Ron Paul’s Spaced Out Plan

October 19th, 2011 at 11:42 am | 59 Comments |

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Ron Paul has unveiled a fiscal plan that would eliminate the Commerce Department, among other departments. The Commerce Department includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and one of NOAA’s functions is operating the nation’s weather satellites.

Paul’s plan would zero out Commerce immediately, which means NOAA would also go away. (Interestingly, though, Paul’s line-item presentation of his plan is not detailed enough to include any mention of NOAA.) That raises some questions:

What will happen to the weather satellites under Paul’s plan?

Will they be privatized?

Does Paul have a plan ready for their privatization, including such matters as who will own them and how their services will be paid for?

Did Paul and his staff give any thought to weather satellites before proposing the elimination of Commerce?

Now, if Paul has not thought any of this through, it should be noted that this places him in a longstanding libertarian tradition of demanding the Commerce Department’s termination without seeming to know or care about NOAA and weather satellites.

Back in 1997, in his book What It Means to Be a Libertarian, Charles Murray called for eliminating Commerce’s functions, with just one exception: “Restrictions on the export of military technology.” He didn’t mention weather satellites.

In 2009, Reason editor Matt Welch lamented “that the Department of Commerce still exists.” Looking at the department’s website, he could find no evidence of anything valuable, and noted that the site included such “marginalia” as a page on “Today’s Weather.” That prompted me to wonder on my blog whether Welch knew where the weather data widely used by the public actually come from.

Now, Reason senior editor Jacob Sullum celebrates Paul’s plan for its specificity and for forcing critics to come up with their own specific plans. Regarding Commerce, Sullum asks:

Aside from carrying out the decennial “enumeration” mandated by Article I, Section 2, does the Commerce Department do anything that is constitutionally authorized, let alone essential?

Regarding the constitutionality question, Senator and astronaut Harrison Schmitt has made an interesting case for the constitutionality of federal involvement in various science and technology activities, including monitoring weather. However, if there is a genuine problem with constitutionality, I for one recommend amending the Constitution to allow such activities, posthaste.

As for essential, I think weather satellites are essential. Also essential, if libertarians want to be taken seriously, is that they demonstrate some specific knowledge about the agencies they want to abolish.

Recent Posts by Kenneth Silber



59 Comments so far ↓

  • rbottoms

    News Flash: The GOP Is The Party of Batsh*t Crazies

    GOP Candidates for president vying to say the most insane thing to attract Tea Party fanatics say even more outrageous things today.

    In other news, the sun rose in the east.

    Scientists declare water wet.

    More at 11.

    Over to you Chet.

    • ryan834455

      This grouping of people and hating them sounds like a racists. When you do this, anti-spending people support a debt building machine in Bush and anti-war people support a warmonger in Obama. Try stepping out of your herd mentality and vote for the man that will cut spending AND end the wars.

      Ron Paul 2012

    • rbottoms

      Mr. Ron “I published a racist anti-semetic newsletter for years but didn’t know about?” Paul, is that who you mean?

      [blockquote]In this piece he criticizes Martin Luther King as a pro-communist philanderer and says the MLK holiday is “Hate Whitey Day.” This is in great contrast to 2008 when he told Wolf Blitzer that Martin Luther King was one of his heroes. When activists suggested naming a city after Martin Luther King Paul suggested other names such as “Welfaria,” “Zooville,” “Rapetown,” “Dirtburg,” and “Lazyopolis”
      http://newsone.com/nation/casey-gane-mccalla/ron-pauls-racist-newsletters-revealed/
      [/blockquote]

      • LordYourGod

        Well done, sir. You’re too much of an idiot to understand Dr. Paul’s philosophy or to come up with a valid criticism of his ideas.

        A credit to your side of the political spectrum you are, indeed.

  • carlsonj

    Meh. Who needs NOAA and the NWS when every TV station has a weatherman and a Doppler 5000 MegaStormWarn system?

    /snark

    • greg_barton

      Not sure if you’re serious, but every local weather reporting organization, commercial or otherwise, relies in NOAA data to operate.

  • Rob_654

    Ron Paul is just a huge joke.

    For someone who rails against the government and praises the “Free Market” – this guy has spent a log of time and energy during his life doing every thing he can to STAY on the Government Payroll, with Government Benefits, and a Government Retirement Package – all of which are outside of what folks who work in the Free Market receive.

    How about if Ron gets off the taxpayer dime, gives up his taxpayer provided benefits, and goes into the Free Market and gets a real, good ol’, private sector job where he will have to actually work for a living and deal with what people like him want to heap on us to fend for ourselves while he is protected from the real world effects by his nice government six figure salary, government provided health care, and government subsidized retirement system.

    • Henry Cameron

      The only politician in Washington to put forth a real, tangible solution to the impending debt crisis is a big joke? That’s some sense of humor you have.

      ███ ████ isn’t reliant on the government for income or benefits. He is a doctor, a business owner, and succesful investor whose ability to provide for himself has nothing to do with being a Representative.

      Also, you’re completely wrong about him taking benefits. He opts out of the Congressional health care program. He opts out of the Congressional pension program. He returns a portion of his Congressional Office Budget every year.

    • mcindafizzy

      I think it is both amazing and tragic that people so easily spread absolutely false information.

      Ron Paul has REFUSED the congressional retirement plan, and my guess is that he probably makes little to no use of the benefits. The man has also worked as a physician – and he started at $5.00/hr working to help those who otherwise could not afford help.

      To characterize Ron Paul as some hose sucking up tax money, to characterize Ron Paul as someone who is in politics for an easy buck is absolutely incorrect. Ron Paul has to work harder than any other politician just to keep his name prevalent between media blackouts and fools like yourself who go around spreading this nonsense to those who don’t know any better.

    • rbottoms

      He’s a crazy old coot, another in a long line of crazies the GOP base, you know the ones who think Obama’s from Kenya, eats up.

      Insanity is treatable, but first you have to acknowledge, there is no spoon.

      • jusabunchoBS

        @rbottoms: Why do you insist on dragging this country down with a bunch of bs? All you do is spread the media’s dissinformation. Good luck being able to raise your kid or grandkid in a great nation. Ron Paul is the only one who doesn’t flip his views to gain support. I pitty you for you are like a sheep in a herd, letting the dogs herd you back and forth. Ron Paul is not racist, and if you listend to any of his speeches you would know that. He doesn’t see people in groups, but as individuals. Get real man, or should I say boy. I am black and I do not need anyone standing up to racism for me, I can handle it. You have no clue what you are talking about. A lot of my fellow American’s support Dr. Paul black, white, yellow, red, or blue. Wake up! Don’t you want to be free? Also, they are complaining about laying off 200k people who the tax payers are paying for, yet the private sector lays of millions a year…Why? TO STAY AFLOAT!!! If that is what needs to be done, it needs to be done. Wake up and stop being naive. By they way judging from your SN I assume you Are a bottom feeder? By the way Dr. Paul never supported the Obama’s from kenya, so get your facts strait instead of spreading roomers.

        • MaxFischer

          Why do all Ron Paul followers sound just like Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now?

    • sqwidman

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_pension -
      “Long time congressman Ron Paul has always refused to participate in the congressional pension system, labeling it “immoral”.[5]”

      http://caivn.org/article/2011/04/02/ron-paul-returns-over-140000-his-office-budget-us-treasury
      “in 2011, the Texas congressman and darling of the more libertarian, Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is continuing to walk the walk, returning a whopping $140,000 in unused office funds to the U.S. Treasury for the purpose of paying down the national debt. The sum is nearly 10% of his office funds and a 40% increase over the $100,000 he returned last year.”

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Paul is 75, he would be 77 at the time of the inauguration. He has no chance of winning so articles like this are kind of pointless, even if they are amusing.

  • JimBob

    Silber yes, sell the weather satellites to the private sector.

  • LFC

    Ron Paul’s plan is like so many others being tossed out by GOP Presidential candidates. It’s a very broad guideline which contains no attempt to actually deal with the details of reality. Plans tossed out by Perry, Cain, Gingrich, etc. are all crap. I think Romney is a more mixed bag, but I haven’t looked hard enough to be sure.

    The ability to propose not just broad brush ideas but also details is one of the things that made Obama shine over McCain in the last election. McCain pushed crap with no concept of how, or even if, it would work.

    • jusabunchoBS

      Obama did nill of what he promised he would “I will bring the troops home in 16 months…and you can take that to the bank.” Just one example. So are you going to fall for it again?

  • armstp1

    Ron Paul – Hypocrite extraordinaire! A career politician sucking off the public tit!

    “Ron Paul sponsored legislation that would have the government provide $2.3 million to fund research into shrimp-fishing, $8 million to pay for marketing of wild American shrimp, and money for renovating an old movie theater in Edna, Texas that closed in 1977. He is also the sponsor of no fewer than 10 earmarks in a water resource bills, including two projects to improve the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, at a combined federal cost of roughly $400 million.

    Ron Paul even wants the federal government to flip the bill for removing a sunken ship from Freeport Harbor in Texas. The self proclaimed King of less government even wants the feds to take charge of maintaining a Texas waterway called the Pix Bayou Navigation Channel. In 2007 alone Congressman Hypocrite had 65 earmarks. All totaled they amounted to the tune $400 million.”

    “last year’s 111th Congress, Ron Paul sponsored or co-sponsored 17 earmarks totaling almost $24 Million dollars.

    During the 2009 Fiscal Paul sponsored or co-sponsored 23 earmarks totaling almost $81 million dollars. That’s almost $105 million in earmarks over two years. Can you imagine if he wasn’t a fiscal conservative?”

    http://yidwithlid.blogspot.com/2011/06/ron-paul-congressional-hypocrite.html

    • LordYourGod

      *sigh*

      It’s very depressing to see someone as passionate as yourself about an issue being simultaneously ignorant and an absolute moron.

      Ron Paul is anything but a “hypocrite”. The funds would have been spent either way — it was money already taken from the public and already allocated for spending. Paul’s earmarking was the most intelligent and fiscally sound thing to do in that situation. Without his earmarking, the money would have been malinvested further and spent more frivolously than otherwise. Paul, like a true man of principle, did everything he could to serve the public good in that situation.

      http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig7/phillips5.html

      Please try to be more educated and rational in your future responses.

      • armstp1

        Yeahhh… i have seen that lew rockwell website. nothing but an apologist for a guy who plants himself at the taxpayer trough like everyone else.

        getting rid of government is the focus so long as it does not hurt either Rand or Ronny….

        Ron & Rand Paul and followers like you are complete morons. nothing they say makes any sense whatsoever.

        • LordYourGod

          lol.

          You make a point, I absolutely destroy it, and you retreat into a hissy fit like a whiny little four-year-old without even trying to defend your ideas any further.

          Why not address the argument? Surely you’re not such an imbecile and a submissive coward that you’re going to give up so easily.

          Say something logical. Say something rational in defense of your statement. You won’t be capable of it, but you can at least try to act like an adult who deserves a vote.

        • Vrag

          Dude, you should change your moniker!!! you’re to condescending in your retorts my man, it doesn’t sound very holy like!!!
          Maybe “LORDINGOVERYOU”

      • Rossg

        I’ve just come back from a long journey to the North Pole. Bring me up to speed here – is Ron Paul some kind of modern-day Messiah?

    • jusabunchoBS

      What a bad guy wanting to clean up the gulf and make sure the shrip are eatible. What a bad guy for getting the fishermen back to work after that huge oil leak…BEING SYNICAL. Wake up man people like you are ruining this country. Instead of looking at news articles why don’t you yourself look at his voting history. Voted against: every budgit increase, the patriot act, iraq war, congressional pay raise, congerssional pensions, the list continues. Wake up and stop carrying the water for the special intrest groups….bottom feeder

  • ryan834455

    The author clearly has a distorted reality. Let’s do some simply math to understand how Ron Paul’s plan is both progressive and conservative.

    When people think about cutting they often think about what the money was intended for in theory, so … cutting national defense reduces our defense/security. Or allowing young people to opt out of Social Security will reduce their financial security. Here’s one example of how this simply isn’t true.

    A person earning $50,000 per year and paying $1000/month on rent could own a $200,000 outright in 15y without spending an extra dime. SS tax is 10.4%(4.2+6.2) or $5,200/y for this person. After just 2 years this low income person could afford a down payment and spend their rent on paying off debt instead. After 15y their SS would have paid 78,000 and rent the interest and rest of principal. How’s that for security. A house with zero debt. After that it’s all gravy. Housing bubble, interest rates rise, no problem. You’re free and clear. And that’s only after 15y. The alternative for many is a constant state of poverty indebted to the Landlord and when they’re old enough to retire receive SS, not even enough to cover that rent.

    Let’s be humane and stop sucking the poor dry. Let’s allow them to keep the financial security they’ve earned and the dignity that comes with taking care of yourself and family.

  • ryan834455

    It’s possible to be both progressive and conservative. Ron Paul’s plan is genius and details how. He’s some math I did to understand the implications of his policy on SS.

    A person earning $50,000 per year and paying $1000/month on rent could own a $200,000 outright in 15y without spending an extra dime. SS tax is 10.4%(4.2+6.2) or $5,200/y for this person. After just 2 years this low income person could afford a down payment and spend their rent on paying off debt instead. After 15y their SS would have paid 78,000 and rent the interest and rest of principal. How’s that for security. A house with zero debt. After that it’s all gravy. Housing bubble, interest rates rise, no problem. You’re free and clear. And that’s only after 15y. The alternative for many is a constant state of poverty indebted to the Landlord and when they’re old enough to retire receive SS, not even enough to cover that rent.

    Let’s be humane and stop sucking the poor dry. Let’s allow them to keep the financial security they’ve earned and the dignity that comes with taking care of yourself and family.

    • MaxFischer

      Your math appears to be highly suspect. Ignoring obvious questions such as “are you supposed to eat your house once you retire,” I’ll simply ask this: Why weren’t all Americans debt-free homeowners prior to the advent of Social Security? Where were all of those debt-free homeowners the first 30 years of the last century? And finally, what percentage of those in the early 20th century were ever able to retire without the certitude of poverty?

  • Graychin

    I don’t pay much attention to anyone who consistently puts ideology ahead of reality. That is Ron Paul.

    That also describes most Congressional Republicans in 2011.

  • bamboozer

    Ron Paul and the Libertarians always look good in straw polls and referendums and then they open thier mouths. When you make Grover Norquist seem tame and restrained you’ve got a huge problem, your essentially saying that you intend to slay not only one or two sacred cows but exterminate the species. When it’s all over Ron Paul will retreat to his safe seat in Texas where no doubt he serves as everyones favorite crazy uncle in congress, rest assured he’ll be back again, and again.

  • MSheridan

    Regardless of the value of his political views (most of which I definitely don’t share), Ron Paul is not going to win the GOP nomination. Not only because of his age, but because there are too many ways in which he differs from the rest of his party (to be fair, he differs from the Democrats too). It is said that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line. Paul doesn’t fall in line that well and his followers are more like Democrats in their support of him before their support of GOP orthodoxy. How many Ron Paul supporters would support Romney, Perry, or Cain? Those candidates have almost nothing in common with the guy they like.

    Until he or someone like him either completely remakes the GOP in his image or starts a popular 3rd party (and I don’t see ether happening in the midst of an economic crisis, given that cutting services is a big part of his philosophy), Ron Paul is worthy of mention mostly as a symptom of voter dissatisfaction with the status quo.

    • jusabunchoBS

      He differs from all the other canidates because they are all democrates who slapped the name “Republican” on their vest. They all support war, bank bailouts, raising the debt ceiling, and everyhting else democrates support. 30 years ago they wouldn’t dare calling themselves a republican. Paul is the only real republican in the race. Get real, they all differ from the republican field.

    • jusabunchoBS

      I cannot comment on here any more, the media has too many people brainwashed(get of your anti-deppressants.) I hope they have fun using their money as wall paper in 2 years…sigh

  • DWAnderson

    “Also essential, if libertarians want to be taken seriously, is that they demonstrate some specific knowledge about the agencies they want to abolish.”

    Really? Why shouldn’t the burden be reversed? If non-libertarians want to be taken seriously, they must demonstrate some specific knowledge about the programs they want to continue funding.

    • MSheridan

      If you are speaking generally, this is utterly ridiculous. To learn a single-digit fraction of what there is to know about every single program, agency, and department funded by the U.S. government would take years, if not decades. The average American voter not only does not have the interest, but does not have the time. That is why it is fortunate we live in a democratic republic, rather than in a democracy. The legislators we elect are supposed to learn these things on our behalf and we give them extra staff money to delegate some of this learning to aides and analysts who can help them with this.

      If, on the other hand, you meant your statement to apply only to those self-same legislators, then you have half a point. Yes, legislators should know as much as possible about where the money goes and what it is spent on. Proud ignorance is equally unforgivable in both the big-government AND the (supposedly) small-government leaders of our nation.

      • LordYourGod

        If you are speaking seriously, this is utterly ridiculous. You argue in favor of voter ignorance, attempting to excuse their behavior as being a product of justified laziness by throwing out some absurd and baseless statements about the amount of effort and time it would take to become an educated individual. Assuming that, for the sake of argument, your insane statements are actually true, an enormous problem then exists which is that the government bureaucracy has become so disperse and compartmentalized that, in spite of centralization of authority, the complexity of the organization allows those departments to operate without accountability or transparency.

        If you’re going to give your support to the creation and funding of a bureaucratic organization that necessarily takes place through the violently-enforced redistribution of other people’s wealth, you better be sure you have a clear and defined reason for doing so that doesn’t involve childishly placing blind faith in those who claim authority and dominion over you.

        • MSheridan

          You argue in favor of voter ignorance, attempting to excuse their behavior as being a product of justified laziness by throwing out some absurd and baseless statements about the amount of effort and time it would take to become an educated individual. Assuming that, for the sake of argument, your insane statements are actually true, an enormous problem then exists which is that the government bureaucracy has become so disperse and compartmentalized that, in spite of centralization of authority, the complexity of the organization allows those departments to operate without accountability or transparency.

          No, I don’t argue “in favor” of voter ignorance. I acknowledge its existence. We have an incredibly ill-informed electorate. However, even if the electorate were universally well-informed, they are still not the people who make the decisions, except very indirectly. Theoretically, the legislators they choose will make the decisions the majority of the electorate would prefer. But when we’ve got legislators boasting of their ignorance, and when the electorate is fine with that… http://www.chickashanews.com/local/local_story_239102559.html

          The second part of your statement is true enough: We DO have a government that has become so disperse and compartmentalized that, in spite of centralization of authority, the complexity of the organization frequently allows departments to operate without sufficient accountability or transparency. That is one of the reasons Sunshine Laws are so important.

  • Kenneth Silber

    >>If non-libertarians want to be taken seriously, they must demonstrate some specific knowledge about the programs they want to continue funding.<<

    I support this too.

    • jusabunchoBS

      I second that. Also a libertarian is about personal freedom….When was personal freedom not taken seriously?

    • DWAnderson

      So what programs would you continue funding? Or if it is easier, what programs wouldn’t you continue funding?

      My original (rhetorical) point was that this is not a useful standard to apply to anyone. You raise a fine point about NOAA. If this were part of a constructive discussion, Ron Paul would modify the proposal to exclude certain functions (or talk more specifically about how they might be privatized) and move on.

      Few have encyclopedic knowledge of the Federal leviathan, but that doesn’t mean they should be disqualified from making constructive, if imperfect, contributions to the discussion about how to control the scope of government– which is how I took the line I quoted.

  • tbgibbs

    Its astounding that people with so little knowledge concerning a person are so willing to offer up such ignorant drivel concerning them. Rather than educate themselves to what Ron Paul is really offering, they simply speculate based on opinions that have been deliberately skewed by the media.
    Take a look at Ron Paul’s voting record. Understanding that taxpayer money has already been stolen and will get spent regardless of benefit, he attaches earmarks to bills for the benefit of the district he represents but has nearly if not always voted against those very bills. The reason is they are typically unconstitutional in their nature. The bills usually get passed anyway and his constituents benefit yet he always stands on and maintains constitutional principle. In case you weren’t aware, most of what the federal government does using taxpayer money is way beyond the scope of what they are actually allowed under the Constitution to do. Its really pretty simple.
    As for privatizing weather satellites, that’s pretty laughable when all he is saying is do away with the endless bureaucracies. The NOAA existed as several agencies of the federal government long before the Dept. of Commerce existed and could easily function outside of that umbrella if it no longer existed, as they once did.
    Please try and education yourself a bit before you go offering opinions masquerading as facts. Ron Paul is the most common sense candidate out there and has pledged to only accept a salary equal to the median income for Americans or about $39,000 a year for serving as president. You never heard that part, did you? You won’t and can’t find a more principled and honorable person seeking the presidency. Period.

    • Kenneth Silber

      If NOAA were to continue to exist, then Paul’s proposed allocation of zero dollars to the Commerce Dept is rather misleading.

      • tbgibbs

        You can do away with the Dept. of Commerce without doing away with the NOAA. Just like you can do away with the Dept. of Education without doing away with education. It is these wasteful and expensive bureaucracies that need to be gotten rid of. They were wonderful big-government socialist ideas but they don’t work very well.

        • armstp1

          “…these wasteful and expensive bureaucracies that need to be gotten rid of.”

          Please explain to us or prove to us that any of the Departments are “wasteful and expensive”?

          Why exactly do you think that? Please explain with some detail. I have never heard a good explaination as to why these very important government departments are not needed and are in fact “wasteful”. Please enlighten us with your intelligence and wisdom.

        • LordYourGod

          Why should he? You’ve demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that you’re too much an raving lunatic idiot to comprehend even the most basic principles of statism or economics.

          Why should one attempt to explain calculus to a dog?

        • steppedleader

          Well, NOAA takes up about 50% of DOC’s budget, so if he doesn’t eliminate that I don’t see how he can claim to have 100% eliminated the DOC. By that logic he could also eliminate the DOC simply by changing its name. Personally I think he really does intend to eliminate NOAA. Even though I seriously disagree with Paul on this, to the point that I can no longer consider voting for him, I’ve always respected him for sticking to a number of positions that no other notable politicians seem to have the guts to take. He is the one politician I actually trust not to do something as underhanded as claiming that he’s cutting something by twice as much as he actually is.

          Also, if you read the transcript of Paul’s interview with Wolf Blitzer from a few days ago, he states outright that he is cutting all of the jobs in the DOC because they are “nonproductive”. I really don’t see where that leaves room for him keeping half the department around.

  • Houndentenor

    I’m no fan of Paul’s but this piece seems to imply that he wants to get rid of NOAA without actually asking him if he does. Is the writer too lazy to pick up the phone and call his office or campaign office and as if he wants to do that? That’s the least one should expect from a journalist. NOAA could easily be moved to another department, like Homeland Security. Why is it in the Commerce Dept anyway?

    • Kenneth Silber

      As someone has pointed out, if NOAA were to continue to exist, then Paul’s proposed allocation of zero dollars to the Commerce Dept is rather misleading.

      • baw1064

        NIST? I would think that standard weights and measures might be useful to have. Even if you’re one of those people who decides to put all their money into gold bullion, how do you know that it’s really an ounce?

  • vindex2010

    Crazy Uncle Ron. He wants to fully audit the Federal Reserve System something supported by 75% of the people. He wants to end long, expensive, unconstitutional overseas wars like Afghanistan and Iraq, supported by 65% of the people. He wants to end the multibillion-dollar war on drugs and decriminalize marijuana, now supported by 50% of the people. He wants to let the states decide gay marriage, now supported by 52% of the American people. He was the only politician in Washington that correctly predicted the collapse of the housing bubble. He’s the only politician in Washington that has never been accused of flip flopping. He receives more donations from our soldiers and veterans than all the other candidates combined. Crazy Uncle Ron indeed.

    • LordYourGod

      In a society run by tyrants and maniacs, the one who champions liberty and a rational understanding of the world will always be considered “crazy”.

  • jacobs23

    You are quite mistaken on NOAA. There many companies that own PRIVATE weather satellites and provide data. Infact, 1 company plans to launch several satellites and sell the data to NOAA…. (http://geooptics.com/).

    Only thing spaced out is your bias. Educate yourself before posting garbage.

  • steppedleader

    I am currently finishing up my masters in meteorology, and it should be noted that NOAA does a lot a lot of other important things in addition to operating satellites (although that is important, too). Elements of NOAA issue all severe weather, tornado, flood and hurricane watches and warnings. They also operate the radars that allow many of the warnings to be issued. Furthermore, they operate the weather models that allow us to have forecasts, and interpret the model output to create forecasts used by media outlets. They also launch weather balloons at locations all over the country at least twice a day, which is necessary to collect data needed for the models to function and to make short-term forecasts. Finally, NOAA funds research to improve forecasts and warnings.

    It is possible that the private sector could take over some of these responsibilities, but I really don’t know how that would work. For example, all of the collection of weather balloon data for use with weather models is done in a coordinated and standardized way that would probably be quite difficult to maintain if it was done by a patchwork of private companies. Furthermore, *all* of the current data collection will still need to be paid for if we are not to degrade the quality of the forecasts we currently have. The system doesn’t work if we just collect data in populated areas where there are a lot of people to buy the services. Also, If there was not a patchwork of companies that takes over NOAA’s responsibilities but rather a single company that operates the entire system, that company would have a complete monopoly since the cost of building a competing system would be completely prohibitive.

    Even if the private sector could effectively take over a lot of these things, there’s no way it could happen overnight, and just suddenly eliminating NOAA without a plan that includes a transition period would be insane. Almost 350 people died in three days last April due to tornadoes — how much worse would that have been if NOAA had been shut down at the time and private companies had yet to get fully organized and running?

    And this is all just the atmospheric part of NOAA. It doesn’t even start with the oceanic part, which I fully expect is also important although I’m not as familiar with the details of its operations.

    Finally, if Paul’s plan is to move some agencies like NOAA to different departments, then it is politically idiotic (and, as Kenneth noted, misleading) not to make that clear in the budget document he released. Obviously some people are going to realize and point out that some important things are being eliminated, so if he doesn’t actually intend to cut some of agencies he appears to want to cut I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t point that out.

  • kirk

    Unless NOAA has always been under the Commerce Department, cannot be managed by any other department of government except the Commerce Department and is in fact the only function of government that we rely on within the purview of the Commerce department – we could still have NOAA but no Commerce Department. Laugh while you can monkey boy – we can solve this loony, crazy, wacky problem with common sense.

  • Ron Paul & Other Libertarian Crazies | The Pink Flamingo

    [...] do away with NOAA! “…Ron Paul has unveiled a fiscal plan that would eliminate the Commerce Department, among other departments. The Commerce [...]

  • sailrick

    NOAA does a lot more than weather satellites. NOAA is what all U.S. mariners, both commercial and recreational, rely on for nautical charts and the surveying of the coast that those charts require. There is much more that NOAA does, as well.

    NOAA also does climate research, something many GOP politicians who deny the science, don’t want to see any more of. Is Ron Paul one of them?

    Well, he is another divorced from reality climate change denier.
    Whether he’s another wacko who wants to end the research, I’m not sure.

    As a layman, who has spent about 6,000 hours in the past four years studying the science and the supposed debate about it, there is no question in my mind, that AGW is real and that there is a massive disinformation campaign to discredit the science, using the same tactics, but on a much larger scale, that the tobacco companies have used for decades.
    And there is a large number of GOP politicians, who are aiding and abetting in this massive campaign of disingenuous propaganda.

    There is a quote at Ron Paul’s website, where he says something like -

    “if global warming is real, why did they change the name to climate change”

    This is the type of thing that would be said by one of the most gullible and least informed on this subject. It is not something I want to hear from a man who would be leader of the free world. In fact it’s just one of dozens of absurd memes that deniers pull out of their litany of lame arguments.

    In case you don’t get it, the Intergovernmental Panel on CLIMATE CHANGE was named and founded 23 years ago, in 1988. Scientists have used both terms since the mid 1970s.

    But then, GOP politicians have said many lame things about climate change.

    GOP congressman Rohrbacher suggests trees cause global warming

    Speaker of the House Boehner says CO2 emissions nothing to worry about because humans breathe CO2 in and out. Brilliant.

    Michelle Bachman says there have been no scientific studies showing CO2 is harmful.

    I guess she missed the 10,000 (up to about 2006) published research papers that show that CO2 causes global warming. There are thousands more since then.

    GOP Rep Fred Upton says there can be no global warming because God won’t allow it.

    And of course wacko Sen Inhofe says its all a big hoax.
    Sure Senator, the entire world scientific community is just trying to get more grant money.

    Rep Joe Barton (R-TX) describes Christopher Monckton “as being generally regarded as one of the most knowledgeable, if not the most knowledgeable, experts on the skeptic side.”
    This was how Barton introduced Monckton to a House committee that Barton chaired.

    Monckton, who the GOP loves to call as an expert witness on climate change, is not a scientist. His only higher education is in journalism. Monckton is a complete and proven charlatan, who has been completely and devastatingly debunked on dozens of occasions by real scientists.

    Barton and Inhofe get more oil money than any other legislators, in the House and Senate, respectively.

    Minnestota GOP state senator, Michael Jungbauer, claims to have studied all 13 fields of science related to climate change. Just so you know, no climate scientist would make such a claim. Jungbauer is the leading climate change denier in the state senate.
    Well, it turns out he doesn’t even have a bachelor degree in any field of science.

  • sailrick

    On top of eliminating NOAA, some of the extremists would also eliminate the Dept of Energy. There has never been a time in our entire history when we needed the Department of Energy more than now.
    There is climate change and peak oil and lots of critical decisions need to be made concerning our energy future. This has to be one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard.

    But the GOP politicians don’t like that the Dept. of Energy agrees with the 97%-98% of climate scientists who do the research, and virtually every major science organization in the world.

    The National Academy of Science was created to advise congress on science matters. But these fools would rather listen to a complete charlatan and non scientist like Christopher Monckton, who they have at least twice called as an ‘expert’ witness on climate change.
    At one hearing this year, Monckton was their only witness. Pathetic doesn’t cover it.

    There is a history of Republicans disregarding the best advice of specialists in the field, while swallowing everything offered up by oil industry shill scientists, and other fake skeptics, like Monckton.

    The Bush administration played a major role in the propaganda campaign to discredit science. President Bush authorized a major study on climate change, then had a Petroleum Institute lawyer edit the report done by climate scientists, to water it down.

    They also tried to prevent climate scientists at NASA, from releasing a report about global temperature for 2005. It was one of the two warmest on record at the time.
    There was a systematic attempt to stifle the free speech of climate scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, where James Hansen works. They had public policy people inserted into the Institute to ride herd over the scientists. The same Petroleum Institute lawyer was involved in this censoring of climate scientists.

    To learn much more about this, read the book:
    “Censoring Science: the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming” by Mark Bowen