Something called ‘volcano monitoring’

I watched the president’s speech last night. Afterwards, I took some time to read Bobby Jindal’s rebuttal (I saw the beginning of it and did not think that the delivery would improve my chances of taking it seriously).

I had lots of issues with it. Now, I don’t mean to imply that debate about the stimulus package isn’t important. But shouldn’t we be trying elevate the debate to a serious level rather than picking out random things and telling 70/30 lies (to be generous) about them in order to gain political points?

One example: while discussing how the stimulus bill was wasteful, Jindal brings up the (we are supposed to feel outrageous) spending  on “something called ‘volcano monitoring'”. In Frontiers we just had a wonderful lecture by Professor Terry Plank on the dangers of volcanoes. They are many, varied, and awful–and rare, of course. But not TOO rare (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KLM_Flight_867).

Well. Here’s my train of thought:

First thought: THE GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA IS COMPLAINING ABOUT MONEY GOING INTO MONITORING FOR FUTURE NATURAL DISASTERS?!?!?!!

Second thought: What good timing!

Third thought: well, the probability of a volcano erupting in the US is pretty small…

Fourth thought: oh…wait…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_St._Helens

Fifth thought: THE GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA IS COMPLAINING ABOUT MONEY GOING INTO MONITORING FOR FUTURE NATURAL DISASTERS?!?!?!!

There’s a nice article about all this here:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-02-25/jindals-eruption-of-hot-gas/full/

Oh, and as a parting point:  The $140,000,000 is not going to “something called ‘volcano monitoring'”. It’s going to something called the US Geological Survey. USGS studies the natural resources of the US, natural hazards, and other related things. I suppose that some could argue that it’s not worth it. But for a sense of scale: this spending accounts for 2 hundredths of a percent of the entire bill. If we can afford to stick in a cut to the alternative minimum tax, I think we can afford to help out our (generally underfunded) geologists who help with various things including something called volcano monitoring…

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