Friday, March 11, 2011

Republicans and the Tsunami Warnings System

From CBS News:
The GOP budget plan that passed through the House last month aimed to cut funding for a tsunami warning center that issued a slew of warnings around Japan's devastating earthquake.

The budget, which proposed about $60 billion in budget cuts, would slash funding for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That would potentially cripple the effectiveness of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, which issued a series of warnings over the past several days regarding the situation in Japan, where an 8.9 magnitude earthquake triggered a massive tsunami along the nation's east coast. (The PTWC is a part of the National Weather Service, which falls under the umbrella of NOAA - the organization responsible for providing tsunami warnings in the U.S.)

The Republican's proposed "continuing resolution" to fund the government, which was defeated in the Senate this week, aimed to cut $1.2 billion - or 21 percent - of President Obama's proposed budget for NOAA, reports.
In an interview with Hawaii's Star Advertiser last month, Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, warned that the proposed budget cuts could result in the loss of lives.
This is part of the larger problems with the Republican free-markets religion where the governments and international governmental organizations play the role of the devil. There are some things markets will not provide effectively, and tsunami warnings are one of those things. Neither are the necessary rescue operations amenable to private bids after the event happens. Or would the private firms only rescue those who paid the fees beforehand? And what if the private firms were themselves hit by the tsunami or earthquake?

That's the cold logical bit of me writing, though through the cold fire of anger. My thoughts are with the people of Japan and all who are suffering or at risk.