What happens when “austerity” budget cutting blows up on the GOP? See Kansas

July 8, 2014

Kansas finds itself in a big, big pickle.

Republican Governor Sam Brownback managed to get the legislature to make massive tax cuts, claiming it would boost jobs in Kansas and stimulate the Kansas economy, thereby  paying for themselves.

Instead the Kansas economy is failing. Massive cuts have gutted Kansas’s once-revered public education system, and deeper cuts will be necessary to keep the state government afloat, unless there is some change in tax policy, or a massive, miraculous influx of business beyond what even the Koch Bros. could arrange.

Gov. Brownback is running for re-election, and finds himself behind in popularity in Kansas — behind even President Barack Obama.

Wow.

Full story at Vox, “Kansas was supposed to be the GOP’s tax-cut paradise, but now can barely pay its bills.”

And of course, there is comedy of the kind that you couldn’t make up:  Brownback blames Obama.

Oy.

Chart from Vox, showing what happened to Kansas's surplus revenues, promised to balloon with the tax cuts Gov. Brownback asked for, and got.

Chart from Vox, showing what happened to Kansas’s surplus revenues, promised to balloon with the tax cuts Gov. Brownback asked for, and got.

Turns out Americans, and especially the citizens of Kansas, want government that works.  They’d like taxes to be low, but low taxes won’t make voters happy when the roads are bad and the kids’ schools are crappy.

Wonkblog's chart showing job creation in Kansas is terrible, also.

Wonkblog’s chart showing job creation in Kansas is lagging, also, contrary to the GOP promises when tax cuts were instituted.

Government’s first job is to govern; just governments are established among men to secure human rights, old Tom Jefferson wrote.  Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness make a snappy line in a patriotic reading on July 4, but when the crowd drives home, they don’t want to be dodging potholes, and they don’t want their kids to complain from the back seat of the car that they don’t know what the Declaration of Independence is or what it says, “and who is Jefferson — I thought it was just a street in Dallas?”  When government fails to do basic jobs, voters may not be happy.

Will false advertising be able to bail Sam Brownback out?  Watch Kansas.

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Can America afford to be great anymore? Many say, “no”

May 1, 2014

A friend posted this on Facebook:

“As of today our total national debt is roughly $17 1/2 trillion. Of that number nearly $12 1/2 trillion is publicly owed. Can you even get your mind around it?”

To which I responded:

As a portion of GDP, our national debt was much greater in 1946.

So, the Congress did what it had to do.

Congress borrowed money to educate millions of returning veterans, and to subsidize their homes. The greatest education aid and housing aid programs in history, both in the GI Bill.

Poster honoring the Marshall Plan, to rebuild Europe after World War II -- on borrowed money.

Poster honoring the Marshall Plan, to rebuild Europe after World War II — on borrowed money.

Congress borrowed money to give it away to our allies in World War II, to rebuild their industrial capabilities, on the assumption that an ally with a strong industrial base and good economy is stronger, and can come to our aid if and when we need it.

Congress borrowed money to give it away to our enemies in World War II, to rebuild their industrial capabilities, because a nation with a good economy and health trade tends to stay out of war. Those nations became our allies.

Congress borrowed to build the greatest road system in history, connecting nearly every corner of America — under the pretense that such a road system would allow us to move troops and armaments quickly from coast to coast in event of a defense emergency.

Congress borrowed to finance space exploration, to go to the Moonbecause, you know, it’s hard.

Congress borrowed to build a library in every county in America, and fill it with books — so that if there were ever nuclear war, everybody who survived would be close to the information necessary to rebuild civilization.

Congress borrowed to build the world’s greatest air transportation system, with airports for sport, business and commercial aviation all over the place.

Congress borrowed to build sewer systems and water systems, doubling down on public health service spending, to prevent disease and make health people.

Funny things happened. Our economy boomed. The world economy boomed. Millions of new jobs were created, filled by people who paid whopping taxes. And the debt sorta melted away.
___________

When I hear people complain about our national debt, and how we as Americans must stop spending money, I hear them saying, “We cannot afford to be great anymore. Our time as the world’s leading economy and leading democracy has passed. It will be a lot cheaper for the nation to curl into a national fetal position, and then taxes won’t be so high.”

That’s what I hear the GOP saying, when they urge tax cuts for the rich, while taking away food stamps from the families of our military deployed overseas.  (Can you imagine anything like that happening during World War II? Not even “interned” families of soldiers went hungry.)

In 1946 — and in 1948, 1950, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1968, and other election years — there were plenty of Americans who said “we can’t afford the Marshall Plan; we can’t afford foreign aid; we can’t afford to build all these roads; we can’t afford to go to the Moon; we can’t afford to pay for college (or other schooling) for all these veterans/students.”

What would America look like, had leaders listened to those people, and then NOT borrowed the money to build America?  What would the world look like?

I don’t think George Washington spent 8 years at war to curl into the fetal position and give up.

Am I wrong?

The future of an America that is afraid to be great, even if we need to borrow money to do it? (Image from Brogan Knight)

The future of an America that is afraid to be great, even if we need to borrow money to do it? (Image from Brogan Knight)


Obama already negotiated; GOP taking hallucinogens? (Again?)

October 8, 2013

Oh, Speaker Boehner forgot to mention that.

 

http://bit.ly/GE9nzF 

pic.twitter.com/8N4bG4GFHY


Make this man president? Neil de Grasse Tyson indicts America’s failure to spend to dream

August 17, 2011

P. Z. Myers said he’d vote for Tyson for president.  Tyson’s point, made on Bill Maher’s program,  is certainly something that should be part of our political discussions today.

This is not a new idea by any stretch, that doing great things and dreaming great things to do is one of the things that makes America what it is, in its better incarnations.

Robert R. Wilson at the 1968 groundbreaking of Fermilab

Physicist Robert R. Wilson at the 1968 groundbreaking of Fermilab - Fermilab photo via Wikimedia

Physicist Robert Wilson — who had been the youngest group leader at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project — gave a brilliant defense to a Congressional committee about the value of pure research, while working on the project that eventually became Fermilab.  Wikipedia has a good, concise description of the event, and an account of Wilson’s words:

In 1967 he took a leave of absence from Cornell to assume directorship of the not-yet-created National Accelerator Laboratory which was to create the largest particle accelerator of its day at Batavia, Illinois. In 1969, Wilson was called to justify the multimillion-dollar machine to the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Bucking the trend of the day, Wilson emphasized it had nothing at all to do with national security, rather:

It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture. It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.

Thanks to Wilson’s leadership—in a full-steam ahead style very much adopted from Lawrence, despite his firings—the facility was completed on time and under budget. Originally named the National Accelerator Laboratory, it was renamed the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab for short) in 1974, after famed Italian physicist Enrico Fermi; the facility centered around a four-mile circumference, 400 GeV accelerator. Unlike most government facilities, Fermilab was designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Wilson wanted Fermilab to be an appealing place to work, believing that external harmony would encourage internal harmony as well, and labored personally to keep it from looking like a stereotypical “government lab”, playing a key role in its design and architecture. It had a restored prairie which served as a home to a herd of American Bisons, ponds, and a main building purposely reminiscent of a cathedral in Beauvais, France. Fermilab’s Central Laboratory building was later named Robert Rathbun Wilson Hall in his honor.

It’s time to dream, America.  It’s time again to make America worth defending.

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President Obama on the deficit ceiling deal

August 1, 2011

The White House published this video within the last hour or so:

302 views at posting

Here are the White House bullet points on the deal:

What the Debt Deal Does

  • Removes economic uncertainty surrounding the debt limit at a critical time and prevents either party from using a failure to meet our obligations for political gain.
  • Makes a significant down payment to reduce the deficit — finding savings in defense and domestic spending while protecting critical investments in education and job creation.
  • Creates a bipartisan commission to find a balanced approach to continue this progress on deficit reduction.
  • Establishes an incentive for both sides to compromise on historic deficit reduction while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and programs that help low-income families.
  • Follows through on President Obama’s commitment to shared sacrifice by making sure that the middle class, seniors, and those who are most vulnerable do not shoulder the burden of reducing the deficit. As the process moves forward, the President will continue to insist that the wealthiest Americans share the burden.
  • For a closer look at the mechanics of the debt agreement, take a look at this infographic.

More from Obama here.


How did we get into this deficit mess?

July 26, 2011

From the New York Times:

Costs of policy changes under two presidents, Bush and Obama - New York Times chart

From the New York Times, article by Teresa Tritch, "How the deficit got this big"

Teresa Tritch wrote the story, published on July 24.  Sources for the chart were the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


No bus coming, so Republican/Tea Partiers call cops on Grandma

May 25, 2011

Republicans and Tea Partiers in Michigan can’t exactly be accused of throwing their grandmothers under the bus, but only because there was no bus coming at that moment.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, scheduled a meeting with Tea Party supporters last Saturday.  When senior citizens showed up, apparently fearing they would raise some questions about the Republican budget plan with figuratively throws grandma under the bus with drastic cuts to Medicare, organizers called police, claiming the post-65 group had started physical violence.

You couldn’t make this stuff up, could you?  If it were fiction, who would believe it?

Read the full story at DailyKos (with links to ThinkProgress):

One way Republicans have found of dealing with the bad press and hostility they’ve faced in public meetings over their highly unpopular budget plan has been what’s actually a pretty typical Republican response: censorship. They’ve clamped down on reporters and citizen journalists, barring them from recording the events.

In Michigan, they’ve taken it up a notch, courtesy of Tea Party control freaks who not only banned a group of senior citizens and reporters, but called security on them at an event with Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI).

Rep. Justin Amash held a townhall meeting sponsored by a Tea Party group on Saturday sponsored by a Tea Party group, but a group of senior citizens and two reporters — including this one — were denied entry to the event.The traditional purpose of a townhall meeting is for an elected official to meet with his constituents in public, giving the people a chance to ask questions and engage in dialogue with their representatives. But neither the organizers nor Amash apparently wanted to hear from or speak to a group of concerned senior citizens — even at a time when the fate of Medicare is being debated in Congress.

About eight senior citizens arrived at the Prince Conference Center on the Calvin College campus for a chance to question Amash concerning his voting record in regards to eliminating Medicare.

Once barred from attending the event, the seniors stood out in the parking lot where they were taking questions from this reporter and Tanya Somanader of Think Progress, the two members of the media who were denied access. Eventually, six security guards arrived on the scene and said that both the seniors and the reporters had to leave.

Amash, and the Michigan Republicans, appear to be too embarrassed to talk about the GOP budget approved by the House of Representatives.  Those senior citizens kicked out of the meeting had been invited to attend by the Tea Party, apparently unaware that their ideas are unpopular among their own nominal supporters.  Invited, then kicked out.

Amash and Republicans should be embarrassed.

At least the security guys who responded also saw the humor in the ridiculous situation


“Dark day” in Dallas: Republican War on Education creates hundreds of casualties

April 29, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s War on Education created hundreds of casualties today in Dallas Independent School District.  Though the Texas Lege has not approved a final budget, the best case scenario at the moment targets hundreds of jobs in Dallas, and tens of thousands of jobs across Texas.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa sent out this message today:

A message from Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa

Earlier today, the district’s administration began the painful process of notifying hundreds of central staff employees that their positions are being eliminated effective immediately. The individuals impacted are good, hard-working people from all departments who have dedicated years of talent and expertise to this school district. They have been colleagues for a long time and they will be missed. While many of them may not have directly worked with children in the classroom, their contributions were nonetheless important in the life of the Dallas Independent School District.

It is highly regrettable that the statewide budget deficit has forced the district to take this drastic course. While many positions are being eliminated, the work is not. Those employees who remain will have an increased burden without extra pay. Please be patient with those who remain on staff in an effort to serve you, parents and the general public.

Today’s action was taken to protect instruction on our campuses as much as possible from the upcoming budget deficit. All totaled, with the layoffs, reassignments, vacancies that will remain unfilled and the number of central staff employees who took the early notification incentive, hundreds of positions have been eliminated from central administration, which will save the district roughly $25 million.

It should be noted that this is the third time in the last four years that Dallas ISD’s central administration staff has been cut. During 2007, 169 central staff positions were eliminated when central services were reorganized. During the fall of 2008, another 160 central staff positions were eliminated because of the district shortfall at the time.

The district is in a financial predicament this time through no fault of our own and we are continuing to work with lawmakers to attempt to minimize cuts to classrooms. At the same time, it appears more likely than ever that Dallas ISD is facing a deficit this next school year of anywhere from $88 million to $126 million. Please continue to press upon state legislators that our work as public school educators is critical to students both now and in the future.

Today is a dark day in our school district and that’s putting it mildly. To those who remain part of Dallas ISD, thank you for your continued hard work on behalf of our students.

Six years ago the Texas Lege cut property taxes, a huge boost to large property owners and those with very expensive tracts of land.  However, the Lege then failed to institute promised new taxes on businesses.  With annual budget shortfalls resulting, contrary to Gov. Perry’s 2010 campaign promises, Texas ended up with a $27 billion deficit in 2011.  Rather than impose new taxes on those who profited from the tax cuts, Rick Perry proposed to fire teachers and close schools.

The Texas budget proposals directly counteract efforts by the Federal Reserve to increase jobs in the nation.

Those firings started today, in Dallas.  Teachers are not included, yet.


Republican policy: Forward to the Gilded Age

April 10, 2011

Cover of "The Gilded Age"

Cover of "The Gilded Age," a novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner published in 1873. Image courtesy of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College.

You know why it was called the Gilded Age, right?

Santayana’s Ghost keeps telling me the Republicans don’t know why.  Republicans as a rule do not read Mark Twain, so it’s a cinch they’ve never read Mark Twain plus Charles Dudley Warner.

Mark Twain, PBS image from Mark Twain House

Mark Twain, who wrote the novel, The Gilded Age, with Charles Dudley Warner. Twain wrote of the Republican Manifesto earlier: "What is the chief end of man?--to get rich. In what way? -- dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must." Image from Mark Twain House, Hartford, Connecticut, via PBS

Still, don’t you recall with some fondness the Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford years, when Republicans at least pretended not to be grand misanthropes?  Do you remember that?  Nixon tried to make nicey-nice with conservationists and environmentalists, expanding the National Parks and creating the Environmental Protection Agency (fitting, since the environmental movement had been born among and from wealthy  and smart Republicans); even after killing the air traffic controllers union, Ronald Reagan enjoyed easy camradary with Teamsters, and to some degree, even with the heads of the AFL-CIO.    Reagan encouraged and signed a jobs training bill, and signed our first home health care law, making it possible for people to go home to die, where they ironically lived much longer than in hospitals, but at much reduced cost to Medicare.

Forget those days.  Forget that human compassion.  Today’s conservatives don’t have time for the wimpiness of Ronald Reagan.

Did you see the full list of proposed agency cuts the Republicans tried to pin on the 2011 appropriations bill, H.R. 1?

Here’s the entire list, from OMB Watch:  OMB_Watch-HR1_Policy_Riders (April 7, 2011).  I’m sure OMB Watch  has a bias, but the descriptions of the cuts are so balanced and neutral that they may hide some of the more unscrupulous, Scroogey actions.

In consumer protection, for example, Republicans inexplicably oppose the creation of watchdogs to prevent another housing bubble — are Republicans protecting criminals here?

Prohibits the Federal Reserve from transferring more than $80 million to the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Sec. 1517
Prohibits funds for a government sponsored “consumer products complaints database,” Sec. 4046.

No one to prevent new crimes, and no collecting of information to warn consumers of dangerous products.  Wonderful.

Prohibits funds to take any action to effect or implement the disestablishment, closure or realignment of the US Joint Forces Command.  Sec. 4020

No, no, don’t want the Pentagon to save money — heaven knows, wasting money at the Pentagon is flag-waving patriotism — so let’s ban the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, from making changes that save money.  It’s in the Bible that this must be done, I’m sure.

Prohibits funds for implementing a provision specific to the State of Texas in the “Education Job Fund.”  Sec. 4051

After claiming he wouldn’t accept “bailouts” from the federal government, Texas Gov. Rick Perry accepted money from Congress to prevent the loss of teaching jobs — but then threw the money into a different pot, so teachers were not protected.  U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, amended the last appropriation bill to say that Texas can’t take money from the teachers — but the Republicans want to allow Perry to take the money, and keep it from the teachers, again.  It’s the old playground game where the big kids play keep away from a little kid.  It’s vicious, of course, and should be criminal — but the older kids have a lot of fun.

Prohibits funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program or the State Energy Program.  Sec. 1434

Let the poor people freeze in the dark — they all vote Democratic, anyway.  But wait!  Tea Partiers, fresh from the Mad Hatter’s, say that global warming will take care of the poor people!   No need for weatherization.

Prohibits funding for various environmental projects in California.  Sec. 1475
Prohibits funding for a climate change czar in the White House.  Sec. 1535
Prohibits funding for EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.  Sec. 1746

Oh, well, maybe there isn’t any global warming.  Yeah, this is contrary to what the Republicans said about warming keeping the poor from needing weatherization — but they’re just poor people, the Republicans say.  Let ’em get a job!  (Where?  Not the problem of Republicans; Republicans identified that the poor need to get a job, and that should be the limit of federal action . . .).

This morning on CBS, New York Sen. Charles Schumer said he would not list cuts until he sees a final copy of the bill.  Probably wise — but it’s also almost a cinch that almost all of the cuts will be mean-spirited, worthy of Ebenezer Scrooge before his conversion, and damaging to the U.S. people and the U.S. economy.

What in the hell is going on in Washington?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Jean Detjen, protecting the nation from being over-run by Canadians up there in the north, in Wisconsin.


An observation on cutting budgets, and my beliefs

March 8, 2011

This probably deserves a longer, more thought-out post.

Maybe later.

Right now I just want to get this off my chest:

I do not believe, as the Republican budget insists, that America is no longer a great nation, that our greatest days are long past, and that America needs to hunker down and join the Second- or Third-World. I do not believe that America can afford to give up leadership in foreign affairs, nor leadership in education. I do not believe God will step in to save us from our own stupidity. America is an exceptional place because people chose to act, to make the things that make a great nation.

I believe we need to answer when the certain trumpets blow, and they are sounding now.  I do not believe the full-scale retreat proposed by the Republican budget is the proper, best, nor American response.

Back to regular programming now.


Where do I sign the petition? Ronald Reagan Memorial National Debt

February 6, 2011

It would be a fitting tribute, would it not?

In the rush to name things after Ronald Reagan, especially stuff he screwed up (“Ronald Reagan National Airport” after he fired thousands of air traffic controllers and made our airways much less safe), could we not aim for appropriate memorials?

One of Ronald Reagan’s biggest legacies is his multiplying the national debt.  Reagan’s supporters want to name a mountain somewhere after him — how about the mountain of debt, which is everywhere?

Artist's conception, Ronald Reagan on Mt. Rushmore - Fred J. Eckert, Eckert/Ambassador Images

Artist's conception, Ronald Reagan on Mt. Rushmore - Fred J. Eckert, Eckert/Ambassador Images. Gutzon Borglum, the designer and sculptor for Mt. Rushmore, determined the rock on either side of the current four busts is unsuitable for carving -- Jefferson was moved from Washington's right where it was originally planned because the rock crumbled when carved.

Perhaps we could name it in his honor:  The Ronald W. Reagan Memorial National Debt. Just imagine how that would change the tone and direction of discussions on spending and taxes in Washington and the state capitals.

What Republican could possibly vote against the “Ronald W. Reagan Memorial National Debt Ceiling Raising Act?”

Who will start the petition?  Maybe Grover Norquist?

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Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center - most expensive government building ever built


Dallas schools superintendent on Texas budget: “Worse than initially projected”

January 21, 2011

$9.8 billion in cuts to Texas education.

If the Chinese did this to us, we’d declare war. When Gray Davis proposed much smaller cuts in California, Californians recalled him from office.

But it’s Rick Perry and the Republicans.  Can anyone think of a good reason to treat them better?

Recall petition on Rick Perry, anyone?

Here’s the reaction from Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa:

A message from Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa

First Budget Numbers Look Grim

The Texas Legislature convened this week and provided the first look at how the state’s budget crunch could impact public education. Unfortunately, things do not look good, and that is putting it mildly.

In fact, the scenario that was presented is even worse than was initially projected. Prior to this week’s legislative session, budget analysts had predicted that public education statewide would undergo cuts of approximately $5 billion during the next biennium. The number just presented to the Texas House of Representatives is closer to $9.8 billion.

Right now, various programs that have been fully or partially funded through state grants such as prekindergarten, summer school, teacher performance incentives, and technology infrastructure are not included in the new budget. In addition, current estimates place cuts to Dallas ISD at a staggering $180-$200 million during the next two years. Because 85 percent of the district’s budget goes to personnel, this means that we will have to look at reducing payroll.

Please note that this memorandum is not written to cause a panic. It is important, however, for you to understand that the state’s budget outlook is anything but rosy and funding for education will likely be reduced. It is too early to speculate where cuts in payroll will need to take place, but everything will likely be on the table.

Next week, the Senate will present its version of the budget, and it will likely be similar. At this point, the House version does not include tapping into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which is still an option to lawmakers. It may be a couple of months before a clearer picture will emerge of how public education will be impacted by the budget.

Please know that I will make every effort to keep you informed throughout the budget process. I also can assure you that our trustees and I will do everything we can to impress upon lawmakers the important work that you do for the children of the Dallas Independent School District.

Thank you for your continued work on behalf of Dallas ISD students.


Republican proposal: Double the deficits!

October 22, 2010

What’s worse that “double or nothing?”

Republican tax-cut proposals would double our deficits, some conservative sources report.

Robert Schesinger, in U.S. News and World Report:

In fact the GOP’s deficit-detonating tax-cut proposals make the Democrats with their spending look like pikers. The stimulus bill, remember, cost $787 billion. The tax-cut bill that Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled last week—a combination of making permanent the Bush tax cuts and throwing in a host of other tax credits—has a price tag of around $3.9 trillion. For those keeping score at home, the self-styled party of fiscal responsibility wants to blow a hole in the budget nearly five times larger than the alleged profligacy they have spent the last year or more condemning.

Who is listening to the facts anymore?


When earmarks were good Congressional policy

May 28, 2009

Once  upon a time earmarks on legislation promoted the best inventions, and consequently, the economic success of the United States.  Below is the image of a vote count made by Samuel F. B. Morse on the bill to provide money to develop the telegraph.  Image and the text of explanation both come from the Morse Collection at the  American Memory Project at the Library of Congress.

Member list of the U.S. House of Representatives, with notations by Samuel Morse on vote of February 23, 1843

Member list of the U.S. House of Representatives, with notations by Samuel Morse on vote of February 23, 1843

By 1842, funding from the U.S. Congress was essential if the now-impoverished Morse was to be able to build and prove his telegraph system. On February 23, 1843, his bill for appropriated funding passed in the House of Representatives by a slim majority of 89 to 83 (with 70 not voting), but obviously every vote was crucial. This annotated member list of the twenty-six states may have been used by Morse before, during, or after the vote. The symbol “O” is thought to indicate an assenting vote, “-” a dissenting vote, and “>” no vote.


Bobby Jindal: Dumb about rocks

February 27, 2009

I couldn’t believe it either.

Remember all the flap about a flurry of earthquakes in the Yellowstone Caldera over the Christmas holidays?  Volcano monitoring is critical to safety in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Alaska — not to mention Hawaii’s special circumstances — and to all neighboring states or those within downwind striking distance of a volcanic event.

A volcanic field now in southern Idaho erupted a few millions of years ago, spreading ash that killed creatures as far away as Nebraska.  “Neighboring state” covers a lot of territory.

So, Bobby Jindal, in his response to the Obama budget proposal speech, said the U.S. should get out of the volcano monitoring business.  It was not clear whether there were no rocks in his head, but neither was there knowledge about rocks where it should be in his head.

Green Gabbro, a real geologist, couldn’t believe it either.

  1. DID HE SERIOUSLY JUST SAY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE MONITORING VOLCANOES??!?!!!????@#$@!

Ignoring for the sake of argument the value of the basic science that always results from the data collected during routine monitoring – ignoring the general function of increased spending as an economic stimulus to the nation’s earth scientists, instrument manufacturers, etc., – even ignoring all that, volcano monitoring is still a very sensible investment in national security. A $1.5 million investment in monitoring at Pinatubo (near a U.S. air force base) earned a greater than 300-fold return when the volcano erupted explosively in 1991: hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property (mostly airplanes) was saved, as were thousands of lives. That 30,000% figure comes before you attempt to put a value on human life.

But then, Sarah Palin is in one of those areas where a failure to monitor volcanoes might lead to huge disaster.  It’s an unusual way to knock out a political rival, and not certain, but were Sarah Palin to disappear into a volcanic cloud, Bobby Jindal’s path to the Republican nomination for president might be less cluttered.  He’s a Rhodes Scholar — surely he can’t be that stupid about volcanoes, so the evil alternative, that he hopes to get rid of Palin, is the only thing that makes sense, isn’t it?

Is there no one in the Republican Party who will stand up for science and reason?

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