Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center workers in the foundry area pour molten metal into molds to form 62 cast-iron tablets containing the Gettysburg Address. Similar tablets were produced at the Arsenal in 1908. July 28, 2009. (Larry Fisher/QUAD-CITY TIMES)

Larry Fisher

Quad-Citians are facing the uncertainty of today’s sequester the same way many in the nation are facing it: with frustration.

A stated displeasure with the conduct of  Congress was a common theme in interviews Thursday with working Quad-Citians. But about half the people who were asked about the sequester said they stopped paying attention to the nation’s financial woes months ago, largely because of burn-out over the so-called fiscal cliff.

“I think the folks in Washington are trying to scare people, and I think they’re doing a good job of it,” said Roger Haggert of Rock Island. “Nothing’s going to change after Friday. I’ll still be 71 years old and will still be retired.”

However, Jay Dbland, also of Rock Island, said he expects plenty of change to result from today’s automatic across-the-board federal spending cuts.

“I’m not scared,” he said. “I think it’s time for a change, and a lot people are afraid of change, especially older people. I know what my purpose is, and it’s about how I can help others.

“People who are in places where big decisions are made could learn what I have learned from doing community outreach: Without unity, you can’t get anything done.”

Mary Stringer of Bettendorf said she fears the sequester will deliver a setback to the U.S. economy, which cannot withstand the blow.

“I’m just frustrated with Congress,” she said. “I just don’t understand why people can’t work together. My husband and I talk to the TV a lot at night. Mostly we say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’”

She said she has been grateful to the “loyal customers” who have continued to do business at Sherwin Williams paint store in Moline, where she works.

“These federal problems will trickle down, I’m afraid,” she said. “The timing is bad, because we’re still trying to recover.”

Mark Smiddy of Davenport had harsher words for lawmakers.

“Let it go,” he said of the sequester. “Let it happen. It’ll just show that we have an inept Congress.”

On a brighter note, he added, “I think we’ve been spending too much money. We need to get our fiscal house in order. Corporate America is sitting on an unbelievable amount of cash, and they’re not using it, not spending it.

“There are a lot of places to start in making economic improvements.”

One place to start, suggested Dave Sorensen of Moline, is to elect people who are willing to take bold steps and make unpopular policy.

“What’s happening is people are getting used to a dysfunctional government,” he said. “It’s not Democrats, and it’s not Republicans.

“We don’t have any leaders. We have a bunch of people who want to keep their jobs. Look what good that’s doing for a nation of constituents.”