The first story I ran across today related to the GOP and their cronies politicizing Irene was a ridiculous op ed published by Faux News (who else?) advocating getting rid of the National Weather Service, an ill-timed position suggesting that the NWS is a redundant government dinosaur that could easily be privatized to less cost for taxpayers.
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.
The NWS claims that it supports industries like aviation and shipping, but if they provide a valuable contribution to business, it stands to reason business would willingly support their services. If that is the case, the Service is just corporate welfare. If they would not, it is just a waste.
As for hurricanes, the insurance industry has a compelling interest in understanding them. In a world without a National Weather Service, the insurance industry would probably have sponsored something very like the National Hurricane Center at one or more universities. Those replacements would also not be exploited for political purposes.Right. Because big business would never ever sacrifice consumers' well-being in order to make a buck. What Fox News won't tell you, of course, is that most weather reports from private news corporations actually get their data from the government.
Continuing the bullshit train, actual GOP leadership is hinting that they will be using Hurricane Irene and the resultant need for relief funds for their own political purposes. Yes, friends, much like the debt ceiling crisis, they are willing to withhold essential services in exchange for spending cuts:
As East Coasters brace for what some say will be a historic pummel by Hurricane Irene, at least one lawmaker is fuming over a requirement by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that any potential emergency disaster aid be offset by spending cuts.
Republicans need to stop playing politics with people's lives and their livelihoods. The American people aren't that stupid (really. We're not). Withholding federal aid so that they can cut spending (and avoid charging the rich the same taxes the middle class pays) is beyond sinful. It's disgusting.
"It is sinful to require us to cut somewhere ... in order to provide emergency disaster assistance for American citizens," Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) told The Huffington Post on Friday.
The Louisiana Democrat pointed out that this weekend is the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated his district and cost the federal government more than $100 billion. That recovery effort would have been delayed "by years" if Congress had required the same kind of spending cuts to offset aid, he said.