I read Steve Roberts' column and I believe Roberts probably has not stood on asphalt or concrete in steel toe work boots, a hard hat and safety vest. I'm also suspicious that those folks make that much money per hour. Even if they did, I'm sure that they help grow the economy. He or she probably drives a long distance to get to the work site. That requires buying gas and paying taxes. He or she may stay out of town and pay for a motel room. They may go out to eat, buy food, see attractions, etc. All adds to the tax base.
This person is away from their family for long periods and, if a single parent or part of a two income household, may pay for childcare services while at work, thus spreading the dollar they earn into others hands to help the economy.
Why Roberts wants to single out somebody responsible for public safety and vilify them is beyond my thinking. They are part of a team that helps improve our infrastructure that business relies on. Due to mountains and rivers, it would be more expensive overall to build a road here compared to Georgia, Alabama or Texas.
I have no idea what a day on a road crew would be like but can imagine that it would be a thankless day. Dealing with agitated motorists, dust, noise, and the natural elements makes any of the folks who work outside have health problems. Part of their fringe benefits may be insurance. I'd dare say they inevitably help the state by paying taxes to help fund programs like CHIPs, Medicaid and WIC.
I'm sure Roberts knows some of the largest employers in West Virginia are in the retail sector. Folks who are often struggle to make ends meet and teeter between qualifying for state aid or not.
I feel Roberts should not use the example of a flagger, whose $37 an hour is probably an average when accounted for the overtime that has to be put in to complete these projects, as a reason why schools are not being built.
I agree with Roberts in the statement he made about the EPA and its war on coal. I commend him in pointing out these costs are passed along to the working poor or on fixed incomes. This is the cause that should unite all in West Virginia.
Gregory C. Stephens