I disagree. Whether businesses choose to come or stay in West Virginia, or whether West Virginia capitalists leave the state, reveals much more about the comparative appeal of our tax system, laws and regulations and public and private infrastructure.
People who have wealth or who are able to create wealth, native born or not, can deploy their capital anywhere in the world, faster and further than ever before. Its free flow has little to do with hard and immovable assets such as land, or where you live.
The great flaw of the Who Owns West Virginia report is that it is a small question. Land alone is an 18th century measure of wealth. The federal government owns nearly all of desolate Nevada. Las Vegas has had its ups and downs.
Yet, that desert city, with barely enough water to survive, is drawing billions in capital and thousands of jobs from neighboring high-tax, high-regulation California at the highest rate ever. That tells me something.
Hong Kong, with seven million people, has a land area half that of Kanawha County. The comparisons end right precisely there, don't they?
The Who Owns West Virginia rankings of landowners remind me of other obsolete markers of prosperity. The World Almanac would report annual postal receipts and the number of tall buildings. Cities would boast about these statistics. The Appert Gift Wrap Indicator forecast year-end holiday sales based on wholesale paper orders in August.
The cows and pigs and crop acres that a farmer owned used to be numbers to brag about. Most people today would rather have shares not of apple orchards but of Apple stock.
Land, of course, is important. Who owns it? Not so much. More important is what land is used for. If conditions call for the productive use of land in West Virginia, then that will happen. The best question is how to make it so.
Mark Sadd, former Daily Mail business editor, is a Charleston attorney.