Saturday, March 12, 2011

And now it gets political

In the aftermath of the tsunami whose effects were mitigated in Hawaii, Guam, and California, by an effective tsunami warning system, someone dug into Republican budget-cutting plans and noted that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center here in Hawaii is a target.

From AP, via the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:
A spending plan approved by the House would slash funding for a tsunami warning center that issued an alarm after the devastating earthquake in Japan.

The plan approved by the GOP-controlled House last month would trigger deep cuts for the National Weather Service, including the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.

A union representing workers at the tsunami center said the proposed cuts could result in furloughs and rolling closures of National Weather Service offices.

Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said the GOP bill would affect the center's ability to issue warnings similar to those issued after Thursday's earthquake in Japan.

Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii called the GOP cuts reckless and even dangerous.
Hawaii is a blue state, but we occasionally elect Republicans to the governorship (Linda Lingle) or send one to Washington (Charles Djou). Both of them may be vying for the seat of Senator Daniel Akaka, who has announced he won't run for re-election in 2012. Unless they come out against things like this, it's doubtful they will win.

I realize the budget is busted and we need to do something. I think we need to take a good hard look at what happened to bring us from debt-reducing budget surpluses in the late 1990s to an accumulation of more than $5 trillion in debt into the latter years of the Bush administration. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not account for most of that.

Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of people who are so poor they need heating fuel, or children who suffer (and bring the older folks with them) when they are in overcrowded classrooms, or people who are placed in danger by weather emergency services being slashed, we need to look at the real things that are causing the towering deficits.

Over at the Tea Party groups and elsewhere in some corners of the Republican Party, there are folks hoping for a government shutdown. While there is no doubt waste and corrupt quid-pro-quo in the Federal budget, what these folks don't realize is that there are a lot of essential services that, were we to be without them for too long, would lead to a lot of crap we don't actually want. Sure, few are going to die from a tsunami or cold snap or whatever, or fall into a pothole on the Interstate, if the government shuts down for just a week or two, and that simply reinforces their view that "most of what the Federal government does is unnecessary."

Rant mode off.

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4 comments:

  1. This is more of a 5-state issue. Really, should people in the the rest of the country have to pay a tsunami tax when tsunamis don't affect them? Hawaii can pool together with the other four states and foot the bill themselves.


    Personally, I still can't believe that I have to pay for Amtrak when it doesn't even service a good chunk of the country (and even a few states).

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  2. Many government services probably don't affect you or your state directly. Likewise, many things that affect you directly don't affect other states.

    Hawaii has no Amtrak nor does it have blizzards, a hurricane season, or a need for heating fuel subsidies.

    But if we eliminate everything that doesn't affect everyone equally, we couldn't really promote the general welfare now, could we?

    At any rate, I don't think this is an issue of the short-sighted GOP thinking this service is better as a privatized one or one that should be handled regionally instead of nationally. I think it's more a matter of them not realizing how crucial these life-saving services are.

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  3. I understand that these are crucial services, but it is not fair that those who don't, and never will, use them are penalized. In these cases, there is solid reasoning that the Fed should move back and allows the State (or states) to fill in the void.

    In other news major news yesterday, the U.S. economy took a major hit as the NFL ground to a halt. A trillion dollar industry just went down the tubes. If things don't turn around quickly, a lot of collateral damage will be done as those even loosely associated with the NFL (like TV football analysts and uniform cleaners) will be without jobs. Likewise, my elderly aunt and uncle are now scrambling to find a new jobs at their advanced ages since it looks like they will no longer be employed as food vendors at a major NFL stadium.

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  4. Cutting this or that program isn't all that effective, IMHO. If the federal budget could be shifted from a current services baseline (next year alway equals this year plus X percent) to a zero baseline (the budget is built from zero each year), we'd turn things around.

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