Southwest Virginia Job loses 2010-2020.
Southwest Virginia Job loses 2010-2020.

Needed Political Reforms Before Ending Poverty in Southwest Virginia

by Lewis Loflin

The above is the result of crony capitalism and politics.

This was written in 2010. In 2022 we face dire economic and labor problems. The following is still valid.

As one regional economic developer pointed out, it's OK to criticize, but what about some solutions? Good question; here is my response. This page is part of a discussion with a regional economic developer, and I believe what is best for these Tobacco and other economic development funds.

My goal is not to give people or business money or a welfare check. And another is to assure poverty doesn't become an industry in itself, producing career-minded people more interested in a paycheck than solving real problems.

The other goal is to weed out freeloaders that deserve nothing. He said it would never go anywhere for those reasons because of political considerations, but here it is anyway.

Halt all government money to economic development (often corporate welfare), social programs, non-profits, etc. Keep all public funds out of the private sector as much as possible and keep it clear of local politics. Sever government totally from local business interests.

Set up a general education fund for the region's residents. Pool all the funds for tourism development, Tobacco grants, etc. into this. Use it as a conditional education grant to send the region's residents to school, redo high school, or community college.

Before any vocational classes or community college, the focus must be on general education, particularly in high school math, applied science, and English.

It's open to anyone in the general public, regardless of income, and must be in the workforce or are employable.

The program is voluntary and pays only for books and tuition, and continuing funding for the individual depends on completing a class before they go to the next. The student must be held accountable; if they fail to perform, they are out. Pay for this through a 2-year degree.

Use existing high schools, community colleges, empty shell buildings, etc. There are plenty of volunteers willing to help. These must be public institutions, not another private diploma mill. Don't create another government-funded industry.

I have taught at a local community college. I was dealing with adult students that can't move a decimal point. Good job training is a struggle.

If a student has a job, they can come to improve their skills. This opportunity would be a plus for an established business that needs a better high school graduate. They often use this claim as an excuse for their low pay scales.

This system would weed out those unwilling to put forth an effort and directly reward those willing to strive for it.

If an employer is willing to commit to hiring people from college or vocational programs, I'd be willing to give them some compensation or a tax break.

But only if they hire them and pay at least $5 an hour above minimum wage, not the $2 an hour average now, to start and keep the worker for one year.

The company must agree not to use temp workers or illegal aliens.

They get it at the end, not before. The program bars illegal aliens and enforces immigration laws.

We can also set up a fund to assist those wishing to relocate for employment reasons to leave the region.

This option is better than leaving them trapped here on welfare. Either the private sector starts hiring the people they claim they can't get, or they can just shut up.

I worked with one local business (they paid for it) to improve their workforce skills in basic electricity. It worked well. Beyond that, the taxpayer owes them nothing.

Residents and businesses must stand on their own two feet. Get a job, starve, or relocate. End the corporate welfare and pork-barrel waste.

Yes we have broadband and spent millions.

To quote LENOWISCO Broadband Study Warned against Call Centers (PDF file):

"The region has been replacing traditional (better paying) manufacturing jobs with (low paying subsidized) call center jobs, which provide limited advancement and work opportunities. Call centers represent the factory floor of the Knowledge Economy; they are an important part of a diversified economic development strategy, but the region must be careful not to rely too heavily on them, as the work is easily moved to other regions and/or other countries."
American Labor Participation collapse.
American Labor Participation Collapse.

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If using this material on another site, please provide a link back to my site.