West Virginia Is America’s Worst State

In this inaugural episode of Ask Five Whys, Mitch explains the show’s mission and format before planting himself in the hot seat to answer for his own argument about America’s perception of West Virginia. Big city lawyer Len Gray guest hosts this bizarro episode.


Show Notes:

@00:26. Mitch introduces the Five Whys problem-solving model, and extolls its virtues in an age where mankind has access to more information than ever before.

@02:27. Mitch throws AFW’s future guests an olive branch by offering to put himself under the microscope for the first episode, and introduces attorney Len Gray as the guest host. Banter ensues, both witty and half-witty.

@05:50. Mitch presents the argument, “West Virginia Is America’s Worst State.” The Five Whys outcome: West Virginia is in such dire straits today because it was once an extremely valuable resource to the rest of America, who effectively bullied the state’s inhabitants a la domestic imperialism and raided the treasure chest with reckless abandon.

@08:44. Len questions Mitch’s logic regarding the basis for judging any state as being “the worst”. Mitch is inspired to recall some of West Virginia’s magnificent nature, recreation, and historical value.

@10:24. Len and Mitch discuss the role of absentee ownership throughout West Virginia’s history, including the impact of putting immigrants to work in company-owned towns and stifling their growth opportunities by paying wages in company scrip.

@16:00. Len ties the issues back to the circus of modern-day politics. Mitch highlights the irony and complexity of West Virginia’s unwavering Trump allegiance, even as he attempted to de-fund the Appalachian Regional Commission — a program designed to revive and future-proof the economic viability of a U.S. region in which West Virginia is entirely enveloped.

@22:25. Len looks for an overarching takeaway, which Mitch offers up as a sort of no-fault truce: that the winners and losers produced by capitalism’s experiments are equally ill-equipped to observe its results, and that the broader population must seek a longer, learning-focused view.


Not sure what to do between now and the next podcast? Share this episode on Twitter, or try your hand at the Five Whys method by texting an argument of your choice to our AFW Hotline: (646)355-1358. Got a guest in mind for a future episode? Let us know here.

Special thanks:
Len Gray for the guest appearance, Josh Perry for the artwork, and Ben Montgomery for the music.