WEST Virginia has, in shale gas, an opportunity to change the fortunes of individuals, communities and state government itself.
When you're 49th in per capita income, your communities are crumbling in front of your eyes, and your state government faces at least $15 billion in unfunded liabilities, rapid economic growth is just what the doctor ordered.
And what is the first thing that happens when investors show up?
West Virginia's organized labor community shifts into its junkyard dog mode, attacking Dominion Energy, which has its West Virginia headquarters in Clarksburg.
Dominion has 2,800 miles of pipeline here, has customers in 32 counties, and employs more than 1,300 people — 80 percent of them union members.
Furthermore, in daunting economic times, Dominion is investing $500 million to build a gas processing plant in depressed Marshall County. It is, of course, hiring people to do that, and some of them are represented by unions.
And what does the company get for its trouble?
Attack ads by unions. Labor is even out taking pictures of "foreign" license plates as if workers from other states were evil.
This must be mystifying to hard-working people who are exactly like hard-working West Virginians.
Most of them come from right-to-work states where politicians let individuals decide on unions for themselves. They aren't used to such goofiness.
Worse, as big players in the gas industry are asking West Virginia what regulations they will face here, what do labor's lackeys in the Legislature do?
Insist on a provision that would require companies to report employees' home states, and warn that the loss of that provision endangers passage of the bill.
Are West Virginians going to West Virginia this? Again?
West Virginians are fed up with it — and fed up of the poverty and lack of opportunity it produces.
They're fed up with losing their kids to the New South, where corporations go.
And they're fed up with the Democratic Party's support for labor's hostility to employers.
What has that produced for West Virginians?
Twenty-three years at 49th in per capita income. Kids who don't live here.
What has it produced for organized labor in West Virginia?