Some thoughts on West Virginia's business climate
Now the worst in America according to a study by CNBC
CNBC moves West Virginia to #1 in their annual survey of worst states for business
The feat was accomplished in just three years of business-friendly Republican legislative control. Here's the headline from CNBC:
In an economic death spiral: West Virginia is America's worst state for business in 2017
And here's the explanation:
West Virginia has never done particularly well in our Top States rankings, but this year it hits bottom for the first time. The state scores a mere 942 out of 2,500 points, with the last-place economy, and finishing No. 49 for Workforce, Technology & Innovation and Business Friendliness. The state does well for Cost of Doing Business, tying for the fourth lowest. But that has more to do with stagnation than anything else.
The state is 1 of only 7 whose economies shrank in 2016. The decline in state GDP of 0.9 percent for the year was not the biggest in the nation, but West Virginia did not have much to lose. And according to U.S. Commerce Department statistics, it was almost entirely due to the decline in mining.
Hey, I thought that the Republicans promised that they would turn the state around.
They may choose not to cover the matter, but how might our local "newspapers" explain this?
I realize that the difference between 47th in 2014 and 50th in 2017 is probably statistically small. Still, the Republicans along with its statewide Republican-backing newspaper chain (Ogden) have made "business-friendly" their #1 argument for electing Republicans to the legislature.
I don't know whether the Ogden papers will even mention this but here are their likely rationalizations if they do:
It's all Obama's fault (as everything is).
We would have been 51st (or worse) had Hillary been elected.
Why stop with rollbacks on worker safety, right-to-work, and prevailing wage, the legislature needs to pass even more anti-worker and anti-union legislation.
Don't worry -- Trump and his commitment to coal will save us.
And the most likely:
- Democrats have ruled for centuries; the Republicans have just recently gained control. Republicans need more time and more Republicans in order to make (to coin a phrase) " West Virginia great again!"
A final thought
A couple of days ago I was looking for something I had written earlier in this blog's history and so I ended up rereading some of my posts from 2014. In doing so, I was struck by some occasional optimism on my part when discussing West Virginia's future: if only its citizens were better informed I implicitly argued, we might change the disastrous course we seem to be following. I think most of that optimism is now gone: if an election were held today Trump would easily win the state again and the legislature might even be more Republican. (Need proof? Look at Attorney General Morrisey's statement supporting his senatorial candidacy earlier this week -- given Trump's approval rating nationwide, it's hard to believe that any candidate running for senator anywhere would tie themselves that closely to him. This is, however, West Virginia.) More importantly, the fairy tale about the future that Trump and the Republicans continue to narrate (that the state can magically be transposed back to the prosperous 1950s) still flourishes buoyed by the executive actions and rhetoric of an attention-hungry president who doesn't give a damn about West Virginians beyond their willingness to cheer him on. Yeah, it's getting harder and harder to be optimistic about the state's future.