That doesn’t have to be the way it is - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

That doesn’t have to be the way it is

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  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • Can we be realistic on roads?

    Can we be realistic on roads?

    Friday, July 18 2014 7:00 AM EDT2014-07-18 11:00:54 GMT
    Building and maintaining roads should not be a political issue. In fact, it should be pretty straightforward. Potholes need filled, drainage ditches need cleaned, the highways need striped — while it might be painstaking and expensive, the overall concept is pretty simple.
    Building and maintaining roads should not be a political issue. In fact, it should be pretty straightforward. Potholes need filled, drainage ditches need cleaned, the highways need striped — while it might be painstaking and expensive, the overall concept is pretty simple.
  • Looking the other way perpetuates criminal politics

    Looking the other way perpetuates criminal politics

    Friday, July 11 2014 10:46 AM EDT2014-07-11 14:46:55 GMT
    Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for his role in a political scheme that has dominated headlines for nearly a year and shined a bright light on one part of the state’s tangled web of public corruption.
    Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for his role in a political scheme that has dominated headlines for nearly a year and shined a bright light on one part of the state’s tangled web of public corruption.
  • Energy generation economy will require evolution

    Energy generation economy will require evolution

    Friday, June 27 2014 9:38 AM EDT2014-06-27 13:38:18 GMT
    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed down an interesting decision in terms of what the Environmental Protection Agency can and cannot do in terms of reducing emissions at power plants and factories.
    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed down an interesting decision in terms of what the Environmental Protection Agency can and cannot do in terms of reducing emissions at power plants and factories.
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.