My sister married a guy from Parkersburg, West Virginia and spent the first seven years building a home, making a baby and experiencing life on the other side of the Ohio River. Midway through her odyssey we paid a visit an marveled at what a great place to live in nature if you had any way to make money.
Brother-in-law John taught at the community college and the land belonged to his family. They took us to their friend’s Eco-friendly homestead who answered the “what do you do to afford it?” question by becoming a survey engineer. At the time I was more interested in practicing architecture overseas at somebody else’s expense than starving in the hills of West Virginia just because it was beautiful.
I moved to Eugene, OR in 2007 for a year-long relationship workshop that included a three day visit to Boulder, CO. The stroll down Pearl Street appealed to my architectonic senses as one of the best examples of urban renewal I had witnessed. Why couldn’t Eugene do something like that? Eugene has 150,000 people to Boulder’s 100,000 but only my brother-in-law could get a job with Eugene’s largest employer, the University of Oregon. Both cities share the same hippie cultural values but Boulder has the jobs.
The future is here and it works. Importantly, it is not a conservative future. Boulder, Colorado, is not as famous as San Francisco or even Palo Alto – but this city of some 100,000, where the high plains end and the Rocky Mountains begin, is the leading American urban area of the 21st century. It is a bewildering alchemy of 1960s hippy culture, frontier technologies, thoughtful urban planning and burgeoning service jobs ranging from diet counselling to advanced road bike maintenance. Boulder has become the exemplar of how rich and satisfying urban life can be. It is also a Democrat stronghold.
It has been voted the US’s brainiest city, its happiest city, the country’s foodiest place and the number one city for health. It is a standing reproach to Donald Trump, and indeed Britain’s right-wing Brexiteers who ape his thinking. The place is booming around values and principles to which they are hostile – but attracting families, entrepreneurs and innovators from all round the US because it is such a delightful place in which to live and work.
The 2016 presidential dust-up brought our attention back to good ole West Virginia, the cornerstone of LBJ’s ‘War On Poverty’ and an economic litmus test for Bernie, Hillary and the Don. Loose lipped Hillary flunked out early with her, “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners out of work.” The Trumpeter promised, “Let me tell you, the miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, which was so great to me last week, and Ohio and all over, they’re going to start to work again. Believe me. You’re going to be proud again to be miners.”
The Bern, coming from ‘neaty-oh’ ‘keeny-oh’ Vermont to ‘busted’ Country Roads mountain mamma West Virginia held a 90 minute workshop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9rXlL5iJNk on what to do about the mountainous problems of the State. Opioids was the biggest issue after of course no jobs.
The Yankees have taken advantage of West Virginia ever since the Civil War. The Trojan horse gift of making it a state in 1863 was paid for with the disproportionate loss of lives fighting their former Virginia brethren. One of Bernie’s panelist brought up the bankrupt coal companies land ownership even though they no longer mine coal and gas. What could the government do to return the surface to agricultural use?
West Virginia and Mississippi are the two poorest states in the country but West Virginia is the ‘rock’ in a hard place, a true victim of Yankee Imperialism. Its isolationist background makes it an ideal candidate for experimentation in solutions to income inequality. Try it first in West Virginia, they have got nothing to lose. Things that do work can then be transferred to Mississippi and on up the economic ladder.
OCCUPY WEST VIRGINIA: THE PAWN OF YANKEE IMPERIALISM
Boulder, Co and Bernie’s Vermont have succeeded by attracting families, entrepreneurs and innovators from all round the US because they are delightful places in which to live and work. What can Bernie, Elizabeth Warren and the Millennials do in West Virginia?
- $15/hr Basic Income: $30,000/yr for over 18 with a WVa birth certificate. Eliminate food stamps, SSI, and those with plus $100k income.
- Homestead Act on Big Coal land: Quarter section (160 acres) homesteads, five year occupation and $100k home construction loan with Deed of Trust upon completion.
- Organic State Agriculture: USDA and EPA to administer the Organic Certification of the entire state. No GMO, no Chemicals, no factory farming, including aquaculture.
- Single Payer Health Care: Medicare for all 1.8 million native West Virginians
- Legalize Pot: Marajiuana is a cash crop and a substitute for prescription drug trade addiction
- Tuition Free Public Community Colleges and Universities: West Virginia State University (WVSU) is a historically black public university in Institute, West Virginia, United States. In the Charleston-metro area, the school is usually referred to simply as “State” or “West Virginia State”. It was one of the original group of African American land-grant colleges established by the second Morrill Act of 1890 and is the smallest land-grant institution in the country. Currently In-State tuition, R&B, and books: $18,870 and of course lots of subprime student loans.
- Legalize Raw Dairy: Label it, inspect it, limit it to farmers’ markets, on the farm and in-state sales only.
- Black cat, white cat what difference does it make as long as it catches mice
When Mao finally crapped out in 1976 Deng Xiaoping turned China to the West by making Shenzhen, across from Hong Kong, into a free-enterprise zone. His step-by-step approach led to 40 years of economic development. Let’s make West Virginia our first step in restoring Individual Capitalism for Americans.