I've been thinking about why the drilling industry is having so much trouble attracting and retaining new help. Part of the reason is we are the last of the independents. The cowboys of the old West were made of this stock. They had different "clients" during the year. Sometimes they'd take a herd up the trail to market, sometimes they'd ride fence, and sometimes they'd hunker down for the winter. Drillers are the modern incarnation of these independent souls. Most of us are small operations, in limited geographic areas. We have no more security than our ability to satisfy our customers, one at a time. Our successes are ours alone and our failures can be crushing. To me, this is the good part. Benjamin Franklin once said, "I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work." Our society, and more importantly, our government has fostered an attitude among our youth of total dependence. Professions are more and more isolated from failure. If we took our present way of thinking back 100 years, we would tax the automobile to provide relief for the poor buggy whip manufacturer. Most of this can be traced to the way government spends money.

Economists, Milton and Rose Friedman, in their 1980 book, Free To Choose, explained the four ways of spending money:

1. You spend your own money on yourself. You are motivated to get the thing you need at the best price. This is how most of us buy drilling rigs.

2. You spend your money on other people. You still want the best price, but you are less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largess. This is why children get underwear at Christmas.

3. You spend other people's money on yourself. You get what you want, but price doesn't matter. This explains the spending habits of second wives at Neiman-Marcus.

4. You spend other people's money on other people. In this case, who gives a hoot?

Since most government money is spent this way, it explains $300 coffee pots, $700 hammers, $1200 toilet seats, raids on Waco cults, and most of the 'programs' and regulations put on the drilling industry. This is how they spend $300 million dollars protecting some kind of Red-Breasted Cockroach and condemn your land in the process. Your swamp now becomes a 'wetland,' worthless to you and valuable to everyone else that didn't have to pay for it.

Here's an example of 'guvmint' spending: Once upon a time, the government had a vast salvage yard in the middle of the desert. They stored things they couldn't give away or sell at auction. Congress said, "Someone might steal from it at night." So they created a night watchman position, and hired a person to do the job. Then Congress got to wondering how the watchman could do his job without instructions. So they created a planning department, and hired two people, one to write instructions, and one to do time studies. Then Congress wondered, "How will we know if the watchman is doing his job correctly?" So they created a quality control department and hired two people. One to do the studies, and the other to write the reports. Then Congress said, "How are these people going to get paid?" So they hired a payroll officer and a timekeeper. Then they wondered, "Who will be accountable for all these people?" So they hired an administrative officer, an assistant administrative officer, and a legal secretary. Then Congress said, "We've had this program in operation for one year, and we're $18,000 over budget, we've got to cut costs." So they laid off the night watchman (And paid his unemployment insurance!).

This is where a lot of our new hires have gone. Into a guaranteed job, secure for life, requiring little actual skill, and no people skill, all paid for at the public trough. Which translates to your and my wallet. If we want to grow our industry, our lives, and our country, we've got to wean people from this dependence, and foster freedom of initiative, and individual effort. We've got to allow for and accept individual success AND failure. In this way, the cream will rise to the top, and the dregs will fall to the bottom, for the good of all, instead of creating a gray, tasteless, homogenized mess that helps no-one but the bureaucRATS.