AS Daily Mail Managing Editor Brad McElhinny noted recently, West Virginia is hostile to non-natives.
The state's insular political class - natives only - also has a bad habit of patrolling its borders and dispatching fresh policy approaches as if they were venomous things.
This is self-defeating and shortsighted. These choices have produced what we have today: a weak economy, poor job creation and poverty.
Traditional political alliances have led state leaders to reject the very ideas that are producing strong economies elsewhere.
For example, many corporations seek right-to-work states, and studies show that, as a result, right-to work states do better in the competition for economic development.
But because unions - Democratic allies - benefit from a closed shop, West Virginia's political class won't consider this.
Instead, it conjures up alternative theories to attract corporate attention - like smushing together separate political jurisdictions to create the statistical appearance of a larger market.
The same is true of legal climate. Sensibly, corporations prefer a fair environment; sensibly, competitor states provide policies like proportional liability.
But West Virginia gives its (native) plaintiffs' attorneys joint and several liability, so corporations that set foot on our turf get stuck with more liability for damages than they are responsible for creating.
Thus, we lack investment by multimillion-dollar corporations and have a surfeit of multimillion-dollar plaintiffs lawyers who help fund political campaigns.
For the same reason - political alliance - West Virginia indulges teachers' unions insistence that market forces should play no role in teacher pay - and all teachers must be paid the same amount of money.
Now state leaders wring their hands over the shortage of qualified math, science and language teachers - and the resulting shortage of the skills modern manufacturers need.
Well, if the state really wants more highly qualified math, science and language teachers, it should pay more for those skills than it does for teaching positions that can readily be filled.
For pity's sake, what would the teachers' unions do?
Start supporting Republicans?
The pity of all this is that when West Virginia policymakers decide to deal with a problem, they're as good as anybody.
The state's politicized workers compensation system produced noncompetitive rates that deterred investment as surely as garlic wards off vampires.
When the state privatized workers comp, it cut through a big barrier to better times. Other states study the example.
Similarly, West Virginia leadership made policy decisions that prevented the wreckage of its unemployment compensation fund. States that went the other way look on with envy.