(03/25/2006)
By Bob Weaver

In Calhoun County, we do not view ourselves as poor.

But we are - near the bottom in the USA.

Rural people the world over, despite many differences, share one thing in common. For the most part, they have been neglected by their own governments and by an international community that continues to ignore the catastrophic consequences of what this inaction has brought.

Chronic hunger could be greatly impacted if governments sought to raise the incomes through economic development in areas where the most vulnerable live.

In West Virginia, the answer has been to consolidate and merge jails, schools and government, using an economic model called "economies of scale."

That's where the little are taken over by the big, supposedly to save money.

It rarely, if never, has worked.

Often, government programs providing basic needs offered temporary solutions rather than actual jobs.

Now, the globalized market has drawn hundreds of thousands of low-paying jobs from the poorest communities in the US.

Globalization has drawn the higher paying jobs, too.

The most vulnerable reside typically in rural areas, cut off from economic opportunities and standard services most Americans take for granted.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, was purposefully created to bring roads, infrastructure and job opportunities to the regions poorest counties.

Still, most of the ARCs money over the past 40 years has gone to developed and more prosperous counties, counties that have a lot more voters.

Government statistics indicate the poorest areas have improved, but that may be linked to the exodus of families and workers.

There are 3,143 Counties in the USA.

Calhoun and McDowell County are in the 100 poorest counties per capita income in the USA.

Calhoun and McDowell, Webster, Summers, Mingo and Clay are in the 100 poorest counties in the USA, median income.

The State of West Virginia is ranked 49th in the USA with a per capita income of $16,477. (2000).

It is ranked 49th in the USA with a median income of $29.696.

Residents of Grantsville, West Virginia have a per capita income of $13,501.

(Income charts follow at the end of this article)

WEST VIRGINIA'S "BLACK HOLE" GETTING DARKER?

In the world of the presidential fast track, globalized markets, NAFTA, GATT, WTO and free markets, our government would do well to look at who is being left behind.

President George Bush had a blank stare on his face when the Dubai ports security deal came up, mostly because such deals are business as usual in the US.

It is depressing to keep reporting West Virginia (and Calhoun County) is at or near the bottom of most lists, except when the economic studies are done by state government.

During Underwood's administration, a published booklet gave glowing reports, indicating growth indicators and four chickens coming soon to every pot.

There was no significant improvement during the Wise administration.

Unemployment statistics issued by the government are often glowing, not indicating what is really going on with the economy.

An independent study released by the National Center for Policy Analysis says "West Virginia has the lowest per capita income in the US and the worst economic record through the 1990's ... economic freedom is nowhere to be seen. The taxation system is so bad it can't even give Canada a run for its money."

Granted, a lot of federal money gets sprinkled on WV, but there is little change in the dynamics of work, taxation and the economy.

Some self-serving politicians, mostly those in leadership roles, have often sold their soul to special interests, keeping our beloved state in the economic pit for several generations, and now, state government is paying the price.

There are few resources to create or maintain opportunities.

The natural resource corporations - extractors - have successfully managed to polarize West Virginia workers (the politicians have generally cooperated) against the wrong people or groups, trying to maintain favored status.

Opportunity and economic freedom, the promise of the "Great Society," seems to be fading as the gap between the have's and the have not's widens.

Some call it the sinking of the American middle class.

My dad, during the Great Depression, said his saddest day was when he could not find a job - no opportunity, no freedom.

Most rural West Virginia's have left the desert of opportunity for greener fields in other states.

Here in Sunny Cal, and over 30 counties where the school board is the biggest employer, the joblessness has been charted among the worst in the nation for years, and now it is even worsening as thousands of jobs are leaving the region, moving abroad.

Calhoun people, those that are left, have dutifully gotten into their cars, driving 100-150 miles a day to find work are now suffering from high gasoline prices.

We're not talking about people who don't want to work.

The government seems to enjoy spending millions of dollars on re-training, but in Appalachia there are few jobs to be had.

Here in Calhoun and in the region, hundreds of "dislocated workers" have been getting or will be getting training for jobs that do not exist.

Furthermore, the state of West Virginia seems to be broke.

"Under funded" now means broke.

And lots of areas are "under funded" from retirement programs to health insurance to worker's compensation. Peter and Paul's credit card is maxed.

West Virginia's leadership have played "lets pretend" for years, but the time for paying the fiddler is at hand, says Gov. Joe Manchin.

Will a new breed of elected officials, Democrat or Republican, take a leadership role in pulling us toward economic freedom and opportunity?

West Virginian's have a hard time admitting they're poor, a fact manipulated by politicians. That's why we frequently report the "bad numbers."

At a time when the United States and US-backed international financial institutions are encouraging countries around the world to adopt free market economies, a new study examines how well our own states fare by that measure.

The independent study released by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) and Canada's Fraser Institute, shows a remarkable diversity among the 50 US states and 10 Canadian provinces.

Delaware has the greatest economic freedom, opportunity and prosperity for its' citizens and West Virginia, you guessed it, is the worst.

"It's easier to give advice than follow it," said NCPA Research Manager Devon Herrick, "but the pay off is significant for those states that promote economic freedom."

"With few exceptions, economic freedom and prosperity go hand in hand," said Herrick. "States with low taxes and limited government tend to grow faster than states where the opposite is true."

While economic freedom is not the sole determinant of a state's wealth, the correlation is strong.

George Herbert said cynically "Hope is the poor mans bread." Let us have hope, but who or what will save us?

WEST VIRGINIA COUNTY PER CAPITA/MEDIAN INCOME

Number is rank in state's 55 counties, followed by per capita and median household income:

1 505 Putnam County $20,471 $41,892
2 509 Jefferson County $20,441 $44,374
3 522 Kanawha County $20,354 $33,766
4 1053 Morgan County $18,109 $35,016
5 1063 Wood County $18,073 $33,285
6 1106 Berkeley County $17,982 $38,763
7 1209 Ohio County $17,734 $30,836
8 1215 Hancock County $17,724 $33,759
9 1250 Cabell County $17,638 $28,479
10 1331 Monroe County $17,435 $27,575
11 1469 Brooke County $17,131 $32,981
12 1485 Monongalia County $17,106 $28,625
13 1585 Pleasants County $16,920 $32,736
14 1628 Wetzel County $16,818 $30,935
15 1632 Harrison County $16,810 $30,562
16 1772 Marshall County $16,472 $30,989
17 1840 Tucker County $16,349 $26,250
18 1884 Greenbrier County $16,247 $26,927
19 1886 Marion County $16,246 $28,626
20 1894 Raleigh County $16,233 $28,181
21 1907 Jackson County $16,205 $32,434
22 2059 Hardy County $15,859 $31,846
23 2085 Pendleton County $15,805 $30,429
24 2137 Grant County $15,696 $28,916
25 2185 Mercer County $15,564 $26,628
26 2266 Mineral County $15,384 $31,149
27 2321 Tyler County $15,216 $29,290
28 2326 Nicholas County $15,207 $26,974
29 2338 Ritchie County $15,175 $27,332
30 2431 Randolph County $14,918 $27,299
31 2437 Wayne County $14,906 $27,352
32 2454 Hampshire County $14,851 $31,666
33 2468 Mason County $14,804 $27,134
34 2587 Boone County $14,453 $25,669
35 2609 Pocahontas County $14,384 $26,401
36 2659 Wyoming County $14,220 $23,932
37 2698 Logan County $14,102 $24,603
38 2739 Wirt County $14,000 $30,748
39 2756 Lewis County $13,933 $27,066
40 2786 Fayette County $13,809 $24,788
41 2814 Taylor County $13,681 $27,124
42 2835 Preston County $13,596 $27,927
43 2844 Upshur County $13,559 $26,973
44 2849 Doddridge County $13,507 $26,744
45 2885 Braxton County $13,349 $24,412
46 2909 Roane County $13,195 $24,511
47 2929 Lincoln County $13,073 $22,662
48 2991 Gilmer County $12,498 $22,857
49 2999 Mingo County $12,445 $21,347
50 3002 Barbour County $12,440 $24,729
51 3005 Summers County $12,419 $21,147
52 3021 Webster County $12,284 $21,055
53 3040 Clay County $12,021 $22,120
54 3067 Calhoun County $11,491 $21,578
55 3115 McDowell County $10,174 $16,931

USA STATES RANKED PER CAPITA INCOME (2000)

Connecticut - $28,766
District of Columbia - $28,659
New Jersey - $27,006
Massachusetts - $25,952
Maryland - $25,614
Colorado - $24,049
Virginia - $23,975
New Hampshire - $23,844
New York - $23,389
Delaware - $23,305
Minnesota - $23,198
Illinois - $23,104
Washington - $22,973
California - $22,711
Alaska - $22,660
Michigan - $22,168
Nevada - $21,989
Rhode Island - $21,688
United States of America - $21,587
Florida - $21,557
Hawaii - $21,525
Wisconsin - $21,271
Georgia - $21,154
Ohio - $21,003
Oregon - $20,940
Pennsylvania - $20,880
Vermont - $20,625
Kansas - $20,506
Indiana - $20,397
North Carolina - $20,307
Arizona - $20,275
Missouri - $19,936
Iowa - $19,674
Texas - $19,617
Nebraska - $19,613
Maine - $19,533
Tennessee - $19,393
Wyoming - $19,134
South Carolina - $18,795
Alabama - $18,189
Utah - $18,185
Kentucky - $18,093
Idaho - $17,841
North Dakota - $17,769
Oklahoma - $17,646
South Dakota - $17,562
New Mexico - $17,261
Montana - $17,151
Louisiana - $16,912
Arkansas - $16,904
West Virginia - $16,477
Mississippi - $15,853
Puerto Rico - $8,185

USA STATES RANKED BY MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2000)

New Jersey - $55,146
Connecticut - $53,935
Maryland - $52,868
Alaska - $51,571
Massachusetts - $50,502
Hawaii - $49,820
New Hampshire - $49,467
California - $47,493
Delaware - $47,381
Colorado - $47,203
Minnesota - $47,111
Virginia - $46,677
Illinois - $46,590
Washington - $45,776
Utah - $45,726
Michigan - $44,667
Nevada - $44,581
Wisconsin - $43,791
New York - $43,393
Georgia - $42,433
Rhode Island - $42,090
United States of America - $41,994
Indiana - $41,567
Ohio - $40,956
Oregon - $40,916
Vermont - $40,856
Kansas - $40,624
Arizona - $40,558
District of Columbia - $40,127
Pennsylvania - $40,106
Texas - $39,927
Iowa - $39,469
Nebraska - $39,250
North Carolina - $39,184
Florida - $38,819
Missouri - $37,934
Wyoming - $37,892
Idaho - $37,572
Maine - $37,240
South Carolina - $37,082
Tennessee - $36,360
South Dakota - $35,282
North Dakota - $34,604
Alabama - $34,135
New Mexico - $34,133
Kentucky - $33,672
Oklahoma - $33,400
Montana - $33,024
Louisiana - $32,566
Arkansas - $32,182
Mississippi - $31,330
West Virginia - $29,696
Puerto Rico - $14,412


Hur Herald ©from Sunny Cal
The information on these pages, to the extent the law allows, remains the exclusive property of Bob Weaver and The Hur Herald. information cannot be not be used in any type of commercial endeavor, or used on a web site without the express permission of the owner. Hur Herald published printed editions 1996-1999, Online ©Hur Herald Publishing, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019