The Case for Free Enterprise
As full disclosure, I've not (yet) read the book that the World Over Live discussion I am about to share introduced me to recently. But the interview plus the Washington Times book review of the new volume by Arthur Brooks, Road to Freedom, How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise, certainly piqued my interest.
Brooks said in his World Over Live interview that free market supporters – including political figures – have to make the moral case for free enterprise, not just the financial case. He pointed to the fact that 70% of the world's poor has been lifted from poverty in a generation – not by government transfer programs – but through increased business generated through free markets.
Brooks has a background in social science and economics. As president of the American Enterprise Institute think tank, Brooks taps into experience and study in saying that it isn't enough to make the financial argument for free enterprise, one must make the moral one to fire up people's imaginations.
Redistribution, argues Brooks, may seem fair but is actually the opposite:
“A fair system in an opportunity society rewards merit … an unfair system
redistributes resources simply to derive greater income equality.”
Brooks sees merit in the social safety net, but doesn't think the net should ensnare the middle class, so as to keep them from economic progress. Brooks points to the American Declaration's "pursuit of happiness" as suggesting a moral motivation, not just a political or economic one.
Making the Case for Manufactured Housing
Brooks suggested that politicians in the Republican party must make the moral case for free enterprise. This created a mental segue for me to a discussion last week with an industry business owner and successful leader who thinks our Industry has failed to make the case for manufactured housing with public policy makers and Americans in general.
For those of you who email or call me, as usual, I invited the gent to pen an Industry Voices guest column on the topic he presented. Because we have a policy of being discussions or emails being “off the record” unless we mutually agree to be on the record, I will only lightly tap the passionate and persuasive picture this successful caller made to me.
Manufactured housing, he argued, is so beyond the experience of most people, that it is not easy to grasp all of its positive implications. He said, we need to climb on our desks and the roof tops and shout out that manufactured housing is a phenomena, and that we need more than a casual look to be understood!
This reminded me of another successful community owner who has made similar arguments in discussions on the unique value to the public and policy makers alike, if, If, IF we do a good job of communicating the facts to them.
While this may cut against the grain of those who think we want to see manufactured homes treated the same as other forms of housing, what these gents see is that we are not similar, we are different and BETTER.
Another Segue…to finance.
Chase's Jaime Dimon, was in the news this week on a topic that may have set the reform of Dodd-Frank back, even though the incident and its impact relative to the 2008 financial crisis are not apples and oranges.
The industry gent I referenced above told me about a meeting he was in with Dimon. So for more than one reason when Dimon was on Meet the Press this weekend, I tuned in. Dimon told NBC's David Gregory in part that he is now “barely a Democrat.” He feels there has been an over-reach on Dodd-Frank, while saying that perhaps 70% of Dodd-Frank is OK, but that changes in the law are needed for the market to work properly.
Dimon and Chase's 2 billion (plus?) blunder was a topic on the radio this weekend too. Larry Kudlow
from CNBC pointed out that the 2 billion loss – as bad as that is – was less than half of the current quarter's projected profits. Kudlow also pointed out that the market punished Chase by its stock taking a sizable hit – larger than what the loss was. Kudlow's points included the fact that the markets work, when they are allowed to do so.
Kudlow routinely mixes politics with economic discussion. Clinton compromised with Republicans, Reagan worked with Democrats. Both enjoyed robust, rebounding economic times.
By contrast, a caller pointed out that President Obama side tracked his own Simpson-Bowles commission. One comment was, “I'm still struck by a comment the president made pre-2010 mid-term election about how Republicans had to ride in the "back of the bus," a startlingly partisan comment for someone who is clearly the beneficiary of the Civil Rights movement.”
Jaime Dimon's comment is one that some other MH pros and owners who were or had Democratic leanings shared with me in the last two years. Whether or not there is a sea change in the fall, we should hope that the word 'compromise' is not forgotten and buried in DC.
And back to Free Enterprise..
Arthur Brooks, Larry Kudlow and others have been pointing to the meltdown in Greece, Spain and other parts of Europe as a warning sign to America. For those who compartmentalize their lives, and never think about how X impacts our work in manufactured housing, we are obviously a part of a nation's political and economic landscape.
I would suggest that many factors are starting to line up that could – if we are wise – benefit factory built housing tremendously. Lower incomes, constrained or pressured local, state and federal budgets are among many factors that could point to the inherent value of manufactured housing.
As the one caller told me, we need to 'shout the glories' – meaning, effectively communicate – about manufactured housing from the roof tops. We need to get and stay involved politically and work to improve our climate. One way that can keep us from getting “horse throat” to shout manufactured housing's glories is to use the internet to communicate for us. Check out this article on using Pinterest linked here.
Thanks for stopping by so we could dive into the case for free enterprise and manufactured housing. I hope surf into MHProNews.com and this blog this weekend for what promises to be an important topic, one that can boost your business. ##
Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. – Henry Ford