Friend and frequent commenter Owen Reitzel submitted the following complaint about local corporate welfare to the Mitchell Daily Republic last month:

Recently at a John Thune town hall meeting Trail King CEO Bruce Yakley said that if Mitt Romney had won the presidential race his company would have hired 150 people. But since Romney didn’t win, Yakley’s not going to. Yakley also said the government should making spending cuts.

In 2009 Trail King laid off 150 people here in Mitchell because the economy was bad and his business was slow. Those layoffs came very early in President Obama’s first term. You could say the economy went south because of President George W. Bush.

Now Trail King's business is booming. In fact it’s so good that they can’t find enough help and the Governor used part of 5 million taxpayer dollars to help Trail King find out-of-state workers.

My question to you Mr. Yakley is what is the problem? Under Obama your business is growing, under Bush you were laying off workers.


If spending cuts are important sir then since your company is not hiring anymore maybe we could save $5 million by cutting the program to bring out-of-state workers here.

Finally somebody brought up that people receiving welfare should be drug tested. O.K. Since the state of South Dakota was giving your company, Mr. Yakley, corporate welfare, would you submit to a drug test?

Owen Reitzel
Alexandria SD

Worth noting: Trail King has further benefited from South Dakota's corporate welfare program via a half-million WINS dollars used to start a welding program at Mitchell Technical to do Trail King's job training.

Trail King CEO Bruce Yakley responds in Monday's paper. He lists six "facts" to rebut Reitzel. He concludes with some vague and unnecessary personal intimindation, saying he "did some research on Mr. Reitzel" and found why he "seemed offended."

* Fact No. 1: 2009 was the worst year in the trailer industry since 1954, the year records started to be kept. The entire trailer market dropped on average 70 percent versus 2008. In the background, the past owner of Trail King was preparing the company to sell, thus cutting very deeply into Trail King’s employment. Was this the result of President Bush or years of fiscal mismanagement by “all” of our elected officials? What part did Barney Frank’s efforts on developing legislation in 1992 forcing mortgage companies to lend to unqualified people play into the housing collapse? [Bruce Yakley, "Facts are clear: Romney was better choice for trailer industry, Trail King," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2013.02.04].

That's not a fact, Mr. Yakley. Those are rhetorical questions stemming from your preferred worldview. And it doesn't refute Reitzel's basic correlative assertion: when someone very much like Romney got done with the country, Trail King was on the ropes. After four years of Obama, Trail King is in good shape.

* Fact No. 2: In 2012, Trail King’s business flourished. The average age of a trailer in the U.S. was approaching nine years old, the oldest in history. The cost to refurbish outweighed the cost of replacement. The economic policies of Obama had nothing to do with the age of trailers in the U.S [Yakley, 2013.02.04].

True: trailers age regardless of who wins elections. But people replace those trailers based on the money in their pockets. And if President Obama hadn't saved us from Depression with the stimulus, you'd still be waiting on the recovery that made many of those purchases possible.

* Fact No. 3: The lack of available skilled workers regionally was a very difficult situation for Trail King. The WIN legislative program helped Trail King hire 32 skilled workers, at a cost to the state of $122,400 and a cost to Trail King of $144,000. Mr. Reitzel, what is the Mitchell regional economic impact of 32 new families earning a compensation total of $2 million annually? [Yakley, 2013.02.04]

CEO Yakley doesn't rebut Reitzel here; he confirms Reitzel's contention that Trail King has profited from the "socialist, entitlement policies" he's about to impugn. Those corporate welfare policies weakly attempt to counteract the problems caused by South Dakota Republicans, not President Obama, that hold back Trail King's hiring: low wages and low union membership.

* Fact No. 4: Obama issued an executive order in April 2012 effectively shutting down new oil and gas exploration utilizing hydraulic fracking. There were 80 jobs tied to pneumatic trailer production that Trail King builds for this industry. This executive order by Obama effectively shut down pneumatic trailer production. Mr. Romney had made statements to the effect that the Obama executive orders and regulations tied to the EPA would be reviewed and, most likely, reversed if Romney was elected [Yakley, 2013.02.04].

Shut down new oil and gas exploration? What? My neighbors still head up to the Bakken every other week, and when they come home, all that dark gunk on their coveralls ain't molasses. The President's April 2012 order regarding fracking was actually a measure to coordinate adminstration activities on fracking. The oil and gas industry welcomed this order. And since the April order, domestic oil and gas production are nothing but up.

* Fact No. 5: Trail King solicited its top 95 customers, representing 85 percent of its 2012 revenue, in October to get their 2013 requirements. Ninety percent of these customers stated they had two business plans: one if Obama got elected, one if Romney got elected. Their plans if Romney got elected were, on average, 20 percent higher (plus 70 jobs). Why? Very simple: Romney would have “pro-growth policies” and Obama has “socialist, entitlement policies” [Yakley, 2013.02.04]

Yakley resorts here to unprovable hypotheticals. A lot of the "Four more years will tank our business" moaning was pre-election Romney-boosterism and immediate post-election sour grapes. Recent stock market performance has shown that, once they get over their grief, businesspeople get right back to looking for ways to make their money, as they would have regardless of who won the election. And those ways of money include pressing the case that they are entitled to socialist programs that help them make money.

* Fact No. 6: Mr. Yakley had been part of a drug testing program at his former employer for five years. Mr. Yakley had to take a drug test before he was hired at Trail King [Yakley, 2013.02.04].

Yakley does not respond to the fundamental contradiction that Reitzel highlights: Many Republicans think the state should force poor people to take drug tests as a condition of receiving social assistance. Trail King receives, what, a hundred times more in handouts from government than any individual poor person? The state fills Trail King's bucket; should not CEO Yakley fill the state's pee cup?

I would say that I've done some research on Bruce Yakley and can understand why he seems offended by Owen Reitzel's questions... but I don't need to work that hard to understand the corporate welfare mentality.