, the First 10 Amendments to the federal Constitution are as follows:

1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

2. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

3. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

5. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

6. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

7. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

9. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

10. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The reality is that we have drifted far from these Constitutional limitations. This has taken place to the advantage of a few and the peril of virtually all of us.

The Payoff for Standing Up for what is Right

What the long term consequences and outcomes of the Chick-fil-A controversy will end up being, no one can yet say. But what we do know is that in many cities across America, customers are lining up at their restaurants as a sign of support, as this photo from the Huffington Post demonstrates.

When driving past a Chick-fil-A location yesterday after the lunch rush, I couldn't help but notice a packed parking lot. CNN columnist Tim Stanley wrote: “…the sheer number of people involved in the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day suggests that turnout will matter in November.”

There is a political reaction taking place. This is something that not only ought to be happening, but is something manufactured housing professionals ought to tap into in our own struggles with regulators and public officials.

Applying this to Manufactured Housing

Might we – with the right foundation and approaches – benefit from the over-reaches of government, as Chick-fil-A seems to be gaining from the over-reaches of Big Brother minded public officials?

There has certainly been a call by some state associations and MHI to involve manufactured home owners in our issues. The MHLivingNews website is in the ideal a concept in that mold. What impacts us, on matters such as Dodd-Frank, impacts manufactured home owners too, as Ronnie Richards compelling article points out.

There is something that must not be missed here in why Chick-fil-A seems to be benefiting from this attack on their liberties. The obviously have loyal customers. Manufactured housing does too. What we must do is intelleigently tap those manufactured home owners in positive fashion, to line up there interests along with ours. We must care for them, as true professionals do, so they in turn will care for us. This is part of the dynamic working well for Chick-fil-A.The article linked here describes a Texas bank that will challenge the constitutionality of Dodd-Frank. We need to take every possible step at limiting the impact of that ill-conceived law, which has reportedly already resulted in most banks abandoning free checking to help cover the costs of this bill.

Public officials have to learn to live within their means, just as we do. Public officials must be reminded of the limits of their authority. Spending and regulations have to be reigned in, or else this slope we are on only gets steeper and more slippery.

Intolerant Tolerance must be ended.Tolerance should mean standing in solidarity and protecting each other's rights.

True tolerance and equality ought to mean that all citizen's have the same basic rights, duties and responsibilities. It doesn't mean sharing the wealth of others under the guise of 'fairness;' which would be a form of legalized theft. It doesn't mean equal outcomes.

Tolerance ought to mean mutual respect. It ought to mean you can practices your beliefs – or lack of beliefs – without the fear of having those beliefs imposed upon you by the force of government.

What Chicago and Boston's mayors, among others, threaten is political correctness on steroids. If you don't fit their 'values' your business could suffer. This type of discrimination is not new to manufactured housing. By learning the lessons of this episode, we could tap into the same dynamics that are playing out well at present for Chick-fil-A.

Part of the lesson is that we too should stand up for those whose rights are also threanted. As Martin Niemöller's verses above remind us, if we don't stand up for the rights of others, some day it may be our rights which are threatened. ##

By Michael Barnabas

(Editor's Note:Since Michael Barnabas' column on Getting Zuckered was published, their stock's value has dropped by over 50% from their high.)

Getting Zuckered! Lessons Learned.

June 6th, 2012 No comments

(Editor's note: in every monthly issue of our Featured Articles, 6-12+ articles we receive are not published – at least at that time – for a variety of reasons, including logistical ones. That is what happened to this article for June. But when the following news item linked below about Facebook came up, we felt this article was worth sharing on Industry Voices, our thanks to MB, please enjoy.http://www.cnbc.com/id/47674474)

The handwriting was on the wall when Warren Buffett said – before Facebook's (FB) over-hyped IPO – that he wasn't going to buy; certainly not at the start. GM had just pulled 10 million in annual ads on the FB site. FBs own public offering statements indicated that the advertising model was not working yet as planned. Some experts think the true value of FB might be under ten dollars a share, not in the thirties. But some buy into hype. It had less to do with NASDAQ's errors – as serious as those were – than the simple fact that FB was overpriced.

But what's undervalued?

Manufactured housing.

Why?

Failure to properly promote! The failure to create millions of Raving Fans!

The proof is hidden in the FB experience.

The hype about FB came in part as a result of millions of raving fans.

You have tens of millions of potential customers today and tens of millions more tomorrow for manufactured housing. Those Manufactured HomeOwners have to become believers. MH Owners have to be so happy, that friends tell friends, and then businesses like yours grows like crazy.

What are you going to do about it? ##

Posted for
Michael Barnabas