March 13, 2014

It all started on Facebook

OK, so today, when I was technically supposed to have be working, I accidentally checked Facebook to find the following hilarious post by a pal  in regard to the West Virginia coal/poetry censorship episode that officially didn't happen.

Here's what he wrote:

"Practicing for next year's poetry contest: Roses are red, Violets are blue, coal is from heaven, and it is awesome too."

This inspired me to invite my fellow West Virginians to take part in an Acceptable Poem Contest in which we write pro-coal poetry that would be permissible to read aloud in public places in West Virginia. Here's what I came up with:

Once upon a midnight dreary,
coal kept the lights on.
Any takers?

March 12, 2014

Short takes

I'm not always on the same page as the editorial writers of the Charleston Daily Mail, but I think they nailed it with this item on the passage of legislation creating the Future Fund from natural resource taxes.

Meanwhile, holy PR malfunction, Batman! Does anybody else wonder what really happened here? It gives a whole new meaning to the term "poetry slam."

March 11, 2014

The long view

A while back, I picked up a copy of Wait: the Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy. The title attracted me since I've been known to procrastinate once or twice in my life. In fact, I may be doing it now. Anyhow, towards the end, he makes some interesting observations on how we measure economic success.

Typically, the focus is on GDP or gross domestic product. There are lots of problems with that. For one thing, GDP might go way up in the wake of a disaster or war as people spend more to deal with it, even if they become more miserable along the way or if it grows at the expense of long term prosperity.

Focusing on things like GDP is especially problematic if the focus is on the short term. Plenty of companies have gone belly up because their CEOs focused on immediate gains rather than long term stability, let alone sustainability.

He comes up with a good analogy:

Focusing narrowly on GDP is like driving a car and only looking at how fast you are going. Sustainability means you should also ask how much gas is left in the tank or whether you need to adjust your position on a winding road.
No wonder things crash.

 SPEAKING OF THE LONG VIEW. Here's a look at WV's new Future Fund law.


March 10, 2014

Come, mister tally man

Here's my quick tally of the best and worst of the WV legislature. Note: I'm speaking only about issues I worked on.

Really good:

Increasing minimum wage by $1.50 over two years.

Passing the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act.


Several bills that should help reduce prison overcrowding and make it less likely that WV will ship inmates (and money) out of state to private, for profit prisons.

Mostly good:

Passing the Future Fund, except the House threw in some unfortunate amendments. If they hadn't, I would have put it in the really good column. It will take more work to make it really reach its potential.

The water bill. I talked with several people who were very active in the fight that occurred in the wake of the chemical leak and most were fairly pleased with the bill. That is to say, they seemed to think it was as good as could have been gotten from that legislature at the time.


The state budget and especially restoring cuts to family violence and early childhood programs.

Really bad:

Killing Move to Improve. Shame on the House Education Committee.

Killing the bill to make non-tamper proof pseudephedrine a prescription drug. The meth lobby has more clout than the kids lobby in the House.

I was not directly involved in two high-drama issues, which involved abortion bans and guns. I will say that Senator Erik Wells, husband of Secretary of State and US senate candidate Natalie Tennant, nailed it when he courageously observed that

"We want to focus on gays, abortion and guns, and I have to wonder when that's going to change. We will never get past 50th if we worry more about the next election than the next generation."

Gazette columnist Phil Kabler had this take on the session in today's paper.