From Jon Shirek at Channel 11 News:
WACO, Ga. — A west Georgia business owner is stirring up controversy with signs he posted on his company’s trucks, for all to see as the trucks roll up and down roads, highways and interstates:
“New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.”
“Can’t afford it,” explained the employer, Bill Looman, Tuesday evening. “I’ve got people that I want to hire now, but I just can’t afford it. And I don’t foresee that I’ll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C.”
Looman’s company is U.S. Cranes, LLC. He said he put up the signs, and first posted pictures of the signs on his personal Facebook page, six months ago, and he said he received mostly positive reaction from people, “about 20-to-one positive.”
… Looman made it clear, talking with 11Alive’s Jon Shirek, that he is not refusing to hire to make some political point; it’s that he doesn’t believe he can hire anyone, because of the economy. And he blames the Obama administration.
“The way the economy’s running, and the way my business has been hampered by the economy, and the policies of the people in power, I felt that it was necessary to voice my opinion, and predict that I wouldn’t be able to do any hiring,” he said.
I don’t doubt that Looman’s company in particular and the crane industry in general are going through hard times. A few years ago, you saw cranes throughout the metro Atlanta skyline. Today, with commercial real estate construction down significantly, they’re a fairly rare sight. Like a lot of people in that industry, he probably has a significant investment in equipment that just isn’t being used.
But the truth is, the industry was benefiting a few years ago from an artificial construction boom that eventually went bust, as it inevitably must. Take a look at construction industry figures, courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment in that industry peaked at 7.7 million in January 2007 and has since fallen to 5.5 million, a decline of more than 28 percent.
In that sense, you have to sympathize with Bill Looman. He’s struggling to keep his company alive and his employees paid. However, I don’t understand his apparent belief that government in general, and President Obama in particular, are supposed to come along and fix this for him. He is reciting the narrative that he has been taught, without regard to its accuracy.
In an interview with ABC News, Looman said that “overregulation and the cost of complying with federal mandates has caused many of his customers to shut their doors.”
“The buck stops [at Obama],” he said. “He is the leader of this nation and he needs to assume that postion and understand it is his fault, ultimately.”
However, as the chart above demonstrates, construction employment had already been falling for two years and was in the midst of a full-fledged freefall by the time Obama took office. No matter how hard he wishes to believe it, that collapse had nothing to do with overregulation or federal mandates imposed by the current administration.
In fact, the collapse in construction employment would have been more severe without the stimulus bill that Obama championed and that Republicans continue to condemn.
Looman strikes me as a man who takes pride in his independence. But that self-image is contradicted by his insistence that if his business isn’t doing well, it’s somebody else’s fault and somebody else’s responsibility to fix it for him. He wants a small government that keeps its nose out of his business, yet he also wants that government to fix things for him and make things like they used to be, and he complains bitterly when it doesn’t.
– Jay Bookman