C.S. Lewis & the Threat of Coronavirus
Blog # 577 @ 20 March 2020; Copyright 2020; www.educatemhc.com
Perspective. ‘Land lease communities, previously manufactured home communities, and earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, comprise the real estate component of manufactured housing.’
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INTRODUCTION: In 1981, perennial author of thrillers, Dean Koontz, authored The Eyes of Darkness. Today, readers believe the lab-produced, ‘deadly biological weapon called Wuhan-400’, in the novel, predicts the COVID-19 threat we experience today, 39 years later! When I attempted to buy the novel, I found it was selling for $650.00/case bound copy. Was able to chase down a paperback edition, and will review it for you when read. Part II. Thinking about going into the land lease community business in California? Think again – after reading Part II of blog posting #577. Maybe not a good idea. And Part III? Something for our public companies to consider….GFA
C.S. Lewis & the Threat of Coronavirus
My guess is many of you, reading this blog posting, know C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), as the British writer (‘Chronicles of Narnia’) and lay theologian (‘Screwtape Letters’) who taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities during the last century. Well, his writings are legend and enduring, making him one of the most influential writers of his, of all time.
The following excerpt is from his essay ‘On Living in an Atomic Age’, written in 1948. His is a voice of sanity and wisdom in a world that seems to be losing both. And though Lewis’s essay addresses fears of a different kind than we face today, his observations about how to live life in the midst of crises, real and perceived, resonate during this time of coronavirus.
‘In one way, we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply, ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut our throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’
‘In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented; and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors – anesthetics, but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.’
‘This is the first point to be made, and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things – praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts – not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but the need not dominate our minds.’
As I read and reread those inspirational paragraphs my memory drifted back to early 1969. I was a Marine lieutenant in the Republic of Vietnam at the time, and along with several other junior officers, volunteered for Atomic Demolition Munition training (‘ADM’), and possibly action. ADM placement was U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s ‘worst case scenario’ counterattack plan; to send us behind enemy lines with soccer ball-sized nuclear devices strapped to our chests, to destroy (in my case, a large steel bridge on the outskirts of Hanoi) enemy facilities in North Vietnam. This didn’t happen, but the potential gruesome results of such an action did give me pause, to consider consequences to self and countless faceless multitudes.
Now today, like you, I ponder the coronavirus threat. Yes, I’m elderly, no denying that. Our adult children are quick to admonish Carolyn and me to ‘stay home’! Hmm. For me, that means writing, reading, and putting together the latest jigsaw puzzle. In any event, I refuse to become unduly troubled or depressed by this vague cum maybe lethal specter. And you?
Just How Difficult Can Land Lease Community Operations Become in California?
The following paragraph was recently emailed to me by a 40 year land lease community portfolio owners/operator domiciled in California. Hard for me to believe all this is true:
“George. If you have not heard, the California legislature is proposing at least seven new legislative bills that can kill our industry for years! The major ones are 1) statewide rent control with 2) no vacancy decontrol – 3) no going out of business by changing the current zoning – 4) no long term leases – 5) no recovery of legal fees – 6) require at least 18 hours of yearly (continuing) education for all responsible parties – (&) 7) long term leases that extend beyond year 2025 are voidable.” (Lightly edited, with numbers added. GFA)
Yes, it can be a long journey between the proposal of new legislation and actually turning it into law and regulations. But this is certainly a discouraging anti-business agenda for the state of California. Did you know? It’s a long known ‘peculiar secret’ that California is home to more owners of land lease communities than any other state in the union, but these owners/operators, for the most part, own and manage more such communities outside the state than within!
Time for REIT & Public Manufacturer Email Newsletters?
As you likely know, EducateMHC, started, with January 2020 shipment and public market statistics, reporting on the four public HUD-Code housing manufacturers and three real estate investment trusts (‘REITs’) owning land lease communities. I wasn’t surprised about how well this new ‘first ever’ performance record was received, but I was surprised at the volume of requests for copies, and coverage going forward. So, watch for the early April MHShipment ‘#s & $s’ Report (&) Manufacturer/REIT Market Data report.
In the meantime, the suggestion was made by a few respondents, about how they’d like to receive some sort of Investor Relations Email Newsletter from one or more of these seven public companies on a regular periodic bases. Frankly, I hadn’t thought of that before now. Rather than a flurry of Press Releases, it seems investors are looking for consolidated releases providing ‘an interesting array of non-financial contextual information on industry dynamics and key internal value drivers, such as innovation, customer relationships, and human resources.’
What do you think? Enough information ‘out there’ about your manufacturer and REIT of choice, or would you prefer to learn more from such a newsletter, as well as our new report?
George Allen, CPM, MHM c/o EducateMHC