There's not much positive you can say about hard times, but there is one thing: Hard times force families, businesses and governments to make hard decisions.
Are Mom and Dad having budget problems? Maybe Junior will have to transfer from his expensive out-of-state private college, go to WVU instead and live at home. Who knows? It might work out for the best. Sonny boy will eat better, drink less beer and raise his grade point average.
Are sales down at Acme Widgets? Maybe the boss will have to dismiss a couple of slacker relatives, and the offloading of deadheads will make the rest of the staff more productive.
Are revenues down for the great state of Taxandspendia? Maybe the governor and the legislators will have to get together and abolish some of those wasteful programs and onerous policies that never should have been established or promulgated in the first place. Maybe their demonstrated commitment to public austerity will lure new businesses to set up shop there and encourage existing ones to expand.
These are things that families, businesses, and governments don't usually worry about in good times -- things they should do but don't, because there's no pressure to do them and they can easily put them off or ignore them.
There are many hard decisions our own state officials might be able to address in the current crisis.
Just last week, our state Supreme Court ruled that a construction workers union can challenge a highway construction contract, which, the union claims, violates state competitive bidding and prevailing wage laws.
Maybe there was a time when West Virginia could enjoy the luxury of laws that increase the cost of government and discriminates against some workers in favor of others, but that time is not now.
Now is a time of crisis. Our governor and state legislators should seize the opportunity and make the most of it by repealing these indulgent laws that block progress.
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