So imagine you're a fifty-something self-made multi-millionaire businessman with enough in the kitty to live a life of luxury and never work another day the rest of your life.
Would you retire to Barbados? Work on that golf game? Travel the country in a tricked-out RV? Spend more time with the family?
How about spend your millions fighting West Virginia's food tax?
No, we're not subjecting you to a game of "one of these things is not like the others." But amidst the now predictable campaign season chorus of whines over the politicial activism of Don Blankenship, consider this an attempt to put our state's most successful executive in useful perspective.
Mr. Blankenship doesn't have to spend his own green backing candidates and initiatives that share his pro-business principles. But he does it anyway. And agree or disagree with his views, we all should, at bare minimum, respect the fact that he's making the personal sacrifice.
If you're having trouble with that suggestion, answer the following for yourself: if you were rich, would public policy be so on your mind?
We didn't think so.
To be sure, Blankenship is a rare breed among too many modern-day magnates too often consumed by frivolity. Rather than buy a sports team or go Hollywood, he went more West Virginia. We all should be thankful, if for nothing else but for the much-needed counterargument that's come as a result.
Consider that over the past several decades, our state's business development policies have been predominantly developed by career government bureaucrats, political activists, ivory tower professors and, of course, bill-by-the-hour lawyers. Our businessmen and investors themselves -- the ones actually walking the walk -- have had no seat at the table, which explains how our economic climate became as hostile to growth as it is today.
The sheer will of Mr. Blankenship has changed that equation, bringing to West Virginia's debate the kind of discourse real, actual job creators want to hear, for the first time in a long time.
Rather than lament their presence, its about time we rolled out the welcome mat to other private citizens -- including those making the opposite arguments -- willing to double down on their successes and bet meaningfully on the future of a state they genuinely love.
The Don Blankenships of our world don't need West Virginia. But West Virginia needs them.