Culture of corruption often fueled by weak economy - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Culture of corruption often fueled by weak economy

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  • Officers In Tazewell County Work To Keep Your Holiday Travel Safe

    Officers In Tazewell County Work To Keep Your Holiday Travel Safe

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:50 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:50:12 GMT
    Police patrolling the roads this Labor DayPolice patrolling the roads this Labor Day
    According to AAA, 34.7 million people are expected to hit the road this Labor Day. Many police officers are out in force to keep you safe.
    According to AAA, 34.7 million people are expected to hit the road this Labor Day. Many police officers are out in force to keep you safe.
  • After fatal McDowell County crash, Troopers caution against drinking and driving over Holiday Weekend

    After fatal McDowell County crash, Troopers caution against drinking and driving over Holiday Weekend

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:00:38 GMT
    While many are safely celebrating Labor Day, State Troopers want to caution everyone about the dangers of drinking and driving.The West Virginia Department of Transportation says over the last 5 years in the Mountain State, almost 800 people have been killed in a drink driving crash just during Labor Day Weekend. Troopers released these pictures from Sunday morning's fatal crash to show the consequences drinking and driving can have.Read full story on Sunday morning's fatal crash in McDowell ...
    While many are safely celebrating Labor Day, State Troopers want to caution everyone about the dangers of drinking and driving.The West Virginia Department of Transportation says over the last 5 years in the Mountain State, almost 800 people have been killed in a drink driving crash just during Labor Day Weekend. Troopers released these pictures from Sunday morning's fatal crash to show the consequences drinking and driving can have.Read full story on Sunday morning's fatal crash in McDowell ...
  • Update: New Information Released in Raleigh County Murder Investigation

    Update: New Information Released in Raleigh County Murder Investigation

    Monday, September 1 2014 5:33 PM EDT2014-09-01 21:33:21 GMT
    Joe Collins is arrested on murder chargesJoe Collins is arrested on murder charges
    The Raleigh County Sheriffs Office made an arrest Sunday after a man was murdered in Glen White.Joe Collins was arrested and is being charged with 1st degree murder for the shooting and killing of Larry Totten.The incident occurred Sunday morning at Mr. Tottens residence.
    The Raleigh County Sheriffs Office made an arrest Sunday after a man was murdered in Glen White.Joe Collins was arrested and is being charged with 1st degree murder for the shooting and killing of Larry Totten.The incident occurred Sunday morning at Mr. Tottens residence.
  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • Business community must raise a voice against status quo

    Business community must raise a voice against status quo

    Friday, August 29 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-08-29 13:00:23 GMT
    As our state's business leaders gather at The Greenbrier this week for the 2014 West Virginia Business Summit, we hope they have a sense of urgency and realize what they must do to bring this state into the 21st century.
    As our state's business leaders gather at The Greenbrier this week for the 2014 West Virginia Business Summit, we hope they have a sense of urgency and realize what they must do to bring this state into the 21st century.
  • Lesson from Ferguson: Do not lose hope

    Lesson from Ferguson: Do not lose hope

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:00:24 GMT
    The images from Ferguson, Missouri, look like snapshots from a war zone. We still don't know why city police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, but we do know the fallout shines a glaring light on what happens when scores of people are disconnected from the American Dream.
    The images from Ferguson, Missouri, look like snapshots from a war zone. We still don't know why city police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, but we do know the fallout shines a glaring light on what happens when scores of people are disconnected from the American Dream.
  • 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.

West Virginia is burdened by a sad tradition of political corruption and graft. Con artists who put themselves and their selfish interests above the common good serve as much more than a simple footnote in our state's history. 

Over the years, as we were reminded by our cover story in the March 28-April 3 edition, "former governors, state senators, delegates, judges, circuit clerks, lottery commissioners, magistrates, county commissioners, sheriffs, police chiefs, an attorney general, a senior center director, even a fire chief and his wife" have been the target of federal investigators. 

Why does this happen? What creates this culture of theft and contempt not only for the voters, but also for the very essence of the electoral system? Is power so corrupting that these scofflaws will do anything to maintain their positions? As with everything in this arena, there is a strong case to be made that it comes down to money. 

It is by no means limited to one area of the state. Take a look at the most high-profile instances of public corruption: Often it happens in rural, poverty-stricken regions where jobs are hard to find. Those in power likely understand their offices are their best chance at good paychecks, so they'll do anything to maintain that power. If that means buying votes, stocking the voter rolls with names found on tombstones, intimidating anyone who threatens the status quo and trampling all over democracy, then so be it. 

For everyone else, raising a voice often means cutting themselves off from those who, directly or indirectly, control the purse strings. 

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin can go in and clean house (and in our article, he identified with the following, very telling line from a popular children's movie: "I just cleaned up this mess — can we just keep it clean for 10 minutes?"), but nothing will change until we begin to create an economic climate that allows for prosperity and we develop a viable two-party political system. 

Politicians will always philander and find ways to work the system, but when financial opportunity extends beyond the courthouse steps, those in power will have less control and will be forced to understand it's the voters who are in charge. Jobs won't change everything, but a thriving, dynamic private sector is a strong weapon in this battle. 

Corruption certainly poisons both sides of the aisle, but nothing drags down the system like total power concentrated in the hands of a select few. A better West Virginia means a state filled with diverging voices — but one where the voice of the people is heard over all else.