The Emperor has no Clothes
There is a lot to say about what has gone wrong with our country and our Industry. We will begin ‘at the top,’ with our Chief Executive, President Barack Obama.
What’s up with Obama’s recent bus tour?
I’m no fan of the prior president, but say what you will about President W, when he took a similar bus trip to President Obama’s, W used campaign dollars to pay for it. Where is the “watchdog” media? Why no hue and cry when the administration buys millions of dollars of Canadian buses so President BO can tour in style on the taxpayer’s dime?
What’s up with all that?
Isn’t it ironic that BO tours campaign style after lecturing millionaires and billionaires about private jets and corporate perks? Or is that rhetoric just a way of getting the votes of middle America and ‘the little people?’
Do you like ‘divide and conquer politics? To me, it is plain wrong. Talk about issues, talk records or about facts. But don’t pit one group against another.
I need to be clear that W vacationed considerably more than BO. But W went to his ranch or Camp David, etc. But to add irony to injury, on the heels of all this bad economic news, BO is in Martha’s Vineyard – the haven of the elite – now?
Even left wing commentators see this vacation in the New England playground of the rich and famous as a problem.
- Experts and government statistics suggest we have 17% unemployed and under-employed.
- We have more people on food-stamps and welfare than at any time in U.S. history.
- And BO will give us his ‘next’ jobs program in September, after his resort vacation?
- Where are all those shovel ready and other jobs from the ‘first’ one? Or were all the jobs ‘created’ at the job killing CFPB?
They say the emperor has no clothes. Well, we have no emperor, but a president and his wardrobe looks just fine.
Ascendancy and Dependency
It is the party of dependency that is still in ascendency.
Or at least still in high office…
…dependency is a major voting block today.
Be it government labor unions, federal jobs or those on government assistance, it is an issue. We have to put people to work, not get them used to no work. We do need federal and other government jobs. But we can’t give everyone a job regulating someone who is working to produce a product or a service that keeps America’s wheels turning.
If we do not change our ways federally and locally, we will look like rioting old England some day, because we can’t afford to keep adding to our debt and taking on more programs that fail to foster independence.
While we have plenty of dependency programs, meanwhile, we have
- flash mobs that form, rob, harass and harm others in our cities.
- We have automatic weapons fire along our southern border.
- We have three wars we are involved in instead of the previous two.
I didn’t favor W taking us into Iraq, nor do I favor BO taking us into Libya. Even if we ‘win,’ what have we won in either case? We spill American blood and treasure, for what? We can’t be the world’s cop, and we can’t have wars for the sake of foreign oil, etc.
Let’s drill and do energy on U.S. soil and off U.S. shores, as safely and prudently as possible. Think about the major jobs creation potential.
Private enterprise can pay for it all without federal dollars. Let business people do business in America again.
Another Recession, what’s up with that?
The media speaks of double dip recession. What’s up with that phrase?
Did anyone notice that the ‘great recession’ never ended? Did you notice that the housing markets still suffer, and Keynesian/Euro socialist economics just added trillions to our debt without giving us a stronger economy?
No jobs. No stimulated business. Tougher lending. Very little respect overseas. Where is the change we can believe in? Or was that supposed to mean the pocket change we have left after taxes?
Third part candidate George Wallace once said there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties. Thus Wallace favored what some have for years, a third party to bring America back. But Ronald Reagan had it closer, we don’t need a third party, but a rejuvenated second party.
That means we don’t need Rino Republicans, Republicans In Name Only. To me, W was a Rino, socially conservative, but nearly as much a man about big government as BO is. W helped give us that darn bail out of the bankers. W took us into two wars with no end in sight. W’s dad may not have “finished the job” in the first Gulf War, but he had the smarts to get in and get out.
We need business friendly independents, Democrats and Republicans.
Businesses create jobs. Jobs are what American’s need, and then they can start buying houses again!
Speaking of jobs, how about creating 20 million new ones?
I’ve read the same reports you have; that there are two trillion dollars of investment money on the sidelines – actually overseas – that could be brought back to the U.S. In short order.
But that 2 trillion fled America due to regulations and tax policies. Do we have the political will to bring those trillions back?
Think about what Two Trillion Dollars we don’t have to borrow, or write down, would mean to our country right now. If every $100,000 invested created only 1 American job, that would mean 20,000,000 jobs.
Think: 20 million people off aid, off food stamps, off unemployment or other government programs. 2o million more taxpayers. Think 20 million people less dependent, means we would be that much closer to a balanced budget!
We better find and support candidates in whatever party who know how the free enterprise system works, because creating jobs by supporting business is what we should be about.
Free Enterprise, not Keynesian/Euro socialist economics, is what made America the land of the free and the home of the brave.
November 2012 is shaping up now. Who we support now for our state houses, or for Congress, the Senate and the White House will be on the ballot 15 months from now.
Personally, I’ve contacted my senators and representative and made my feelings known on economic and social issues. But I will also make them known on the path to election 2012.
Give the man his props
One thing that our recently bus touring and now vacationing BO has done is give us an executive order we can believe in. With all due respect to Marty Lavin, Danny Ghorbani was the first to bring it to our Industry’s attention. We speak of Executive Order (EO) #13563, similar to President Clinton’s issued in 1993.
MHMSM.com posted EO #13563 months ago, that requires an examination of regulatory impact and its benefits.
MHARR is right. HUD’s budget has grown, while our industry shipments have shrunk. What’s up with that fact?
What the president – at least on paper - has done is give us EO#13563 which could hold HUD and other regulators accountable. Now will our national associations use that to our Industry’s benefit?
The Fall Congressional hearing on Manufactured Housing
Who do we have in DC “helping us” in the planned fall Congressional hearings on our Industry? Congressman Barney Frank. What’s up with that?
Let’s see. Barney helped give us the SAFE Act. Barney also gave us part of the name of the bill that in his: Dodd-Frank.
So do you feel safer or dodd-franked?
With friends like Barney, does our industry need any federal enemies?
Who is watching how our industry PAC money is spent? Is this the type of anti-business candidate we need to support?
Where is that change we can believe in? Or did I drop that change the last time I filed my quarterlies?
One of the best meeting planners around, but…
I asked Tony Kovach why George Allen’s Roundtable was not on the MHMSM.com calendar. “George isn’t an association, and he opted not to pay for an ad.”
Maybe there is considerable momentum from last year’s event that MHMSM.com did promote. I noticed that Allen is reporting more state association executives coming to the Roundtable this year. State execs are often ‘comped’ for coming to an event. George is one of the best self-promoters the Industry has seen in the past 2 decades. I’d want state execs helping me promote an event of mine too. Nothing wrong with it, a common practice.
In the manufactured home communities world, Allen’s Roundtables are unmatched. Allen gets some fine speakers and topics in. They are informative and enjoyable.
However, I can’t always agree with George Allen’s commentary, live or in his columns here or in his own publications. Let’s parse some of his recent ones for a few moments.
I understand and agree with George that MHI doesn’t seem to have a plan for our Industry’s recovery. What’s up with that fact? I can see why the natives are restless in the NCC, even with Lisa B getting appointed.
George is spot on that MHI is failing to do half of what an association is called to do – protect and promote.
- Where is the Industry promotion?
- How has MHI worked to reverse the Industry’s downward new home shipment trend? Marty was spot on regarding that topic, in his recent column.
But George’s bashing of Danny and MHARR misses the mark. Why?
Because MHARR is an association for independent Manufacturers. MHARR don’t get paid to represent communities or lenders or suppliers. MHARR doesn’t represent retailers, which if you ask retailers like Doug Gorman or Dick Moore, MHI doesn’t seem to do such a hot job for them either.
George, the point is that MHARR can’t be faulted for focusing on what its members pay MHARR to do, namely, work on regulatory issues. So George, if you want to fault Danny, fault him for something that group is paid to do. At least MHARR has stated publicly they support the ‘post production’ sector (MHARR code words for MHI) in their efforts to modify Dodd-Frank, SAFE, etc. I’ve not seen any similar effort from MHI back towards MHARR. If it exists, it is behind the scenes.
I also agree with Marty Lavin that we better watch more what people say than what people do. We better watch results, because words alone can be cheap.
Or words can costly, depending on how you look at it.
Industry Marketing and Image Campaign
Speaking of MHI and the Industry image campaign…
…I’ve seen the plan Tony, IMHA’s Mark Bowersox and others have put together. In a word, brilliant.
In my mind, they need to consider a different name, but for now they are calling it the Manufactured Housing Alliance and Phoenix Plan. Their plan navigates the key political issues that our industry has faced that has kept us from moving ahead.
We keep reading from MHI the statistics about our dropping new home shipments. This gets back to the dual role that an association is supposed to have, protect and promote.
Where is MHI on this MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan effort to turn around our image, marketing and sales results?
By contrast. I see John Bostick’s name on the page in favor of the MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan. That makes me want to order some Sunshine Homes and get others to do the same!
Good for MHARR’s Chairman, who did not endorse it on MHARR’s behalf, but Mr. Bostick has obviously taken the time and had the guts to publicly say, hey, this can work.
Which leads to the questions:
> Where are the MHARR members or Danny on this plan?
> Where is MHI on this plan?
Marty Lavin on Danny Ghorbani
I’m the first to agree with Marty that Danny needs to polish up those lobbying skills. In fact, let me take Marty’s points a step farther. As I personally see it, and others may disagree, Danny has three options:
- change your ways, permanently and rapidly, to become more effective at what you do for MHARR,
- retire and consult for MHARR as needed;
- or just retire.
Danny, retire? What would happen to MHARR without Danny? What’s up with that idea? Can you even say MHARR without saying Danny G’s name?
Yes, you can.
Attorney and MHARR VP Mark Weiss is a good man. Mark knows the law, can be reasoned with and Danny has prepared him to take the helm at MHARR, when the time comes that Danny decides to retire or when MHARR members make that decision.
For example, MHARR could bring in a new associate, give Danny a nice gold watch, and a one year transitional consulting agreement. The independent factories that support MHARR can save money. As or more important, they likely can get more done and advance their cause in DC with HUD, Congress and other regulators.
The timing is right for a change at MHARR. Danny, don’t take it the wrong way, you are a smart guy and know the HUD Code as well as anyone in the manufacturing side of the Industry. But in my personal opinion, it is time to change your ways for the better or you better retire.
The best suits and fine meetings
Danny has some of the best suits in DC that our Industry can brag about. Danny and MHARR are spot on with some key issues. But you can be right, and still do things in a way that turns people off.
But give the man his props, Danny is right about MHI meeting,
after meeting and
…where is the MHI plan?
But then, Danny – if you stay – you and MHARR should then walk the walk and have an action plan of your own. Not a some day, or five year plan, a let’s get it done now plan.
Perhaps John Bostick’s public move supporting the MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan will inspire others of stature to make their own public statements or just help launch the program.
But at some point, we need to get past meetings, and get to doing. 46,000 shipments. We are now down about 88% from our post HUD-Code high in 1998. How much lower can we go and still have an Industry?
- We can’t fill empty home sites with only used product.
- We need new homes bought from factories and sold to consumers.
- We need retailers and community operators who attract customers with good credit, and then close them and turn them into happy homeowners who will tell their friends and once again let our Industry grow.
The Numbers on MAP
I like abbreviations. Let’s call this plan of Mark’s and Tony’s MAP for short, because this MH Alliance Phoenix can be our road MAP to the future. Maybe we can get Tony and Mark to come up with a better name. But in the mean time, MAP it is for me.
I asked Tony to give me a projection on what he thinks MAP can do. His answer? First year from the launch date could double shipments without a need for hurricane season (no need for FEMA orders).
The next year could double it again. That would be roughly 92,000 shipments in year 1. Then 184,000 shipments in year two.
Take a look at the MAP if you haven’t already. If you have a better plan, why not share it? But if not, get behind the plan that is out there being discussed.
I’m told that MAP can be up and running in short order. We can do MAP, with no waiting for federal or state action!
Doing the Math, my Math not T’s
Tony has his math, I have mine.
Let’s say MAP was launched, and then MAP raised shipments back to 75,000 the first year. Let’s further say, 1/2 of the increase went into communities.
- That would mean 14,500 spaces filled. At say $275 average a month per site, that would mean $47,850,000 more to MHCs a year. Plus the profits off the home sales.
- 29,000 additional new shipments would mean 29,000 new jobs.
- It would mean security for those whose jobs or businesses are at risk due to declining shipments.How many MH plants would stay open?
- At even a low $50,000 average per home, that 1.45 billion in new sales. Think about the boost in revenue to retailers and developers.
Would you give $75 per location to boost sales $1.45 Billion and create about $48 million in new communities revenues?
If not, please go back to 5th grade math. To me, this spells a good deal.
Let me stress, these are my numbers, not T’s or Mark’s. But it tells me why they and others are working to see this plan happen.
I’m not without experience in dealing with personal property lending. While he wasn’t talking about just lending, I agree with Chad Carr’s recently published statement about MAP. The MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan is the only plan I’ve seen that gets to the heart of fixing chattel lending for our Industry. MAP provides solutions for image, lobbying and other practical issues too. It dares to be bold, without trying to step on any industry group’s toes.
If your chattel lender has not yet seen this, she or he better do so! This can help us cut our repos losses dramatically.
It will help our customers – manufactured home owners – dramatically too. That will in turn attract more customers, and more credit worthy ones.
Manufactured housing lenders need to see our losses cut. Because that panel of lenders at the MHI Congress last April were correct. A repo can cost 50% (or more) of the loan balance. There are so many dark clouds that hang over personal property lending for manufactured housing right now, we have to have solutions if our Industry will ever advance.
In fact, our survival depends on it.
I asked Tony specifically about people who have and have not seen MAP. T won’t comment about those who haven’t shared a public statement. I can respect that, but it does leave us guessing.
So someone needs to ask Marty Lavin or Dick Ernst where they are on this. Have they seen it? What is there take? It is obvious that Ken Rishel has come out for it, big time, in his own newsletter and on MHMSM.com too.
Come to think of it, where is George Allen’s name on this subject? Didn’t he say a few months ago, we needed an image campaign? What’s up with that?
We could go through a list of industry leaders and say, what about you? Where are you on this MAP subject?
If you are for it, why not say so publicly? If you oppose it, why and then propose your own alternative! Mark, Tony and those working on this want to see consensus. I appreciate that, but I’d add that we can’t afford to debate stuff forever. We need to move ahead, and pronto.
If we do not start advancing, more factories, more retailers and more communities will fail. It is simply 5th grade math.
State and Communities Association leaders
Given that a pair of state association leaders have already publicly stated support for the MH Alliance and Phoenix plan, it is reasonable to think others have seen it too. We need to watch and encourage this plan at the state level.
Because let’s be honest, the states are where it is at. All politics are local, and your business happens at the state and local level.
Last year, we saw some state execs who took a leadership role to get things happening at the federal level. We need to see that again, and we need to see that on MAP or their best alternative to it.
A pimple on an elephant’s bottom
We’ve heard this expression at meetings and coffee tables. I admit it sadly fits the influence our Industry has politically in DC today. We need to be working tea parties to get the party of jobs, business and growth moving ahead. We need to hold the feet of those who say they will change DC for the better to the fire, and get the gold of jobs and rising housing back to work building the U.S.A.
We have lost our nation’s AAA credit rating. Debt piles up, what do we have to show for it? Where are the jobs? The lending? The recovery? What did we bail out anyway? Who benefited from all that taxpayer funded largess?
We saw some amazing upsets at the midterms, and I think we can see more if we plan now for the best candidates and then mobilize for the general elections.
It is frankly another good reason to learn and get behind the MAP. We will increase our influence at the state house and in Washington when our consumers are visibly supporting us in sizable numbers.
Let’s work and earn the support of our communities’ residents and home owners/customers! Then we should make sure we continue to deserve it. Without happy customers, we are as doomed as if HUD bureaucrats or others would just shut us down.
If I boiled this down, it would be this. We can’t have something for nothing. TANSTAFL = There is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always pays.
We better work for truly positive change, or we will be left with pocket change.
We better look at and support a plan that can move us ahead. I vote for the MH Alliance/Phoenix Plan. Or we will suffer the fate of the buggy whip makers.
I shop at WalMart no more than I have to, because I believe in supporting the smaller and more independent business women and men out there. They are more like me. They want to serve me, and I in turn want to support them.
We better support the HUD Code builders, and they in turn, better support us too.
Talking and Doing.
Before we look at any other emperor who also lacks clothes, let’s close for now. Talk is fine, but let’s follow talk with do.
I want to thank those of you who have written. Please do not think me rude, but for now…
…I hope you understand that some things need to be said that have gone unsaid too long.
More next time.##
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