“I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It’s yours.”
After extensive government regulation laws were passed that would have destroyed his business, oil tycoon Ellis Wyatt in the epic novel Atlas Shrugged left the above words for the looters who were targeting him. Wyatt decided to destroy his business himself and go on his merry way instead of letting the government smother it to death slowly. That may be the same feeling that Ronnie Bryant of Birmingham, AL is experiencing. This news comes from David McElroy and was also featured on The Blaze.
Bryant operates coal mines in Alabama. He is responsible for the cost and management of the mines’ operation, he has to seek out and train quality employees to work in his mines, and he has to pay them a fair wage for their labor. Clearly there is great value for his business because the mines are still in operation. The economy needs what he is mining and the workers need the jobs. It is a win-win for everyone – or maybe not.
At a public forum Bryant listened to folks demonize his industry on the basis of environmental concerns. Who knows how valid the concerns are, but Bryant certainly took them personally. After hearing how horrible mine owners and operators like him are he decided that maybe all of the stress is not worth it anymore – so he quit!
My name’s Ronnie Bryant, and I’m a mine operator…. I’ve been issued a [state] permit in the recent past for [waste water] discharge, and after standing in this room today listening to the comments being made by the people…. [pause] Nearly every day without fail — I have a different perspective — men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just … you know … what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I don’t know. I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.
Who knows if Bryant will actually quit. Maybe that was a knee-jerk reaction to the tension in the room. But his comments should not be discounted. While we all appreciate some common sense regulation there is little doubt that excessive regulations mandated by the government makes it harder for business owners to run a business. That certainly does not encourage existing business owners to keep up productivity much less promote new entrepreneurs to risk their time and money. Whether or not Bryant will actually make good on his resignation from the mining industry there is little doubt that the regulations that sparked his passionate “I quit” speech does have real negative implications in the market place.