Monday, June 13, 2016

Scary Proposal To Hand National Weather Service Work To Private Companies

A Congressional proposal threatens the National Weather Service
and its system of weather warnings. Will people die
from confusing or inaccurate or unavailable
weather warnings for the sake of corporate profit?  
Republican lawmakers have resurrected an old proposal to hand over a lot of what the National Weather Service does to private forecasting companies, and that is literally a life-threatening idea.

Imagine, as the Washington Post does, instead of getting one tornado warning during severe weather from an authoritative source like the National Weather Service, you get a mishmash of conflicting statements from a variety of sources.

One says the tornado is heading right toward you, the other says it's going to miss, a third says there's no tornado. What do you do?

Or, in a more evil scenario, good warnings only go out to people who can afford to pay for good weather alert services, instead of the warnings that go out to everybody like under the current National Weather Service arrangement.

Like so much in America these days, life saving services would only go to people who can pay for the services, and not everybody.

The National Weather Service proposal before Congress by Rep. Jim Bridestine, R-OK is part of Republicans relentless march to privatize everything.

Says the Washington Post: 

"Bridenstine's proposal would prohibit the National Weather Service from creating any new services if it is something that the private weather industry already does or could potentially do.

That's a broad statement in itself, but it alwo would require the Weather Service to 'incorporate commercial solutions' into programs that already exist, meaning they would need to contract out some of the services they already provide to private companies."

I agree with the Washington Post that there is a definite role for private weather companies. They do some cutting edge work with forecasts, computer forecast modeling and such.

Many private weather companies help investors by analyzing how upcoming weather patterns will affect commodities and commerce.

But the National Weather Service serves a central purpose, one that's extremely important to the public

Says the Washington Post:

"......if the point is to reduce the tax burden on the American public, this is the wrong way to go about it. The National Weather Service's mission is to protect lives and property. Period. Private sector weather companies might have similar goals, but they exist to be profitable.

"The proposal doesn't suggest the Weather Service shouldn't exist - just that it should hand over everything but the creation and management of key data to the private sector

So in this new, super-privatized world, taxpayers would continue to fund the National Weather Service, but would then have to pay private companies for forecasts and warnings.

In other words, the public would be paying twice."

There is a big craze it seems to privatize all government functions.  Sometimes government and private partnerships work. The National Weather Service should work with private companies to improve forecasting and create better warnings for the public.

But letting private companies compete to warn the public of dangerous weather is in itself dangerous. People should not die in the name of increasing corporate profits.

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