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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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Copyright 2011 The Moderate Voice
  • Allen

    [The cost of doing cutting edge science has gotten beyond the private sector]

    There is plenty of “cutting edge” science occurring in the private sector, but the public still has to pay for it whether it’s private or public. Nothing pays for “itself”.

  • slamfu

    I think a lot of conservatives have simply gotten spoiled on the things the gov’t provides, not unlike children that can’t appreciate how good they have it. So many of the conservatives I talk to simply just assume that the gov’t doesn’t do anything right when in fact effective gov’t services pervade our lives and make them very much better. Roads, food inspections, the NWS mentioned in this article, courts of law, police and fire depts, a strong military, safety regulations, utility regulation, mail delivery, and a host of other less well known services. Basically if some of these guys had their way, things we use everyday would disappear and then they’d be bitching about that. I really think they have no idea how much the gov’t does for us and simply cling to the talking points that any money in the gov’t hands is wasted money.

  • Jim Satterfield

    Agreed, slanting. They also apparently know little of what life was really like for those who lived before those evil government programs existed. Perhaps because in the minds of some any government funotction beyond what they consider constitutional exists not because someone thought it was a good idea but because of some conspiratorial power grab.

  • zippee

    This is what happens when Reaganesque “logic” (“govt isn’t the solution, it’s the problem”) is taken to its “logical” extreme.

    Of course, they all listened to the forecasts and prepared for the storm too, just like everybody else did, sans the sanctimonious hypocrisy.

    What these folks really need to do is give up all their 21st century comforts, retreat to the woods to live off the land, and not sully their idealism by ever listening to a weather forecast again.

  • Actually zippee there is a Libertarian paradise with no government they could move to – Somalia. I don’t see that happening however.

  • Ah, the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    Founded 1984, funded by the Usual Suspects. Devotes a lot of itself to denialism.

    Kind of astonishing brass to put that out right in the middle of a hurricane, don’cha think?

  • Ron, calling Somolia “libertarian” is as offensive as calling liberalism communism. I’ll leave it at that.

  • slamfu

    Well I think it makes a decent point. Libertarians appear to think the gov’t should essentially do nothing, failing to realize that there are so many issues that affect everyone, but yet no one in particular, that a strong central gov’t can contribute to overall strength of all involved. They wish to defund everything to a local level, and if you take that line of thinking the distance, you basically end up in a wild west every man for himself situation. Like Somalia.

  • The core of libertarian philosophy calls for an efficient, effective civil court system and a strong defense (not an empire-capable military). After that, there’s too much to cover.

    If you apply your logic to liberals, they won’t be happy until all wants and needs (the difference is fungible) are guaranteed, the middle class is taxed at 100%, “the rich” are taxed at 1000%, and the top rich have their wealth confiscated and get lifetime sentences for crimes against humanity, no trial needed (Government officials excepted).

    We would also need to stop reporting the debt and deficit, because they don’t matter anyway.

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