Why Is West Virginia So Poor? And What Can We Do About It?


When the New York Times wanted to do a 50th anniversary story on the War on Poverty, they came to McDowell County, West Virginia.

“Poorest Counties Still Losing the War on Want” reads one of their headlines.

On this week’s Front Porch podcast, we debate how West Virginia can avoid being the poster child for poverty 50 years from now.

Is it the resource curse? Lack of investment in education? Burdensome regulations and taxes? Or our own low opinion of ourselves?

Welcome to “The Front Porch,” where we tackle the tough issues facing Appalachia the same way you talk with your friends on the porch.

Hosts include WVPB Executive Director and recovering reporter Scott Finn; economist Jessi Troyan of the free-market Cardinal Institute; and liberal columnist and avid goat herder Rick Wilson, who works for the American Friends Service Committee.

An edited version of “The Front Porch” airs Fridays at 4:50 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio network, and the full version is available at and as a podcast as well.

Share your opinions with us about these issues, and let us know what you’d like us to discuss in the future. Send a tweet to @radiofinn or @wvpublicnews, or e-mail Scott at sfinn @

The Front Porch is underwritten by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston Gazette-Mail. Find the latest news, traffic and weather on its CGM App. Download it in your app store, and check out its website: