Don’t ignore social realities

Hazel Bonnette, the last surviving original “homesteader” at the famed Arthurdale, W.Va., planned community, celebrated her 100th birthday Saturday. Her memories of the Preston County town were fond ones, she told a reporter.

That is understandable. Arthurdale was a nice place, a model of socialist planning. The town was built, virtually from the ground up, during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt was involved heavily in the process.

Arthurdale was intended to be a self-sufficient community, but that never happened. The government prodded some businesses, notably General Electric, to open facilities there, but they didn’t last. Within a few years, it became apparent that Arthurdale simply could not survive without being subsidized heavily by the government.

Finally, in 1941, the community was sold – at a heavy loss to the government – to private owners. Now it is an unincorporated community of fewer than 800 residents, and a historical curiosity.

Arthurdale is an example of how government planners, with the very best of intentions, can waste enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money by ignoring economic and social realities. Far from being a utopia, it deserves to be remembered as a warning of the perils of allowing government to engage in social and economic experiments.