Congressman, we want to work. We just need you to work for us.
For years I have lived and worked as a carpenter in the Marquette area. And if there is one thing I know about the folks in this part of the world, it's that we aren't afraid of hard work and we understand the meaning of the word sacrifice.
And so when I read that U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, D-Crystal Falls, was putting the blame for the state of our economy on the shoulders of the area residents and workforce when he said we didn't want to work, I had a hard time keeping from spitting out my coffee.
Just to make sure that no one can say that I am misreading the congressman's words let me repeat them. Here is exactly how Rep. Benishek was quoted in the June 13 edition of the Daily Press.
"There's a lot of difficulty finding people to do work for a variety of reasons," (Rep. Dan) Benishek said. "People don't want to work, or they don't have the right skill set to work, or they wait until their unemployment runs out before they get to work. There's a lot of challenges."
In this current economic climate the congressman is correct when he says there are a lot of challenges. But when it comes to what those challenges are, the congressman has shown that he is about as far off base as you can get.
We are here because we love this community and this is where we have chosen to raise our families. And to a person we are committed to the idea of working hard both to support our families and our community. Because that's what life up here has always been about.
So when Congressman Benishek says that we don't want to work or that we wait around until we have to get up off the couch because our unemployment has run out it's not just offensive, it shows a gross lack of knowledge about the very people he is sworn to represent. You cannot substitute a Rush Limbaugh talking point for an entire community and have the nerve to claim to represent us.
Which brings me to the congressman's other point. That there are people in this area who want to work but who do not possess the right skill sets to do the jobs available. Again, there is truth to that statement.
However, if the congressman truly understood the problem and felt compelled to do his job then he would be looking for ways to make sure that we had access to the kind of training we need to do these jobs.
Once upon a time, a congressman would fight for funds to train and educate our local workforce who, in turn, could use those skills for good paying jobs in the private sector.
And if we had to ask a little more from the most fortunate of Americans to make it happen then we did it. Because this is how our economy worked and it did work this way for many, many years.
However, now in his frenzy to please the Tea Party wing of his party and its fervor to starve our economy, the congressman will only refer to the issue of skill sets in a hand wringing gesture of defeat. I don't know a true patriot out there who would not fight for the ability for our country and our community to grow. But it appears that Rep. Benishek is content with letting ours wither with his and Governor Romney's Social Darwinistic belief that if we die, we die.
I don't know about you but that is not my idea of a true representative. If Rep. Benishek wants to demonstrate that he truly believes in representing his district, then he will go back to Washington, D.C., and fight for ways to bring the training and the jobs we need here to the Upper Peninsula.
It's time he understands that this fits far better into his job description than insulting the people and the voters of his district.
Dennis Sabo, carpenter
Mike Thibault, president Marquette County
Laborers Local 1329