Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
Register-Herald, Bleckley, West Virginia, on working for positive change through GenNRG:
Despite its many problems, West Virginia really has a lot going for it — its natural scenic beauty, a wealth of natural resources and people who dearly love their state.
Unfortunately, too many are forced by economic forces to leave West Virginia's comforting hills and hollows, towns and villages, to find work.
Many of those who are trying to solve the state's problems have been chipping away at them for a long time. They know we need to diversify our economy and help get potential workers educated in the ways that will help them find jobs in today's world.
It's time the younger generation steps up to help by bringing in new energy, fresh ideas.
Young men and women in Fayette and Raleigh counties will have that opportunity by joining Generation New River Gorge. Organized under the auspices of Generation West Virginia, GenNRG's aim is to establish a network of young professionals aged 18-45 to serve as a source of action and innovation for the New River Gorge region.
On its website, generationwv.org, the parent group says it represents the current and future generation of young leaders who want to contribute to our state's present and future success with energy, ideas, collaboration, and most importantly, action.
We find that too often, today's younger generation are reluctant to join in group activities. Witness the decline in membership in veterans groups, civic organizations and other activities.
We published a story just last week in which organizers of John Henry Days in Talcott say the event might not survive past this year's without an infusion of young blood.
The reasons for this new generation of non-joiners can be as varied as the people themselves. Some might claim they are too busy with work, kids, school and other activities.
Some may not want to deal with what they consider the "old-fashioned" notions of existing organizations and their mature membership.
Mostly we believe the reluctance is rooted in the societal changes that have taken place over the last 10 to 20 years. Many find their "community" online where it is easy to find like-minded people. They have grown up differently than older generations. They have more choices.
In a 2013 study reported in Philanthropy Daily, researchers said that young people now value causes over specific organizations; that today's generation sees a problem first and then looks for a way to solve it.
If that is the case, we believe this age group can find its cause with GenNRG. Through its work they could find themselves being the ones to solve the issues that hold West Virginia back.
Among the initiatives that the group will engage in are education, civic engagement, professional development, arts and culture and health.
It's also a great opportunity to network with other professionals. If you need more information, check out Facebook/GenNRG or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It will only be through the engagement of all ages of West Virginians that we will make it through these difficult times.
In that spirit, we are appealing to those in the noted age group to give GenNRG a look-see. Its first gathering will be held Aug. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. At Dobra Zupas in Beckley.
Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail on Manchin's false choice on proposed Iran deal:
West Virginia's senior U.S. Senator, Joe Manchin, is a Democrat who sometimes shows a willingness to buck his party and the Obama administration. But not so on the president's proposed Iran nuclear agreement. On that contentious issue, Manchin is signaling that he will go along with the administration.
"I'm leaning very strongly towards that because of the options that I have," Manchin said on Sunday. "The only other option is go to war, and I'm not ready to send our people into harm's way again until people in that part of the world want to clean up their own mess."
Manchin's concern for American lives is commendable. But in portraying war as the only alternative, he's painting a simplistic picture that allows him to gloss over the very real problems with this deal.
President Obama is fond of decrying "false choices" in our political discourse. It's ironic, then, that he has framed the debate over Iran as a stark choice: concession-based diplomacy or armed conflict.
The deal's many critics have consistently made the case that there are other possible paths. The problem is that this administration doesn't want to take them.
As the Wall Street Journal pointed out earlier this month, one alternative is coercive diplomacy, which puts pressure on a struggling adversary to extract concessions. "This is the diplomacy Ronald Reagan practiced with the Soviets refusing to budge on missile defenses at the 1986 Reykjavik Summit despite pressure from 99 percent of the world to do so. The Soviets were soon back at the negotiating table."
It's a tactic the U.S. had been using on Iran through the sanctions regime. Sanctions had boxed Iran in, devaluing its currency, depleting its reserves and putting domestic political pressure on its rulers.
Indeed, Iran's desperation to end the sanctions has been a driving force behind its willingness to negotiate. A bipartisan majority in Congress wanted to step up the pressure — because it was working — but Obama resisted.
The president has also implied that the U.S. can't do anything about Iran's support of Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. "The truth," points out the Journal, "is that he chose to do nothing because he didn't want to offend Iran and jeopardize his nuclear talks. Instead he should have increased the pressure across the board to assist the negotiations and get a better deal."
"It's my way or war" is no doubt an effective rhetorical device. However, in the case of the proposed Iran deal, it's a gross oversimplification. Manchin should feel free to join the Obama administration in trying to sell this agreement. But he's wrong to cast it as the only alternative.
Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia, on finding a plan to fix deteriorating highway system:
It is not hard to see the need for more highway funding.
We see it in the potholes and dangerous curves on our existing roads.
We see it in the long-awaited road projects - such as the I-73/74 corridor through southern West Virginia - that never seem to make it off the drawing boards.
In West Virginia, a blue ribbon commission has concluded that the state needs an additional $1.7 billion a year to maintain and expand the state's highway system. A third of West Virginia's major roads are either in poor or mediocre condition, according to the study, and about 35 percent of the state's bridges need to be repaired or replaced.
But even after a couple of years of debate, the state is struggling building a consensus on how to generate even a small portion of that.
The National Governors Association meeting at The Greenbrier resort last week made it clear that the Mountain State is not alone. Congress has been slow to retool federal highway funding methods. Funding to states is not only not growing, it has declined about 3.5 percent over the past few years.
The main stream of national revenue is the federal tax motorists and truckers pay on each gallon of gas. But that rate has not changed since 1993, and people are driving less per capita and cars are more fuel efficient. Meanwhile, road construction costs have been steadily rising.
Certainly, Congress needs to come up with a plan to raise the rate, but many states are not just waiting around.
"I guess the message for Congress is: We understand that's not popular," said Republican Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, according to the Associated Press. "But we did it anyway, and took the political hits that go with that."
Wyoming was one of six states and the District of Columbia that passed legislation in 2013 to raise state gas taxes. Three more states followed suit in 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several other governors at the meeting shared highway funding plans they are working on.
West Virginia lawmakers should take note. Even though no funding solution will be popular, it is time to stop kicking the can down the road and come up with a plan to begin fixing our deteriorating highway system.