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How's the weather?

Both links were borrowed from ferndalealex: first a meme:

I am:
"You're a tax-and-spend liberal democrat. People like you are the reason everyone else votes for guys like Reagan or George W."

Are You A Republican?

Next, a news article about the weather: Feds' weather information could go dark. Sen. Rick Santorum, Republican from Pennsylvania, introduced legislation that would in effect make it illegal for the National Weather Service to offer products that compete with private companies. There'd be no restrictions on the National Hurricane Center or other services that deal in severe weather, but most everything else would have to be delegated to private companies like Accu-Weather. It should be noted that Accu-Weather is located in Pennsylvania; they allege that the NWS plays favorites when distributing its observations and predictions. Personally, I think Santorum didn't do this out of the goodness of his heart; he got lobbied. But that's not my main concern here.

I really like the NWS and their products. They far exceed any private companies' services, because they're direct, to the point, and detailed. They aren't hidden behind some frou-frou "garden forecast" garbage that masks the technical details behind cheery user-friendly phrases. And there are NO ADS! Don't private companies hear Americans when we say we don't want ads everywhere?

But there's something that kind of bugs me. See, way back when I was younger and idealistic, I called myself a libertarian. Not the kind of libertarian who hoards guns and buys a farm up north to turn into a militarized compound. Just one who believes in limited government, because at the time I saw a lot of stuff done by government that wasn't done very well and could've been done better by individuals. (Go with me on this; I know it's a stretch.) Government should do only big things like community protection. Everything else should be provided and paid for by the people who want it. I didn't go as far as advocating privatizing the road network, but I was open to privatizing a whole lot of other things. I guess weather predictions and observations could be one of those things, under my old way of thinking.

The only problem with that is, what you'd get by relying solely on private companies is... dumbed-down weather forecasts awash in a sea of advertising. Sure, someone could start a company to provide a more technical based weather service. It would probably have to be by subscription or underwritten by some bigger company. It would be like the public radio of weather. Then again, I don't really think the public radio model works, either. Not that I want to open THAT can of worms.

Hey, I'm paying a lot of taxes. The National Weather Service is one result of my taxes that I actually like and appreciate. If I have to pay for some stupid war ten thousand miles away, I should also get something good out of the deal. So here's hoping Santorum's bill doesn't get very far.

By the way: Accu-weather? Your predictions always sucked, anyway.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 27th, 2005 08:49 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I came up at 16%. Where have I gone wrong?

Yes, this idea of eliminating both the NWS and NOAA is a typical Republican idea of privatization. Let the corporations make more money, to hell with truth, accuracy or honesty.

And you're right. As inaccurate as the NWS is at times, Accu-weather is a total joke.
Apr. 27th, 2005 09:26 pm (UTC)
16 percent, eh? Well, that's not too bad, really. I think all you need to do is send a bigger check to MoveOn.org as a penance. ;-)

I think Accu-weather has a bone to pick with the NWS that the other commercial outfits don't seem to, although I need to look into that. It seems that the Weather Channel gets NWS info in a timely way. Based on that article, I'd call the Accu-weather CEO a whiner, if I was the sort to say such a thing.
Apr. 27th, 2005 11:21 pm (UTC)
Bah. Anyone can have NWS data almost the minute it comes out. They put it all on the web within mere minutes of compilation. I always go straight to their site rather than to the commercial ones that push 20 popup ads onto your screen so that you can't even read the map.

If Accu-weather wants a direct hotline from NWS, let them PAY for it, just like they expect everyone to PAY them for their trash.

That's what it comes down to. Accu-weather has failed to compete successfully with NWS, therefore they want to have the "unfair government competition" shut down. Never mind that the government competition started 140 years ago or so and has been delivering the best that can be had on minimalist budgets for a century.
Apr. 27th, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC)
Well, yes. Exactly.

I want to find out what other weather companies are saying about this. But it would tickle me no end to confirm that Accu-weather went to Congress because they couldn't compete on their own.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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