The Information Age: How You Take Advantage of It is Up to You
I think most of us would agree that it is not the responsibility of government to show us the error of our ways, but the responsibility of individual citizens to keep the government from falling into error. After all, that's why trade associations like MCAA have representatives in Washington, D.C. People like me are paid to keep our eyes and ears open for any and every legislative and/or regulatory initiative that might impact our membership. And while I know you often get overwhelmed with all of the details I've provided on various issues in the pages of this magazine, you must understand that there's usually a valid reason for sharing this information. After all, your judgment and opinions are only as good as the information upon which they are based.
In today's world of advanced technologies, we certainly have lots of information at our disposal ? most of which are well known by their acronyms ? ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, MSN, AOL... well you get the general idea. We are inundated with news of the day from a whole host of sources. But it's up to you to determine which of the information outlets is the most reliable and useful for your purposes.
When I'm working on legislative and regulatory issues, there are numerous resources I tap into on a regular basis ? colleagues, administration officials, friends on Capitol Hill, the Internet or trade publications. You could say I'm a news and politics "junkie" (FOX and C-SPAN are on "speed-dial"). As a lobbyist, I have to keep an open mind, so I do seek a variety of opinions. Having worked in Washington for so long, I have a pretty good idea about the reliability of the information I'm given or the advice I seek. More often than not, those "sources" provide or direct me to information that helps me make important policy decisions, and I don't know what I'd do if a few of them disappeared. In fact, I just can't imagine what lobbyists did before C-SPAN coverage of the House and Senate; we can now watch floor debates and committee hearings from the comfort of our offices instead of literally "crawling" all over Capitol Hill like ants ascending on a picnic.
As business owners, I assume you have your own set of "sources" ? whether it's valued employees, industry colleagues, trade publications or other media. Naturally, we hope MCAA and Masonry magazine top the list! But my guess is that you rely most heavily on your local construction industry colleagues and office employees. Running a business is no small task, and I seriously doubt you have time to surf the web to check on the latest entertainment gossip. So you seek the most appropriate forums for information ? local chapter meetings, trade shows and conventions. We all tend to gravitate to events, social and otherwise, where we gain strength, camaraderie and wisdom.
So my question to you is this: why aren't ALL of you members of MCAA? What would happen if you no longer received a complimentary copy of this publication? If you aren't a member of our team, how else will you find out about what's going on at the national level? And believe me, there's a heck of a lot going on! The silica issue alone consumes 90% of my time because I understand that resolving exposure concerns while working with OSHA is extremely critical to the future of our industry. But there is a lot more strength in numbers, and we need your support to fight for the survival of your business.
When I need answers about technical matters ? those outside the normal realm of politics ? I look to you, the contractor, for guidance. I'd greatly appreciate it if each of you would reciprocate and join this organization for the leadership it offers, the strength we collectively bring to the table to negotiate vital issues, and the camaraderie we all value. You won't be sorry you did.
About the Author
Marian J. Marshall was the Director of Government Affairs for the Mason Contractors Association of America.