Socialized Weather Service Saves Our Butts Wednesday

House of non-subscriber burns down while firefighters watch

Back in October of 2010, the story of firefighters watching a home burn down rather than stepping in to stop it spread throughout the internet like, well, wildfire. It was nearly impossible to understand how members of of firefighting unit could watch a home burn to the ground over a few dollars subscription fee.

As the Republican dream of privatizing everything slowly spread like a cancer across the country, a few houses will have to burn down that shouldn’t have, in order to scare enough folks into ponying up their subscription money. The idea of a community fire fighting unit came from Benjamin Franklin, as did some of the early research into weather.

Franklin was not a person who tried to extract every nickel out his numerous inventions and ideas. Franklin was much more interested in the common good than he was his sown wealth.

Wednesday night a line of storms crossed Iowa that produced some pretty severe weather. Thanks to the National Weather Service and through our local TV and radio stations which are supposed to contribute community time to maintain their licenses, we, along with all Iowans, were able to watch the advance of the storms as they moved across the state.

The NWS is a no nonsense group that isn’t trying to sell anything. Their mission is, as accurately as humanly possible, to predict the weather. Forecasting has improved dramatically over the decades to the point where warnings can be given within a few minutes of actual events.

A few years back self styled capitalist hero Rick Santorum tried to sneak a bill through congress that would move weather forecasting from government auspices to private concerns. Would the push for advancement of the science of meteorology be as important for a private company where profit is always the top concern? How long before getting weather forecasts would be a subscription service that families would have to pay for? Planning a trip? Better buy a weather forecast.

Forecasting the weather seems like a common good that should be paid for by all. Each of us in our own way has some need for some weather forecasting from knowing when to head for cover to planning the company picnic. Making a profit by somehow withholding important information from citizens seems backwards. Using our collective resources to better everyone seems like a much better use of resources.

Similarly, making our public school system falter so a privatized system can appear better is an incredibly cynical position for any politician to take.

Our founders had the concept that America would be a country where the common good would prevail over the desires of the few.

One of the first weather researchers in this country was a very curious man name of Ben Franklin. Franklin was one of the first to note the movement of storm systems and helped develop theories of high and low pressure systems.

As noted above, Franklin passed his knowledge on rather than trying to make a buck off of it. Nearly 300 years later, we are thankful to him once again.

However, our current president isn’t quite as generous as Mr. Franklin. As part of the Republican war on science, the administration’s proposed budget slashes funds from one of the major atmospheric and climate research arms of the government. In the video below, Kait Parker of the Weather Channel explains why this is a very bad idea:

NOAA cuts proposed:

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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