What A Failed State Looks Like

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - October 06, 2010
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Typical abandoned house in West Virginia as unemployment forces families to move to find work

I’m just back from a three-week, car-tent-camping trip through the wildest parts of West Virginia. Here’s my question: Why are all the state and smallest county roads of that poor entity flawless while ours are a national embarrassment?

I brought back many more cogent observations, of course, not just one cheap shot because our Kulamanu Place slurry-lay is deteriorating already after three months.

I learned how the random consequences of government policies can lead to ruin and horrible poverty, loss of homes and small businesses, and most of all hope. One resident told me that West Virginia is “a failed state” and I believe that because of what I saw.

We could end up that way, too, unless our new leaders look beyond political pap and their re-election prospects. World events could dry up our tourism and our oil. The Army could move the 25th Division to Fort Lewis, Wash., (a good tactical move) and our Kaneohe Marines could move to Guam or Camp Pendleton. The Pearl Harbor Shipyard could be closed - no economic reason not to, except for Sen. Inouye’s job influence.


West Virginia once believed in the eternal blessing of coal mining and timber logging, just as we do with tourism and military spending. Regulations and events have closed many coal mines and timber operations and left dozens of towns shuttered and rotting, the people gone. They had no Plan B.

I’ve seen the horror and the joblessness. It’s changed my outlook and my “we’ll always get along” attitude.

We don’t have a Plan B. We’ve not done much beyond that more-tax-breaks-for-the-rich offer to encourage high-tech business. We flubbed the SuperFerry to carry commerce and visitors. Ignorance thwarted the proposal for a rocket-launch site at South Point with a rocket-science academy to train a generation as Green Bank, W. Va., has done with its marvelous Radio Astronomy Observatory that’s exciting the minds of students and bringing in big bucks.

Almost half of Oahu’s citizens oppose rail transit. Some because a Ph.D. engineering professor-would-be-leader says freeways are better. President Mahmoud Amadinejad of Iran has a Ph.D. in traffic engineering, too.

It would break my heart to see Wahiawa, Haleiwa, Ewa Beach and Kaneohe become the ghost towns I saw at Grafton, Welch, Branwell and Phillipi in West Virginia.

The leaders we elect next month not only need to plan long, long term, they need to bully us more - drag us by the nose rings in the right direction. Beat down those who resist change and chant the simplicity: “Taxed enough already.”


This state had visionaries in Vince Yano, David McClung, Jack Burns, Elmer Cravalho, Donald Ching, Shunichi Kimura and, yes, the Republican Hebden Porteus.

It’s not that government interferes too much with our lives. It’s that government doesn’t do anywhere near enough to interfere with the status quo.

Some say Social Security, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, Medicare and universal health care are socialism.

If that’s the “S” word definition, let’s get on with more of it!

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