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Rural folks are way beyond tightening our belts

I am writing to you about the headline article (Rural gas prices high) by Don Davis that you had in your July 10 edition. As I was reading the article I began to question some of the information obtained by the Center for Rural Policy and Development, in the portion of your article it said that "fully rural Minnesota makes $3,700 a month."

I work in a factory in "rural Minnesota" and have many friends and relatives who work in different rural factories as far as north as Warroad. All of these factories vary in employment size; we could hardly find a person (laborer) who came close to making $3,700 a month. I talked with an average of 40 people from four different factories and could not find many "floor" laborers who even came close to this kind of income.

We found that most of us brought home an average of $2,400-$2,900 a month working at six days a week, 12-hour shifts. This is a far cry from the $3,700. What part of the state did they believe to be "fully rural" -- Brainerd?

The reality is that rural Minnesota is once again being falsely represented. Our local, state and federal officials see articles like this and cannot understand why we are struggling. On paper it's giving them a false reality into "fully rural Minnesota" lives.

We are a very proud group of people. We work long, hard hours. We try very hard not to have to use the local food shelf program and or other charitable organizations. We try to leave those for the ones who have lost their jobs. The governor has said, "We have to tighten our belt some more." But where is this supposed to come from? We are way beyond tightening our belts. Those of us from "rural Minnesota" would like to see a major layoff at the state and federal levels and those remaining are to work at 40 percent pay reduction, five days a week, 10-hour days, plus 45 weeks of work at the Capitol and in D.C.

We in rural Minnesota have adjusted to tight budgets and cutbacks. It's as if Minnesota and Washington have forgotten that without us "fully rural people" their lives would, without their luxuries, become as difficult as ours.

Jody Peterson