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That doesn’t have to be the way it is

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  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • Political bickering overshadows need for change

    Political bickering overshadows need for change

    Friday, August 15 2014 11:39 AM EDT2014-08-15 15:39:41 GMT
    New ideas and ways to move our state and nation forward are in short supply during this election season.
    New ideas and ways to move our state and nation forward are in short supply during this election season.
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    Friday, August 8 2014 6:00 AM EDT2014-08-08 10:00:18 GMT
    We have been hit hard with some tough economic news in recent days about our state’s most recognized industry. We learned that Alpha Natural Resources could lay off more than 1,000 workers later this year. Another report showed that it is becoming cheaper for domestic energy producers to import coal from other countries than to use what is mined in the U.S.
    We have been hit hard with some tough economic news in recent days about our state’s most recognized industry. We learned that Alpha Natural Resources could lay off more than 1,000 workers later this year. Another report showed that it is becoming cheaper for domestic energy producers to import coal from other countries than to use what is mined in the U.S.
  • Successful privatization should inspire more reform

    Successful privatization should inspire more reform

    Friday, August 1 2014 1:48 PM EDT2014-08-01 17:48:52 GMT
    It’s not a stretch to say West Virginia once had the dubious distinction of having the worst workers’ compensation system in the nation.
    It’s not a stretch to say West Virginia once had the dubious distinction of having the worst workers’ compensation system in the nation.
Sadly, poverty seems to be an accepted part of West Virginia.
So entrenched in many of our communities, we often take it for granted.
“That’s just the way it is” allows us to rationalize and move on. Sometimes it takes an outsider to shake us out of our complacency. A New York Times piece published early this week, details the crippling poverty that remains in McDowell County. Citing the 50th anniversary’s of the federal government’s War on Poverty, the author visits the hills and hollows around Welch to see what’s become of the people who were to be the direct beneficiaries of help from Washington.
Just a few of the more troubling statistics in the story include:
  • The median household income in is $22,000.
  • Nearly 47 percent of personal income in the county is from Social Security, disability insurance, food stamps and other federal programs.
  • Fewer than one in three county residents are in the labor force.
This is deeply troubling. The only bright spot on the economic horizon is road construction and two new prisons, but failed drug tests often prevent local residents from landing jobs. We can debate the benefits of the War on Poverty, but that won’t help. Nor can we ignore a history of exploitation that funneled out natural resources and did very little to reinvest in the community. What we know now is that times are hard. How do we change that? How do we give the people across this state a meaningful chance at the American Dream? The first thing we must do is change our mindset.
How bad does it have to get before those in power wake up? Politicians rarely work with any sense of urgency, but you have to wonder just how dire the circumstances have to be before they do something. What’s happening in McDowell County is happening in too many other places in our state. During the most recent legislative session, both houses mostly lamented their shrinking budget and many in the House of Delegates thought 2014 would be a fine time to grind political axes and stage closed-door shouting matches. Yet, did they do anything to make life better for those crippled by poverty or drug abuse? Did they do anything to attract new business, empower students and prepare them for life in the 21st Century or ensure fairness in our courts? The answer to all those questions is no.
And we wonder why McDowell County is in the shape it’s in.