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Posted by on Aug 28, 2011 in Science & Technology | 9 comments

Wingnut Watch

Iane Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has demonstrated that he is certainly competitive when it comes to sociopathic idiocy.

Do We Really Need a National Weather Service?

While Americans ought to prepare for the coming storm (Irene), federal dollars need not subsidize their preparations. Although it might sound outrageous, the truth is that the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America’s past that have actually outlived their usefulness.

Today the NWS justifies itself on public interest grounds. It issues severe weather advisories and hijacks local radio and television stations to get the message out. It presumes that citizens do not pay attention to the weather and so it must force important, perhaps lifesaving, information upon them. A few seconds’ thought reveals how silly this is. The weather might be the subject people care most about on a daily basis. There is a very successful private TV channel dedicated to it, 24 hours a day, as well as any number of phone and PC apps. Americans need not be forced to turn over part of their earnings to support weather reporting.

Of course he goes on to mention the various “free market” alternatives to the NWS like The Weather Channel and Accuweather which of course would not exist without the data from The National Weather Service and NOAA and in fact usually just repeat forecasts from those sights.  This absurd opinion piece appears on the FOX News web site but even FOX coverage of Irene yesterday included interviews with people from the National Hurricane Center two or three times an hour.  How many weather satellites or climate model computers does Accuweather or The Weather Channel have?  How many hurricane hunter aircraft do they have?

It’s difficult to write parody when the wingnuts own version of reality is so paradoxical.

Update

Conservative Rick Moran thinks it’s absurd:

For libertarians and even some conservatives, the idea that the government can do anything better than private industry is a non-starter. But weather forecasting is so vital to so many areas of our economy that it is both reasonable and logical for the federal government to subsidize forecasts and a warning system. That notion is born out in the numbers of lives saved as a result of technological advances made by the NWS and its sister organizations.

In the end, some aspects of scientific inquiry can only be funded by government. Gone are the days when a Cavendish or Rutherford could change the face of the world by conducting experiments on a shoestring in an old, drafty country house. The cost of doing cutting edge science has gotten beyond the private sector and, while care must be taken with the public purse, can only be realized by using government funds.

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