- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


Dec. 1

The Exponent Telegram on philanthropy in West Virginia:

In a state where far too many residents are in desperate need of assistance to get by, charitable giving has dropped for the second straight year.

That’s according to Philanthropy West Virginia, a statewide leadership organization that assists private, family, corporate and community foundations and grant-making institutions.

In its 2015 West Virginia State of Philanthropy Report, the group says that according to tax data, charitable giving dropped 2.2 percent in 2013, which is the last year for which full data is available.

That amounts to about a $10.4 million decrease in aid to worthwhile organizations that use the money to help others secure a variety of needs. It is also about $17 million less than was given in 2011.

West Virginia’s trend goes against the national norm, as across the country charitable giving was up 5.4 percent.

“Even though nationally the country is seeing a recovery from the ‘Great Recession’ of the past several years, West Virginia has a long way to go to recover,” said Paul D. Daugherty, president and CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia. “During this time of economic challenges for the state, we can see the impact on charitable and philanthropic sectors.”

The study indicates a disturbing trend in that people with low- and middle-class incomes continue to give at a rate that meets or exceeds the national average. But the Mountain State is below the national average when it comes to the amount of giving by high-income households.

Daugherty extolled all West Virginians to “rise to the challenge and increase their charitable giving.”

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, The Exponent Telegram shined a light on worthwhile groups in our area that are helping others: The Salvation Army, Clarksburg Mission and United Way of Harrison County.

We know there are more worthwhile groups that need assistance so they can help more people. Many of these groups and agencies provide services that can prove to be life-saving or life-altering, making their work all the more significant.

As we enter the season of thanks and giving, we urge residents to do their part - extend a helping hand to others by helping groups that are serving those most in need.

There is truth in the saying that it is “better to give than receive,” as the Lord reminds us in Matthew 25:35-40:

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

“And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”




Dec. 2

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on regulating OxyContin:

When federal officials consider new regulations regarding prescription drugs, one wonders whether they take even a cursory look at how those laws might affect those living in the real world. It is no secret to anyone living in a state affected by the hideous plague of opiate abuse that OxyContin is a problem.

Greed and ignorance led to poor prescribing practices and pill mills that have brought great swaths of Appalachia and the Midwest to their knees. OxyContin and other opiates (be on the lookout for the next wave - buprenorphine, or Suboxone) led to heroin. No state has yet been able to find a solution.

Meanwhile, the federal Food and Drug Administration, in all its wisdom, approved OxyContin for prescription to those ages 11-16. It did so on the advice of manufacturer Purdue Pharma, which says it conducted a study that indicated medication of children with OxyContin is no problem.

States such as Ohio have been forced to spend valuable resources fighting against the consequences of such decisions. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has resorted to reminding doctors it is all right to tell patients seeking opiates “no.” The Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System will give doctors and pharmacists a clearer picture of which patients should receive that “no.”

And, still, opiate prescriptions - and abuse - are increasing in places such as Washington County, where the Board of Pharmacy says the rate of opiate prescription went up 0.68 percent last year.

As one pediatrician explained to a national news outlet, “there is ample evidence of many powerful medications with significant side effects being prescribed carelessly by providers, including stimulants for ADHD or antipsychotics for behavior disorders. Those who would prescribe OxyContin must do so with due caution and awareness for its potential for abuse, addiction, and diversion.”

Does the federal government really believe that, when there is money to be made, some unscrupulous prescribers will not throw caution to the wind? Probably not. But that is Ohio’s - or West Virginia’s, or Kentucky’s - problem, not theirs.




Dec. 1

The Inter-Mountain on possible tax relief in West Virginia:

It will be a long, possibly painful, stretch for West Virginia legislators to provide tax relief for anyone next year. Just to keep this year’s budget in balance, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has had to order major spending cuts.

But some lawmakers want to enact a break for senior citizens - and that may make sense for several reasons.

A select committee of legislators has been investigating tax reform for several months. Their praiseworthy work has looked at both tax cuts for economic development and simplifying the tax code.

Various good ideas have been suggested. But, again, with a $250 million gap between revenue and spending in this year’s budget, it will be difficult to do much.

One reason the idea of reducing the income tax on senior citizens’ Social Security benefits is good involves momentum. Not providing some relief after the special panel has done so much work could send its ideas to a shelf to gather dust. Providing the break to seniors could keep up the momentum.

But the idea has even more merit from another standpoint. Tax engineering to help the economy often targets businesses directly - and that can leave a bad taste in the mouths of some individual taxpayers.

Almost all tax relief granted to older West Virginians is likely to be pumped back into the economy, simply because so many live on fixed incomes.

Cutting the income tax on Social Security benefits would help both senior citizens and the economy.

It would have one other desirable effect. Many government retirees in the state health insurance program are upset about plans to make it more expensive through steps such as higher co-pays. The most vulnerable to that, senior citizens, would be helped by the tax cut plan.

Details of the proposal - how much of a cut and at what cost to the budget - have not been finalized. Legislators should pursue it as one of the best ways they can employ the very limited fiscal flexibility they have.



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