A New PerspectiveWritten By: Les Bebchick
Article Date: 03-01-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
You quickly learn who is interested in your point of view and who isn't.
As I sat down to write this month's column, I couldn't help but recall the words of Ben Stein, keynote speaker at the 2007 AED Annual Meeting, when he characterized our industry as being the "facilitators of America's infrastructure and construction growth."
I had never quite viewed our participation on primarily the local level as being so profound in the aggregate. But he's right; we all do our part to make the sum total effective. This got me thinking about AED's work in Washington, D.C., and about Washington, in general.
In a recent survey of our membership regarding AED's value proposition, a large majority of our membership rated AED's work in Washington very high, and for this we are extremely pleased. A large percentage of AED's annual budget funds our Washington office and their efforts on our behalf.
So what do you really know about AED's work in Washington; what do you really know about the government and how it functions? We all, at best, vote in our local, state, and federal elections. We elect people we think have intelligence and good judgment to do the right things by us and then we wait for the results. If we're not happy with the results, we start the process over. In most cases, we passively place our trust, hopes and desires with these elected officials and go about our daily business hardly giving it another thought.
But, for something as important as the functioning of our government, compared to all the many things we devote our time to, it's incredible how very little time and effort we put - individually - into making our positions known. Perhaps, even more important, few of us take the time to see first-hand how our government functions and see our representatives in their working environments.
When you do, you quickly realize Washington is a collection of regular people who are not very different from you and me. The old saying, "they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do" is true.
It's only been through my involvement with AED that I have gained not only an appreciation of what the association is doing on our behalf in Washington - and rest assured, we are getting a huge return on our investment through the work of the Washington office - but also an eye-opening and dramatic appreciation for what Washington is about and what really makes things happen - or not.
Years ago, I attended my first AED Governmental Affairs Conference, not because I'm a political activist, but because I was impressed with the program. Since then, I haven't missed one and every year, I look forward to attending the event.
The AED Washington staff presents such an interesting and informative program that you can't help but appreciate AED's efforts on our industry's behalf. You also gain a huge understanding and recognition for what really goes on in Washington.
During the two-day conference, you get to listen to congressmen and senators talk about issues associated with our industry, i.e. the highway bill, the infrastructure, the economy, and other topical subjects, such as homeland security, the war in Iraq, and upcoming elections. Other topics of discussion might be the economy, Tier IV diesel emissions rules, how Democrats will view what always seem like Republican issues, changes in labor law, environmental policies, new taxes on the business community, and small business and association health care.
On the second day, you get an opportunity to visit your representatives and senators. You quickly learn who is interested in your point of view and who isn't. You see what goes on in their Washington offices, how you are treated as a constituent, and who will take the time to see you - and it really opens your eyes.
It may not make you a political activist but it will surely give you a new perspective. Often the program includes a guided tour of Congress, which may be in session, where you see and hear things that again give you a whole new appreciation and understanding.
And finally, you attend a reception for members and invited guests. You actually see Washington rather than just hearing about it.
The program normally concludes with a combined dinner with Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) members.
At this dinner, there is usually a high-profile political pundit or governmental official speaking.
And here's the best part, the 2007 Govern-mental Affairs Conference is March 28-29 and members pay only their transportation, room and board. There is no charge for the program.
It's a very worthwhile event regardless of the level of your political involvement or your political leaning. Please make a special effort this March to join me at AED's Governmental Affairs Conference. I will assure your complete satisfaction and when you leave Washington, you'll know that in some small way your presence has affected the whole, and your voice was heard.
In closing, I invite every AED member to contact me via telephone or email with comments, ideas, criticisms, suggestions or opinions that might assist AED in 2007 to be a better organization - one that will continue to offer value to its members. I can be reached at 508-435-9400 (office), 508-509-8412 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, this is the year of the member. We need your help.
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