Government Funding of the National Weather Service: A Response to Our Critics

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This is a response to the article posted by Dr. Ryan Maue here titled: CEI misses the boat on the need for the National Weather Service.  Ryan’s response is in the comments, and here is the key clause:

…The CEI should think about their statement about the “private collection” and ownership of weather data. How did that work for the UK Met-Office + Hadley Center with Phil Jones’ climate data? (climate data is weather data, btw)

By Iain Murray and David Bier

The most difficult task free-market advocates often face is in addressing the duties the government has already assumed.  Who will provide education?  Who will deliver the mail?  Who will coordinate airline flights? The knee-jerk reaction is generally that it is too difficult for the private sector to provide these services. Our recent op-ed [“Do We Really Need a National Weather Service?”], in which we argued that the private sector could provide the services provided by the National Weather Service (NWS), met precisely that reaction.

Each response seemed to conclude that we wanted the NWS’ services to disappear.  That is analogous to saying that advocates of privatizing the U.S. Postal Service want to end mail delivery. Or that proponents (like CEI) of Federal Aviation Administration privatization want to end air traffic control.  Such a suggestion would indeed be “laughable,” as some critics put it, but we never suggested that.

Therefore, most of the responses simply attacked a straw man. On reflection, we should have been more explicit that we were calling for the privatization of the government’s civilian weather services, not their outright abolition. Our piece was too easy to misinterpret.

Nearly all the responses dismissed the notion that the services of the NWS could be provided privately.  Yet Britain’s Meteorological Office is already a self-funding, commercial entity, and the British government is now considering selling it to a private corporation, much as the Canadian government sold its air traffic control (ATC) service to the now award-winning NavCanada.

Private weather services often rely on NWS data. But we repeat that no one (to our knowledge) wants to shut down NWS services. The existence of many private weather agencies demonstrates a significant demand for this information, and the fact that they do more with the data and provide even more accurate forecasts strongly suggests that private entities would improve on the data collection functions the NWS currently provides. There is no intrinsic reason why the infrastructure for this data collection function should be publicly owned. Our critics have advanced none, other than the fact that it is currently publicly owned.

Historically, privatization has led to more investment in a service or industry, not less. For example, the privatization of water utilities in Britain almost doubled investment in that vital service — and increased quality, as well. The UK Laboratory of the Government Chemist has seen a fivefold increase in its number of staff since privatization.

Some responses discussed NOAA, the agency that oversees the NWS, and other government agencies which were not referenced in our piece. To be clear, we do not envision private planes replacing all military reconnaissance flights, as some (including Dr. Maue) suggested, but military data collection is not incompatible with a NWS privatization plan.  The private sector owners could – and perhaps should – pay the military for the information.

Some have argued that the private sector could not afford to purchase the assets of the NWS. If that is the case(and we doubt it is), then the NWS can be sold as either one or a number of companies via IPO.

Either way, the sale of the NWS would bring in substantial revenue for the government at a time we are told it needs it most. At the very least, the NWS should begin to operate as a Performance-Based Organization, charging for its services. That will allow private companies to decide whether or not they are receiving value for money. If they are not, we will see more competition, and therefore increased accuracy, in data collection.

Even when the government stands in the way by means of regulation, that is advanced as justification for more government.  Accuweather’s Mike Smith argues that, “[C]urrent federal policy (set by the FCC) will not allow private sector companies to run 10cm weather radars. For technical reasons, 10cm are vital in measuring precipitation. We must have a federal entity for that.” Why? The reason for the ban is unclear, but if the NWS already gets an exception to FCC rules, a private competitor could be granted one as well.  If there are genuine national security or interference issues, then a rigorous licensing procedure respecting those concerns should suffice.

It may surprise some to learn that privatization is not new to the NWS. Over the years, the Service has divested such programs as direct commercial radio and television broadcasts, newspaper weather page preparation, agricultural forecasts, and the fire weather service. The latter two were privatized as recently as the mid-1990s. In each case, government officials simply decided that government had no real business providing the service. Our suggestion simply follows that logic.

The arguments against privatization focus on the role the government already plays, as if the service would disappear otherwise.  This flawed logic is trotted whenever government monopolies are criticized. The National Weather Service is not exceptional.  If people demand weather forecasts and advisories, and government gets out of the business, the market will provide.

Iain Murray is Vice President at the Competitive Enterprise Institute with considerable experience in privatization. David Bier is a Research Associate at CEI.

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71 thoughts on “Government Funding of the National Weather Service: A Response to Our Critics

  1. Privatization will not automatically stop biased weather/climate forecasting but it will almost certainly make it more difficult. A lot will depend on who buys these entities but they will be pushed to produce accurate forecasts as measured by independent organisations.
    All in all it’s a good idea.

  2. Mr. Murray and Mr. Bier, your arguments are so clear and compelling that they will most likely cause migraines among many of us who are attuned to the climate debate. Could you consider addressing the negatives of having of not privatizing these services. Specifically, I am wondering if you share my view that the quickest way to politicize a service is to give control of it to the federal government, at least in these days of hot cultural conflict.

  3. Iain Murray and David Bier,
    I generally support privatization of all current socialized government activities except the police, the armed forces and the legal/justice/court system. Volunteer and Private enterprise is better in a free society for providing all other sevices that the government is currently doing with its bureaucracies.
    I therefore endorse your suggestion to privatize the functions of the current National Weather Service.
    John

  4. “”National Weather Service (NWS) was founded in 1870. Originally, the NWS was not a public information agency. It was a national security agency and placed under the Department of War. The Service’s national security function has long since disappeared, . . . “” http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/08/27/do-really-need-national-weather-service/
    I will ask . . . why was the “NWS” NOT a public information source and why as is a NSA under the Dept. of War??? Do you honestly think that there were NOT many “private forecasters” in the employ of many private interests?
    Before you answer that consider the insurance industry, the shipping industry, and the other private interests of who “holds the bag” when there is a financial loss????
    Think of confidentiality, trade, and proprietary contracting . . . many “employees” are required to sign. Contract law also has had to evolve, as many throughout history ended up making a contract with the proverbial Devil. It had to change, or nothing changed . . .
    There is a LONG history of what I call “Conspiracies of Silence” and they are embedded in our “for profit” “capitalistic” society . . . in contract law and many other places . . . that is why the “”National Weather Service (NWS) was founded in 1870. Originally, the NWS was not a public information agency. It was a national security agency and placed under the Department of War.”
    and the “”The Service’s national security function has long since disappeared, . . .”” since the information and methods “disclosed” thus far belong to all the citizens of this country . . .
    and there are many stories that circumspect this issue . . . one roundly spoken of in http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/27/science/27dark.html

  5. Let’s face it… anything governments touch is or become inefficient and expensive. As Ron Paul said, bureaucracy is the problem.

  6. This “response” article does not disagree with or challenge the majority of assertions I made in my original post here at WUWT.
    With the quote from Accuweather’s Mike Smith — and Accuweather’s previous attempts with their Senator Rick Santorum to “privatize” the NWS back in 2005 ( Story Link ), it is now appropriate to question the motivations of CEI in pushing this issue now. Why are you bringing this up now? Who is clamoring for privatization of the NWS?
    Accuweather and the Weather Channel would be useless chatterboxes without the underlying foundational data services of the National Weather Service. However, neither entity has the ability nor the expertise to produce their own forecasts from scratch. This means taking the entire global observing network (satellite and in situ observations), performing quality control, running data assimilation, and then using the fastest supercomputers in the world to pound out a 7-16 day forecast in 15-minutes. Next, process the results and then repeat, every 6-hours like clockwork. One cycle cannot be missed otherwise the whole thing goes to pot.
    Finally, the CEI should think about their statement about the “private collection” and ownership of data. How did that work for the UK Met-Office + Hadley Center with Phil Jones’ climate data?
    CEI does not provide any specific proposal or method for privatizing the NWS — nor has an adequate understanding of the infrastructure from data collection, assimilation, modeling, and processing. Therefore, until further research is presented by CEI, their “thought-piece” article should be dismissed wholesale.

  7. I haven’t thought about this before, but I disagree. Both government and civil forecasters are needed, and they need to work together, or be able to interact, harmoniously; I think the general welfare requires this. The government needs to have an independent, professional proficiency in weather forecasting, as in every other area of basic societal need–I want the military to have their own experts, and I want that expertise available to the public, as much as I want civilian experts, with both governmental and civilian professionals thus open to independent oversight (and no, I have learned you can’t trust the universitities, academic experts, to provide such oversight competently). I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I am sensitive to obvious flaws in our thinking. People who want to take everything out of the hands of government are, in my view, asking for a perpetually childish, immature government. The government has to learn new things as needed, and it has to retain and exercise the knowledge and technology that our civilization has acquired. I guess it boils down, for me, in considering the government an essential part of our civilization, not just as a parasite upon the creative private sector, and it is civilization that I am concerned about.

  8. Ray: When private companies become to big the same thing happens . . . Murphy’s Law and the Peter Principal know NO bounds . . .
    Besides Ron Paul’s fatal flaw is that the thinks the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are only obligations of the “government” (on fox news Sunday) . . . . not of all citizens who live here . . . he forgets we are a government of the people, for the people, and by the people . . . who all take an oath to the constitution at one time or another . . . . it’s a gigantic error in my book!

  9. Accuweather and the Weather Channel would be useless chatterboxes without the underlying foundational data services of the National Weather Service.
    Ryan… Er… Well… You’re one for one there!!!! 🙂
    Just Kidding!

  10. So, what would be wrong with writing a law stating that all empirical data is public domain, while the private entity’s forcast models are proprietary? The competition would boil down to who had the best modeling programs and we might actually begin to see truly accurate forecasts. Keeping the models proprietary is the right thing to do, a private company has got to have something to differentiate itself from competitors, but the collected weather/climate data would be public domain.

  11. Eliminating the National Weather Service may be a nice goal for an ideal libertarian world, but in our real world with so many more terrible sources of government spending, intervention, and regulation, the NWS is so far down the list of priorities that I don’t think it’s even worth talking about.
    The National Weather Service provides us with raw information. Information is a public good that benefits everyone for very little cost. The US population could double and it wouldn’t cost any more to gather data about hurricanes and tornadoes than it did before – unlike, say, exploding government programs like Medicare, or even FEMA.
    If we’re discussing governments and weather we should really be talking about abolishing FEMA. Unlike the National Weather Service, it has a history of not doing its job very well while actually preventing private sources from doing a better job. FEMA suffers from a lack of information about who really needs help and how to get it to them – information that local organizations and churches have, and that’s why they are more effective. There is a huge difference between effectively providing information as a public good (NWS), and ineffectively providing services to specific people (FEMA).
    So I don’t care if it’s theoretically possible for the value of the NWS to be duplicated more efficiently by private sources. I think Its value right now is still positive, and we should be focusing on the plethora of government programs with very, very negative values…

  12. National data should be owned and controlled by the nation that it represents. The Nation should have unfettered access to it, not just those with the money and services to get it and work it.
    Private enterprise should, and does, provide private interpretations or subsets of the data according to their clients wants and needs. But the Nation needs to be able to get and manipulate the data depending on what the Nation needs, which may not be in the interests of the private company to provide.
    We see what happens with taxpayer-paid university research that ends up behind a paywall of a private company publisher. We want that for all the fundamental data of the most important issue of our time?
    Rhetorical, of course.

  13. Kevin Schurig: We already have those laws, they are routinely circumvented, ignored, broken, and not enforced . . . . we have copyright laws, intellectual property laws, patent laws . . . not to mention the Constitution and the Bill of Rights . . . and then you have people like Dick Cheney who would water board someone in the interest of private “national security” interests . . . he would “rightly” warrentlessly wiretap, torture, and use any nefarious means and if he was still around it would still be happening????
    . . . what & who do you think he was justifying the US military or Haliburton and their “private contractors” OR both? I want to know did he personally participate in these actions . . . or did he just give the orders to others to carry out his techniquies . . . and what was the results if someone refused . . . .
    You see where these kinds of general examinations of general rules of thumb go . . . . when generally, . . . it all depends. . . .
    But, then go try to claim a copyright, patent, or any intellectual property when you have no privacy . . . I answer that for my self with; that is why we have probable cause clauses and evidence clauses . . . .

  14. The government provides disaster relief via declared states of emergency which brings in public funds to help citizens recover from natural disasters. As long as this is the case, the government must have a weather service to alert the general public in order to lessen the relief cost in dealing with these disasters. Imagine if there were only private weather forecasts using a fee based service. Will only those that could afford a warning get one? Would Fox13 in Tampa be able to operate their hurricane info website (http://media.myfoxtampabay.com/myfoxhurricane ) and provide valuable information to all in the area without using NWS information?
    I do not like big government but there are certain functions that need to be in the hands of the national government and this is one of them.

  15. Laurie Bowen says:
    August 31, 2011 at 10:30 am
    Laurie, do you really believe the present US Government truly represents the People?
    Look at this video and realize that your are not living under a Constitutional Republic.

  16. Every economic study ever conducted has found that private enterprise is more efficient the Government at everything.
    The reason you have some services provdided by the Government is that you can not trust individuals or even individual entities with that kind of power and as such you need acountability.
    Granted, we have lost that with public officials generally getting arrested and becoming activists with no ill effects, so in reality not sure why we have NASA not being sold off or yes NWS services as well.
    Like a previous poster said, yes just the justice system, courts, military, intelligence services and some layer of regulation. That is all Government SHOULD do because its a waste of money that drags down the economy.
    I find it interesting that this topic comes up right when the president has shot a first salvo about how to “fix jobs in this country.”
    The best bet would be to sell of these entities to private corporations for a large cash influx when we need it and a reduction of taxes and easing of regulations to help businesses.

  17. Accuweather and the Weather Channel would be useless chatterboxes without the underlying foundational data services of the National Weather Service.
    Hey… Isn’t “The Weather Channel” half way there???? 🙂

  18. Ryan Maue has already touched upon the topic of who would take responsibility for the basic data collection functions. Another unmentioned issue with eliminating NWS, and allowing private entities to take over its functions, would be how to keep it from being sued out of existence? Imagine the number of suits generated over each and every missed forecast. It is the same problem one encounters with trying to privatize all roads.

  19. The Weather Channel during “crisis” situations has some great meteorologists on staff that provide top-notch information. However, without a huge storm, colorful test patterns would garner more ratings than the Weather Channel was pulling in. Hence — Storm Stories…

  20. There is a sense in which much of the Weather Service is already privatized. I refer to the thousands of COOP volunteers who over the years have provided the bulk of surface temperature data. For free. I am increasingly impressed with the observers I meet who have done this work for years, sometimes for generations. It is hard to envision how competing private corporations could efficiently sponsor anything comparable. The surface stations project has shown clearly the need to standardize these individual measurement sites, but that is a legitimate coordinating function for government, should they ever get serious about it. Again, competing for-profit companies would not necessarily arrive at common standards. (Consider the histories of VCRs, hi-def recording, computer operating systems….)

  21. Yet Britain’s Meteorological Office is already a self-funding, commercial entity,

    Not quite. The Met Office is set up as a trading fund.
    A trading fund has to meet at least 50% of its revenue from providing goods and services. Other examples of trading funds are:
    Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
    Forensic Science Service
    Patent Office
    Companies House
    etc.
    According to wiki the Met Office became part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on the 18th July 2011.

  22. Government funding equals taxation. Too much government funding could equal too high, and too much, taxation. The precautionary principle, apparently, should rule the day: Cut taxes to government funding or ruin society to government funded parasites.

  23. Shorter version: Let’s fix something that’s not broken and replace it with an untested something else… for reasons of ideological purity only.
    I’d say “no”, there’s enough broken stuff out there that needs fixing. We don’t need to spend our capital on something that might at best give a marginal improvement over the existing product.
    You have to pick your battles wisely, and I don’t even see much wisdom in this proposal, just a lot ideologically driven hand waving.

  24. Tom in Florida says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:04 am
    =======
    +1
    Just what I was thinking, but wouldn’t have expressed so clearly.

  25. The overall idea is to cut the overall size of the federal government. This is just one area of many, and since this is a climate/weather site, the NWS is the natural focus for such a debate.
    Mr. Maue brought up the issue with bad forecasts and being sued, wouldn’t one simply extending a good samaritan-type rule take care of the threat of lawsuit? Also, we don’t sue the Weather Channel, AccuWeather or any other private entity over bad forecasts, do we?

  26. So far as I can determine, the interest in privatization arises in reaction to political influence and perceived inefficiencies at NWS. I find it doubtful monetizing the weather services represents anything other than exchanging one set of problems for a fresh, even less tractable set.

  27. All monopolies are bad. Where a monopoly is unavoidable in the nature of things, then Government tends to perform less badly than private enterprise. The postal system is a good example of this. Fannie Mae might be the best example of all. It came into being as a Federal agency to do a job that was quite undo-able. As a concept it was great, but totally without feasibility in the real world. The extraordinary thing was that it worked and (eventually) paid for itself. It was the envy of bankers around the world. It became so successful in the ‘sixties that the investing public wanted part of the action and consequently it was privatised. (The process was done badly by Government which was left with an implied guarantee) Fannie went bust (effectively) and the Fed picked up the tab. Investors laboured under the misapprehension that the business ‘model’ was sound and did not appreciate that the key factor was that of a continuously rising property market.Those don’t exist outside the imagination (excluding hyperinflation which busts everybody) and thus dear old Fannie Mae remains as undo-able today as the day it was first conceived. Undo-able monopolies are best in the hands of government because only they can afford them..
    Many of the private weather forecasters do a great job and no doubt their clients value their services. But my belief is that they rely to some large extent on data provided by various government agencies and I doubt that private enterprise could collect its own data at a sensible cost except on a very localised basis. Take away government’s job of interpreting the data and one could expect to see the charge for data rise steeply. Government won’t fire all those people left without a working purpose, it will put up the taxes. Governments around the world do the same thing. It is as certain as the first law of thermodynamics.
    As I see it, the status quo is fine. Those who are heavily weather dependent can buy good forecasts from private enterprise – thanks to government. Government will waste money in the collection process but wasting money is what governments do.

  28. It is my understanding that services such as cleaning city hall have been provided by companies in Chicago, and also by government. When the companies got too cozy and corrupt, it was switched to government, and when government got too cozy and corrupt it was switched to private. Some folks here suggest that corruption or imperfect service is possible with companies. Of course it is possible; and when that happens we deal with it. That is no reason to reject the idea out of hand.

  29. I ignored this subject of the previous thread, But:
    What CEI, and all those other lobbyists, describe as “privatization” sometimes goes by a much uglier name, “profiteering.” Were these services and products they propose to “privatize” economically possible without huge taxpayer subsidies, an enterprising entrepreneur would already be doing them.
    I suspect whatever “savings” these lobbyists can show on paper would be eaten up by government inspectors, contract lawyers, and lawsuits. Too many “private contracts” have been fulfilled by maggot ridden meat, sawdust flour, faulty aircraft parts, climate models, etc., to doubt otherwise.
    I would suggest that government savings can only come from deciding whether or not the citizens have a need for the service or products that private business do not already provide directly to the consumer. And not give businesses or citizens other people’s hard-earned income for stuff they want but do not want to work for. And for the Federal government, those things assigned to them as the Federal government’s responsibility.
    My opinion, of course. Subject to change at my own whim.

  30. I participated in and led a number of privatizations in Hungary in the 1990s. Based on this experience, the consequences of an NWS privatization might be expected to include:
    – increased productivity per employee — almost certainly
    – more efficient processes — almost certainly
    – substantially greater innovation — almost certainly
    – greater pay and job satisfaction for NWS employees — most likely
    – fewer employees – quite possibly
    – substantially greater focus on delivering timely and accurate information to paying customers
    – greater investment, but only where returns are appropriable, ie, for paying customers
    – provision of service primarily to paying customers
    – tendency not provide services not related to revenue streams
    Thus, how much and whether to privatize depends on the specific business model in question. To the extent that weather information is a public good, a private business will tend to provide less of it. However, if you watch the Weather Channel or weather on local TV, then in fact that is a business model, with a paying customer (rather, the product is the viewer, the paying customer is the advertiser). So that’s not a public good and can be safely privatized.
    Ordinarily, a privatization initiative would be preceded by a privatization plan which would consider these factors, assess which mattered most, consider mitigants (certain conditions as part of any sale), and then make a recommendation on whether privatization made sense on the whole and, if so, the structure which should be employed.

  31. While I agree completely with those who say that privatization of the NWS is WAY down the list of priorities, it remains that the US federal government has no constitutional authority to provide this service.
    Remember folks, the federal government is taking in (other people’s money) about $2.4 trillion per year, and spending almost $4 trillion per year. Thanks to the gutless raising of the debt ceiling, we now have almost $17 trillion in debt obligations. This exceeds the annual GDP. This is generational theft, and an immoral burden upon our children and grandchildren.
    For those who whine on and on about defense spending, there is clear constitutional authority for the federal government to allocate resources in this area. Conversely, there is absolutely none for the NWS, and a LONG list of other “niceties.”

  32. Laurie Bowen, et el.,
    Laurie,
    The origin of the Signal Corps reporting local station weather conditions
    began as a subfunction of the Army under the United States War Department.
    See their Annunal Reports, 1861 – 1942, in PDF format at:
    http://docs.lib.noaa/rescue/cso/data_rescue_signal_corps_annual_reports.html
    The station reports were forwarded by mail and by telegraph as the wires were set
    to many fort and outposts or the nearby towns.
    IN GENERAL:
    Many readers here, at Climate Audit, Bishops Hill, etc., including Dr. Ryan Maue,
    have watched with astonishment at Britain’s Met Office gathering meteorlogical
    data from public sources around the world and claiming it’s exclusively
    Mine ! Mine ! Mine !”. They are forced to share the basic raw or
    partially summarized data with interested folks through FOI requests and
    sometimes through the court system.
    The UAE/CRU folks who get the data also claim it to be “Mine ! Mine ! Mine !”,
    and are equally reluctant to share it with the other kids, unless they’re “best
    friends”.
    Here in the U.S. it’s tough to get the raw data that’s used for GISS reports at it
    is now. Public institutions and their employees consider the publically paid
    for information is again “Mine ! Mine ! Mine !” and the public can whistle if
    they want to see what the researchers started with as the basis for their studies
    or models.
    As with any form of “contracting out” of an existing public service, the contractor
    is always less responsive to public input or public oversight. How will “privatization”
    of NWS functions improve on this ? It won’t. Much of what’s now “public information”
    will become “proprietary information” not subject to public scrutiny or auditing.
    “Privatization” or “contracting out” gerenally results in lower quality services, and
    $$$ profits for somebody’s friends.

  33. Every economic study ever conducted has found that private enterprise is more efficient the Government at everything.
    Except when it fails, goes bankrupt and has to be rescued by the government! Ask the British how efficient their banks have been lately!
    The problem is the emphasis on efficiency. It is not the only basis for a decision. I do not own a large flat screen TV because it is efficient. I own it because I like the luxury.
    If you want a really good weather service you have to pay extra. Private enterprise will deliver a cheap service, but not necessarily a complete one. For that you need state ownership.
    If you really think private enterprise is better at everything, why not suggest privatising the biggest use of public money in the US — the military? Perhaps that might be a bad idea? Some things are better run by the state, even if they might appear cheaper on the surface as private enterprises. The hidden costs of private enterprises are when they fail.

  34. Kevin Schurig says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:49 am
    My mistake, it was Kevin Kilty who brought up the issue of lawsuits. Sorry.

    I don’t know the status of lawsuits vis-a-vis TWC or Accuweather, but if private entities were providing the only weather forecasts, I imagine behavior would then change.

  35. R.S.Brown says:
    August 31, 2011 at 1:21 pm
    Mr. Brown: I think you take me wrong . . . .“”The Service’s national security function has long since disappeared, .”” SINCE the information and methods “disclosed” thus far belong to all the citizens of this country . . .
    THUS, avoiding the MINE, MINE, MINE by the “private interests” . . . . through the passage of time.
    We have in our basic principles & law that which ASSUMES we have “enemies” both foreign AND domestic.
    But, thank-you for adding that information that clarifies why this issue is here once again . . .

  36. roberto says: “It is my understanding that services such as cleaning city hall have been provided by companies in Chicago, and also by government. When the companies got too cozy and corrupt, it was switched to government, and when government got too cozy and corrupt it was switched to private….”
    What is the common factor between crooked private services in Chicago and corrupt governmental services (I’ll make this easy for you) in Chicago? I’m not sure we can generalize based on Chicago, where the choice always has been and always will be between crookedness and corruption. [I’ll not give another Chicago example, though one comes to mind readily.]

  37. “…Britain’s Meteorological Office is already a self-funding, commercial entity…”
    During a recent flap regarding MetOff forecast accuracy, it became evident that Madame MetOff was releasing different forecasts to the public (“free”) and to private parties (at a price). The differential value was obviously based on the commercial advantage gained by publishing inferior public forecasts. There exists a substantial conflict of interest as a direct result of MetOff’s quasi-public nature.

  38. ooh boy..
    “Therefore, until further research is presented by CEI, their “thought-piece” article should be dismissed wholesale.”
    please, do not issue fatwas. your opinion does not matter and you have not made a substantial case to support your argument. indeed, if you can not make a case by reason then snickers, sneers, grunts, groans and rabid disapproval will not win the argument. neither does inability to present a case (perhaps because there is none?) justify the unwholesome techniques of the klimate klan imams.

  39. Mooloo says:

    Except when it fails, goes bankrupt and has to be rescued by the government! Ask the British how efficient their banks have been lately!

    You do realize that the concept of being rescued by the government is not something that should actually exist in a capitalist environment, correct? That concept is entirely why all these problems exist. In a truly capitalist environment, if a company fails, it fails. Period. No rescue. No salvation. That sort of puts an onus on business owners to do things right else face the most dire of consequences: the loss of their money. I mean, really, that’s what people like you think private business is all about, money, greed, so how better to force them to function properly then threaten the very thing they desire most? As it stands, big business knows without a doubt that the government will come to their rescue in times of crisis. How risky does that investment look now? Moronic ideas like these are the foundations of the problems with our society. Thanks for the example.

    The problem is the emphasis on efficiency. It is not the only basis for a decision.

    Except that your simply wrong. Efficieny is simply a result of competition. You really don’t understand this at all, do you?

    I do not own a large flat screen TV because it is efficient. I own it because I like the luxury.

    You’re mixing analogies here. What you own or choose to own has nothing to do with how efficiently a company functions.

    If you want a really good weather service you have to pay extra. Private enterprise will deliver a cheap service, but not necessarily a complete one.

    How do you know this? If there is demand for a complete service, that is what you will get. Period.

    For that you need state ownership.

    Oh my gawd! Are you kidding? Do you have any idea what “the law of supply and demand” means? Get an education.

    If you really think private enterprise is better at everything, why not suggest privatising the biggest use of public money in the US — the military?

    The role of government in a capitalist society is to protect its citizens’ rights. That necessarily includes a military in the presence of (potentially) hostile foreign entities.

    Perhaps that might be a bad idea? Some things are better run by the state, even if they might appear cheaper on the surface as private enterprises.

    Things that are required to protect our rights, nothing more, nothing less.

    The hidden costs of private enterprises are when they fail.

    They fail because a) sometimes mistakes are simply made, this is true of any system, be it private or government, b) sometimes there simply is not sufficient demand to make a market viable, and c) government interference. Of course, in the latter it is no longer private, is it?
    Wow.
    Mark

  40. Ya know, I argued with some idiot from one of the former Soviet bloc nations once. He went on about how brainwashed I was from my greedy capitalist education in the West. Then he informed me that by the age of 8 he was capable of citing all of the virtues of communism over capitalism. I mentioned that US schools don’t actually teach “capitalism” except in a historic context and that we really don’t get any treatment of economic theory until college, and even then, it is an elective. I’m not sure he understood the irony of his claim that I was the one that was brainwashed.
    Mooloo, if you are from one of the evil western nations brainwashing our children, you are a perfect example of my primary point: our children simply are not taught about capitalism. If you are from one of those virtuous eastern nations that grew up learning about the virtues of communism, you are a perfect example of the irony.
    Mark

  41. I am conflicted on this as there is no constitutional reason for national government to do this unless it is part of the defense establishment, and the defense department (particularly the Air Force) runs a parallel system. As a separate entity the NWS has no remit. I believe CEI is being consistent in this stance as they have asserted that many of the tasks done by the federal government should be done privately.
    Re Mooloo
    The defense department may be the single largest line item, but it is not the bulk of the expenditures (about 1/4 of the spending). It also has the advantage of being one of the few things the constitution actually lays on the federal government’s shoulders. Most of the unfunded liabilities of the US government lie in social programs that are actually warned against in the writings of the founders. Those 18th century dudes knew a thing or two about human nature and realized that taking money from one citizen to give to another was habit forming and politicians would not be able to resist taking ever more to buy ever more votes.
    Healthcare and welfare both are nearly as large as defense, and without the war spending would be larger or equal (baseline defense spending is about $500b while Healthcare is $900b and welfare is $500b). The claims that the “general welfare” clause covers this spending is contradicted by the federalist papers as well as the private writings of several of the founders. Of course the courts either have not ruled on this or ruled out of fear of the Roosevelt administration and thus set an incorrect precedence that later courts have been loath to overturn (they hate upsetting prior settled law – even when it is demonstrably wrong.)

  42. Friends:
    There seems to be an inappropriate right-left divide in this debate.
    There are some over-riding effects which derive from public ownership or private ownership, and Steven Kopits outlines them in his excellent post at August 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm. Some things are best done by private enterprise (e.g. retail distribution) and others are best done by government (e.g. national security).
    Cultures differ between countries so the precise activities which are best done by government vary from country to country. So, for example, the UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity that is completely funded by public donations and is operated by voluntary workers to provide a rescue service in the UK, but in the US a similar rescue service is one function of the US government’s Coastguard service.
    In the case of a weather service there are some functions which are best done by government because meteorology has military importance. Indeed, the UK Met. Office was part of the War Office (later the Ministry of Defence, MOD) for most of its existence. And there are other weather service functions which can reasonably be ‘privatised’. The benefits of privatisation listed by Steven Kopits are important when evaluating what should – or should not – be privatised but, as jorgekafkazar points out at August 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm, UK experience shows privatisation of weather forecasting has had a severe downside: it is value judgement as to whether the benefits outweigh the problems of privatising weather forecasting.
    In several coultries, including in the US, some activities of national weather services are conducted by voluntary workers. These workers may decide they want payment if their effort adds to the profits of a privatised company and, therefore, the benefits of privatisation may not be as clear as would seem to be the case on face value.
    Hence, the parts of a national weather service that are best privatised will depend on the culture of the country considering the privatisation. Thus, a blanket assertion that a national weather service should or should not be privatised is probably wrong: some parts are best run by government, some parts best run by private enterprise, and some parts by voluntary workers. The optimum balance between these ‘ownerships’ of the work will depend on the culture of the country whose national weather service is being considered.
    In summation, I think it may be beneficial to privatise some parts of the US national weather service but determintion of those parts requires considerable analysis. Hence, I think the Competitive Enterprise Institute is wrong in its desire for complete privatisation of the US weather service and those who completely reject the idea of privatising the US weather service are wrong, too.
    Of course, a socialist of the old-fashioned British type such as myself could be expected to argue for a mixed economy and, therefore, my views could be thought to be my political prejudice. But I hope people will recognise that the extreme polarisation of ‘private ownership is always best’ or ‘government ownership is always best’ can lead to much more prejudiced views of the subject.
    Richard

  43. I know a guy, Eric Craft, at the University of Richmond. He’s an economic historian and began his career studying the emergence and value of the National Weather Service. He has several papers on the subject, including one in the American Economic Review (which is very hard to get in to…essentially the most competitive journal in the field). Here are gateways to two of his papers:
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/116860
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2566688
    Eric is a “Chicago Economist” so you certainly can’t accuse him of being congenitally biased against market provision. Still, I think he has a fairly nuanced view of public versus private provision of weather information.
    It might be neat if Ryan and/or Anthony invited Eric to write a guest post.

  44. I think it ought to be sold off. Only a big corporation could afford all those radar stations and satellites though. Maybe GE or Unisys, or some such. To get some return on their massive investment, they might want to be pretty stingy with the assets. Maybe enter into an agreement with The Weather Channel or Accuweather to be the sole outlet. Maybe do it themselves, selling data and forecasts, even back to the government and DOD, starting a cable and internet media presence. Eventually, it would become very very profitable.

  45. How interesting to see so many who argue for free access to raw data arguing in favour of a process that would restrict that access.
    Privatise the NWS and the data becomes “commercial property” and not subject to FOI or any other sort of free disclosure. Similarly since the American data would become commercial property other nations would be charged for it and those nations would then be charging the Americans.
    This would turn English, Australian and other data also into “commercial property” with the obvious ramifications for FOIs in those nations.
    In terms of spending, the NWS is way down the list of savings that America can make. The problem isn’t too much taxation, your taxes are quite low compared to other nations. The problem is that you have 50 pissant little state governments who can’t agree on things clearly in the national interest. The way health insurance rules vary from state to state is a good case in point. You spend 3 times as much per capita for health in the US than other nations and get a far inferior result. This isn’t due to some hand waving “government incompetence”, it’s due to trying to make a system work with 50 sets of rules instead of one.
    Similarly you waste amazing amounts of money on the “National Guard” with each state having its own little army and airforce. I mean seriously, what are the odds of Idaho invading Texas?

  46. I suppose it all depends on what you mean by “private.” I’m sure the national park system could be privatized, sold off, and the new owners could make a fine living collecting user fees (rent) from campers and day trippers to enjoy Glacier Park and other ecotours to save the planet. I suspect the revenue stream for weather data would not be as broad based as climbing Denali or fly fishing Yellowstone, for instance, unless non-users were forced to pay for their non-use (“free riding”) through consumptions charges on other products, just as the “private” NFL generate revenue from the “private” broadcasting companies that show up in added costs for beer and TP. While we’re at it, privatize the pentagon too, (the military is no longer an adventure for the drafted from the under classes, but a job with affirmative action prerequisites for the fairer sex who don’t have to die for equal pay at the same rate as males; indeed, only the enemy is expected to die in the modern American style of war making). Besides, modern military logistics appear to have been privatized already, though at higher unit costs per case of C-rations delivered–I wonder, does the army even have C-rats anymore? I’m sure we can privatize NASA too, and raise the trillion trillion dollars on the international financial markets so GE can build the Martian infrastructure for the next five hundred years of development–centuries of effort sure would add a whole new dimension of meaning to the “five year plan.” I wonder, are there any private money making going concerns (joint stock or corporate) that have actually existed for five hundred years and are still around, or does that capitalist longevity only apply to states and organized religions?

  47. We’ve politicized the weather. The next step is obviously to commercialize it. Let’s all enjoy a $1 tax break while we pay a subscription fee for a weather service that will tell us the big one’s on its way and we need to tune in to learn all about it and some other stuff we might want to buy.
    I just can’t wait.

  48. There is a very simple business model for the NWS. Rather than provide the service, the NWS contract the service out at regional levels to the most competitive bidder. This would most certainly improve service and reduce prices. As soon as any provider gets too fat or lazy, they will be replaced by a more competitive bidder.
    As things are now, there is no competition to the federal bureaucracy. The politicians come and go, and they take the heat and pay the price for mistakes of the bureaucracy. The bureaucrats remain between governments, no matter how wasteful or inefficient they run the country.
    If instead the government services were provided via a bidding process, then the only real problem is corrupt bidding, which there is plenty of, but it is much easier to expose. The people have a means to deal with the Halliburton’s – they can vote corrupt officials out of office – or in some cases even jail them. They can’t vote out inefficient bureaucrats.
    If all bureaucrats are inefficient then you can’t even fire them, because each is working just a hard as the next. That is why anyone that is hard working is soon drummed out of the federal bureaucracy, they are setting a bad example.
    Everyone in government knows you must get rid of hard workers or you own job will be on the line. So pretty quickly everyone starts talking behind the hard workers back. Inventing reasons to get rid of the hard worker. They just don’t have what it takes to fit in. Not a team player. Everyone heard the hard worker running down the manager.
    Want to succeed in the federal workplace? Make sure that you are just as lazy and ineffective as everyone else. Otherwise they will pretty quickly make sure you are gone.

  49. Anyone still using a rotary phone can pine for a government agency or government monopoly. The rest of us can’t wait to see the improvement in weather data collection a free market would bring.

  50. What would happen to surface stations? Would the various private companies around the US operate them according to their own rules? Would they be able to replace expensive accurate equipment with cheaper (more profitable) devices? Will there be any regulation (by the government, WMO, or whom?). You can see how this would be a problem for climate research when all the regulation being striven for now is reversed. Let alone that people would have to pay for the data rather than getting it free in real time. Perhaps these companies will even charge each other for US data, or compete with multiple station networks represented at each city, which would be highly inefficient. It is easy to foresee problems, even on just a few minutes thought.

  51. When the Koch brothers purchase the NWS, creating National Weather Systems, Inc., is when the goodness starts. Do climate scientists want data? Tough, go to your friends at CRU. Hurricane headed for the East Coast? How much is a forecast worth to NYC? Hey, that satellite cost us plenty, pay up!
    That’s how the world should be.

  52. “Who will provide education? ”
    It is NOT the government’s job to do anything with education. It is wrong for them to think that there is any need for all education to be the same. It is up to the states to figure out how to educate the citizens. This makes for open competition between the states to see who can produce the best educated adults. People will migrate to the best states to settle and raise families. It leads to mediocrity to have a Federal system and takes away one of the responsibilities of the states.
    The Department of Education should be dissolved and all strings attached to Federal funding canceled. If funding from that level is needed, it has to be no strings attached—that’s how the Fed got into the education business in the first place, by taking control of little parts first.

  53. The problem I have with privatizing the weather service is that I believe all of us have a right to free access to weather data. I am a pretty hardcore fiscal conservative and believe in the power of the free markets, but the weather is not owned by anyone and nor should the data concerning it belong to anyone. For the same reason, I was against Major League Baseball’s attempt to hijack fastasy baseball statistics under the claim that they owned the rights to the players and that their names should not be freely available in an online game when they could easily make a killing selling those names. Sorry…data on a free item (the existence of baseball or the existence of weather) is not something that should be bought and paid for. I have a right to free access to the numerical weather prediction models, the current and archived temperature, precipitation, wind and solar insolation data we have, the Reanalysis data, and all other potential research grade information regarding weather science and observation. You cannot own the sky nor the numerical descriptions thereof.

  54. JK says:
    August 31, 2011 at 9:07 pm
    “When the Koch brothers…” Oh brother…here we go again.
    Look, JK – do you like corporations or not? If not, please do not use products or services from any of the following:
    Apple, Microsoft, HP, Twitter, Facebook, ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Cisco Systems (which means no internet for you), Comcast, GE, … and so forth….
    Even STARBUCKS is a corporation! Oh the humanity!!

  55. SABR Matt says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:48 pm
    “The problem I have with privatizing the weather service is that I believe all of us have a right to free access to weather data.”
    A “right” is defined as something one can exercise without requiring anyone else to do anything. Since someone else must work to provide the weather data it is not a right to have that data. The same can be said for medical care. However, it does make sense for weather data to be widely disseminated to the benefit of all which is why I believe it should be paid for by the government. As I posted earlier, if the government is going to use public funds to help those recover from weather events, then the government has the obligation to keep the public informed of upcoming weather events so people can do what they can to keep loss of property and life as low as possible.

  56. JohnB [August 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm] says:
    “Privatise the NWS and the data becomes “commercial property” and not subject to FOI or any other sort of free disclosure. Similarly since the American data would become commercial property other nations would be charged for it and those nations would then be charging the Americans.”

    Right now that data is the property of USA taxpayers. I don’t know who decided to allow non-USA taxpayers FREE access to our property but I can sure guess it came from one of the countless liberal Congresses and liberal hack bureaucrats. This goes for NASA and countless other taxpayer funded agencies as well. Many of these red ink operations could be made solvent simply by charging non-taxpayers for this information that we taxpayers actually paid for. We buy the satellites and place them in orbit and then rain free data upon the rest of the world out of the goodness of our hearts but at the cost of trillions in red ink. Lots of thankless people out there all around the world that should get a bill in the mail if you ask me. Of course I would also do the same with all federal aid to foreign countries as well, convert all past grants to loans and start collecting it with interest. A thorough federal audit is certainly in order. Anyway, unlike you I don’t feel I have a right to no-cost access to other nations data paid for by other nations taxpayers or slave labor.
    You conveniently do not mention where you are from, but it cannot be the USA as seen by the following comments you make …

    “The problem isn’t too much taxation, your taxes are quite low compared to other nations.”

    Many people here have over 50% ripped out of their paycheck just for Federal and FICA alone. Those that lose 35% + 15% = 50% before they even see one dime of their hard work then get to pay state, local, sales, property, school and a myriad of others. You know nothing about us and you excel at demonstrating it. Taxes are everywhere here, everywhere! It is almost a parody now of what our revolution was about. Here is a partial primer …
    Sales Tax
    School Tax
    Liquor Tax
    Luxury Tax
    Excise Taxes
    Property Tax
    Cigarette Tax
    Medicare Tax
    Inventory Tax
    Real Estate Tax
    Well Permit Tax
    Fuel Permit Tax
    Inheritance Tax
    Road Usage Tax
    CDL license Tax
    Dog License Tax
    State Income Tax
    Food License Tax
    Vehicle Sales Tax
    Gross Receipts Tax
    Social Security Tax
    Service Charge Tax
    Fishing License Tax
    Federal Income Tax
    Building Permit Tax
    IRS Interest Charges
    Hunting License Tax
    Marriage License Tax
    Corporate Income Tax
    Personal Property Tax
    Accounts Receivable Tax
    Recreational Vehicle Tax
    Workers Compensation Tax
    Watercraft Registration Tax
    Telephone Usage Charge Tax
    Telephone Federal Excise Tax
    Telephone State and Local Tax
    IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
    State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
    Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
    Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
    Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
    Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
    Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax
    Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
    Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax

    “The problem is that you have 50 pissant little state governments who can’t agree on things clearly in the national interest. The way health insurance rules vary from state to state is a good case in point. You spend 3 times as much per capita for health in the US than other nations and get a far inferior result. This isn’t due to some hand waving “government incompetence”, it’s due to trying to make a system work with 50 sets of rules instead of one.”

    We have 50 states yes, certainly a few are pissant but some of them all by themselves rank high as separate countries economically and could easily kick your un-named country’s butt. But you miss the point, I mean you just don’t get it at all. The States came first, they and their citizens created the FedGov, but they did not do this as a replacement for themselves. You cry for uniformity, we (most of us) will die before uniformity. Never gonna happen. There is meant to be differences between our states, not uniformity. And one of the reasons health care is expensive is that almost every hospital and doctor office is state of the art, our worst ones would be welcomed in many other parts of the world. Another substantial reason for high costs is that thanks to liberal nitwits, we have between 15 and 35 million illegal aliens running around (more than the entire legal population of many countries!). These people expect and receive health care they did not pay for. Why don’t you do us both a favor and invite them to your paradise?

    “Similarly you waste amazing amounts of money on the “National Guard” with each state having its own little army and airforce. I mean seriously, what are the odds of Idaho invading Texas?”

    That is the most strange thing I have read in a while. Why would any foreigner be concerned with the National Guard maintained by any State in the USA (aside from some nefarious enemy military planning)?

  57. higley7 [August 31, 2011 at 9:32 pm] says:

    “Who will provide education? ”

    “It is NOT the government’s job to do anything with education. It is wrong for them to think that there is any need for all education to be the same. It is up to the states to figure out how to educate the citizens. This makes for open competition between the states to see who can produce the best educated adults. People will migrate to the best states to settle and raise families. It leads to mediocrity to have a Federal system and takes away one of the responsibilities of the states.
    The Department of Education should be dissolved and all strings attached to Federal funding canceled. If funding from that level is needed, it has to be no strings attached—that’s how the Fed got into the education business in the first place, by taking control of little parts first.”

    Absolutely right on! This is a no-brainer with no downside whatsoever. Dismantle the Department of Education immediately. There is no reason at all for this 100% waste of money.
    A simple formula is to eliminate any FedGov functions that are also/better done by the States. FedGov should not do anything that the States can do. This is the inverse of the Constitution where the States literally said: okay FedGov, here are the chores you are offloading from we the States (Military, Currency, Foreign Relations …), we will not be doing them anymore.. FedGov took those as planned and then started usurping countless other things. This is where real change must occur, or else.

  58. Okay, I’ve heard all the arguments against privatization except one. When you offer up weather forecasts for profit by private companies, you get the best forecast money can buy. For instance, if I want to sell tickets to see a NASCAR race or a golf tournament, I’m going to purchase my forecast for the event from the company who promises the best forecast, not the real one. That folks is where your lawsuits come in. And if I’m in a car accident and I claim it was caused by adverse weather and being sued, then I definitely want to be able to purchase that climate record from the company that agrees with me for a price. Great idea, who could be against putting forecasts up for sale and getting the best forecast money can buy.

  59. Blade:
    Way off topic, but very entertaining discussion. BTW, that’s quite a hocky stick you’re building with your tax list…
    We might mention to our friend that the National Guards are largely funded by Federal money and that they are a huge component of our national military reserves. Guard troops served in Korea and Viet Nam; they serve today in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they are legally subject to federal control at any time. (Review ‘Eisenhower,’ ‘Little Rock, Arkansas’.

  60. Point of note – the NWS little to do with the design, purchase or operation of the weather satellites. That is done by their sister organization; NESDIS (National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service). Both come under NOAA. NESDIS operates & processes the satellite imagery and information (99.8% data throughput @ $10-12 million annually, BTW) & provides it to the NWS…who missanalyses the data & makes the bad forecast 😉
    The great NOAA budget bloat, as is with most US Govt organizations, is not in the lower workers doing all the practical work (meteorologists & techs) but in the upper management & organizational hirarchy that sucks most of the operational budgetary money. The management will cut the lower level operations to maintain & grow the upper level empires.
    Jeff

  61. Peter Nuhn says:
    September 1, 2011 at 6:51 am http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/31/government-funding-of-the-national-weather-service-a-response-to-our-critics/#comment-733856
    Sorry Peter . . . . But, insurers and reinsurers will buy the forcast that has the potential of reaping the most profit . . . which was evidenced in the State Insurance Plan in Florida . . . in the past decade . . . and without a detection . . . until another actuary with integrity pointed out the scam . . . oh sorry . . . I mean oversight!

  62. don says:
    August 31, 2011 at 7:10 pm http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/31/government-funding-of-the-national-weather-service-a-response-to-our-critics/#comment-733542
    If Yellowstone were privatized the capitalists would not use it for camping they would mine it and sell every scrap of thermal energy . . . and it would be private property (no one allowed except the owners and their “guests”. . . . it would be exploited for it resources . . . all it’s resources.

  63. The one thing I will say is, people working in private companies will probably do a better job, as they will have a brief to work to, timescales and a client to satisfy and expect internal and external review of their work down to the very detail – scentists do not have such pressures, they tend to focus on doing as many papers as possible (quantity not quality) and keeping the their funding up (which is normally tied to the number of papers).
    As long as the data maintained by the private company is still public it would probably yeild better results.

  64. Blade says (ehh?) Many people here have over 50% ripped out of their paycheck just for Federal and FICA alone. Those that lose 35% + 15% = 50% before they even see one dime of their hard work then get to pay state, local, sales, property, school and a myriad of others.
    Yes, must be hundreds of those, that get almost all of their paycheck in the highest tax bracket (that would mean greater than $372,951 for almost all their income). Minus hedge fund managers, etc., that only pay the capital gains rate. Of course, even thought their upper bracket rates have been going down, they are very load whiners are they not.
    Luckily, looking through your (somewhat questionable) list, I see many ways to avoid those taxes. Heck, just quit smoking and stay single!

  65. There is a different tax rate for earned income and passive income. Passive income having the lower rate. It is the reason everyone should strive to go from employee to small business owner to large business owner to investor. Yes, for those who recognize this it is Rich Dad/Poor Dad.

  66. @jakers:
    He didn’t even go into the 33+% imbedded tax in every product bought on the store shelf. Who do you think pays the companies part of the FICA and all the corporate taxes – the consumer. So you buy a product for $10 on the store shelf, $3 of it goes straight to the government coffers. Then the local and state government gets 60-70 cents on top of that. That’s after paying all the personal taxes. People don’t even know how much tax they pay on a daily basis.

  67. First the Air Force and Navy run several joint programs with the National Weather Service including the Nexrad & ASOS programs. If the National Weather Service went out of they would no longer provide weather data to the Dept of Defense or to the FAA. Could a private entity do it? Yes they could do it if they used the NWS equipment. However if a Private Firm goes on strike or walks off the job it would cripple the Airline Industry. Remember what happened with Reagan and the Air Traffic Controllers, who do you think monitors the weather for the FAA? The NWS.
    The NWS provides a service and its a rather important for people who live in area’s of the United States with severe weather (Hurricanes, Tornados, Flooding, and severe storms). In my opinion government including the weather service should have its budget reduced and learn to do more with less. But getting rid of the National Weather Service would be a scary thought its like asking people to pay for the local Fire Department. People wouldn’t do it… Because there house isn’t going to burn down, and there house its gonna be in the path of a hurricane or hit by lightning.
    As for Accuweather they could not provide the country with Data, because the data they get they get from the National Weather Service. You want to know who else buys its data from the National Weather Service????? Merrill Lynch.

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