Grim News For a Troubled State: Are There Solutions?

Grim News:

I don’t where each of you are right now, but if you’re an “outsider”,  I hope you are not the kind to gloat. If you are, you have someone to look down on. It’s we who live in WV.
Last Night I watched “The Legislature Today” on WV Public T.V. New host and format.
They focus is on one subject, so someone who wants to follow particular bills, or the flow back nd forth of myriad issues will be disappointed.
It would have been a big disappointment 3 years ago when Thomas J. O’Neill and I were working to pass the WV Family Court Protection Order Act (the bill no one ever heard of That’s how I tracked its progress. four
Last night, I finally had to turn it off before learning the identity of the articulate and impassioned young(ish) man who presented to the host slides showing the economic status of the State.
We are lowest by far in percentage of adults available to work. The national average is 63%. We are @ 50%, and some states are in the 70’s or 80’s.
We are highest in opioid deaths, obesity, diabetes, lowest in academic test scores, and pitiful in small business growth, which continues to drop even as gas production jumps, and coal a mild 10% increase.
As I have mentioned before, but saw in the graph, WV has the highest ratio of “transfer funds” to private income in the United States. That’s more welfare, SSD, and SSI, WIIC, and the rest.
Our population is aging, and it is aging terribly, with the worst dietary and fitness habits in the country. As I watch my own church ignore this fact, and host high-carb dinners, candy sales, cookies sales, bake sales, and all the rest, I realize we are caught in a trap. Fear of change, head in the sand, and hands over our ears, except for cable news and the promises of the radical right.
They are pushing a $7,000,000 expenditure for tuition assistance to public 2 year tech degrees. Not that I disagree with the bill’s basic concept. But, it diminishes the idea of a liberal education, and provides nothing for private schools, even their two year programs.
And, as the spokesman for private colleges such as AB, D&E, and WVWC asked, “What about us?” I agree. Why aren’t the two year programs ready seamlessly to move ambitious “associate degree recipients” into bachelors’ programs, at public and private institutions?
When asked for solutions, the speaker had few reasons for optimism, “We’ve reached the bottom; it has to get better.”
Does it? Are those 2 year students going to drug test? If not, we are throwing away the money.
I was ashamed of my passing thought that Nancy Goodfellow Hunter and I had managed to get our four children into lifeboats, and to learn they had made it safely to shore. They live in areas where there are jobs, development, and hope.
For now, we, of course, are fine. I have carved out an unassailable place, until health or death intervenes. I am the most experienced person in certain areas, and I have adapted to changing times. I will keep fighting for my share of a shrinking pie and trying to help anyone that I can to stay in the boat. (That’s what they call a mixed metaphor.)
But what about when the drugs and decay eventually make our home and neighborhood unsafe?Or,  when our overworked police, spread thin in this rural area, can no longer protect us, where physical limitations may prevent me from protecting us, or where our society breaks down so much, that people can’t pay for even my reasonable fees? What then?
And of course there is “tort reform” designed to take away the little guy’s ability to seek recompense when stepped on by the negligent or big guy?
I am so optimistic about our personal life, but I am so sad and pessimistic about the people of this wonderful state?
“Wonderful”? Go visit the Canaan Valley, Smoke Hole Caverns, Seneca Rock, Lewisburg, Shepherdstown, WVWC Campus, downtown Buckhannon, Stonewall Resort, the Cass RR, Blennerhessett Island, or Jackson’s Mill or Oglebay Park. Thomas WV, and so much more.

Then go to downtown Salem, Grafton, Sutton, or Wheeling, or anywhere in the Southern Coalfields?
Sorry for the rant, but at this moment I cannot see a path out. We aren’t Pittsburgh. Senator Byrd got us much along the Tech Corrider of I-79, and the Eastern Panhandle can pretend its in Va. or Md., but I salute people like Tom O’Niell, Bill Hamilton, who I hope will become our next State Senator, Chairmen Senator Trump and Delegate Shott, who sponsored “our bill”, the WV Association for Justice who keeps fighting for the little guy, for consumer protection, for landowners’ rights, for access to justice, and for civil discussion of all issues. And the WV State Bar that also fights for “access to justice” for the low and moderate income and high ethical and professional standards for our legal profession.
Shame on those who want to ride Trump’s coattails to their personal success. “Bring Back Coal”? How’s that working?
We must become physically and mentally healthy, must find opportunity, must have more than a few short-sighted “job skills”, must innovate, free up opportunities for small business, use what we have, especially our stunning beauty and hospitality.

Time to get mad, fit, organized, and bi-partisan. Let’s vote out the rock-ribbed/headed partisans and get some truly dedicated “militant moderates”!
“Striving to become average” has not been enough in my lifetime.

Perhaps I’ll feel better in March Irish Road Bowling on “The Road From Ireland to Wildcat”. Yep, I always feel better there.

This post was written by Burton Hunter


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