It’s been interesting to listen to Republicans yowl on Twitter and elsewhere about the closure of the Yarnell’s ice cream business. A local Republican blogger wondered whether government had stepped in to try to save the company. The Koch mouthpieces at Americans For (billionaires’) Prosperity, too, seemed to blame the closure on failure of government economic policies. U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin chimed in by saying the government needs policies to encourage private job growth. A Republican legislator, David Sanders, cited job losses at Rheem in Fort Smith, Sinmmons in Siloam Springs and Yarnell as somehow the fault of government — state and national.
Whatever happened to free enterprise and the free market, guys? You make a good product at the lowest possible cost, price it to make a profit and then if you can’t sell sufficient quantities, you go out of business. (Yarnell’s itself didn’t blame the government, but falling ice cream sales and stiff price competition from bigger competitors, along with rising price of raw materials.)
Rheem took jobs out of Fort Smith to take them to Mexico. Perhaps we could suspend minimum wage laws here and then require workers to take below-subsistence wage jobs. Simmons was squeezed by the high price of corn — run up by corporate welfare to encourage ethanol production, government interference that has thrown food prices worldwide for a loop. Yarnell’s? Independent dairies everywhere have a hard time against giant producers, particularly second- and third-generation family members with more people to share the profits but perhaps fewer to actually work in the business. (Yarnell heirs did some legal squabbling, too.) Corn figures in the Yarnell equation as well. Remember Borden’s? Who’d have ever thought Elsie the Cow would ever leave the American scene? Remember when you actually got a half-gallon of ice cream in a so-called half-gallon container? Remember when Coleman’s was a family-run independent? Yarnell’s biggest problem wasn’t government policy but a Texas invader named Blue Bell. Blue Bell has famously cultivated a down-home friendly public profile, something Yarnell’s wasn’t so successful at.
Tax rates already are lower than they’ve been in decades. Short of direct government payments to select businesses — and I hate to give Tim Griffin and David Sanders the idea — it sure seems a stretch to blame the failure of a private business on the government, particularly when the blame comes from a group notorious for sticking their hands out for special tax favors and anti-worker legislation. You darn sure can’t blame Yarnell’s on the unions. (PS — They way they handled this shutdown was pretty cold to employees, who undoubtedly have somewhat smaller reserves than the Yarnell family members.)
UPDATE: At last, the Republican Party has no shame. They ACTUALLY DID put out a news release blaming Arkansas job losses on the Democrats. Not the people who sent them to Mexico. Not the people who planned poorly in Northwest Arkansas. Not the Republican-friendly ice cream makers in Searcy who fell to the marketing might of a Republican-friendly Texas competitor, tough market conditions, declining ice cream demand and internal family issuess. Shameless. Perhaps the GOP wants price controls on cream and sugar. And to force feed children ice cream.