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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Stagnation of Political Will

It is difficult for many of us bloggers who readily devour the political back and forth in Washington, or our local capitols, with a quick wit and a healthy suspicion to understand the utter disconnect from that world that so many of our fellow citizens enjoy. I say enjoy with a purpose. Ignorance is bliss. To engage in the awesome problems of the day is just one step too far down a road they are barely able to navigate with the tools they have at hand. That is not to say that they are less capable or less intelligent than others, only that with the limitations of a public education and a full plate of dealing with their own lives, the political realm is a step too far.

Now, does that mean that those of us who do pay attention and who are engaged in the bigger issues of the day, than say the cost of bread, that we are otherwise not engaged in the daily struggle for survival? No. It is not a zero sum game; it is not an either or scenario. The fact is, some are engaged on a broader scale, who bring to the cost of bread the wider economic issues which have caused that condition, whereas the others simply see a higher price and start looking for ways to pay it.

I have recently undergone a full-emersion into the populace as a whole. While a business owner and also the labor part of the business I felt in touch with the average citizen at least in many ways. They were my customers, my fellow business people, my vendors, etc, but what I missed in those relationships is that I was always dealing with another person like myself, i.e. in business. We had shared the economic slow down, the fight to survive, the appreciation of a good customer, or a good reputation, etc. Then, stepping out of that situation and into another where I was surrounded by others who were merely employees, I found a new understanding of the stagnation of political will.

What we might see as apathy and occasionally castigate as unhealthy and perhaps even a bit treasonous, these employees, the people who see themselves at the mercy of corporate policy, government policy and even personal policy, are the life blood of the nation and they are fearful. Even in the boom of the North Dakota oil fields, there is fear. They know of friends and family who are struggling and often failing. They have picked up the tab for some, or helped others in different ways, but they are not immune to the understanding of the pain that the greater population is suffering and they dread the day it comes to them.

It is a bunker mentality. They are making money as fast as they can and are doing some smart things with it, a phenomenon that was not present in the last generation of oil field workers I knew.

The average oil field worker is impacted directly by policies of the oil company, the drilling company, the rig and the shift they work for. They are impacted directly by the EPA and by OSHA and sometimes even DOT. They have become the mules for all of these policies and asked to do their jobs with these weights pulling them down. It is a struggle, but the cautionary tales of friends and relatives who have no jobs and no ability to do theirs is on their minds.

So, if you wonder why there are not more people like you out there banging the drum, raising the alarm, they are deafened by their own responsibilities. And, like you, I know that the loud crashing of the system will shake them awake, but for now they are heavily sedated by obligation and compliance. They have no will or ability to challenge the wave of regulation that daily engulfs their efforts. They are treading the dangerous waters and fearful of the next wave. Unleash the rebellious nature of the average worker struggling through much the same burdens and you will find the army you need to change the world.