What could possibly be wrong with Obamanomics?
Just ask Bill the crane shop owner.
Bill Looman is the owner of U.S. Cranes L.L.C., a Waco, Georgia-based company that sells and services cranes and hoists. He has apparently found it difficult to hire new workers because of the dramatic increase in governmental regulations placed upon small businesses in recent years, and the overall sluggishness of the economy.
Not being able to expand one’s business is an unfortunate thing. But being harassed because you dare to speak your mind about current economic conditions is something different. And it wasn’t until Bill the crane shop owner actually went public with his assessment that our government was impinging on his business, that things got really dicey.
Six months ago, Looman began posting signs on his company vehicles which read “New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.” This wasn’t a political statement from Looman, so much as it was a statement about the current business and economic climate, and his belief that things won’t improve until Barack Obama exits the presidency. "I've got people that I want to hire now, but I just can't afford it,” Looman noted in a recent television interview. “And I don't foresee that I'll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C."
According to Looman, initial reaction to this message was mostly favorable – responses were positive by about a ’20 to 1” ratio, he claimed. But last week, a photo of one of these signs went viral on the internet. This led Bill the crane owner to temporarily shut-off his telephones, Facebook account, and company website, to protect himself from a barrage of threatening calls and web postings.
The fact that an American business owner puts himself at risk simply by having financial struggles – and that he makes matters worse by daring to speak his mind about those struggles - is a very disturbing thing. It tells us that Americans have lost sight of even the most basic principles of both economics, and the “right to free speech.”
First, let’s think economically about Bill’s situation. What is the purpose of his crane business? Does it exist simply for the sake of ‘hiring people,” or is “hiring” the result of Bill’s business first having successfully fulfilled a series of other purposes?
Basic economic understanding tells us that U.S. Cranes, L.L.C. exists for the purpose of providing valuable products and services to its customers, and in the process of delivering those valuable products and services, to produce a profit for its owners. As such, “hiring” is a function of “supply and demand:” as demand for U.S. Cranes’ products and services grows, the company will eventually need to hire additional workers as a means of supplying what their customers need.
This is both a very basic, but also a very essential understanding of how our economy works, yet basic and essential economic understanding is in short supply right now. Americans all across our country – and even in the White House – falsely assume that businesses exist first and foremost to “create jobs” and that “not hiring” is evidence of greed and wickedness.
But let’s assume for a moment that Bill the crane shop owner is wrong, and that he has no legitimate concerns about the economy or his ability to hire workers. Is Bill free to express his views of such things, even if they are inaccurate?
For far too many Americans, the answer to this question is a decisive “no.” For them, Bill’s “right to free speech” (and yours and mine as well) ends, where Barack Obama’s agenda begins. The President has told small businesses to hire, so they should hire; the President has said that conditions are right for hiring, and one ought not to disagree with him.
What the President and his antagonistic supporters seemingly fail to understand is that the more belligerent they become with business owners, the less productive those businesses become. As Steve Wynn, C.E.O. of the publicly traded Wynn Resorts, Ltd noted last summer on a conference call with his investors, “… This administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime…my customers… are frightened of this administration… Everybody complains about how much money is on the side in America…those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don’t want to say that. They’ll say, God, don’t be attacking Obama. Well, this is Obama’s deal and it’s Obama that’s responsible for this fear in America…”
Americans have a big decision to make in the year ahead. Will we give President Obama another four years to have his way with us? Or will we affirm the right of each individual in our country to find their own way – even Bill the crane shop owner?
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.