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Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Honorable Judge Brett Kavanaugh is Confirmed to the United States Supreme Court- VINDICATION!

                 Judge Kavanaugh would be wise to travel to his nearest local bookstore and buy a copy of the classic Kafka. His travails through the past three months are minor in comparison to what most people accused of crimes and misdemeanors go through. 
                  I, myself have been the target of false accusations from 2001 that interfered in my ability to gain employment hundreds of times, as a result of a lie told by my ex-wife. A result of poor judgment on my part marrying her out of pity. 
                  I was not born into a wealthy family. I have fought tooth and nail for everything I have garnered out of life. I have been discriminated against because I was a white male. I have earned my place in history. But, history won't remember me, or you either for that matter. 
                 Judge Kavanaugh has been vindicated because he is an honest and honorable man. If he were here, I would congratulate him roundly and shake his hand vigorously. But, alas, he is not, for I am not that important of a person that God would stand me next to such a humble servant as Brett Kavanaugh. 
                  No corroborating witnesses, no evidence, no recollection of a time, date, or location of the alleged crime; but yet, the senators of the once proud Democratic Party of the United States, wanted to condemn this good man because God Almighty sent him to stand up for the innocent children being murdered every hour around the world. As well as the humble, the meek, the poor, those who cannot afford justice on their own, and those who need God's grace and a kind word every now and then. Such a man is Judge Kavanaugh. 

                  Horrific lies were told about this good man, and he bore it well. He stood up and denied the allegations head on. Some say his temper got the best of him, but they were on the opposite side of God's will. 
                   The unjust and unsubstantiated charges fell flat on their faces in the United States Senate this afternoon as the senate voted 50-48 to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. Innocent until proven guilty doesn't mean much unless you have walked a mile in the shoes of the accused. In a war of good and evil, none come out unscathed or unbruised. 
                   The Rule of Law will always win against mob rule. "Justice is mine!," sayeth the Lord. 
We would do well to remember that. 




                As Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh issues his judgments in the future, he would do well to remember these words. They will serve him well. 


Mark Winkle
Int'l. Consultant, Teacher, and Author
2018

Monday, October 1, 2018

Flea and Tick Medication Alert- Hartz Mountain and others..... INEXPENSIVE FLEA TREATMENTS For Cats, Kittens, and Dogs

Flea and Tick Medication Alert

Pyrethins and Synthetic Pyrethins are TOXIC to your pets!

As pet lovers, we care for our cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other critters as children. They are nearly as expensive to care for as children are. If you have given your pet Flea Drops from Hartz Mountain or any other provider and your pet is having a medical reaction, this website will give you the information needed to SAVE YOUR PET:


https://parasitipedia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2682&Itemid=3044 


IMMEDIATELY WASH YOUR ANIMAL DOWN WITH Dawn or other NON-Flea shampoo. 

Pyrethins are organic pesticides that come from the Chrysanthemum plant. They affect the nervous system of fleas and ticks, bed bugs, dogs, cats, kittens, and even humans.


They can kill your Cat or Dog if it  licks its fur after you apply the drops, or if the pesticide enters the animal's body through a cut or other entry point. 


Pyrethins are also used in flea powder, bed bug spray, flea and tick spray, and other pesticide applications. They are not intended to be taken or given internally. 

Your pet's nervous system cannot handle pyrethin ingestion. 



So WHAT DOES WORK? 

COCONUT OIL

I have been using Coconut Oil.  The naturally occurring Lauric Acid kills the fleas it comes in contact with. I use Virgin Coconut oil that is not processed or hydrogenated. 

It is relatively inexpensive (about $4 for 13 oz. LuLu Belle and many other fit the bill.  Open the jar and let it melt or put some in the microwave for a minute. Let it cool! Then gently holding your animal, starting with the ears and neck, rub the oil into the fur. Fleas will be jumping off like crazy in less than a minute, so you want to do this with a flea comb handy as well as a glass of warm soapy water to drown the fleas in as you comb them out of your pet's fur.



Really good for use on kittens with fleas. It naturally calms your pet, so they might want to sleep after you are done scrubbing them down with Coconut Oil.

It also helps to heal the flea and tick bites. 

IT IS SAFE FOR CATS AND DOGS TO INGEST COCONUT OIL! 


LEMON JUICE



Lavender Oil:  NOT RECOMMENDED! as a result of its POTENTIAL TOXICITY to CATS.

Tea Tree Oil IS TOXIC to CATS!

 

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR



NEEM OIL is fine if used properly.


No more than three drops at a time unless you want your dog or cat to get diarrhea. And we all know that's no fun. 


Vacuum your pet's sleeping area and your home twice a week to remove flea eggs. 

Wash your pet's bed if you see small white dots (eggs) on your pet's bed or sleeping area. 


Place a light on the floor next to a pan/bowl of soapy water at night. The fleas will jump to the light to get warm and into the water, where they will drown. 

Change the water as needed. Keep your pet from drinking the water as much as possible.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Warren Buffet-- Ripping off the Poor to Feed His Inflated Ego


 A personal note as to why this is important to me...
 Several years ago I was planning on moving to the area around Knoxville, Tennessee. I looked at many homes to see what the real estate market was. Most of the homes were overpriced. I kept noticing these Clayton Homes signs up and down the interstate, so I called their headquarters and explained my situation. I was quickly transferred to a salesperson who stated that they had thousands of homes for sale including repossessed homes with land, and homes without land. 

I had never heard of buying a home "without land" so I attempted to contact Kevin Clayton, the CEO of Clayton Homes to find out exactly how this worked. In true scammer form, I was redirected to a sales supervisor, at "Mr. Clayton's insistence. 

You see, you may be a sucker, or you may be a fool, or you may be a down right idiot if you buy a home from Clayton Homes, finance it with a Clayton Homes Finance company, and insure it with a Clayton Home Insurance policy. 

Thousands of "mobile homes" and I use that term very loosely, as a mobile home to Clayton Homes is any home that they can drive a truck under,  lift by crane onto a flatbed, or cut into pieces to do either of the previous two choices, were available to choose from.

If you do not have a CASH DOWN payment- they will take your jewelry, your gold teeth, your pacemaker, your land, your present house, your wife and children, and your financial future as a down payment. 

They do not offer "mortgages" in the traditional sense for most transactions. Instead, they offer 
Consumer Signature Loans" guaranteed by your word and any or all of the above. 

Every Clayton Homes Loan has multiple fees, several are hidden fees, such as home delivery and home set up to name two. Imagine that you just bought a home and arrive at your homesite the day that it is scheduled to arrive. The driver- an employee of a  Berkshire Hathaway owned subsidiary will not deliver your home without an additional fee, anywhere but on the side of the road. Payment is demanded immediately and is usually in the thousands of dollars - requiring you to take out a Payday loan at 350% interest annually or another exorbitant interest rate just as bad. 

Then there is the "home set up fee" to have your home placed correctly on the foundation, to have the plumbing and electric hooked up and to purchase any last minute permits that this process would demand that you grease the palms of the local building and zoning inspectors.


 Here's a better look into the "Real Warren Buffett:"


Truly NOT a Man of the People


Warren Buffett's Mobile Home Empire Preys on the Poor-

Billionaire profits at every step, from building to selling to high cost lending

By

 Updated:







Denise Pitts walked into the pawn shop not far from where she bought her mobile home in Knoxville, Tennessee, and offered up her wedding rings for $100. Her marriage wasn’t over, but her husband was battling cancer and, Pitts said, her mortgage company told her the only way to keep a roof over his head would be to sell everything else.
Across the country in Ephrata, Washington, Kirk and Patricia Ackley sat down to close on a new mobile home, only to learn that the annual interest on their loan would be 12.5 percent rather than the 7 percent they said they had been promised. They went ahead because they had spent $11,000, most of their savings, to dig a foundation.
And near Bug Tussle, Alabama, Carol Carroll has been paying down her home for more than a decade but still owes nearly 90 percent of the sale price — and more than twice what the home is worth.
The families’ dealers and lenders went by different names — Luv Homes, Clayton Homes, Vanderbilt, 21st Mortgage. Yet the disastrous loans that threaten them with homelessness or the loss of family land stem from a single company: Clayton Homes, the nation’s biggest home builder, which is controlled by its second-richest man — Warren Buffet.
Buffett’s mobile home empire promises low-income Americans the dream of home ownership. But Clayton relies on predatory sales practices, exorbitant fees, and interest rates that can exceed 15 percent, trapping many buyers in loans they can’t afford and in homes that are almost impossible to sell or refinance, an investigation by The Center for Public Integrity and The Seattle Times has found.




Berkshire Hathaway, the investment conglomerate Buffett leads, bought Clayton in 2003 and spent billions building it into the mobile home industry’s biggest manufacturer and lender. Today, Clayton is a many-headed hydra with companies operating under at least 18 names, constructing nearly half of the industry’s new homes and selling them through its own retailers. It finances more mobile home purchases than any other lender by a factor of six. It also sells property insurance on them and repossesses them when borrowers fail to pay.
Berkshire extracts value at every stage of the process. Clayton even builds the homes with materials — such as paint and carpeting — supplied by other Berkshire subsidiaries. And Clayton borrows from Berkshire to make mobile home loans, paying up to an extra percentage point on top of Berkshire’s borrowing costs, money that flows directly from borrowers’ pockets.
More than a dozen Clayton customers described a consistent array of deceptive practices that locked them into ruinous deals: loan terms that changed abruptly after they paid deposits or prepared land for their new homes; surprise fees tacked on to loans; and pressure to take on excessive payments based on false promises that they could later refinance.
Former dealers said the company encouraged them to steer buyers to finance with Clayton’s own high-interest lenders.
Under federal guidelines, most Clayton loans are considered “higher-priced.” Those loans averaged 7 percentage points higher than the typical home loan in 2013, according to a Center for Public Integrity/Times analysis of federal data, compared with just 3.8 percentage points above for other lenders.
Buyers told of Clayton collection agents urging them to cut back on food and medical care or seek handouts in order to make house payments. And when homes got hauled off to be resold, some consumers already had paid so much in fees and interest that the company still came out ahead. Even through the Great Recession and housing crisis, Clayton was profitable every year, generating $558 million in pre-tax earnings last year.
Clayton's tactics contrast with Buffett’s public profile as a financial sage who values responsible lending and helping poor Americans keep their homes.
Berkshire Hathaway spokeswoman Carrie Sova and Clayton spokeswoman Audrey Saunders ignored more than a dozen requests by phone, email and in person to discuss Clayton’s policies and treatment of consumers. In an emailed statement, Saunders said Clayton helps customers find homes within their budgets and has a “purpose of opening doors to a better life, one home at a time.”
(Update: After publication, Berkshire Hathaway’s Omaha headquarters sent a statement on behalf of Clayton Homes to the Omaha World-Herald, which is also owned by Berkshire.




First, a dream
As Buffett tells it, his purchase of Clayton Homes came from an “unlikely source:” Visiting students from the University of Tennessee gave him a copy of founder Jim Clayton’s self-published memoir, First a Dream, in early 2003. Buffett enjoyed reading the book and admired Jim Clayton’s record, he has said, and soon called CEO Kevin Clayton, offering to buy the company.
“A few phone calls later, we had a deal,” Buffett said at his 2003 shareholders meeting, according to notes taken at the meeting by hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson.
The tale of serendipitous deal-making paints Buffett and the Claytons as sharing down-to-earth values, antipathy for Wall Street and an old-fashioned belief in treating people fairly. But, in fact, the man who brought the students to Omaha said Clayton’s book wasn’t the genesis of the deal.
“The Claytons really initiated this contact,” said Al Auxier, the UT professor, since retired, who chaperoned the student trip after fostering a relationship with the billionaire.
CEO Kevin Clayton, the founder’s son, reached out to Buffett through Auxier, the professor said in a recent interview this winter, and asked whether Buffett might explore “a business relationship” with Clayton Homes.
At the time, mobile home loans had been defaulting at alarming rates, and investors had grown wary of them. Clayton’s profits depended on its ability to bundle loans and resell them to investors.
That’s why Kevin Clayton was seeking a new source of cash to lend to home buyers. He knew that Berkshire Hathaway, with its perfect bond rating, could provide it as cheaply as anyone. Later that year, Berkshire Hathaway paid $1.7 billion in cash to buy Clayton Homes.




Berkshire Hathaway quickly bought up failed competitors’ stores, factories and billions in troubled loans, building Clayton Homes into the industry’s dominant force. In 2013, Clayton provided 39 percent of new mobile-home loans, according to a Center for Public Integrity/Times analysis of federal data that 7,000 home lenders are required to submit. The next biggest lender was Wells Fargo, with just 6 percent of the loans.
Clayton provided more than half of new mobile-home loans in eight states. In Texas, the number exceeds 70 percent. Clayton has more than 90 percent of the market in Odessa, one of the most expensive places in the country to finance a mobile home.
To maintain its down-to-earth image, Clayton has hired the stars of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty to appear in ads. Buffett, meanwhile, has become known as a Billionaire of the People, grousing publicly that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does and delivering public pronouncements riddled with folksy aphorisms and quotes from Mark Twain.
At next month’s shareholders meeting in Omaha, Buffett will participate in his fourth annual newspaper tossing challenge — a lighthearted contest with his investors to see who can land a copy of the Omaha World-Herald, which Buffett also owns, closest to the door of a Clayton model home.
Clayton's headquarters is a hulking structure of metal sheeting surrounded by acres of parking lots and a beach volleyball court for employees, located a few miles south of Knoxville. Next to the front door, there is a slot for borrowers to deposit payments.
Near the headquarters, two Clayton sales lots sit three miles from each other. Clayton Homes’ banners promise “$0 CASH DOWN.” TruValue Homes, also owned by Clayton, advertises “REPOS FOR SALE.” Other nearby Clayton lots operate as Luv Homes and Oakwood Homes. With all the different names, many customers said they believed they were shopping around.




House-sized banners at dealerships reinforce that impression, proclaiming they will “BEAT ANY DEAL.” In some parts of the country, buyers would have to drive many miles past several Clayton-owned lots, to reach a true competitor.
A few miles north, beyond Kevin Clayton’s new $1.6 million, waterfront home, is a strip of highway packed with pawn shops, auto title lenders, payday lenders and car dealerships. The highway is home to two Clayton-owned dealerships and one that is independently owned but advertises Clayton mortgages.

Clayton Homes Crooked and Dishonest Beginnings Sprang From Their Father Who Also Took Advantage of the Poor

Jim Clayton, who founded Clayton Homes in 1966, ascended from his roots as a sharecropper’s son to the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in part by lending at high rates to people with few options. The original Clayton Homes dealership sits adjacent to a Clayton family-owned “Buy Here Pay Here” used car lot, catering to low-income buyers. Across the street is another auto dealership owned by the Clayton family. Down the street is a branch of Jim Clayton’s bank, housed in a Clayton-built manufactured home.
Guided into costly loans
Soon after Buffett bought Clayton Homes, he declared a new dawn for the moribund mobile-home industry, which provides housing for some 20 million Americans. Lenders should require “significant down payments and shorter-term loans,” Buffett wrote.
He called 30-year loans on mobile homes “a mistake,” according to notes taken by Tilson during Berkshire Hathaway’s 2003 shareholders meeting.
“Home purchases should involve an honest-to-God down payment of at least 10% and monthly payments that can be comfortably handled by the borrower’s income,” Buffett later wrote. “That income should be carefully verified.”
But in examining more than 100 Clayton home sales through interviews and reviews of loan documents from 41 states, reporters found that the company’s loans routinely violated the lending standards laid out by Buffett.




Clayton dealers often sell homes with no cash down payment. Numerous borrowers said they were persuaded to take on out sized payments by dealers promising that they could later refinance. And the average loan term actually increased from 21 years in 2007 to more than 23 years in 2009, the last time Berkshire disclosed that detail. Vanderbilt advertised 30-year loans in printed literature available at Clayton Homes sales lots this winter.
Clayton’s loan to Dorothy Mansfield, a disabled Army veteran in North Carolina who lost her previous home to a tornado in 2011, includes key features that Buffett condemned.
Mansfield had a lousy credit score of 474, court records show. Although she had seasonal and part-time jobs, her monthly income often consisted of less than $700 in disability benefits. She had no money for a down payment when she visited Clayton Homes in Fayetteville, N.C.
Vanderbilt, one of Clayton’s lenders, approved her for a $60,000, 20-year loan to buy a Clayton home at 10.13 percent annual interest. She secured the loan with two parcels of land that her family already owned free and clear.
The dealer didn’t request any documents to verify Mansfield’s income or employment, records show.
Mansfield’s monthly payment of $673 consumed almost all of her guaranteed income. Within 18 months, she was behind on payments and Clayton was trying to foreclose on the home and land.
Many borrowers interviewed for this investigation described being steered by Clayton dealers into Clayton financing without realizing the companies were one and the same. Sometimes, buyers said, the dealer described the financing as the best deal available. Other times, the Clayton dealer said it was the only financing option.




Clayton’s Oakwood Homes dealer in Knoxville told Tim Smith that Vanderbilt was “the only one who would be able to do the deal,” Smith said. His used home arrived a month later, long after Smith had traded in his previous home as a down payment, he said. The Clayton contractor who delivered the house refused to haul it up the hill, Smith said, unless Smith took out a short-term, high-interest payday loan to cover an unexpected fee.
Kevin Carroll, former owner of a Clayton-affiliated dealership in Indiana, said in an interview that he used business loans from a Clayton lender to finance inventory for his lot. If he also guided home buyers to work with the same lender, 21st Mortgage, the company would give him a discount on his business loans — a “kickback,” in his words.
Doug Farley, who was a general manager at several Clayton-owned dealerships, also used the term “kickback” to describe the profit-share he received on Clayton loans until around 2008. After that, the company changed its incentives to instead provide “kickbacks” on sales of Clayton’s insurance to borrowers, he said.
Ed Atherton, a former lot manager in Arkansas, said his regional supervisor was pressuring lot managers to put at least 80 percent of buyers into Clayton financing. Atherton left the company in 2013.
During the most recent four-year period, 93 percent of Clayton’s mobile home loans had such costly terms that they required extra disclosure under federal rules. For all other mobile-home lenders, less than half of their loans met that threshold.
Customers said in interviews that dealers misled them to take on unaffordable loans, with tactics including broken promises, last-minute changes to loan terms and unexplained fees that inflate loan balances. Such loans are, by definition, predatory.
“They’re going to assume the client is unsophisticated, and they’re right,” said Felix Harris, a housing counselor with the non-profit Knoxville Area Urban League.
Some borrowers said they felt trapped because they put up a deposit before the dealer explained the loan terms or, like the Ackleys, felt compelled to swallow bait-and-switch deals because they had spent thousands to prepare their land.




Promise denied
A couple years after moving into their new mobile home in Ephrata, Washington, Kirk Ackley was injured in a backhoe rollover. Unable to work, he and his wife urgently needed to refinance the costly 21st Mortgage loan they regretted signing.
They pleaded with their lenders several times for the better terms that they originally were promised, but were denied, they said. The Ackleys tried to explain the options in a call with a 21st supervisor: If they refinanced to lower payments, they could stay in the home and 21st would get years of steady returns. Otherwise, the company would have come out to their rural property, pull the house from its foundation and haul it away, possibly damaging it during the repossession.
They said they were baffled by the reply: “We don’t care. We’ll come take a chainsaw to it — cut it up and haul it out in boxes.”
Nine Clayton consumers interviewed for this story said they were promised a chance to refinance. In reality, Clayton almost never refinances loans and accounts for less than 1 percent of mobile-home that were refinanced according to  government data from 2010 to 2013. It made more than one-third of the purchase loans during that period.
“If you have a decrease in income and can’t afford the mortgage, at least a lot of the big companies will do modifications,” said Harris, the Knoxville housing counselor. “Vanderbilt won’t even entertain that.”
In general, owners have difficulty refinancing or selling their mobile homes because few lenders offer such loans. One big reason: Homes are overpriced or depreciate so quickly that they generally are worth less than what the borrower owes, even after years of monthly payments.
Ellie Carosa, of Napavine, Wash., found this out the hard way in 2010 after she put down about $40,000 from an inheritance to buy a used home from Clayton priced at about $65,000.
Clayton sales reps steered Carosa, who is 67 years old and disabled, to finance the unpaid amount through Vanderbilt at 9 percent interest over 20 years.
One year later, Carosa was already having problems — peeling paint and failing carpets — that she decided to have a market expert assess the value of her home. She hoped to eventually sell the house so the money could help her biological granddaughter, whom she adopted as her daughter at age 8, attend a local college to study music.
Carosa was stunned to learn that the home was worth only $35,000, far less than her original down payment.





“I’ve lost everything,” Carosa said.
Clayton’s own data suggest that its mobile homes may be overpriced from the start, according to court documents and comments filed with federal regulators by its general counsel. When Vanderbilt was required to obtain appraisals before finalizing a loan, he wrote, the home was determined to be worth less than the sales price about 30 percent of the time. Another Clayton executive said in a 2012 affidavit that the average profit margin on Clayton homes sold in Arkansas between 2006 and 2009 was $11,170 — roughly one-fifth of the average sales price of the homes.
"Rudest, most condescending" agents
Berkshire’s borrowers who fall behind on their payments face harassing, potentially illegal phone calls from a company rarely willing to offer relief.
Carol Carroll, a nurse living near Bug Tussle, Ala., began looking for a new home in 2003 after her husband died, leaving her with a six-year-old daughter. Instead of a down payment, she said, the salesman assured her she could simply put up two acres of her family land as collateral.
In December 2005, Carroll was permanently disabled in a catastrophic car accident in which two people were killed. Knowing it would take a few months for her disability benefits to be approved, Carroll said she called Vanderbilt and asked for a temporary reprieve. The company’s answer, she said: “We don’t do that.”
However, Clayton ratcheted up her property insurance premiums, eventually costing her $803 more per year than when she started, she said. Carroll was one of several Clayton borrowers who felt trapped in the company’s insurance, often because they were told they had no other options. Some had as many as five years’ worth of expensive premiums included in their loans, inflating the total balance to be repaid with interest. Others said they were misled into signing up even though they already had other insurance.
Carroll has since sold belongings, borrowed from relatives and cut back on groceries to make payments. When she was late, she spoke frequently to Clayton’s phone agents, whom she described as “the rudest, most condescending people I have ever dealt with.” It’s a characterization echoed by almost every borrower interviewed for this story.
Consumers say the company’s response to pleas for help is an invasive interrogation about their family budgets, including how much they spend on food, toiletries and utilities. Denise Pitts, of Knoxville, said Vanderbilt collectors have called her multiple times a day, with one suggesting that she cancel her Internet service, even though she home schools her son. They have called her relatives and neighbors, a tactic other borrowers reported.
After Pitts’ husband, Kirk, was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, she said, a Vanderbilt agent told her she should make the house payment her “first priority” and let medical bills go unpaid. She said the company has threatened to seize her property immediately, even though the legal process to do so would take at least several months.




Practices like contacting neighbors, calling repeatedly and making false threats can violate consumer-protection laws in states including Tennessee, lawyers said.
Last year, frequent complaints about Clayton’s aggressive collection practices led Tennessee state officials to contact local housing counselors seeking information about their experiences with the company, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations.
With protections lacking, homes are seized
Many mobile home buyers finance their purchases with personal property loans, which typically have fewer federal and state protections than regular home mortgages. Their homes, for example, can be seized with little or no warning. With regular mortgages, by contrast, companies must wait 120 days before starting foreclosure.
Tiffany Galler was a single mother living in Crestview, Fla. in 2005 when she bought a mobile home for $37,195 with a loan from 21st Mortgage. She later rented out the home.
After making payments over eight years totaling more than the sticker price of the home, Galler lost her tenant in November 2013 and fell behind on her payments. She arranged to show the home to a prospective renter two months later. But when she arrived at her home site, Galler found barren dirt with PVC pipe sticking up from the ground. She called 911, thinking someone had stolen her home.
Hours later, Galler tracked her repossessed house to a sales lot 30 miles away that was affiliated with 21st. It was listed at $25,900.
Some Clayton borrowers risk losing more than their house. The company often allows buyers to put up land as collateral if they can’t afford a down payment. One dealership claimed in advertisements to be the “only company that can provide you with a guarantee that if you or a family member owns land, that we can finance you a trailer,” according to court documents.




Government neglect
The government has known for years about concerns that mobile home buyers are treated unfairly. Little has been done.
Fifteen years ago, Congress directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development to examine issues such as loan terms and regulations in order to find ways to make mobile homes affordable. That’s still on HUD’s to-do list.
The industry, however, has protected its interests vigorously. Clayton Homes is represented in Washington by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), a trade group that has a Clayton executive as its vice chairman and another as its secretary. CEO Kevin Clayton has represented MHI before Congress.
MHI spent $4.5 million since 2003 lobbying the federal government. Those efforts have helped the company escape much scrutiny, as has Buffett’s persona as a man of the people, analysts say.
“There is a Teflon aspect to Warren Buffett,” said James McRitchie, who runs a widely-read blog, Corporate Governance.
Still, after the housing crisis, lawmakers tightened protections for mortgage borrowers with a sweeping overhaul known as the Dodd-Frank Act, creating regulatory headaches for the mobile home industry. Kevin Clayton complained to lawmakers in 2011 that the new rules would lump in some of his company’s loans with “subprime, predatory” mortgages, making it harder for mobile home buyers “to obtain affordable financing.”
Although the rules had yet to take effect that year, 99 percent of Clayton’s mobile home loans were so expensive that they met the federal government’s “higher-priced” threshold.
Dodd-Frank also tasked federal financial regulators with creating appraisal requirements for risky loans. Appraisals are common for conventional home sales, protecting both the lender and the consumer from a bad deal.
But when federal agencies jointly proposed appraisal rules in September 2012, industry objections led them to exempt loans secured solely by a mobile home.
Then Clayton pushed for more concessions, arguing that mobile home loans secured by the home and land should also be exempt. Paul Nichols, then-president of Clayton’s Vanderbilt Mortgage, told regulators that the appraisal requirement would be costly and onerous, significantly reducing “the availability of affordable housing in the United States.”
In 2013, regulators conceded. They will not require a complete appraisal for new manufactured homes.




Berkshire’s opaque reporting
To ensure that lenders are treating consumers fairly and extending loans that they expect will be repaid, regulators and analysts often rely on public financial disclosures about loan down payments, delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures.
Clayton Homes doesn’t have to disclose these details because it is part of a bigger company, Berkshire Hathaway.
In a letter to shareholders last month, Buffett wrote that a “very high percentage of [Clayton’s] borrowers kept their homes” during the 2008 housing meltdown and ensuing recession, thanks to “sensible lending practices” that were, he has said, “better than its major competitors.”
“Our blue-collar borrowers, in many cases, proved much better credit risks than their higher-income brethren,” Buffett wrote.
Yet the company has provided scant data to back up this claim. “I wouldn’t give much credence to those comments,” said James Shanahan, an analyst with Edward Jones who follows Berkshire Hathaway.
Berkshire declared each year since 2010 that 98 percent of its loan portfolio is “performing.” Yet elsewhere in its financials, the company discloses that the only loans it considers “non-performing” are those currently in the foreclosure process. That means the impressive-sounding ratio ignores loans that are delinquent and those that have already been foreclosed or the homes repossessed.
Across the industry, about 28 percent of non-mortgage mobile home loans fail, according to research prepared for an industry conference by Kenneth Rishel, a consultant who has worked in the field for 40 years. Clayton’s failure rates are 26 percent at 21st Mortgage and 33 percent at Vanderbilt, said Rishel, who cited his research and conversations with Clayton executives.
In a brief email, 21st President Tim Williams said those numbers were “inaccurate,” but he declined to provide the company’s figures.




Berkshire reports Clayton as part of its “financial products” segment because it makes most of its money from lending and insurance, not from building and selling homes, said Williams, who worked at Vanderbilt before founding 21st and selling it back to Clayton.
“The company is profitable in all it does,” he said in an interview last year, but financial products are “where the money is made.
Buffett proudly trumpets Berkshire’s decentralized structure, saying he delegates to CEOs like Kevin Clayton “almost to the point of abdication.” At Clayton Homes, the result has been lax oversight of some of its dealers. In Texas, for example, hundreds of signatures were forged to help secure loans for people with no assets, a practice that Vanderbilt’s then-president, Paul Nichols, acknowledged and said was “deplorable” in later trial testimony.
Clayton’s questionable practices extended to its dealers, said Kevin Carroll, the former dealer who won Clayton awards for his sales performance.
CEO Kevin Clayton helped Carroll get a loan from 21st Mortgage to buy out his business partners in 2008, Carroll said. Two weeks after the loan documents were signed, Clayton Homes told Carroll it was shuttering the nearby manufacturing plant that supplied his dealership.
The closure doomed Carroll’s business. He fell behind on his payments. Clayton representatives tormented him with endless phone calls, he said, until he agreed in 2010 to surrender the company and the land underneath it. Carroll sued, but the case was thrown out because too much time had elapsed.
“They entrap you,” Carroll said. “They give you a loan that you can’t pay back and then they take from you.”
This story was jointly reported and written by The Center for Public Integrity and The Seattle Times

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Why Would Digital First Media and its corporate owner Alden Global Capital Try to Suppress the First Amendment Rights of It's Own Employees?

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned by reports that hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which owns newspaper conglomerate Digital First Media, is attempting to control the editorial content of its newspapers in order to prevent its staffers from publicizing severe financial cutbacks, with serious consequences for press freedom in the communities served by these local papers.
Editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett of the Colorado-based newspaper Denver Post resigned on May 3 after leadership at the paper’s parent company, Digital First Media (DFM), refused to let him publish an editorial package accusing Alden Global Capital (AGC) of slashing funding and firing staff for its own profit. Plunkett’s departure also followed the April 25 firing of Dave Krieger, the editorial page editor for the DFM-owned Daily Camera, who self-published a piece critical of DFM and AGC after he was prevented from running it in the Camera.

The financial cutbacks inflicted on DFM-owned newspapers across the nation resulted in $160 million in profits for the newspaper conglomerate in fiscal 2017, including $28 million from The Denver Post. DFM, the country’s second-largest newspaper chain, has allegedly eliminated two out of every three staff positions at its newspapers since gaining ownership in 2011. Thirty staffers were laid off from The Denver Post in March alone. In an op-ed published in Rolling Stone, Plunkett also alleged that DFM’s impressive 17% operating margin was purely the result of financial cutbacks on DFM-owned newspapers nationwide.

After his editorial package was denied, Plunkett claims he was told by DFM that he would be required to turn over publication plans for all opinion content at least three days in advance of publishing in order to be screened by a committee overseen by DFM senior leadership. Plunkett alleges he was told he couldn’t mention AGC or DFM in any capacity. Managing Editor Tony Adamis of the New York-based Daily Freeman said he also received instruction from DFM to seek prior approval before publishing articles related to the corporate owners after he ran an AP article publicizing the financial cutbacks. He relayed these instructions to his colleagues in an email on April 24.

DFM and AGC-owned newspapers across the country have called for the corporate owners to either invest in their newspapers or sell them to a company that will.

“What is happening at the newspapers owned by parent company Digital First Media and its corporate owner Alden Global Capital shows a disregard for basic journalism ethics, which in turn has a negative impact on press freedom,” said RSF’s North America Director Margaux Ewen. “By interfering in the editorial decisions of their newspapers based on a desire to censor reporting revealing their financial practices’ impacts on their publications, DFM and AGC are effectively preventing their reporters from performing their duties as watchdogs, as well as restricting the free flow of information within the local communities these papers serve.”

After Plunkett’s departure, 55 of the 70 staffers of The Denver Post published a letter on May 7 in the Denver Newspaper Guild condemning the censorship inflicted on their editorial page editor. Several of The Denver Post’s senior staff, including editors Dana Coffield and Larry Ryckman, chairman and editorial board member Dean Singleton—who owned the paper from 1987 to 2013— and digital director Becky Risch all resigned in the days following Plunkett’s departure.

These events come months after Newsweek Media Group’s recent attempt to censor its editorial staff at its publication Newsweek. The company faced heavy criticism after firing several reporters who had uncovered high-level financial corruption and wrongdoing involving the company’s co-founders, resulting in multiple staff resigning in protest. In the wake of this incident, it is concerning that another corporate owner would follow in Newsweek Media Group’s footsteps by attempting to infringe on its newspapers’ editorial independence.

The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index after falling 2 places in the last year.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Human Trafficking Website Backpage.com seized by US Dept. of Justice--- Finally!!!

After several years of works behind the scenes fighting human trafficking and working with political insiders, US Senators, and city government officials across the United States, backpage.com, the advertising home of tens of thousands of traffickers has been finally seized in response to a new federal law that imposes criminal and civil penalties on the owners of websites that aid and abet human trafficking.
After the Communications Decency Act was revised earlier this year, the website was seized by US Dept. of Justice officials (FBI) and shut  down. After working with Sen. Rob Portman's office and other officials on this for the past two years, I consider this a substantial victory on behalf of those who are being trafficked. Unfortunately, I fear that our job will never end. So, while this huge victory is being savored, it is time to continue the battle to end human trafficking all over the world.

The two co-founders of backpage.com were arrested Friday April 6, 2018 on a 93 count indictment of aiding and abetting prostitution as well as money laundering charges. 


One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Short List of Quality Companies I Conduct Business With

It seems that customer service is passe for most companies today. The old saying, "The customer is always right," has for the most part gone by the wayside. That being said, the cycles is that without making the "boss" happy, there is doubtfully a job in your future. If you make enough "customers/bosses" unhappy, your company will have fewer and fewer employees and eventually go out of business.

This blog has been a venting place for me, but has, I hoped served as a cautionary tale for its readers of whom to avoid doing business with.

So, over the next several months I will be adding companies to this post concerning quality companies that I myself do business with, rather than those I no longer desire to hassle with.


Check back once a month or so, and happy hunting. 



Elvenar Online Game is Losing Its Audience: great graphics, but too many rules, system thefts, problems, and developer's greed for me to continue playing

I have a problem with your game that I think every player needs to know about. It seems that there is a huge programming error in the script that literally "steals" tools, marble, planks, steel, etc. from your account for every action you make in the game. Maybe this was intentional, maybe the developers don't know about it. I just saw it happen again on both my games and I now know I have wasted most of the last two weeks playing a game that is poorly developed.

I let my tools build up for several hours today. I just clicked on hundreds of tools, marble, steel, wood, and coins, but the account shows only "3"   tools out of the hundreds I should have added. The same has happened numerous times over the past week. Additionally, when I try to login in the prompt states that my password is wrong, so I re-enter it with no problem.  Obviously, yet another glitch.

Last week, the server informed me that I needed to "add culture" and prevented me from doing anything without adding culture. Once I added culture, it required me to "add population."  I had no room due to the slow progression of building my stock of  marble, planks, tools, and steel,  after my account had been stolen from in every transaction by the system.  Truly frustrating! I would rather watch paint peel than go through that again.

In the trader, I was informed that "you don't have enough credit to complete the transaction," but items were taken from my account. 

I am glad I have yet to pay for diamonds, but my relaxation time is valuable to me. I spent about an hour a day on both games. I set up game two to fight the boredom and slow down by game one that the developers imposed on me.

Your game has too many undefined rules. Explanations are not clearly given, and the fighting part really truly sucks!! 

Additionally, It seems that the inherent motivation was to make the game so interminably slow and frustrating that players would buy diamonds for cash (US currency or other) to speed up the game.


I also noticed that few people outside of the development team venture onto the forums, which is why I am addressing them through the forum to ask them to fix their errors and change the game to a more user friendly, less greed motivated game. Until these changes are made, I doubt I will be spending much time playing it.

Finally, looking at the number of closed accounts, those with less than one hundred points, it is staggering that out of more than 50,000 players that are on record, you have only about 6,000 active players that play any amount of time at all.


You are losing your audience through poor performance and false advertising.

The game is advertised as, "You can do anything you want in this game!"

Well, obviously, you can't.

I doubt this post is up next week, so I will post it online in my blog. 

It could have been a really sweet game if you did what the players wanted you to do, but you will not listen to us.


Mark Winkle
a part-time gamer,
author, consultant,
teacher

I have a problem with your game that I think every player needs to know about. It seems that there is a huge programming error in the script that literally "steals" tools, marble, planks, steel, etc. from your account for every action you make in the game. Maybe this was intentional, maybe the developers don't know about it. I just saw it happen again on both my games and I now know I have wasted most of the last two weeks playing a game that is poorly developed.

I let my tools build up for several hours today. I just clicked on hundreds of tools, marble, steel, wood, and coins, but the account shows only "3"   tools out of the hundreds I should have added. The same has happened numerous times over the past week. Additionally, when I try to login in the prompt states that my password is wrong, so I re-enter it with no problem.  Obviously, yet another glitch.

Last week, the server informed me that I needed to "add culture" and prevented me from doing anything without adding culture. Once I added culture, it required me to "add population."  I had no room due to the slow progression of building my stock of  marble, planks, tools, and steel,  after my account had been stolen from in every transaction by the system.  Truly frustrating! I would rather watch paint peel than go through that again.

In the trader, I was informed that "you don't have enough credit to complete the transaction," but items were taken from my account. 

I am glad I have yet to pay for diamonds, but my relaxation time is valuable to me. I spent about an hour a day on both games. I set up game two to fight the boredom and slow down by game one that the developers imposed on me.

Your game has too many undefined rules. Explanations are not clearly given, and the fighting part really truly sucks!! 

Additionally, It seems that the inherent motivation was to make the game so interminably slow and frustrating that players would buy diamonds for cash (US currency or other) to speed up the game.


I also noticed that few people outside of the development team venture onto the forums, which is why I am addressing them through the forum to ask them to fix their errors and change the game to a more user friendly, less greed motivated game. Until these changes are made, I doubt I will be spending much time playing it.

Finally, looking at the number of closed accounts, those with less than one hundred points, it is staggering that out of more than 50,000 players that are on record, you have only about 6,000 active players that play any amount of time at all.


You are losing your audience through poor performance and false advertising.

The game is advertised as, "You can do anything you want in this game!"

Well, obviously, you can't.

I doubt this post is up next week, so I will post it online in my blog. 

It could have been a really sweet game if you did what the players wanted you to do, but you will not listen to us.


Mark Winkle
a part-time gamer,
author, consultant,
teacher
I have a problem with your game that I think every player needs to know about. It seems that there is a huge programming error in the script that literally "steals" tools, marble, planks, steel, etc. from your account for every action you make in the game. Maybe this was intentional, maybe the developers don't know about it. I just saw it happen again on both my games and I now know I have wasted most of the last two weeks playing a game that is poorly developed.

I let my tools build up for several hours today. I just clicked on hundreds of tools, marble, steel, wood, and coins, but the account shows only "3"   tools out of the hundreds I should have added. The same has happened numerous times over the past week. Additionally, when I try to login in the prompt states that my password is wrong, so I re-enter it with no problem.  Obviously, yet another glitch.

Last week, the server informed me that I needed to "add culture" and prevented me from doing anything without adding culture. Once I added culture, it required me to "add population."  I had no room due to the slow progression of building my stock of  marble, planks, tools, and steel,  after my account had been stolen from in every transaction by the system.  Truly frustrating! I would rather watch paint peel than go through that again.

In the trader, I was informed that "you don't have enough credit to complete the transaction," but items were taken from my account. 

I am glad I have yet to pay for diamonds, but my relaxation time is valuable to me. I spent about an hour a day on both games. I set up game two to fight the boredom and slow down by game one that the developers imposed on me.

Your game has too many undefined rules. Explanations are not clearly given, and the fighting part really truly sucks!! 

Additionally, It seems that the inherent motivation was to make the game so interminably slow and frustrating that players would buy diamonds for cash (US currency or other) to speed up the game.


I also noticed that few people outside of the development team venture onto the forums, which is why I am addressing them through the forum to ask them to fix their errors and change the game to a more user friendly, less greed motivated game. Until these changes are made, I doubt I will be spending much time playing it.

Finally, looking at the number of closed accounts, those with less than one hundred points, it is staggering that out of more than 50,000 players that are on record, you have only about 6,000 active players that play any amount of time at all.


You are losing your audience through poor performance and false advertising.

The game is advertised as, "You can do anything you want in this game!"

Well, obviously, you can't.

I doubt this post is up next week, so I will post it online in my blog. 

It could have been a really sweet game if you did what the players wanted you to do, but you will not listen to us.


Mark Winkle
a part-time gamer,
author, consultant,
teacher
I have a problem with your game that I think every player needs to know about. It seems that there is a huge programming error in the script that literally "steals" tools, marble, planks, steel, etc. from your account for every action you make in the game. Maybe this was intentional, maybe the developers don't know about it. I just saw it happen again on both my games and I now know I have wasted most of the last two weeks playing a game that is poorly developed.

I let my tools build up for several hours today. I just clicked on hundreds of tools, marble, steel, wood, and coins, but the account shows only "3"   tools out of the hundreds I should have added. The same has happened numerous times over the past week. Additionally, when I try to login in the prompt states that my password is wrong, so I re-enter it with no problem.  Obviously, yet another glitch.

Last week, the server informed me that I needed to "add culture" and prevented me from doing anything without adding culture. Once I added culture, it required me to "add population."  I had no room due to the slow progression of building my stock of  marble, planks, tools, and steel,  after my account had been stolen from in every transaction by the system.  Truly frustrating! I would rather watch paint peel than go through that again.

In the trader, I was informed that "you don't have enough credit to complete the transaction," but items were taken from my account. 

I am glad I have yet to pay for diamonds, but my relaxation time is valuable to me. I spent about an hour a day on both games. I set up game two to fight the boredom and slow down by game one that the developers imposed on me.

Your game has too many undefined rules. Explanations are not clearly given, and the fighting part really truly sucks!! 

Additionally, It seems that the inherent motivation was to make the game so interminably slow and frustrating that players would buy diamonds for cash (US currency or other) to speed up the game.


I also noticed that few people outside of the development team venture onto the forums, which is why I am addressing them through the forum to ask them to fix their errors and change the game to a more user friendly, less greed motivated game. Until these changes are made, I doubt I will be spending much time playing it.

Finally, looking at the number of closed accounts, those with less than one hundred points, it is staggering that out of more than 50,000 players that are on record, you have only about 6,000 active players that play any amount of time at all.


You are losing your audience through poor performance and false advertising.

The game is advertised as, "You can do anything you want in this game!"

Well, obviously, you can't.

I doubt this post is up next week, so I will post it online in my blog. 

It could have been a really sweet game if you did what the players wanted you to do, but you will not listen to us.


Mark Winkle
a part-time gamer,
author, consultant,
teacher

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Biblical Money Management- Tithing or Cheerful Giving- The 21st Century Church

                One of the greatest points of contention in the present day Christian church is proper money management. Since God is not a respecter of persons, he gives and takes from whom he will, never in kind, or in equal measure. Some bear the brunt of his ire at times, and some evil doers profit temporarily. All things both evil and good occur because God lets them happen or causes them to happen. Either way, we are all pawns in a spiritual battle not of our own choice. While we have free will, the choices presented to us are not always the best of choices.
                 People are born into wealth or born into poverty, both difficult to escape. Many years ago I met in person the richest man in the world, in my opinion, he was also the unhappiest man in the world. Instead of spending Thanksgiving with any of his children and grandchildren, he was off to conclude yet another business deal. He saw his children only when they needed money (his side of the story). He wasn't interested in helping others succeed. His prime motivation in life was remaining the financially wealthiest man in the world.
                 Many ministers fall into the same trap and lead their flock down the same rabbit hole into financial dreamland: "The more you give to God, the more God gives you in return." "If you give $57 today, God will help you pay off your house!" (Rob Parsley)  "I need 300 people to give $50 in the next 15 minutes." "I see thirty people giving $1,000 in the next ten minutes" (Campmeeting.com) Begging for money to be able to prop up the facade that they present as a ministry is an embarrassment to God.
                   Even Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn ask you to double dip and give more than God requires. I minister to ministers and those God crosses my path with, so if you are reading this, print it out and pass it on. Give a copy to your minister, pastor, elders, priests, bishops, etc. and let's take begging for money out of the worship service.

                    Tithing was decreed by God of the Israelites and thus was Judaic law. Jesus came and brought grace to replace the law. While many ministers still preach from the Old Testament, those laws no longer apply. In fact, The Ten Commandments were replaced by two Commandments by Jesus himself. You have a choice, to live your life under Grace, or under the Law- choose wisely. Freedom or bondage- the choice is yours. One choice binds your hands and heart, the other opens your heart so God can use you for whatever purpose God desires.

                    To Tithe or to Give Cheerfully? Which is the One God Wants Christians to Do?

                    It’s probably suicidal for a pastor to preach on why you should not tithe! It’s risky at best, because some may hear the part about not tithing and block out the rest of the message! I would guess that if everyone who came regularly to this church gave ten percent to the church, our income would probably triple, at least! So why am I not preaching instead on why you should tithe?
The answer is that tithing is not the New Testament standard for giving. Perhaps more than any other factor, giving reflects the condition of our hearts: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). You can fake some things, but you can’t fake giving your money! You may get mad at me, but I’m going to give it to you straight: If you give ten percent or less of your income to the Lord’s work, in most cases it reflects a lukewarm heart toward God. I used to give ten percent and thought I was doing fine. Then I made the mistake of preaching on giving! I discovered that God’s Word teaches that ...
We should not tithe because God wants us to give generously, and tithing is the bare minimum.
Our God is a generous, giving God who so loved the world that He gave that most precious gift, His only begotten Son. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). As God’s people who are to be like Jesus, we are to be generous givers.
The Bible teaches that God, who richly has supplied us with all good things, wants us “to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim. 6:18). But what does generosity mean? Isn’t giving 10 percent of my income to the Lord’s work being generous? If not 10 percent, how much should I give?

1. Tithing is not the New Testament standard for giving.

Many churches promote a concept called “storehouse” tithing, based on Malachi 3:10, where God tells Israel to “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” They teach that the local church is the storehouse, the tithe belongs to God, and His blessing is conditioned upon faithfulness in tithing. One pastor in a church near me in California preached that if his people weren’t giving ten percent to that church, they were in sin and needed to go home and repent!
Before I critique this view, let me point out that there are some commendable points regarding tithing: (1) Those who tithe are often acting in obedience to what they believe God has commanded. (2) Tithing gets some to increase what they give. (3) Tithing helps consistency and discipline in giving. But consider these seven reasons why tithing is not God’s standard for Christians:

A. Tithing was a part of the law of Moses; believers are not under the law.

Romans, Galatians, and other New Testament passages make it clear that Christians are not under the law of Moses. That does not mean that we are lawless, because we are under the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:20-21; James 1:25; 2:8, 12; Rom. 13:8-10). Those aspects of the Mosaic law that reflect the moral character of God are valid under the New Covenant and are repeated as commands in the New Testament. But the church is never commanded to tithe.
Those who argue for tithing point out that Abraham and Jacob both tithed prior to the Mosaic law (Gen. 14:20; 28:22). Thus tithing supersedes the law, they argue. If the New Testament gave no further guidelines, that might be a valid point. But it does, as I will show. But there are other practices, such as circumcision and sabbath-keeping which pre-date the Law and yet are not binding on us.
If you examine the references to Abraham’s and Jacob’s tithing, you will see that God did not command them to tithe and there is no indication that this was their regular practice. On one occasion after a victory in battle, Abraham tithed the spoils from that battle, but nothing is said regarding his other possessions or his regular income (Gen. 14:20). To follow Jacob’s example would be wrong, because he was making a conditional vow before God, promising that if God would keep him safe and provide for him, then he would give God a tenth (Gen. 28:20-22). That’s hardly a good example to follow in giving! Tithing was required under the Mosaic Law, but believers are not under the Law.

B. Tithing was an involuntary tax to support Israel; believers are not a part of the theocratic nation.

In the Old Testament, there was both required and voluntary giving. The tithe was required. It was commanded for every Israelite to fund national worship and help the poor. In actuality, there was not just one tithe, but rather two or three ([1] Lev. 27:30-33, Num. 18:20-21; [2] Deut. 12:17-18; [3] Deut. 14:28-29), so that the total was not 10 percent, but more like 22 percent (see Charles Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life [Moody Press], p. 86). Thus if we are required to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse today, we had better up the percentage from 10 to 22 percent!

C. Tithing is not mentioned in any instructions to the church, although much is said about giving.

G. F. Hawthorne writes (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology [Zondervan], 3:854:
Since the tithe played such an important part in the OT and in Judaism contemporary with early Christianity, it is surprising to discover that never once is tithing mentioned in any instructions given to the church. Jesus mentions scribes and Pharisees who tithe ..., but he never commanded his disciples to tithe. The writer to the Hebrews refers to Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek and Levi paying his tithe to Melchizedek through Abraham ..., but he never taught his readers to follow their example. Paul writes about sharing material possessions to care for the needs of the poor ... and to sustain the Christian ministry .... He urges and commends generosity ... but never once does he demand, as a command from God, that any specific amount be given.
If tithing is to be practiced by the Christian church, it seems strange that Paul did not mention it when he wrote of giving, especially to the predominately Gentile churches which would not be familiar with the Old Testament.

D. Tithing is not mentioned in any writings of the early church fathers.

By itself this is not decisive, but it lends weight to the biblical arguments. If the early church practiced tithing, then the concept should surface somewhere in the writings of the church fathers of the second and third centuries. But it does not, even though giving was an important part of early Christian worship (see Hawthorne, pp. 854-855).

E. Tithing puts the wrong emphasis upon giving.

Tithing emphasizes your obligation to God; New Testament giving, as we shall see, emphasizes your willing, loving response to God’s grace. Furthermore, tithing limits giving by making a person feel that he has paid his dues (so to speak) and thus nothing more is required, when, in fact, much more could be done. Tithing has a tendency to put a person on a legal basis with God, rather than a love relationship. It’s the wrong emphasis.

F. Tithing leads to a false concept of stewardship.

It leads to the notion that 10 percent is God’s money and 90 percent is my money. In reality, 100 percent is God’s money, and He may want me to channel 90 percent into His work and live on 10 percent. Tithing can be a bad rut.

G. Tithing is burdensome for some and too easy for others.

If a man with a family of five makes $20,000 a year and tithes, he has $18,000 (apart from taxes) to support five people. If a childless couple makes $100,000 a year and tithes, they have $90,000 (apart from taxes) to support two people. That would be burdensome to the man with five mouths to feed, but ridiculously easy for the couple.
There are seven reasons that argue against tithing. Then what is God’s standard for giving?

2. Generous grace giving is the New Testament standard.

When you say “grace,” a lot of people, unfortunately, connect it with hang-loose, undisciplined living. But that is not grace! Nor is grace the balance point between legalism and licentiousness. Rather grace (as a system) is totally opposed both to legalism and licentiousness, which are two sides of the same coin.
Legalism and licentiousness both operate on the principle of the flesh. Legalism is an attempt to earn standing with God through human effort and leads to pride or condemnation, depending on how well you do. Licentiousness casts off restraint and lives to gratify the flesh.
But God’s grace is His unmerited favor based on Christ’s sacrifice. The motivating power in grace is the indwelling Spirit of God. The person under grace responds out of love and gratitude to God and depends upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to conform his life to what God requires. With that basic understanding of grace, let me spell out some things that grace giving is not, and then some things that grace giving is.

A. Grace giving is not ...

(1) Random and irresponsible. It does not mean that you give every now and then, hit and miss; rather (as we shall see next week), it is planned and systematic (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7).
(2) Based on feelings. Being under grace does not mean living by feelings. Living under grace means walking by faith and obedience in response to God’s love. There are many commands under grace.
(3) Usually less than the requirement of the law. God’s grace should motivate us to excel far more than the minimum under the law (1 Cor. 15:10).
(4) Giving God the leftovers. God deserves the best, not just what is convenient. If we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then we won’t just give Him what’s left over after the bills are paid. He deserves first place.
Thus grace giving is not sloppy, irresponsible, haphazard giving whenever we feel like it.

B. Grace giving is based on ...

(1) God’s example in Christ (2 Cor. 8:9). Aren’t you glad that God did not just give a tenth! He gave all. The Lord Jesus Christ was infinitely rich. He dwelled in the unimaginable splendor of heaven, apart from the sin and corruption of this world. But He gave that up, laid aside His privileges, and took on human flesh. He could have chosen to be born as a prince in palatial splendor. But instead He was born and lived in poverty. He ultimately impoverished Himself to the maximum by taking upon Himself the sin of the human race in order that we might become rich (2 Cor. 5:21).
Grace giving looks to the nail-pierced hands of the Lord Jesus, who gave Himself so that we might be rescued from the wrath of God, and says, “Lord, You gave all for me! What can I give back to You?”
(2) The concept of stewardship. “You are not your own, for you have been bought with a price ...” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). All that we are and have belongs to God, not just a tenth. I am merely the manager of His resources. As a good manager, I use the Owner’s resources to further His work (see Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 11:27-30 for some examples).
(3) Inner motivation, not outward compulsion (2 Cor. 8:3-5; 9:7). Motive and attitude are crucial. It is better to give a small amount based on a loving response to God’s grace than it is to give a large amount based on outward pressure or pride. Note the attitude of the Macedonian believers: they had an abundance of joy (2 Cor. 8:2); they gave of their own accord (8:3); they begged with much entreaty for the favor (8:4!); first they gave themselves to the Lord (8:5); they had both the readiness and desire (8:10-12, 9:2); they gave cheerfully, not grudgingly or under compulsion (9:7).
We should not think, “How much do I have to give?” but rather, “How much can I give?” We should not wait for someone to pressure us with a need; we should look for needs that we can meet (8:4). I look for and give to Christian organizations or workers that do not pressure donors with desperate appeals for funds. You almost don’t notice these workers because there are so many pleading for your money so that they “won’t go off the air next week.” May I say, “Let them go off the air!” Christians ought to give based upon inner motivation, not outward pressure. Grace giving is based on ...
(4) A new relationship with the Holy Spirit, not the old dispensation of the Law. Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Galatians 5:18 says, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” The context of both passages shows that Paul is talking about the Holy Spirit leading the believer into righteous, godly living. In Galatians, such righteous living is spelled out in the context, in part, as sharing financial resources (6:6, 10).
It’s easier in some ways to follow a set of rules. Just give your 10 percent and that takes care of the matter. But God wants us to be led by the Holy Spirit. That’s kind of scary! The Holy Spirit might want me to give 35 percent or who knows how much! But the point is, I am not living by rules, but in a relationship with the living God.
(5) How much God has prospered you. How much should you give? How much has God prospered you? (Note 1 Cor. 16:2, “as he may prosper”; Acts 11:29, “in the proportion that [they] had means”; 2 Cor. 8:3, 11, 12). Generally, they gave according to their ability, and in some cases beyond their ability. Sometimes you should give sacrificially. (We will look at that next week.) But the general principle is, give as God has prospered you.
When God entrusts you with more money, instead of spending it on more junk that you have to protect from moths, rust, and thieves, you should ask, “Lord, how do you want this money used in Your kingdom?” As God gives you more, you should increase the percentage you give, not just the amount. If you have enough to live comfortably, then invest the rest where God pays guaranteed, eternal dividends.
But here’s the catch: we need to start giving where we’re at, and not put it off until someday when we’re rich. The Macedonians gave in the midst of a great ordeal of affliction, out of deep poverty (2 Cor. 8:2). Jesus commended the poor widow who gave all she had to live on, but He was not impressed with the large gifts of the rich, because they had much left over (Mark 12:41-44).
George Muller is remembered as a man who received millions of dollars to support his orphanage, in response to secret prayer, without making any needs known to others. What many don’t know is that Muller gave away vast amounts to the Lord’s work out of funds that were given for his personal support. From 1870 on, he personally contributed the full support for about 20 missionaries with the China Inland Mission. From 1831-1885, he gave away 86 percent of his personal income! As the Lord prospered him, he could have lived in style. But he lived simply and gave away the rest.

Conclusion

Generosity and grace giving are built on the qualities we have already studied. If you’re free from bondage to greed and debt, you won’t be enslaved to money. If you’re a person of integrity and if you’re faithful as a manager, not the owner, of your money, then when God supplies you with more, you will prayerfully channel anything above personal and family needs into His kingdom.
In this church, we don’t use pressure or gimmicks to get people to give. I want your giving to be between you and God, based on your response to the love He has shown you at the cross. Also, I want to encourage each of you to refuse to give to any organization that uses pressure and fund-raising gimmicks. If you believe in the work of this church, then give generously as God has prospered you, out of love for Him.
Don’t assume that because we don’t use pressure we don’t have needs. I believe it is legitimate to inform the church family about needs so they can give wisely. We have needs: to meet our monthly budget; to get some better office equipment; to pay off the mortgage on the house next door so that we can use it and the house across the street for ministry; to buy more property for adequate parking; to pave the lot behind the church. We have to turn away missionaries who need support. I believe the way to meet these needs is to help God’s people get their hearts right before Him and to teach what His Word says about money and giving. As we respond to God’s grace by giving generously, the needs will be met.
A farmer who was not much concerned with spiritual matters once went to hear John Wesley preach. Wesley was preaching about money and he soon had the farmer’s attention, because his first point was, “Get all you can.” The farmer nudged his neighbor and said, “This is unusual preaching! I’ve never heard the likes of this before. This is good!” Wesley talked about hard work and purposeful living.
His second main point was, “Save all you can.” The farmer became more excited. “Did you ever hear anything like this?” he exclaimed. Wesley denounced waste and extravagance. The farmer was quite happy, thinking, “I do all this.”
But then Wesley advanced to his third point, which was, “Give all you can.” “Oh, dear! Oh, dear!” moaned the farmer. “He has gone and spoiled his sermon.”
I hope you don’t think that I have spoiled this series on money by saying, “Give all you can.” God has given all for us; He wants us to be cheerful, generous givers who respond to His grace.

Source: bible.org            link: https://bible.org/media/audio/rss_series_landing/22922