Skip to comments.Robert Byrd's Highways to Nowhere: Government pork hasn't made West Virginia prosperous.
Posted on 07/10/2010 10:24:03 AM PDT by rhema
'His heart belonged to you," President Obama told the hundreds of West Virginians who attended Robert Byrd's funeral last week. "Making life better here was his only agenda." Maybe so. But despite the $4 billion in pork that Byrd served his constituents over the past 19 years alonenot to mention the untold billions before observers started keeping tabsWest Virginia remains the third poorest state in the country. Government spending does not prosperity make.
When Byrd became senator in 1959, West Virginia ranked No. 39 in median family income, and No. 42 in per capita income. Today, it's No. 48 in both categories.
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Take Route 50. Thirty years ago, the federal government extended the route from two lanes to four with the hopes of spurring development. But hit the open road today and you'll notice it's just thatopen. "You won't see another car for two hours," says Russell Sobel, a professor of economics at West Virginia University. "You can't just build roads and expect that things will happen. People who want to transport goods and services need to be there."
Byrd's supporters point to Interstate 68. In 2003, the federal government built a penitentiary in Hazleton, W.Va., precisely because the highway made it an ideal spotsparsely populated yet accessible. But in both cases, the government made the development, not private investors. In fact, 51.3% of the state's economy relies on spending by the local, state and federal governmentthe highest level of any state. "We've created this culture of dependency," warns Mr. Sobel, "Our human capital is not good at competing in the marketplace; it's good at securing federal grants."
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
If W. Virginia had ever become prosperous it wouldn’t have voted for Robert Byrd!
Byrd and all liberals could reverse the course of poverty, urban violence and single parent families simply by reversing or even heavily curtailing the flow of Johnson era “Great Society” programs.
I have never in my life been more certain of my conservative principles than I was sitting on a mass transit train over Atlanta and seeing impoverished housing projects as far as the eye could see.
well...Byrd COULD have...sorry for the present tense on the dear senator.
Government spending does not help the economy
Why would someone call US 50, Route 50?
I don't know if Byrd was losing his touch by then, but check out Georgia's share of the highways.
BTW, Gov. Perry in Texas almost lost his governorship by pushing the Texas part of the corridor.
What’s worse, pork projects rarely include the costs of long-term maintenance. Hence, the locals are stuck forever with the maintenance costs for built structures whose economics were dicey from the beginning — further draining life from the real economy.
It never gets pointed out that if State and local pols wouldn’t waste the money they take from taxes to spend that pork would not be necessary. Pork means that your politician has wasted your local tax dollars and needs to borrow from the Federal gov’t who wasted your Federal tax dollars.
Most of Appalachia was purposely turned into a dependency long ago. My family settled in S.W. Virginis in the 1750s, proud, resourceful people. My line broke off, moved to Georgia just before 1800. I’ve got cousins up in the mountains who are foaming commies, hooked on the koolaid, in spite of some of them being well educated.
With all due respect to our West Virginia FReepers, but whenever I drive through the state, I simply get depressed thinking about how dependent and downtrodden the general population seems to be.
“Why would someone call US 50, Route 50?”
For the same reasons they called US 66 Route 66,
This is a great, great article. When it came to pork-barreling, I always instinctively knew that federal largesse could never substitute for a viable local economy but I didn’t know enough to put it into words.
Wealth is only created when you increase the value of materials or effort. Mine some ore, make some steel, use the steel to make a car. Plant a seed, sell tomatos, you’ve created wealth. Most of the pork is good for visual effect only.
At one time and another I’ve pretty much driven all over West Virginia.
I am amazed at the number of “projects,” monuments, statues, buildings, highways, etc. that honor Robert Byrd. It really is outsized.
He may have gotten billions in pork for WV. IMHO, they have little to show for it.
I thought of Route 66 but isn't that more of an exception, because of some song? Do the local folks in West Virginia call it Route 50 or US 50? In the Detroit area try telling someone to take Route 24.