If it had been a scene in “Atlas Shrugged,” the guy would have disappeared into the secrecy of Colorado with a shadowy figure who we would later learn to be John Galt. In real life, the story will probably be more complex. But I wonder how long it’s going to be before businesspeople really do start walking away and deciding it’s not worth doing business in America today. Or is it already happening and we just don’t know it?
The man you see in the picture is Ronnie Bryant. He operates coal mines in Alabama. I’d never heard of him until this morning, but after what I saw and heard from him, I’d say he’s a bit like a southern version of Ellis Wyatt from Ayn Rand’s novel. What I saw made an impression on me.
I was at a public hearing in an inner-city Birmingham neighborhood for various government officials to get public input on some local environmental issues. There are several hot topics, but one of the highest-profile disputes is over a proposal for a coal mine near a river that serves as a source of drinking water for parts of the Birmingham metro area. Mine operators and state environmental officials say the mine can be operated without threatening the water supply. Environmentalists claim it will be a threat.