99 Problems But This State Ain’t One

Soon to be one-term WV state legislator has a plan:

First Tunisia, then Egypt, now…West Virginia? Well, no, not exactly. But delegate Larry Kump has had it up to here with his state’s government. “I take pride in being a Mountaineer,” says the freshman legislator—but he’d rather break his beloved state apart than see it suffer on as an economic backwater.

“Our per capita income in West Virginia is 47th in the United States; it’s one of the few things we’re not 50th in,” Kump says. “We’ve lost 10,000 manufacturing jobs over the past three years. Gross Domestic Product is 49th in the nation.”

He adds, “I’d prefer West Virginians stay together and just get their act together—but if they don’t, I think it’s a good idea to go elsewhere.”

Elsewhere, in this case, means moving back in with the ex. Last week, Kump, a self-identified “libertarian grassroots populist” with tea party ties, introduced a bill in the state legislature calling for a non-binding referendum on secession. Specifically, Kump suggests that the three counties of the state’s eastern panhandle break away from the mother ship and become a part of Virginia (as they were prior to 1863). His reason is simple: Kump believes the state government has created an economic climate that’s holding its citizens back. West Virginia’s almost heaven, in other words, but it’s an awful big “almost.”

If ever there was a state that allowed corporations the freedom to run wild, it was West Virginia, but that isn’t good enough for this clown. And where did he get these ideas? You’ll never guess:

Kump’s hardly the first person to contemplate leaving West Virginia, but his grievances are noteworthy in part because of what inspired him: Unleashing Capitalism, a 2007 pro-business manifesto edited by West Virginia University economist Russell Sobel. The book, supported by funding from the energy conglomerate Koch Industries, has become a must-read for the state’s reform-minded conservatives, who tout it as a blueprint for economic growth. The state’s GOP chairman called the book “our party platform” when it was first released; it’s spawned a sequel (about South Carolina), and been honored by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a Washington-based think tank backed by Exxon-Mobil.

Awesome. I guess the northern panhandle will join PA, the western portion of the state goes to Ohio, and Boone County can be declared part of Alabama.

36 replies
  1. 1
    Another Commenter at Balloon Juice (fka Bella Q) says:

    Of course he got them from Kochtopus funds. Surely this surprises no one.

  2. 2
    Kryptik says:

    Oh good grief.

    I’m getting the feeling that I’m glad I’m not back home for longer than a week at a time these days.

  3. 3
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Cole, there’s always room in MN for you. I’m just saying.

  4. 4
    Poopyman says:

    I think the feeling in the Northern VA counties is that they’d like to secede from the rest of VA. Would kinda leave those ex-Mountaineers out in the cold. Heh!

  5. 5
    dmsilev says:

    a self-identified “libertarian grassroots populist” with tea party ties

    Yikes. He’s really going all-out for victory in his Conservative Bingo game, isn’t he? Just add ‘Christian’ and he’s pretty much got the complete set.


  6. 6
    gnomedad says:

    West West Virginia and East West Virginia?

  7. 7
    JGabriel says:

    John Cole:

    I guess the northern panhandle will join PA …

    Pennsylvania called. They don’t want it.

    Sure, most of the rural counties were fine with bringing you in. But the urban & sorta urban areas were all agin’ it: Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Erie, Philly, Allentown, Reading, and Pittsburgh — though the Steelers said they’d be happy to put up one John Cole in their locker room, until the revolution blows over, if he needs a place to stay.

    If it’s any consolation, Wilkes-Barre was very closely divided on the issue.


  8. 8
    New Yorker says:

    This sounds like a variation of the howls you hear sometimes from the Buffalo region (the same howls that got Carl Paladino the GOP governor’s nomination) about how Western NY would be in fantastic economic shape if not for the tax-and-spend lib’ruls from Manhattan who rule the state government destroying everything.

    Look, I understand the economic problems in Western NY and I would love to see Buffalo (and the entire rust belt, including West Virginia) get back on its feet, but I doubt Buffalo seceding from New York State is going to bring the Lackawanna Steel mill and its 12,000 jobs back. There has to be a better way to move forward than finger-pointing.

    Maybe “A Writer at Balloon Juice” from the comparatively more affluent and white-collar burg of Rochester can speak more authoritatively on this subject…

  9. 9
    negative 1 says:

    I had a similar idea here in RI… we would immediately get a boost if we merged with MA, until it occurred to me that they were probably trying to shove Fall River and New Bedford into RI. Just because you attach an anchor to a different boat doesn’t mean that it gets off of the bottom of the ocean.

  10. 10
    ppcli says:

    And he thinks Virginia would want them because…?

    I have a funny feeling that those three counties would turn out to be a significant economic drain on the rest of the state. I have no actual knowledge to this effect, mind you. Just a hunch.

  11. 11
    artem1s says:

    egads, this is probably part of Kasich’s playbook too. Pretty much everything south of Canton and west of Toledo can make its own state as far as I’m concerned. Copperfuckheadtopia.

    NE OH culturally has more in common with the east anyway. Sad to hear WNY is Galt bound. A new North Coast State that is the remnant of the rust belt and has some understanding of the value of the largest source of fresh water in the world could be an economic powerhouse. OH conservatives just want to make Erie the toilet of mid America.

  12. 12
    Surly Duff says:

    “spawned a sequel about South Carolina ”

    South Carolina? That’s the example of the “free market” you want to run with? SC didn’t “Unleash Capitalism”, SC basically lured businesses to its state by reducing taxes on businesses and giving tax breaks as incentives to bring production facilities to the state. For example, in 1994 BMW set up shop with a new production facility in SC. To get BMW in the state, SC allowed BMW to lease the property for a plant for $1 per year, SC spent $40 million upgrading a local airport for BMW executive planes, has never paid the 5% corporate tax to the state, and has paid less than 60% taxes on its facilities than most businesses in the state.

    All of this while SC’s schools and infrastructure crumble. That isn’t capitalism unleashed. It’s capitalism run amok.

    Added link from a 1999 article for sweet baby jesus’s sake. http://www.strom.clemson.edu/t.....-news.html

  13. 13
    Another Commenter at Balloon Juice (fka Bella Q) says:

    And speaking of capitalism and Ohio, isn’t it appropriate to his views that when Kasich came to Cincinnati, he only wanted to talk to business folks – no government folks?

  14. 14
    Nutella says:

    “I take pride in being a Mountaineer”

    but he has to destroy the village state in order to save it.

  15. 15
    SFAW says:

    Sedition – how does that work?

    and Boone County can be declared part of Alabama Albania.

    Not sure if that fixes it, but at least we get them the F out of the country.

  16. 16
    Barbara says:

    You can tell him that Virginia already contains a fair percentage of Appalachia and that the residents of the southwestern region of our state don’t really fare a whole lot better by being part of Virginia than their counterparts are doing in West Virginia. We have meth towns, coal dependent counties, high structural unemployment and loss of manufacturing. The conceit is that a state government can use economic policy to overcome or as a substitute for curing deficits attribuatable to a poor education policy, insufficient transportation and communications infrastructre and just out and out remote geographic location.

    I had a client that was strong armed by politicians to put a customer service location in an Appalachian-like setting (not quite, but the same thing in a different state) and it just didn’t work out — they needed a college educated workforce for a lot of jobs, and a computer literate workforce for nearly every job, not to mention workers who were very attentive to detailed rules and policies, and so on. There were some jobs they couldn’t fill for years on end and HAD to transfer to a more urban setting.

  17. 17
    Stooleo says:

    Do you know what a Boone County mating call is? Puts hand in pocket, pulls out bottle of Oxycontin and shakes it.

  18. 18
    Tom65 says:

    Fine, Virginia can have them. Just leave Maryland out of the equation, thankyouverymuch.

  19. 19
    debbie says:

    There are already plenty of West Virginians in Ohio. Even they know better than to stay in the southern part of the state; most moved into Columbus back in the 1960s.

  20. 20
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Actually, I do think it is a problem that our political map can’t be redrawn (or, rather that the process for creating new states out of old ones is constitutionally sclerotic).

    I’ve always wanted to divide California into North and South halves, roughly along the Monterey-SLO county lines, heading east. I’m pretty sure the resulting North California would be a bazillion times more manageable than the current state of CA.

  21. 21
    PhoenixRising says:

    Leave the lines on the map where they are: the largest city in WV is already Akron.

    More formally, I think your proposal might not be embraced by Ohio’s cities.

  22. 22
    Michael says:

    Canada will take the saner north eastern states.

  23. 23
    JGabriel says:

    @New Yorker:

    This sounds like a variation of the howls … about how Western NY would be in fantastic economic shape if not for the tax-and-spend lib’ruls from Manhattan …

    This Manhattanite would be more than happy to let them go, so my town could stop financially supporting their rural asses and spend more of our money helping our own.

    Fucking hicks are getting a massive transfer of wealth from us to them, and then act like they’re funding us. Do they really think Wall St. financiers are reliant on money coming from them to bail …

    Oh, wait, I think I see flaw in my reasoning.

    Shit. You know this argument would have worked perfectly up till a couple of years ago. Fucking Wall St. bankers, screwing up my urban sense of superiority, mutter mutter mutter … goddammit.


  24. 24
    ET says:

    And could he explain why Virginia would want them back? Seriously they can’t just decide to become part of Virginia again, Virginia has some say in this.

    Being a residents of D.C. some Republicans think the the Districts issues with no representation in Congress is to put us back into Maryland. Only in this case they might actually have the authority (unlike the WV legislature) to make that come to pass. Of course it won’t happen because no one in Congress cares enough about D.C. to work that hard for something that gets them nothing – especially Republicans.

  25. 25
    Calouste says:

    “reform-minded conservatives”?

    Can’t we just call them by the proper moniker, reactionairies?

  26. 26
    geg6 says:

    I guess the northern panhandle will join PA,

    We don’t want it, John. We have enough of our own idiots in rural areas without yours.

  27. 27

    Give the Teabaggers South Carolina and let them go Galt. Wait and see how long it takes them to come crying back.

  28. 28
    Duhkman says:

    As a exile from Seth on the Big Coal River, I can assure you that Kump is a fraud. Our motto in Boone Co. is, “I’m not proud, I’m from West Virginia. Gotta an extra-smoke?”

    But seriously, if you are going to break up the state, Boone Co. has more coal reserves than several European coal producing countries and as such it probably should not go to Alabama, but to hell. . .

  29. 29
    PanAmerican says:

    Boone County went for Obama 54/43.

    There’s the Democratic voter base the Netroots wishes it was and then there is the actual base.

  30. 30
    AAA Bonds says:

    Shit, yes. What West Virginia needs right now is TO BE EXPLOITED BY BIG COMPANIES.

  31. 31
    The Commonwealth of Virginia says:

    Look…West Virginia…things were great for that first 80 years…but we broke up a long time ago, and I’m not really into you that much anymore…I have my eyes on Northern Virginia now….and look they’re only half in love with me as it is, if I ignore them, they’ll probably run off with D.C. and Maryland, so look, I’m not saying you can’t call me from time to time, but you’re not going to be allowed to stay over…ok…sorry to be so harsh

  32. 32
    grumpy realist says:

    well, speaking as an UPstate NYer, yeah, we do have the insane desire the saw off the lower end of the state and let it go to perdition in its own way.

    I think it’s due to the bloody weekend hunters coming up from NYC who think that anything with four legs and a tail is a deer. (And that shooting 50 feet from someone’s house is perfectly legit.) Damned idiots.

  33. 33
    Kris says:

    @ Poopyman

    The three counties in question have decent economic indicators — better than a lot of Southside and SW Virginia counties. The panhandle is part of DC metro area after all. BUT

    this is a joke anyway. It could not get 10% of the vote.

  34. 34
    Hawes says:

    South Carolina West Virginia, too small to be a republic, too large to be an insane asylum.

    You know, actually, in a way, West Virginia itself is unconstitutional. And I don’t mean in a Judge Vinson way.

    The US in the 1860s never really acknowledged the legal right of secession. So legally, Virginia never left the Union. If that’s true, then a state may not have its border’s altered without its permission. There have been a few instances of states moving boundary lines, but the only time a state voluntarily gave up a ton of real estate was when Massachusetts gave away North Massachusetts in 1820 as part of the Missouri Compromise. I guess Massholes didn’t want to be confused with Maineiacs.

    Anyway, Virginia never consented – to the best of my knowledge – to having West Virginia cleaved from its side.

    Given the Teahadists’ obsession with constitutionalism, I’m surprised this never occurred to them.

  35. 35
    honus says:

    @ET: “And could he explain why Virginia would want them back? Seriously they can’t just decide to become part of Virginia again, Virginia has some say in this.”

    For the record, Virginia has tried no less than 5 times to get west Virginia back. West Virginia has never asked to become part of Virginia

    And southwest Virginia is as destitute and depressing as any part of West Virginia. or Kentucky for that matter. In fact, if it wasn’t for all the money the federal government pours into NOVA and Tidewater, all of Virginia would look a lot like McDowell County.

    “West Virginia-refusing to be Virginia’s bitch since 1863”

  36. 36

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