Let's sandwich considerable good news at the start and end of today's Pensées (thoughts) between a pretty challenging – or some would say – an ugly reality.
The good news?
New manufactured home shipments continued to rise, in spite of all the legal head winds and the worst U.S. winter in decades.
New Capital is rushing into our industry, with more to follow. All that we need to advance back to 6 figure plus annual new HUD Code home shipments is arguably within our grasp.
Midterm elections are drawing closer. Clear thinking and the correct, prompt action must prevail for us to achieve the new heights we in manufactured housing are capable of attaining.
The rising tide would raise all boats, large and small, but…
Anyone who has witnessed a human birth knows its a messy process. To ignore the pain, contractions and hopes mixed with fear that precede a birth are to miss the very elements that makes the drama one that so often ends with the beauty and joy of new life.
The newborn cries,
smiling parents sigh,
raising that soul on high.
Without valleys, there are no mountaintop views. You don't get electricity without positive and negative polarity.
Media – including trade media – that speaks of only the sunny side of a story would miss the drama, and rapidly become flaccid and boring!
Onto the problematic…The Enemies List?
No kidding, folks. The following groups and individuals have been publicly lumped together online by a pair of manufactured housing personalities under their posted title "Know Your Enemy."
and by inference, MHARR
Your Masthead scribe and MHProNews
They have an interesting group collected under the heading “know your enemy,” don't they?
The posting party began with a long quote by Doug Ryan at CFED. Then they and others are denounced. The posting man's tag team partner (both are shown in the graphic later below) adds to the enemies by inference and comes to their punch line.
“…don't you wish, as I do, there'd be a National Public Forum…where matters like these could be presented and discussed…industry…veterans who're willing to take opposing views on these issues…”
Let's freeze frame those kernels of thought for a moment, because enemies list aside, I happen to think there is objectively potential merit to it.
We don't have to buy into a one size fits all mindset.
We as industry professionals ought to be able to respectfully discuss opposing views. There ought be to be an ability to engage in meaty, civil discussions. We are all free to choose.
There should be discussion vehicles, meetings or platforms to hold 'heady' coversations or even dabates.
Well, in fact, we have such platforms. MHProNews.com is a proven one – and the largest – for some years now. In theory, some LinkedIn groups are potentially another.
The practical problem on LinkedIn is that the very people who are using it to advertise their meetings, products and services – “don't you wish, as I do, there'd be a National Public Forum…” – are the ones who allegedly:
use tactics that limit or avoid discussion
block or remove those who take a different perspective than theirs
thus violating the principles they shared.
Further, they engage in demeaning and name calling of those who opposed them (the latest example, those they've lumped under their heading 'Know Your Enemy' list.)
Now let's “follow the money.”
What they want is to promote a meeting,
for which meeting they want to collect money from others and offer their attendees at said meeting the chance to spend still more money with them and
only have those they've approved or “invited” to attend.
So after their public posturing and name calling – surely “enemy” is a strong label – they want to try to promote a reasonable discussion?
We have documents that suggest and demonstrate that these very individuals and their surrogates block discussion on LinkedIn, which is why its value in MH discussions – other than those the pair and their allies want to see – has diminished.
FYI, we have a free-to-the-industry's-members fix in the works for that problem on LinkedIn these folks created, that we can roll out in fairly short order. Once launched, that new platform will change the discussions in our industry for good. Stay tuned!
Summing up, is this the latest example of the best bad idea that they had that day?
“The Best Bad Idea”
“There are no good options…This is the best bad idea that we have.” – from the movie, Argo.
When I heard this snipet once more, it had me rolling anew. It sure seemed to fit what's happening in certain quarters of our our industry. But not all of 'the best bad ideas' turn out the way it did in Argo.
Their hypothetical “Know Your Enemy” conversation…
Please look Closely for Yourself at some of those they lumped under their headline of Know Your Enemy.
Let's start with the obvious, by saying that none of us agree on everything. Heck, we're all prone to even disagree with ourselves, if we are presented with new facts or inputs.
But the people that are on this list all are proven to care about manufactured housing! So if we happen to see some things different, does that mean we throw the baby out with the bath water?
Let's survey just some of what those non-profits have shared.
A) One of the hottest reads this month is from the non-profit, Stacey Epperson CEO at Next Step, called Dirty Laundry. NextStep and the other non-profits are known to collaborate from time to time.
B) We've gladly showcased articles on the powerful study on the sound performance of manufactured home loans done by CFED and I'm Home, linked here.
C) Let's not forget that Andrea Levere and Stacey Epperson teamed up to publish Hurricane Sandy and the Merits of Manufactured Housing, in the influential east coast Huffington Post.
Question! When was the last time that the twin naysayers shown above got as much positive, free ink about manufactured housing into the mainstream media as Epperson/Levere did? Years? Ever? By contrast, the linked column above by Levere and Epperson is not a one time event. So why would savvy industry pros shun these non-profits, who clearly believe in manufactured housing and bring us periodic good publicity?
My reply, we work with them in as many ways as we can. We respectfully discuss what we don't agree upon. That's how civilized people behave, isn't it?
D) Only a tiny sliver of our industry's communities are owned by residents, but that has drawn public praise in the media, such as this report about ROC USA on NPR.
E) While some have tried to blame the national associations for the 'failure' to stop Dodd-Frank (DF) or the SAFE Act, etc. in the first place, let's get real. When the Mortgage Bankers and much bigger lenders, financing and housing groups couldn't stop SAFE or DF, what makes a reasonable person think that the relatively small manufactured housing industry was going to stop it?
E) The industry at large has made MHProNews the runaway number one industry news, tips and views resource. When we cover controversial topics, the already highest in the biz readership goes up. The industry votes with its time and browsers daily by the thousands.
For anyone who thinks the twin “Know Your Enemy” pals are right in demonizing those who disagree with them, sorry, on the Masthead, we beg to differ!
Crucially, we allow people with differing views to express themselves.
We make no apologies for carrying periodic articles (or in the past or present, ads) by any of these implied 'enemy' of the graphic-above-tag-team.
Naturally, as publishers, we also do editorials here on the Masthead.
Yes, we favor public discussion and debate. What's riotous is that the pair shown above have never accepted a debate that we offered them.
Oh, pardon me, the debate we offered would have been 'free.' Maybe that was their problem? They couldn't make money on the discussion?
Or maybe they are not prepared to stand up in public and face the full facts they present in such a slanted way?
Fairness in Action
Last year, when we had articles on the topic of
we gave Ken Rishel his say in his own words. That's fairness. That was one of the top 30 new articles on MHProNews last year accessed out of well over 10,000 referral paths.
When will that pair in the hypothetical graphic above do the same level of fairness? Who are they to host any truly fair industry discussion event?
Eli Wiesel, photo courtesy of Time and WikiCommons
Pensées from Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel
“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
― Elie Wiesel
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
― Elie Wiesel
“One person of integrity can make a difference."
― Elie Wiesel
U.S. Army war photo, courtesy of WikiCommons
Facing Flawed Faith?
We routinely talk about facts and reason, not just emotion. You may recall the maxim;
“A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”
Presenting the facts alone is no guarantee reason will follow. “Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is made up!” is the unvoiced cry of those who follow a delusion.
Not all struggles are life and death, and not all enemies are Hitlers, Stalins or Maos. Some are the Bernie Madoff's of this world, who steal by fraud while smiling and promising riches.
It isn't PC today, but not all faiths are equal. Faith in people should always be tempered by the truth and reason.
Those who say all faiths are equal, nonsense! Deep within, we all know better. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Osama bin Laden created their own secular faiths – or a god-in-their-own-image faith – thousands to millions followed and look at what happened.
On a lesser monetary level, many a con artist uses multiple people as they ply their dishonest trade.
Cartoonist Bill Leak imagined Osama Bin Laden's
encounter with Hitler, Stalin and Mao in the afterlife.
Source: The Australian
Those pilots who hijacked those planes that slammed into the Twin Towers had “faith.“
But that misguided band of terrorists' faith killed some 3000 thousand that day, and led to wars that killed hundreds of thousands. That false faith cost rivers of blood, copious tears and treasure in the trillions. Our lives are still touched by the fall-out, from TSA agents at airports, to the NSA spying and much more.
Who and what we place our faith in matters! The truth matters.
Some will deny truth, or claim it is all relative. Nonsense! If you are robbed or a loved one is raped, do you and society at large not seek justice?
Still those who go with a blind faith into what's false may not be convinced, even when truth stares them in the face.
We have cops, soldiers, first responders and others to protect decent society from those who break the law.
We also ought to be able to depend on media to help expose the Watergates and Ponzi schemers of our time.
Cons promising what they can't deliver won't depend on the facts, so they use smoke-and-mirrors, half truths, gimmicks or outright lies instead.
One Step at a Time, Progress
We've seen recent, positive steps in our industry as a result of spotlighting a long standing stumbling block.
By periodically spotlighting the tactics of the “Know Your Enemy” tag team, the industry at large can in time neutralize their impact and perhaps even end their antics too.
Bernie Madoff and SEC cartoon by Dave Granlund
Being informed is the necessary start to the eradication of our industry's long standing problems. That begins with you, by first rejecting falsehood personally.
Abraham Lincoln fought the ugliest war in American history, but look at all the good that came from it. Not unlike Nelson Mandela, Lincoln's goal was to bring former enemies and make them allies, a truly united states – friends – once more.
Some enemies must be stopped or defeated! Society arrests the criminal, right? But isn't the hope with those we imprison that they may at some point change and rejoin society in a more positive way?
Not all misdeeds are worthy of war, prison or litigation, etc., nor is that being implied in any of the allegations in this column. You can do your own home work, and come to a similar or perhaps a different conclusion.
That said, we lay out information and questions precisely to allow pros like you to reason through such issues.
This particular problem won't be settled today, its part of a journey toward what we hope can be a happy resolution.
Nothing would make us happier than to see intelligent people who have tried to sell their wares via their questionable tactics to turn the page. Everyone who has ever made a New Year's resolution knows that people can change, once a person makes the firm decision to change.
Start of the Good News Wrap Up! Kudos to Nancy Geer in New York!
Governor Cuomo has signed a proclamation for a factory built housing days in NY. Nancy Geer and her members are once more doing a House on the Hill day at their state capital. Hats off to all involved, these are among the things that truly bring advancement to our industry!
Kudos to Tim, Andrea and the Ohio Association!
As the days click down towards the 1st Eastern Ohio Home Show in May, a significant campaign has been assembled by Tim Williams, Andrea Reichman and the sponsors of the event. Again, hats off to all involved. They are working hard to make this trade and public show a great way to showcase modern manufactured homes to the home seekers and pros in their area!
Creating Opportunities – Building Success
The tag line for this year's Congress and Expo is terrific. I'm one of over a 1,000+ or so who have paid to attend this event. We are looking forward to it. This is where the industry is rallying pros seeking solid information that is geared towards Creating Opportunities and Building Success.
As a closing thought, notice that at the end of each session at Congress and Expo, you typically have opportunity for questions and discussion. This is but one more example that we are not without options for discussion.
Congress and Expo brings together some of the largest names in our industry, along with the independent “mom and pops” and all in between. For most coming, the investment – and it is an investment – if often repaid many times when the concepts presented are put to work in their businesses.
And where else will you meet in person so many of the captains of the corporations that you do business with?
For those who demean the cost, keep in mind the costs and effort involved in putting on such an event.
The Road Ahead
We have a long road ahead. We can rise above the 6 figure shipment level anew. We could do more than was achieved years ago, but could do so sustainably, with satisfied customers.
But to get there, we must think and apply the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Eli Wiesel and others. Seek the truth! Then put it to work. Don't let untruths rule the day. Don't sit on the sidelines.
See you here this weekend? You might be in for quite a treat. Thanks for checking in. ##
For more Insights into the twin “Know Your Enemy” list makers.
George Allen's Planned 'story' (editor's note, here's evidence that exposing the truth can be a deterant)
(Original Image credits, WikiCommons, posters copyright (c) 2014 by Lifestyle Factory Homes, LLC. All Rights Reserved)
Connect on LinkedIN: