TURNING WEST VIRGINIA AROUND
Take a close look at what your elected officials have achieved compared to what they could have or should have achieved. West Virginia is a resource rich state made poor by corporate state exploitation.
Then take a look at the political parties who have aided and abetted in this disaster. In general, what you will find is that the Democrats are bad and the Republicans are worse, all the while progressive voices and candidates are stifled and ignored – by corporate media, by the schools, and by many other social mechanisms.
The recent election all across the state has seen a shift from bad to worse. Desperate and deceived people have made desperate and false choices. Bad wasn’t good enough, clearly. Unfortunately, the change has now been made for the worse. Russell Mokhiber’s look at politics in Morgan County WV makes this clear why:
The one thing you hear about Charles Trump, Daryl Cowles and Saira Blair — Morgan County’s elected representatives to Charleston — is that they are decent family people.
And who could argue?
From all indications, they are just that.
A campaign mailer sent to Morgan County residents last month shows each surrounded by their family members — and promoting “conservative family values.”
But Trump, Cowles and Blair are all advocates of cruel policies that will hurt working West Virginia families.
And all favor union busting legislation that will reduce wages and income, increase poverty and infant mortality rates, and lead to higher rates of death on the job.
The union busting legislation — known by it’s corporate propaganda term — right to work laws — will be pushed by the new regime in Charleston early next year.
In the past, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has come out against this legislation, but given the new political dynamics in Charleston, the inside betting is that Tomblin will buckle and go with the flow. (In West Virginia, it’s not about Democrat or Republican. It’s about corporate power. For more on this, see Ken Ward Jr.’s recent piece at his blog Coal Tattoo.)
The union busting legislation that Trump, Cowles and Blair all support creates what is known as a free rider problem.
It would allow West Virginia workers to opt out of paying union dues — while at the same time benefiting from union negotiating power that delivers higher wages and safer workplaces.
The non paying workers in effect get a free ride.
True conservatives are opposed to right to work laws. They argue that the legislation represents government interference with corporations’ ability to freely negotiate contracts with workers.
Liberals argue that the legislation allows bosses to fire workers without cause.
“‘Right to work’ sounds like a law guaranteeing you a job, or at least protecting your job once you’ve got it,” Michael Kinsley wrote in a piece in Bloomberg News titled The Liberal Case Against Right to Work Laws. “A lot of the propaganda by the Chamber of Commerce and similar business groups is about so-called forced unionism. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. The main effect of right-to-work laws is to outlaw regulations of employment and allow your boss to fire you without cause.”
Kinsley makes the point that under the union busting legislation, “people could enjoy the benefits of union membership, including negotiation of wages, without sharing in the cost.”
“Not only was this unfair to those who did pay their share, but it made organizing a union significantly harder,” Kinsley writes. “Why should I pay union dues if my fellow workers don’t?”
“Right to work” sounds so pleasing — you have a right to work.
But there’s an iron fist in that velvet glove.
Right wing politicians use the laws to weaken worker power.
By weakening unions, these laws — currently in 24 states — lower wages and living standards for all workers in those states.
Workers in these 24 states earn on average $5,680 less year than workers in other states.
So, take another look at that mailer received.
It is punctuated with a quote from Ronald Reagan, who, as an actor, served as president of Hollywood’s most powerful union, the Screen Actors Guild, from 1947 to 1951.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” Reagan is quoted as saying. “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Free from the corporate state, that is — the corporate state which Trump, Cowles and Blair represent.
Nice family people.
Cruel anti-family policies.
Russell Mokhiber edits Morgan County, USA.
So what’s next, West Virginia, now that you’ve gone from bad to worse?
An all too predictable forthcoming shock of reality.
If the Democratic Party wants to have a future in West Virginia, it will have to stop acting bad and worse. It will have to adopt policies that far better impact West Virginians.
So, what is to be done?
For one thing, the state of WV needs to create its own bank, modeled after North Dakota’s; locally, the city (of Morgantown) needs to push for major annexation; and Monongalia County needs to stop handing large gifts to WVU and big business. Same old story. Many other possibilities exist, including doing what other cities and counties do: taking further control of the utilities and communications, thereby creating good local jobs while saving consumers money.
Economist Ellen Brown does great work on public banks. The City of Morgantown should start its own bank too but look for hell to freeze first. The city ought to go ahead and found one though if for no other reason than to push the state to found its own bank in an effort to head off any wave of municipalities from doing so. States and municipalities need money. There is no more reasonable place to get it than through starting their own banks. North Dakota is a tremendous example.
West Virginia’s massive Rainy Day fund is a complete and total waste. It could be used to rebuild the infrastructure of the state and fund many great social needs. If the state established a bank, it would not need any Rainy Day fund at all, because it could rely on the bank in case of any emergency or shortfall. Just like the state of North Dakota does, though only North Dakota, for now.
Nearly two dozen states have introduced bills to establish a state owned bank like North Dakota’s bank. West Virginia should both introduce and pass such a bill to begin genuinely turning the state around. Notice that this is a way to help lift people up by using the people’s own bootstraps (bankstraps). Now how can even a Democrat or a Republican object to that?