One of the refrains heard most by those accepting what they believe is the inevitable EPA-inspired decline of the coal industry is that West Virginia should use this as an opportunity to diversify its economy. West Virginia has been too dependent on coal, they say. It’s time to develop other businesses that will employ people and grow the economy.

It’s as though the powers-that-be in Charleston will get together and decide what businesses will flourish and where, and then shift resources toward them.  Government is forever trying to predict economic winners and losers, a costly exercise that favors one business over another, often for political reasons.

So, how is the state government going to lead the economic diversification? How does a government decide what the next big economic boom should be and make that happen?  The answer is that it doesn’t, because it can’t.

West Virginia did not plan for the economic shale boom to happen.  It occurred because energy companies figured out a way to use hydraulic fracturing on a large scale and, by geological happenstance, West Virginia is on top of huge deposits.

Congress did not plan for engineer Jack Kilby to invent the integrated circuit—the forerunner of the microprocessor—in 1958 while working for Texas Instruments.

Every day in this country, hundreds of businesses rise and fall, not because the government has decided what works and doesn’t, but because the market has.

As Thomas Sowell writes in his book Basic Economics, “Even when leaders have more knowledge and insight than the average member of the society, they are unlikely to have nearly as much knowledge and insight as exists scattered among the millions of people subject to their governance.”

It would be beneficial to have a more diversified economy, especially in parts of the state that rely heavily on a particular industry. However, as Sowell explains, it’s a mistake to believe government can solve that.   “The fact that the market is not doing what we wish it would do is no reason to automatically assume the government would do it better.”

Government, try as it might, over and over, cannot outwit the free market or come close to predicting what will happen in the future.  What government can do is provide the necessary infrastructure, an independent court system, competent schools, a fair and equitable tax structure, research and development funding and balanced regulations.

The irony of this debate is that many of the people who believe the coal industry has run roughshod over the state and controlled its politicians, now want that same political body to manage the development of coal’s successors.

 

 

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Comments

  • DWM

    Hop,

    Couldn't agree more. It always amazes me that politicians, who by and large have never accomplished anything beyond getting elected (i.e. our current president), think they know how to run the complex US economy or even to "create jobs".

    I want to elect someone that runs for office that says, "if you elect me I'm going to keep from meddling in business, unless they break the laws currently on the books and I'll do my best to keep the other politicians from passing more laws and meddling in business".

    The best of politicians cost us just a few jobs, the worst of politicians destroy the economy.

    • The bookman

      +1

      If government would simply do the things within its mandate of infrastructure and education, and do them well, WV would thrive given our resources and location. However, we can't seem to manage to focus on those tasks at hand.

  • George

    As long as corporate decision makers (i.e. U.S. Chamber, NFIB, etc.) view West Virginia's business climate as more expensive (litigation/taxation/regulation) they will continue to decide to do business in other states. Over the last five years, under Democratic and Republican governors, Virginia and Ohio have made tremendous steps to improve their business climates through bold initiatives and steps. Meanwhile, here in West Virginia we continue to make small, incremental changes and continue to let state government pick winners/losers in a variety of industries hoping for economy altering results. As long as our State Legislature is beholden to unions and trial lawyers, the changes that we need to make to compete will die in the Legislature so that the few special interests and their leaders/lobbyists can continue to live like millionaires while everyday West Virginians suffer.

  • DaJuan Hayes

    I believe you, Hoppy, when you say you have truly crossed the Rubicon in this issue. Bill Raney would be proud.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Hoppy, my J County brethren, if you truly believe what you are writing then please make available to us your investment portfolio. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you don't put 100% of your investment into one company. If so, then I would have to believe its a coal company. More often than not, I agree with your opinion on most subjects, but not this one.

    • Harpers Ferry

      Re-read the article and I understand your point better, and therefore agree with you that goverent should NOT be picking winners and losers in the economy. That is not how free market capitalism works. It IS, however, how Socialism works.

  • zero tolerance

    And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County? Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking. Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away.........

  • Bill Hill

    Good commentary, Hoppy.

  • BR549

    If the government of WV were in the radio business they'd have one format, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. Your company has diversified in so many ways and it would be helpful if the state of WV at least put diversification on the front burner instead of allowing reliance on coal to dominate their business/tax thinking.

    • Mitch

      @ BR549,
      Diversification in WHAT? It's easy to sit behind a keyboard and type that, but that doesn't even begin to make it so.
      Sounds like a typical liberal....let's just pull it out of the thin air of our imaginations and speak it....and voila!! It will MAGICALLY APPEAR!!

    • Aaron

      I thought the government of West Virginia was in the business of governing West Virginia and not in picking and choosing the business direction of it's citizens. History has proven that when government starts picking winners and losers, they only get it half right and unfortunately for taxpayers, as investments like solyndra prove, rarely is it the winning side of the ledger chosen.

      • Hillboy

        Just for the record... in 2006 it was estimated that the different energy sectors received 13.6 billion dollars in federal subsidies including tax credits, direct spending, r&d funding, and sweet heart access to energy resources on federal lands. Of that 13.6 billion, solar received 2.8%. The big recipients were ethanol, 34.6%; oil & gas, 25.7%; and coal, 20.2%. The assumption that renewables are getting special consideration by the feds is laughable.

        By the way, the 13.6 billion estimate does not include the cost of military involvement in the Middle East, public health costs related to burning fossil fuels, or environmental costs such as the BP spill.

        • Wirerowe

          Hiillboy facts should never take the place of advocacy but I will make an exception here, check out the 2011 EIA report , link below, that focused on federal incentives in the electric power industry and included grants, tax incentives, r& d and loan guarantees. In 2007 these incentive totaled approximately $1 billion for coal and $5.1 billion for renewables. In 2010 these incentives totaled $1.4 billion for coal and $14.7 billion for renewables. Aaron is right and you are wrong.


          http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/

          • Hillboy

            Thanks for the links to the situation in Germany--very interesting. If I read it correctly, GE was asking Germany to quit subsidizing renewables and to give a much larger amount to them for R&D.

          • The bookman

            Not at all, but I do think the cost of NG is going to increase, leading to higher energy costs. I think we have just scratched the surface of our NG potential.

          • Aaron

            From the article Bookman.

            "I believe the recent stunning announcement by the German Government that their “Renewable Energy Policy is on the Verge of Complete Failure” will be the same kind of shock when the Great U.S. Shale Oil & Gas Dream goes BUST."

            Do you think our shale oil and gas industry is going to go bust?

          • The bookman

            This isn't the article I read a few weeks ago, but it relates the same info.

            http://srsroccoreport.com/germany-death-of-renewable-energy-bring-on-the-dirty-coal-monsters/germany-death-of-renewable-energy-bring-on-the-dirty-coal-monsters/

          • Aaron

            http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/01/german-energy-minister-proposes-cuts-to-renewable-subsidies-industry-reacts

          • Aaron

            MUNICH -- German Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel is scheduled to propose renewable energy reform on Wednesday. In an effort to reduce government spending and slow the increase in energy costs, Gabriel proposes to cut subsides for renewable sources from €0.17 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to €0.12 per kWh by 2015, according to several reports.

            For onshore wind in particular, Gabriel intends to reduce pay for operators by 10-20 percent by 2015 to 0.09/kWh, and he also intends to reduce the expansion to about 2,500 megawatts a year, according to an Economy Ministry document prepared for a Jan. 22-23 meeting of Merkel’s coalition. Developers would get the current subsidies if their units are authorized before Jan. 22 and enter operation this year, it said.

            Gabriel wants green energy reform to take effect Aug. 1, according to Spiegel, though he told ARD that electricity prices won’t decline.

            General Electric Co. favors these reforms to Germany’s energy policy, saying the reduced renewable energy subsidies will make the market more efficient.

            Germany needs to focus energy spending on research and development rather than subsidies, Stephan Reimelt, GE’s head of energy in Germany, said in a telephone interview today. The company today sealed a 100 million-euro ($136 million) contract from Vattenfall SE to supply a gas turbine to a plant in Berlin.

            “The direct market requirements for renewable energy is very important, and that is something that we see spelled out very clearly and that we support,” Reimelt said. “Germany should focus on innovation rather than subsidies and building. There is 230 million euros of R&D budget for this space and 20 billion euros of subsidies for renewables.”

          • The bookman

            The Germans are reducing their investment in wind and solar because their grid can't support the wide variations in availability of power. It's not the cost, although the German populace are pleased to return to low cost coal for energy.

          • The bookman

            The Germans are reducing their investment in wind and solar because their grid can't support the wide variations in availability. It's not the cost, although the German People are pleased to return to low cost coal .

          • Aaron

            As I said before, I am not a huge fan of the subsidization of our energy industry even though I understand the R & D can be very costly. I've seen the Yale piece before and at one time, had a counter to it by a group of environmentalist and economist but as my link is invalid now and I'm not going through the trouble to find it as I'm sure you've read both sides of the argument and are aware of similar positions. I do recall reading an article back in the winter in which Germany plans to reduce government spending on renewable energy in an effort to save money.

            At any point, to argue that because we did it before, we should continue the subsidies for other sources is lacking in my opinion. My counter to that is, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Perhaps if oil and gas did not receive the support in years past, neither would have the grip they have on energy today and either alternatives would have developed sooner or those sources would have somehow been forced to find more efficient manners of extraction and/or production. Fuel is the perfect example as there are those who say, rightfully so, that higher cost will require conservation. Perhaps had oil not been so subsidized decades ago, automakers would have been more prudent in seeking higher CAFÉ standards.

            As to the article referencing the externalities of coal, I will tell you the same thing I told Ted Boettner and Ken Ward a few years back when a study by the WV Center for Budget and Policy released a report that stated coal cost the state money when externalities were quantified and that is that you cannot list the negative externalities of coal without computing the positive aspects as well, including indirect jobs from mining and the energy savings to consumers as a result of the lower cost of electricity provided by coal. Whether the Harvard study does that or not, I do not know as I did not download the study but I do know the WVCBP study was inaccurate as it neither calculated energy savings or credited indirect jobs to coal.

            We can discuss renewable until we are blue in the face but the bottom line is, even the most liberal government projections show fossil fuels remaining our primary fuel source for decades to come and renewable only increasing to ~15% of our electricity generation. In my opinion, we should maximize what we have efficiently while continuing to explore efficient ways to produce energy with renewable sources. Two examples would be to begin the switch of vehicles, particularly heavy transportation vehicles to utilize natural gas immediately with a goal of switching the majority of vehicles to natural gas within a reasonable time frame. With that, proven renewable sources should be given the lead over questionable projects. Run-of-the-river hydro plants like the one currently under construction near Willow Island is but one method and in my opinion with the understanding that I do not claim to be an expert is much more viable than wind or solar in this state.

            As for coal, despite what was said a few weeks back or what is publicly stated, given that coal is project to continue to provide ~30% of all energy for the next half century, it is not going away. It may become much more costly as providers are forced to pay a tax in one form or another but it will be in our portfolio long after I am going and I do not plan on dying for another 36 years.

          • Hop'sHip

            Hillboy: That Yale report was an eye opener. Thanks for the reference.

          • The bookman

            I think Hillboy would agree regarding ethanol, which is why he chooses to exclude it. Hillboy is realistic regarding his argument, so don't assume he isn't on the same page of this intellectual argument. Given I believe his concerns are genuine, I assure you he knows the zero sum carbon impact of ethanol/biodiesel. However, when convenient for this administration, it is included in the "success" of renewables because it has effectively replaced a portion of the petroleum based transportation fuels. They hang their hat on this as a reduction of carbon based fuels, but we know differently. Has anyone told Darryl Hannah yet?

          • Aaron

            "biofuels/corn ethanol should not be considered as part of renewables"

            Sorry but you can't pick and choose what is and is not a renewable. Yes, ethanol takes as much energy to produce it as it provides but it's still a renewable. By your logic, wind needs and alternative source to turn the turbines during low wind periods thus it would not be a renewable either. About the only way I could see you not classifying those renewables is if you came up with a new category in which to place them. Off the top of my head, how about "Inefficient Energy Sources."

            I will say this regarding the renewable energy source of ethanol. Between the effect it is having on land management, the price of corn, and the annual seasonal dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, it is difficult for those who support the use of ethanol based fuels to claim the mantra or environmentalist or conservationist as holistically the negatives outweigh any positives.

          • Hillboy

            I had a longer response but it got lost in moderation limbo. Here's a shorter response. I'm willing to accept EIA data. However, biofuels/corn ethanol should not be considered as part of renewables. It is questionable whether growing corn to make ethanol even produces as much energy as goes into making it. In 2007, 80% of the subsidies to renewables went to ethanol. That left one billion for traditional renewables. Coal also received 3 billion for refined coal so in 2007 coal alone received 4x the amount of traditional renewables (not counting ethanol). 2010 is not characteristic due to the temporary ARRA funding, which did favor renewables, mostly ethanol and wind.

          • Hillboy

            I'm willing to accept the EIA report and I will admit that it shows a different perspective than the report I read. I will say this... in 2007, 80% of the subsidies for renewables went to ethanol biofuels. Biofuels should not be lumped in with traditional renewables. Corn-based ethanol is a handout to the ag states and it is debatable whether there is even a net energy gain in growing corn to make ethanol. That leaves about 1 billion in subsidies for traditional renewables. You didn't notice the 3 billion in subsidies for refined coal. So, in 2007 coal received about 4 times the amount of subsidies that traditional renewables received. 2010 is complicated by the ARRA funding, which was temporary.

            You made the comment that subsidies should be proportional to the amount of energy a source is generating. Here is a short article that might or might not interest you that makes the case that the US has traditionally subsidized the development of different energy sectors at a much higher level than we are currently doing. Nuclear, and oil and gas both received abundant federal subsidies during their developmental stages. There is a case to be made that mature energy sources should need less subsidies over time and emerging energy sources, especially low carbon ones, initially deserve a higher level of support as they emerge.

            http://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/should-government-subsidize-alternative-energy

            I will just add that the EIA report only looked at direct federal subsidies. Here is a link to a report from the Harvard School of Public Health that estimates the cost of mining, transporting, burning, and breathing coal to be 1/3 to 1/2 trillion dollars per year.

            http://chge.med.harvard.edu/resource/full-cost-accounting-life-cycle-coal

        • Aaron

          While I don't disagree with your comment as I'm generally opposed to industry subsidies, I'm curious where your numbers come from.

          I found a study by the Environmental Law Institute that stated between 2002 to 2008, energy subsidies totaled 101 billion, 29 of which went renewable energy sources. Given that renewable energy produces about 12% of our electricity but receives almost 29% of subsidies, why would that not be disproportionate, particularly given that many of the subsidies given to fossil fuels during that time are also available to other businesses?

    • Wirerowe

      I disagree with your assessment. I think that most of the serious policy decisions over the last 20 years have been made to make the state more attractive for business diversification. Limited tort reform, privatizing worker's comp,more balanced supreme court, creation of tax incentives, lowering of business taxes, infrastructure improvements, more focus on community colleges. I could go on and on. Could they do better yes. But to suggest that the focus of the state is not primarily on economic diversification is not accurate and does not correspond with reality. The same folks that say we are not focused on diversification will be the same ones who scream the loudest when we try to adopt policies that are more attractive for economic diversification.

      • Shadow

        You did't mention Right-to-Work, more Tort Reform, eliminating the B&O Tax, revising the Disability System, School Vouchers, Corruption, etc. Then, maybe, some CEO will think it worth while to put money into the State. As it is now, the only reason to set up shop in WV is because of the resources. Unfortunately, manpower isn't one that they are looking for.

        • Hop'sHip

          How would school vouchers work in West Virginia, Shadow?

          • Aaron

            And?

          • Hop'sHip

            Aaron posts a lot.

          • Aaron

            Something that does not include false information would be nice.

          • Hop'sHip

            I didn't realize I was doing what you say just as earlier I didn't realize I was fibbing about you. Let's try this. You tell me what you would find as an acceptable reply, and I will use it.

          • Aaron

            Once again, you distort what Is said. Is there a reason you resort to such tactics sir?

          • Hop'sHip

            Thanks for correcting me. It must be frustrating to be you who have to suffer those of us who lack your wisdom and intellectual faculties, and yet retain your humility.

          • Aaron

            The liberal indoctrination occurs every day I could provide you evidence of such but I have no doubt you would dismiss it in the same manner you do Bookman when he is correcting you. As to the Constitution, I’ve never claimed to be an expert, only to know more about it than you do but given that you’ve not read it, that is understandable. Is there anything else?

          • Hop'sHip

            Liberal indoctrination? What form might that take? You are an expert on the Constitution. Do you see no problem with using public funds for religious education? I don't know. I would have no problem with it if that is what the parent chose and it actually resulted in better educated students. I just know of no compelling evidence that it does work.

          • Aaron

            Is a property taxpayer allowed to object that their tax dollars are used for liberal indoctrination?

          • Hop'sHip

            That would work in rural counties, where I thought the quality problems were most pronounced? Do you have examples where this actually worked? I don't think any of the countries we compare unfavorably to employ such a system. Would a property taxpayer be able to object to their tax dollars being used for religious indoctrination?

          • Shadow

            I really didn't answer your question as to why it would help the economy. The fact is that when people move into a new location, they pick a place which provides services to them and good schools are one of the things on the agenda. WV doesn't have the talent to run a upcoming business, so you must import your management and why would they go to a place where they put their children at risk of falling behind their peers.

          • Shadow

            Easy answer, it would put a little competition into the current system which has no competition and directed by the unions and the liberal courts. Probably, the first thing that would happen would be that the religions schools would be overcrowded with children who parents want a better education for them and then the development of Charter Schools. That is no different than what has happened in other parts of the Country with failing schools.

      • BR549

        Wirewoe, you make good points, it is Hoppy himself who has the Patsy Cline/Hank Williams mentality.

  • Wirerowe

    The notion that we will destroy part of your economic base and you should be happy with the opportunity to diversify your economy is worse than"let them eat cake" it is nonsensical. As is the notion that we are going to enforce a policy with complete disregard for the economic consequences.the State of West Virginia and local and regional groups for the last 50years have worked to plan for, develop infrastructure and programs and marketing efforts to attract investment to the state to diversify the economy. The state has economic development offices in Europe and Asia.These efforts will continue but it is very naive that somehow this effort will be more successful because the need is greater. These new regulations will have a serious impact on the economies of the coal producing parts of our state and the topographical constraints in many of those ares will make diversification very difficult. Simple and short EPA regulations will have avery negative impact on our state's economic future. The state will have to deal with that. But to suggest it is the state's fault is comical.

  • Medman

    I still believe that government can have a role in leading and providing information that can be used for economic planning. Our Legislature and Governor could sponsor strategic planning sessions with business leaders and others in our state with invitations for external experts, futurists and experienced business folks who can review success stories in other states. We have never been committed to thoroughly analyzing which laws, tax codes and regulations that impede economic growth in order to develop a priority list for legislative action. We seem to deal with this challenge on a piecemeal basis and nothing meaningful happens. It is not a matter of government choosing which businesses will succeed, it is a matter of creating the environment and plan that can let the market shift to our advantage.

  • Matt

    There are a few things that Charleston can do. One is a pay raise for teachers. Another is to stop funneling cash to horse breeders. Oh, and how about allowing cities to govern themselves? Etc....

    • Bill MC

      Giving all teachers more money will fix all the states problems? Giving good teachers a pay raise might help a little. However if common cord stays the way they are teaching the kids, even that won't help.

      • Matt

        Whatever it takes to raise intelligence levels of West Virginians.

        • Jim

          Whatever it takes to raise intelligence levels of West Virginians.

          How about import a new gene pool. All the better genes have already been exported.

  • Aaron

    The biggest role government can play in aiding industry anywhere is in providing reliable infrastructure. On that front, government in West Virginia is failing miserably. Infrastructure should be planned for years the future yet ours is steeped in the past and crumbling. Every metropolitan (and I use that term loosely as our cities are small) area has major infrastructure problems and growth is strangled by an inability to move freight and employees quickly. We are told repeatedly to diversify the coal fields yet that is not going to happen until infrastructure is upgraded.

    Start with the completion of Route 35, widen Interstate 64 by widening the bridge across the Kanawha to 4 lanes and eventually I-64 to the state line to 3 lines minimum, complete bypasses from 64 to 77 north of Charleston and from 65 to 119 south of the shopping centers, widen Route 2 from Parkersburg to Weir to 2 lanes, build a better road between the northern panhandle and Morgantown, build a bypass from 79 north of Morgantown to 68 East, complete the Coalfield Expressway, The King Coal Highway, Corridor H and build at least 2 more bridges across the Ohio River, and numerous over other rivers in the state.

    From there, you address the bottlenecks that exist in every city. Morgantown with its alleged diverse economy is the worst and needs numerous projects. In addition to the proposed bypass, turn West Run Road into an actual road to support the thousands of students living in the area and extend the new exit from the baseball facility all the way to Patterson Drive via a new bridge, which could be used during sporting events to move people out of the city quickly. Parkersburg/Vienna needs a 4 lane route from Grand Central Avenue to the Interstate which preferably does not include driving through housing neighborhoods, 119 South in Beckley and Jefferson Road in South Charleston both need widened to 4 lanes and a new road needs to be constructed from the shopping centers to Jefferson Road. I’m sure other cities have needs as well that I am not aware of.

    From there, resurface our roads beyond patching. We have the means to pay for this but instead of planning for our future, state leaders are allegedly going to save it in the form of a Future Fund. What our leaders do not understand is that unless they address our infrastructure needs, West Virginia has no future.

    • Big Bob-E

      How about we start with paving my road...we can't maintain the roads we have and you want the State to build bypass roads...good grief!!

      • Aaron

        Many bypasses. It's one of the things in which we trust government and their failures are not reason to diminish their responsibilities in that area, don't you agree!!!

  • proudlyconservative

    Businesses now routinely incorporate government incentives into their plans and shop until they find the best "partnership." Those areas that fail to pony up are labeled as "business un-friendly" and pilloried for not creating jobs. Business has been complicit in this arrangement.

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, all this talk about the economic future of West Virginia reminds me of a lecture I attended nearly thirty years ago at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins. A guest speaker, an expert futurist whose name escapes me at the moment, came to speak about the economic future of this state. To his credit, he mentioned the eventual decline of the coal industry as well as the educational shortcomings and how our best and brightest continue to leave. His solution? He said that WV's future lies in tourism. The scenic beauty of the state and its closeness to northeast states will be a 'natural draw' for people to visit here. He says that in the 'future', tourism will become the #1 industry in the state's economy.

    That was thirty years ago, so the future is now. Coal, thanks to Obama's EPA, will no longer be 'king' and the state is becoming more and more dependent on tourism dollars. The only problem with tourism is it's a very volatile business, many dependent on a number of factors, the weather being the chief one. For example, our ski resorts need winter snow, but too much winter snow/bad weather and either no one can drive to them or enjoy them when the power goes out. The summer derecho (sp) of 2012 pretty much killed summer tourism in many places in the state. The rising price of gasoline also impacts those who would-be tourists too.

    The bottom line is, there's been talk for decades about WV becoming more economically diverse. Outside of isolated efforts in select parts of the state, that hasn't happened and is still unlikely to happen here. WV is still hindered by a very business unfriendly environment, a below standard educational base and continuous one-party rule in Charleston that (for the most part) seems to like things just the way they are in this state. None of these factors are bound to change in the next decade, so it looks like the Mountain State will be in for even rougher financial times in the future. The 'crystal ball' will always look dark and gloomy for WV.

    • Diaspora

      I suppose the answer to the problem of "one party rule" by coal company controlled Democrats is one party rule by coal company controlled Republicans. Let's be realistic.

    • Shadow

      Tourism is a big joke. What is there to see and do in WV other than some expensive ski slopes and White Watering in the Summer. It doesn't take too long to get tired of driving in a tree-lined road and when you come to a vista, no place to stop and enjoy it. Where are there any museums? The WV Museum in the Capital and where is the parking? All WV wants from the Tourists is to stop at the motels and eat at the restaurants. You can't make a reservation at a State RV park as they are first come. Who wants to plan a vacation and then not have some assurance they will have a spot to park in. The State offers nothing to Tourism other than lip service.

      • Wowbagger

        Tourism as an industry (contrary to popular opinion) is a major pollution producer requiring robust garbage disposal, sewage, and water purification infrastructure. Tourism is potentially a major source of air pollution and often requires robust law enforcement.

        Due to its distributed nature tourism is not easy to regulate.

      • The bookman

        Tourism is our future, but not because the State of WV makes it happen. It will be because private enterprise and entrepreneurs have the vision to further develop the industry. Improving our highway systems will aid in accessibility and create viable economic opportunities where none existed. That is government's role.

        Elkins is a fine example of this development in tourism.

        • Shadow

          Other than an occasional train ride and a 3 hour dinner theater, what does Elkins offer? Several motels?

          • Aaron

            I agree bookman, I travel there a couple of times a year even though it is the most racist town in America.

          • The bookman

            Well the point of my comment on Elkins is that every time you turn around, something positive is happening here. And it is private enterprise and entrepreneurs who are making it happen. Government has its role to play. When they have mastered educating a workforce and creating the infrastructure that supports progress and prosperity, then they may sit at the table and give their two cents on economic direction. Until then I'd say their plate is full.

          • Aaron

            I LOVE Elkins and the surrounding areas as it has some of the best bike riding in the state and it's relative to so much to do. Sheetz is the candy on the icing that's on the cake.

          • The bookman

            Thanks for paying attention. And just to ensure Aaron comes for a visit, Sheetz should be operational by Christmas!

          • Jason412

            Woah woah woah, there's two dinner theaters.

            The "S" curves on Rt. 33 are listed in the Randolph Co. travel guide as a tourist attraction.

          • The bookman

            There is quite a bit of development occurring in and around Elkins, and it is being driven by tourist dollars. I've been here 11 years, and those few things you mention are all new occurrences. Having the National Forest as a backdrop, Elkins is an outdoor gateway to naturalized recreation. Tons of cabin rentals in the area in which I live, and the dirt road to my house is heavily travelled with out of state plates. A new water project has been announced and will service the eastern entry into the city, an area already busting open with vacation campgrounds and cabin rentals. They are enjoying an expansion of their hospital, remodeling of the old Motor Lodge and restaurant, starting a rail trail connector into downtown, and additional rail yard development. And for the record, Pigeon Forge started with a scenic train. As Corridor H marches in from the east, more traffic from the east will find its way here.

            And I know it sounds as though I'm cheering for Elkins, I don't live in the city, I don't receive any of their services, and do not benefit directly from their progress. But in the short 11 years since moving here from Morgantown, I've been impressed by the local can do attitude of the community. Government has assumed its infrastructure role, and the tourism industry is privately funded, with local business people developing successful projects. There are no State Parks in Randolph County, and only one State Forest. The momentum here is impressive.

  • Silas Lynch

    Congress didn't plan on the integrated circuit in 1958? Sorry Hop, they kinda did. It was called the "Space Race".

    • Shadow

      If any governmental group had anything to do with the integrated circuit, it was the Military?

  • Hop'sHip

    Hmmm. I live in a part of the state where government-supported diversification has taken place, where Hoppy lives, and it is a pretty nice place to live. I live not far from Pittsburgh, a city that made some wise decisions to transform from a single-industry economy to a diversified, dynamic metropolis. Of course hydraulic fracturing emerged as a viable tool after years of government- private industry collaboration. I think maybe Hoppy was a bit selective in making his libertarian case, which I suspect will be very popular with the government haters here. But then again, this is Hoppy's silo.

    • Silas Lynch

      I suppose you are speaking of Morgantown being that "government supported" place that's so nice to live in. I also suppose you're alright with me sending my tax dollar to subsidize the standard of living and infrastructure you enjoy ? Tell me, where and to whom do you send your tax dollar to subsidize?

      • Hop'sHip

        Should I send you a thank-you note, Silas? That was money Bush could have used for nation building in Iraq.

        • FungoJoseph

          Better spent than the way Obama is, nation-destruction in Iraq. Collaborating with the enemy, Iran.
          Hey HH, want to bet that most of the shoulder-fired missiles the insurgents in Iraq possess came from Libya and Obama's and Clinton's shenanigans that were going on there?

        • Silas Lynch

          No, don't send your thank you note to me, send it to the coal miner in Bluefield that your subsidized upscale city dwelling depends on.
          But hurry, his job has just about played out.

        • Aaron

          Or Obama in Afghanistan, Egypt or Libya, right HH.

          • Aaron

            I am curious though Jason, with all your intuition and ability to research, what do you believe the future of coal is and how will we provide for our energy as we move forward?

          • Aaron

            I don't buy into the current state of coal as the result of Obama's agenda based on what he said.

            Remind us again Jason412, what was it he said again?

          • Jason412

            EPA's McCarthy disputes "War on Coal" phrase

            "Aaron

            Would she prefer an agenda on coal? This administration and it's supporters can say whatever they want about coal. They can justify their agenda in any manner they want. None of that can erase what Barrack Obama said regarding coal. His mission is to eliminate it as a source of energy. That is not industry propaganda, it is simply how it is.

            March 26, 2014 at 9:50 pm"

            I'm not sure Hop's was fibbing.

          • Aaron

            I see you're up to fibbing again HH. I've never said anything about the war on coal or the Browning of America. So why the fibs?

          • Hop'sHip

            I plead guilty of being one of the stupid who rejects the extremes of libertarianism and communism and believes in a mixed economy with the challenge of finding the right mix. The real smart people like you and Silas are concentrating on the real problems of America like Obama's War on Coal and The Browning of America.

          • Aaron

            I believe the President is so arrogant that even though history worldwide has proven that government intervention into the economy has proven disastrous on every occasion he believes his results will be different. The scary part is there are those that are either gullible, naive or just plain stupid who agree with him.

          • Silas Lynch

            I don't even address such nonsense. I read the post before noticing the name.
            GW Bush's legacy is him being the straw man for any debate a lefty can't prevail in.

            And have you noticed how often his name is invoked by the them?

            Bush was an idiot and Obama is proving to be even more inept,,, that is, unless you believe Obama really did intend to "fundamentally transform" the United States. Question is: Into what and how do are you liking it?

    • The bookman

      Morgantown is an example of government supported diversification? I lived in the University City 15 years, and although the city grew, it didn't become economically diverse. It grew by those industries that were there previously getting larger and the private sector responding in kind to provide housing and services to meet the population. The university grew its enrollment and those additional bodies drove the growth.

      What is governments role here? Infrastructure to manage the burgeoning population. Travel through Morgantown and answer if that has been achieved. My first year in Morgantown was 1988. Economically it looks the same, just bigger and more of the same industries. Convenience stores, shopping centers on the perimeter, restaurants and bars, hotels and housing complexes, and two hospitals. Still bumper to bumper traffic, only worse than ever.

      Lift WVU out of Morgantown and I ask you, where do you see a diverse economy?

      • Oh Did Ya?

        I agree with Hop's Hip for possibly the first time. Although WVU plays an enormous role, Morgantown is as diverse as it gets in WV - education, government, energy, healthcare, real estate, manufacturing (Mylan), and because of the economic opportunities people come and go often creating a good housing/construction market.

      • TD

        When I drive to Morgantown I envision a funnel sitting on top of the place with hundreds of millions pouring in from all over the state and Washington. Without government money Morgantown may not even be on the map.

      • Wowbagger

        Without WVU Morgantown is Milan and a lot of federal employees and contractors, a legacy courtesy of Robert Byrd, who can no longer be counted on to force federal agencies to West Virginia.

        Morgantown used to be more diverse in the early 1900s before government became a big business.

        • Aaron

          Would Milan or the federal workers be in Morgantown without WVU?

          • Wowbagger

            Probably not.

            Mylan (sorry about the earlier typo) has quite a presence, but when it came time to build a new corporate Headquarters they chose South Pointe just northeast of Canonsburg, PA and it appears most of their real growth is in India.

            The federal workers are in West Virginia because of Robert Byrd and Jennings Randolph, but more than likely in Morgantown because of WVU.

            The past I noted the Morgantown economic base was a lot more diverse including tinware, glassware, plumbing fixtures, mining equipment, oilfield equipment, various chemicals, and (a little known fact) heavy water for early thermonuclear bombs.

      • Hop'sHip

        Well Bookie, I guess I should have added "by Appalachian standards."

        http://economicdiversityinappalachia.creconline.org/

        • The bookman

          So by this standard, Greenbrier County is the target? I'm not arguing that Morgantown isn't a great place. My wife and I fully enjoyed living there, but it became too big for itself. We left because of it. Too cumbersome to maneuver through all the people. And when we go back to visit, little has changed across the city, except that there is just more of the same things. More shopping, eateries, new wings on the hospital, etc. I think Hoppy's point is that as we enter this transition out of coal, and it's coming with or without the EPA pressures, the belief that government will somehow facilitate a move into new opportunities is a fallacy. Government just isn't very good at that. You hold up Morgantown and say look what government can do, and yes, Morgantown's growth is largely attributable to government's purse, and I say where is this high level of diversity? Your site places it average with all the resources applied to WVU and Health Sciences.

          We can't think we can turn Pineville into Morgantown with the right leadership or government program. We need to accept that many towns across Southern WV will not survive coal's exit. We should plan for that, not sit back and watch the transition of each county into another McDowell.

          • The bookman

            Admitting it should be enough. If this administration is successful in implementing these new restrictions, the transition will be sooner than it should. Government can do everyone a favor and not give anyone false hope that they will somehow find that miracle industry that will save them. After coal extraction ends, by its natural end or government induced end, any viable economic opportunities will find its home there, be it tourism or gas extraction or whatever else. Let the markets decide.

          • Hop'sHip

            We should plan for that? I agree. Doesn't that suggest some government involvement?

        • Aaron

          Your link brings up an interesting question as it references a study by the Appalachian Region Commission. That government entity was started in 1965 and had 4 major goals.
          • Increase job opportunities and per capita income in Appalachia to reach parity with the nation.
          • Strengthen the capacity of the people of Appalachia to compete in the global economy.
          • Develop and improve Appalachia's infrastructure to make the region economically competitive.
          • Build the Appalachian Development Highway System to reduce Appalachia's isolation.

          While construction of the Appalachian Highway System has been successful, what is the status of the first 3?

          • Aaron

            I travel there a couple of times a year to ride those roads. The difference is, they have quality infrastructure whereas West Virginia does not. It seems our government is failing miserably at one of the few jobs they truly have.

          • Justathought

            West Virginia doesn't have to look very far to find some answers to our problems. Has anyone heard of Sevierville, TN, Pigeon Forge, TN, or Gatlinburg TN.? I remember some 40 years ago traveling with my parents to these destinations and there were no traffic problems in that area, because there was not much there. Then someone got the bright idea that "if we build it, they will come". What was the it?
            Water and sewer lines...... basically to nowhere, but strategically placed so businesses could build and have easy access to those utilities. Yes it cost them up front, but they recouped their money through hook up fees and the continued income. Is there really that much difference in the mountains and valleys of TN. and WV? Just a thought.