Republican party *still* shilling antiscience?

By Phil Plait | February 25, 2009 10:33 am

I remember that day in November, that day when the Republican party was handed their head on a platter by the voting public. Now, a lot of people would have taken that as a lesson, perhaps realizing that something is wrong if so many people voted against them.

I guess the Republican party leaders are not in that group of people.

Bobby Jindal gave the Republican "rebuttal" to the President’s speech yesterday. Yes, that Bobby Jindal: amateur exorcist, creationist, doomer-of-Louisiana. He is obviously making a run for 2012, though how well advised that is might be up for vote. Perhaps literally.

Anyway, last night, in an attempt to make a sound bite, he bit himself instead with this line about the stimulus package:

Here’s the transcript of what he said (emphasis mine):

While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a magnetic levitation line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called volcano monitoring. Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C..

Are you freaking kidding me? Are these guys still trying to score points by being blatantly antiscience? I bet there are a few million folks in Seattle, Oregon, northern California, Alaska, and, y’know, Hawaii that think volcano monitoring is a fine and dandy idea.

Not to mention Yellowstone, potentially the scariest place on the planet.

What the heck is it with these guys? I don’t mean Republicans in general, I mean the ones running the party. Do they not get what’s really important, and what’s just rhetorical partisan garbage? I hope that this line by Jindal becomes his fruit fly, his planetarium-as-overhead-projector. Because when people in charge say things so mind-numbingly dumb, it is our duty to make sure everyone knows it.

Louisiana, I’m sorry your governor is such an antiscience ignorant blowhard. But please don’t try to foist him on the rest of the country in three years.

[Update (12:15 Mountain time): A lot of commenters are asking why this sort of funding is in the stimulus bill in the first place,and call it pork. They're missing the point: the point of the stimulus bill is to stimulate the economy, both in the short and the long term. Funding science does exactly that; it helps pay for scientists, experiments, equipment, and more. I have written about this before. Funding science pays off multiply in the long term; it always has.]

Tip o’ the blinders to Splendid Elles, who has great comments on Jindal’s nonsense.

Comments (211)

  1. SLC

    The saddest part of this clown is that he has a degree in biology from Brown, Un. Ken Miller and Joe Levine must wish to wear bags over their heads when reminded of this.

  2. Scott

    No, the objection is that it’s being crammed into a stimulus bill. Something like this may be worthwhile, but backdooring it this way where it can’t be evaluated against other priorities is dishonest.

  3. rob

    to quote David and Nigel:

    “it’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”

    Jindal is still on the stupid side.

  4. Jesse

    Scott,

    It creates jobs. Please turn your brain on before typing.

    thanks

  5. Ever since they totally whored themselves out to the evangelicals, they have lost all credibility. They are so self-rightious in their thinking that they forget that it’s just possible someone else may not agree with them.

  6. I wonder if there is any money in it for hurricane monitoring? Would he be against that “wasteful spending” as well?

  7. RL

    Scott is right. Volcano monitoring is worthy science and worthy of money, but its not going to to stimulate the economy. The money for this should be spent in the normal budget process. Its not meant as anti-science.

  8. Eddie Janssen

    I am not that familia(i?)r with US policies, but was it not Bush’s government and the Republican parliament who created a huge part of the deficit?

  9. QUASAR

    I find it so strange that you americans are plagued by the opium of the masses(religulous dogma), and yet you made so many scientifc discoveries in the past. You sent people to the moon, probes to the outer planets, and a lot of scientific reasearch comes from you. And that right now science is under attack by some slow-minded political scums who happen to be in power. It really makes me wish that the Societ Union was still around these days!

    Long live socialism!

  10. Cheyenne

    I agree with Scott and RL that it shouldn’t have been a part of the stimulus bill. I wish it was funded through the normal appropriations process.

    That said though wow did Jindal come off bad in my opinion. That last sentence in bold above is just cringe worthy.

  11. I’m with Scott on this one. Stimulus spending should be focused on infrastructure. While one could argue that safety from vulcanism is a good thing for maintaining infrastructure, realistically, it’s of somewhat limited utility to the bulk of infrastructure.

    That said, how much was it? $140M? Seriously? We’re going to complain about chump change? It’s a little late to be worried about the nickel and dime stuff.

  12. Oh, and also? Just because Jindal technically said something I agree with, his reasoning is utterly flawed and he’s still a moronic assbarnacle, whose mouth vomits up idiocy from the bowels of boweldom.

    I really really hope to see the Republicans run him and Palin on the same ticket in 2012. Comedy gold.

  13. jrpowell

    Um, stimulus spending is for keeping as well as creating jobs. It would be nice if we had scientists keep doing science rather than digging ditches.

  14. Slightly off-topic: Jindal’s complaint about the LA to Vegas mag lev is an out-and-out lie. It’s not in the stimulus, period.

    http://crooksandliars.com/silentpatriot/david-shuster-smacks-around-rep-darr

  15. Wayne

    I think the point he (and Scott) were trying to make is that this sort of thing should be in the regular budget, not a stimulus bill. I did think while listening to his speech that his phrasing was terrible and anti-science sounding. “Something called”?? Don’t they know what volcano monitoring is?? I’m no fan of Jindal, but I’m also not a fan of the stimulus.

    Jesse,
    There’s lots of spending that “creates jobs” but still isn’t the best use of resources. I’m not saying volcano monitoring or any of the other projects in there aren’t worth while and don’t create jobs, but the way this was jammed through certainly wasn’t the new “transparent” Washington we were promised. Blind faith in the stimulus doesn’t make one any more thoughtful than those who oppose it.

  16. Mike Saunders

    On this topic I believe Gov. Jindal is correct, as are Scott and RL. While Volcano Monitoring may well be critically important science it doesn’t belong in a stimulus package. If Mr. Plait is correct and residents of Volcano Hazard-prone states need some research then the monies should come from an appropriate allocation – perhaps FEMA?

    It does neither science nor the dialog on science any good to try and ear-mark these projects into the stimulus package. Nor does it do any good to tar and feather Gov. Jindal as anti-science when he’s trying to, in good faith with a time-honoured platform represent and advocate his party’s position on the stimulus bill.

    At the risk of sounding paranoid, I am afraid it’s a back door effort to get Volcanic Ash included in GH Gases (by quantifying output more accurately) in the same way activists are trying to get Carbon from Forest Fires included.

  17. Todd W.

    Let’s see….

    Buy New Cars: Boosts the auto industry and replaces older vehicles that may have less efficient/clean engines

    Mag-Lev Train: Builds the infrastructure, creates jobs, and provides for faster connections across large areas of the country

    Volcano Monitoring: Creates science and tech jobs, supports manufacturers (for all those little parts used in the making of the tech used by the scientists), and helps to advance knowledge of volcanic activity, thereby leading to greater safety and faster recovery from eruptions

    Yep, those are all bad. None of them stimulate the economy or create jobs, and they are all grossly wasteful, unlike that money-maker overseas. I can see some of the arguments that these projects should be funded through other means, but then the question arises: Just what is okay to be included for spending in the bill and what is “bad”? In the end, though, Jindal did come off sounding hollow and rather dumb. His attempted appeal to emotion fell flat.

  18. I’m pretty sure that this spending will create and/or retain jobs, while mitigating possible future disasters. Can’t really see the problem here.

    I’m sure any new employees or contractors hired to expand on volcano monitoring will sure appreciate the work.

  19. Oregon, northern California, Alaska, and, y’know, Hawaii

    Most of those places vote blue. Lava is red. You know it makes sense.

  20. Deborah

    I just got a huge kick out of the fact that over 50% of his constituency (namely, South Louisiana) wasn’t even watching him last night, as we were having more fun with the last remnants of Mardi Gras.

  21. Scott is quite right and Phil is quite wrong on this one. The purpose of the stimulus bill should be to spend money on stuff that will have a high multiplier effect and therefore, stimulate the economy. Unless I’m missing something here, volcano watching — or probably most research based-science — is unlikely to have such an effect. But another way the stimulus bill is supposed to be a shot of adrenaline, while volcano watching is more like broccoli; important and nutritious, but not appropriate to the case in point.

    That being said, Jindal not merely phrased his comment badly, he phrased it in a way meant to appeal to the populist, anti-intellectual wing of the Republican base. There’s no excuse for that.

    It creates jobs. Please turn your brain on before typing.

    By this logic, almost anything could qualify for the stimulus. Broccoli has a stimulative effect (hey it, has carbs), but it’s incompatible to the adrenaline shot.

  22. Todd W.

    @Deborah

    I just got a huge kick out of the fact that over 50% of his constituency (namely, South Louisiana) wasn’t even watching him last night, as we were having more fun with the last remnants of Mardi Gras.

    So, not only does he sound dumb, but he’s a bad planner, too? Maybe he was just appealing to the religious right, knowing that they’re the ones most likely to vote for him and, being all pious and stuff, they’d be home watching him blather on.

  23. Phil, Phil, Phil… A touch thin skinned on this one? The point the governor was trying to make (poorly, but that is another issue) is that the stimulus bill is pork-centric. That is not any more anti-science than saying your reply is pro driving the economy into the ground.

    There are more important things than volcano monitoring or any other pork science projects. In boom times, nobody would bat an eye… but now Democrats and Republicans can not get out of their own way in regards to responsible spending.

  24. Becca Stareyes

    For the folks who say that the volcano monitoring shouldn’t have been put in the stimulus bill…

    If that was Gov. Jindal’s objection, the paragraph BA quoted didn’t do a good job of making that look like Jindal’s point. It sounded like Jindal was saying volcano monitoring was wasteful spending rather than something like: ‘We need to keep our focus for the stimulus on restoring the economy, so Congress shouldn’t have tossed every project they wanted to fund at the bill to see what stuck. Some of it was useful, some wouldn’t help the economy but has other merits, and some of it’s just plain bad, but we had to take it all or nothing, or delay the bill fighting over it’.

    See? If one is objecting to the fact volcano monitoring is a good thing, but will not stimulate the economy as much as, say, fixing the interstate system, one shouldn’t make it sound like volcano monitoring is wasteful spending. (Or if Gov. Jindal’s objection was that $140 million was too much to spend, I’d like to see his statistics about spending on volcano monitoring versus the amount advance warning on eruptions saves.)

    A politician is never going to protect himself perfectly from gaffes, but this is on the fruit-fly or ‘overhead’ projector level — it makes one look uneducated.

  25. Todd W.

    @Becca Stareyes

    Well said.

  26. @Becca: Oh, I agree, Jindal remains a mouth breathing idiot. I don’t think anyone here is going to defend Jindal. Like I said above, just because he kinda said something that’s sorta right, his reasoning is just as flawed as always.

    Jindal is the sort of person that thinks the sky is blue because God painted it that color. Even though he’s got the right conclusion (the sky is blue), he’s still wrong.

  27. Robbie

    Plognark: “I’m pretty sure that this spending will create and/or retain jobs, while mitigating possible future disasters. Can’t really see the problem here.”

    Now this sort of thinking is ANTI-science. People that just believe anything a politician or talking head tells them.

    jrpowell: “Um, stimulus spending is for keeping as well as creating jobs.”

    This is ANTI-science too. How would you go about measuring the number of jobs kept (saved)?

    And for many posters here I have a question for you, where does the money for this stimulus come from?

    Phil, please quote the sections of the Constitution that allow for federal spending on volcano monitoring. Thanks.

  28. IVAN3MAN

    I would have posted this cartoon, but due to copyright, I’ve provided a link instead:
    http://www.towncalleddobson.com/?p=1516

  29. @Robbie: there is a reason economics is largely regarded as a soft science.

    Also, volcano monitoring clearly falls under “public welfare” and the commerce clause, especially since volcanoes and other natural disasters largely ignore state borders.

  30. Meg

    The problem I have is that this is a pork project for the stimulus bill. There are lots of science-related projects that are being funded in the stimulus package that, while being completely worthwhile and deserving of funding, will not stimulate the economy and should compete for funding in the normal course of business. I don’t have any context for the Jindal quote, but standing on its own I read it as a stimulus-specific objection, not anti-science.

  31. the bug guy

    From the actual bill (via “The Questionable Authority” blog):

    US Geological Survey

    For an additional amount for ”Surveys, Investigations, and Research”, $140,000,000, for repair, construction and restoration of facilities; equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, and seismic and volcano monitoring systems; national map activities; and other critical deferred maintenance and improvement projects.

    Sounds like there’s a lot of infrastructure investment to me.

  32. Speaking of Anti-Science shillers – this really and truly stinks and is begging for a write-up response by Phil -Huffington Post today has a headline article titled “Vaccine Court: Autism Debate Continues”

    Last paragraph-

    “Robert Kennedy, Jr. and I would love nothing more than to reassure parents that the nation’s current vaccine program is 100% safe for all kids, and that zero credible evidence has been presented to link vaccines with autism. But that simply isn’t true — as at least two court cases have found.”

    HuffPo has a huge readership now. This is terrible. Reading the comments section is, well, disheartening to say the least.

  33. Robbie

    t3knomanser, the words “public welfare” are not to be found in the text of the Constitution. I just checked.

    If you are referring to the “general welfare” then I’ve got some great quotes from the likes of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison for you to think about. I would be happy to produce them for you should you want to continue that line of debate.

    As for the interstate commerce clause, let’s just define commerce. From Wiktionary.org: “The exchange or buying and selling of commodities; esp. the exchange of merchandise, on a large scale, between different places or communities; extended trade or traffic.”

    So economics is a “soft science” as you said. Does that mean anyone can make any claim and it is just as believable as any other claim someone makes about it? Of course not. So look at some history of economic stimulus and see what those examples tell you.

  34. Todd W.

    @the bug guy

    Thanks for posting that section of the bill. Jindal sounds even more stupid, now.

  35. Hmmm.. no mention of the previous sentence:
    $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a magnetic levitation line from Las Vegas to Disneyland(emphasis added)

    It’s already been debunked (along with the ‘Pelosi’s mouse’) as not actually being in the bill.
    FYI

    J/P=?

  36. Mike W

    I couldn’t believe this when watching it, its like he had his fingers in his hears and was yelling ‘la la la i cant hear you’
    during the entire speech by Obama

    the republicans have nothing to hang on to since they are like robots going ‘taxes bad, taxes bad’
    but if they would has listened they would have seen that 95% of people are getting a tax CUT and that the wealthiest 2% are having their taxes put back to what they were in the Clinton era.
    The lies that the government is going to be making medical desision for you and the complete ignorance and fear of science….ahhhh

  37. @the bug guy: really? How does that move goods and services from the provider to the recipient?

    @robbie: I wasn’t aware Jefferson or Madison ever sat on the Supreme Court. Protection from natural disaster is quite clearly an element of the “general” welfare. Considering the effects of a volcano may quite happily ignore the borders of a state, it’s quite obviously federal jurisdiction. Or are you suggesting the Federal government should only get involved with the movement of ash across state boundaries, perhaps by taxing the ash as it crosses state borders?

    Yes, economics is a soft science, no that doesn’t give license to any possible claim. “Saving jobs”, as you said, is an utterly meaningless phrase, and is certainly not something we can subject to examination- how do we tell if a job has been “saved”? Job creation is somewhat less flexible, but even then: was the job created by the stimulus, or just general economic trends?

  38. CKevinW

    While I think Jindal, and the Republican party leadership, is largely anti-science I think Jindal’s point in this comment was that funding for volcano monitoring in a bill intended to stimulate the economy out of a spiral into a deeper economic crisis (no comment on whether it will work or not) is inapropriate. Funding for monitoring should be given but it should be part of the normal appropriations process and not part of this stimulus bill. Spending for the new cars or the maglev line may also seem inappropriate for a stimulus bill but that spending would employ auto workers and construction workings and probably be more stimulative than the volcano monitoring. Granted, $140M probably represents some infrastructure spending so a stretch might make is qualify as stimulative as well but that isn’t as evident as the cars or train spending. I’m sure the comment was designed to appeal to the anti-science backbone of the GOP but his point, I think, is valid and thus a fairly good political move to appeal to the base while simultaneously making a point.

  39. ND

    ” US Geological Survey

    For an additional amount for ”Surveys, Investigations, and Research”, $140,000,000, for repair, construction and restoration of facilities; equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, and seismic and volcano monitoring systems; national map activities; and other critical deferred maintenance and improvement projects. ”

    The infrastructure funding, along with monitoring systems, becomes
    “something called” in

    “and $140 million for something called volcano monitoring.”

    Ugly word play.

  40. Mena

    Page 114 of the stimulus bill:
    ” UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
    SURVEYS, INVESTIGATIONS, AND RESEARCH
    For an additional amount for ‘‘Surveys, Investigations, and Research’’, $200,000,000, for repair and restoration of facilities; equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, and seismic and volcano monitoring systems; national map activities; and other critical deferred maintenance and improvement projects: Provided, That the amount set aside from this appropriation pursuant to section 1106 of this Act shall be not more than 5 percent instead of the percentage specified in such section.”

  41. Sir Eccles

    Salesman: “How about I let you in on something every home owner needs: VOLCANO INSURANCE! Now, I have an uncle that knows a lot about volcanoes, and he says a volcano is coming THIS WAY.”
    Peter Griffin: “But we’ve never had any trouble with volcanoes.”
    Salesman: “Well don’t you think we’re due for one?”
    Peter (thinking): Touche, salesman. I too have an uncle.
    Peter: Come in.

  42. Robbie

    That’s an awfully weak argument t3knomanser. Madison being the father of the Constitution and all I’d say he knows something about it. So here come the quotes, since you asked for it.

    James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, elaborated upon this limitation in a letter to James Robertson:
    With respect to the two words “general welfare,” I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. If the words obtained so readily a place in the “Articles of Confederation,” and received so little notice in their admission into the present Constitution, and retained for so long a time a silent place in both, the fairest explanation is, that the words, in the alternative of meaning nothing or meaning everything, had the former meaning taken for granted.

    In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison stood on the floor of the House to object saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
    – James Madison, 4 Annals of congress 179 (1794)

    “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”
    –Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Albert Gallatin, 1817

    (Tenth Amendment, hint hint. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”)

    “We must confine ourselves to the powers described in the Constitution, and the moment we pass it, we take an arbitrary stride towards a despotic Government.”
    – James Jackson, First Congress, 1st Annals of Congress, 489

    “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
    – James Madison, Federal No. 45, January 26, 1788

    “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions.” James Madison, “Letter to Edmund Pendleton,”
    – James Madison, January 21, 1792, in The Papers of James Madison, vol. 14, Robert A Rutland et. al., ed (Charlottesvile: University Press of Virginia,1984)

    [T]he powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.
    – James Madison, Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 6, 1788, Elliot’s Debates (in the American Memory collection of the Library of Congress)

    t3knomanser: “Considering the effects of a volcano may quite happily ignore the borders of a state, it’s quite obviously federal jurisdiction.”

    Saying something is true is not the same it actually being true.

  43. Robbie

    Oh, and just because the Supreme Court rules some way doesn’t make it the right way. Impeachment exists for a reason. The House is just too weak to have used it often enough.

  44. @robbie: Again: none of those people have ever sat upon the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has already decided that the Federal Government has these powers, and my guess is that the Commerce Clause was invoked along the way.

    What I’m not about to do is troll through the library of Supreme Court decisions for the one that makes my case, at least while at work. The reality is that what the Supreme Court has to say on the subject trumps anything Jefferson has to say (no matter how much I might agree with Jefferson, and I generally do).

    Also, my point here is to be descriptive (this is the way things are), not prescriptive (this is the way things should be). If we want to talk in hypothets, I’d burn the hemp the Constitution is written on and abolish representative government (and any other form of government that puts people in positions of power).

  45. Charles Boyer

    All I can say is that Jindal et al had better hope there are no eruptions in the US in the next 3.5 years or so or his statements will be shoved down his throat in campaign ads.

    I am also amused at how Republicans are suddenly claiming to be fiscal conservatives as if the last eight years and 1980-1992 never happened.

    Which Republican was the last to present a balanced budget?

  46. Charles

    “Now, a lot of people would have taken that as a lesson, perhaps realizing that something is wrong if so many people voted against them.”

    I don’t expect such a weak argument from a science blog. The Republicans were elected twice before this, does that mean all those opposed to them were wrong then?

    I guess if you’re just preaching to the choir it doesn’t matter….

  47. @robbie: while one can disagree with the Supreme Court’s decisions, the Constitution gives them the power to determine what is and is not Constitutional. So yes, what they say is right.

  48. mapnut

    Oooh, and those high-speed rail projects are even more ridiculous! If France has it, it can’t be good. What’s wrong with low-speed rail? America’s is the best in the world.

  49. Remelox

    Wasn’t the budget just set recently by the Republican administration? I was under the impression that many of the science items put into the stimulus package were to make up for shortages created by the last budget. This prevents people in important scientific fields from being fired and seeking jobs in non-science fields. This then leads to underemployment and less consumer spending.

    Another problem with forcing scientists out of scientific jobs is that there is no guarantee that they will return. Particularly now, would you want to leave what appears to be a more stable job to try to go back into the field you were fired from? We have some lofty goals in our future with alternative energy and a new space race coming. How can we compete if we lose our scientific workforce?

  50. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    While Madison’s comments inform the original intent of the document, more important are the Supreme Court rulings on matters involving the “general welfare” language.

  51. the bug guy

    @t3knomanser: really? How does that move goods and services from the provider to the recipient?

    It provides a useful and timely recipient of goods and services, thus facilitating their movement from the provider. The initial expenditure gives an immediate boost to the economy and the long-term benefits of geological monitoring provide a healthy return on the investment, potentially saving many times the value spent.

  52. Robbie

    “Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, (Memorial Edition) Lipscomb and Bergh, editors, ME 17:380

    I, and Thomas Jefferson, would disagree with you t3knomanser and Todd W.

  53. Winter Solstice Man

    I am just happy to see volcanoes finally getting some attention from the mainstream press.

    Were there any provisions for civilization-destroying asteroid impacts in the stimulus package?

    If anyone says that’s bogus, just say Tunguska. Then send them Wikipedia because the vast majority who are against protecting Earth from NEOs likely do not have a clue what a Tunguska is.

  54. Tom

    Phil, I am a long-time blog and forum follower (and twitter), and I really am concerned about the comments on Jindal. Keep in mind, I am a registered independant, as well. Yeah, he might have some things in his background that we/you dislike.

    However, his efforts at governing Louisiana are phenomenal. There is a huge confidence in his ability to govern as needed, regardless of his religious views. That is what I think you are missing. I see no big effort here to push us into a religious stone age. Jindal’s comments were on the “pork” in the bill. You have to admit, there were better ways get get things funded that were “non-stimulus”. The only thing this bill will do is raise the taxes of the working class, namely me. Jindal, and several other governors, have noted that they will reject some of the parts of the bill due to the required taxed funding required when the bill money runs out. Jindal’s religion doesn’t really play into much here, but that is what he is constantly attacked about.

    I’m becoming disillusioned. Your seeming hatred of Jindal and his like may cause me to look elsewhere on the web (or just stick my head in the sand, whatever) for information. I don’t know if you realize this, but you are presenting, to me at least, a really ugly viewpoint on this subject.

    What happened to astronomy?

  55. BJN

    This is 2009, not 1776. There’s a good reason that Jefferson et al thought the constitution was a living document. Strict constructionists are no more rational that flat earthers or biblical literalists. The whole strict interpretation attitude smacks of religious idolatry of the brilliant but very human and fallible fellows who wrote the constitution. And just like Biblical literalism, the Constitution contains language that’s vague and utterly malleable to interpretation (that bit about “well regulated militia” for example).

    Quoting dead founders doesn’t make anything true, any more than quoting the Bible makes the Ark story true.

  56. Robbie

    BJN: “There’s a good reason that Jefferson et al thought the constitution was a living document.”

    This is news to me!

  57. …I’m a new Alaskan, and you’d better believe I’m glad that there’s volcano monitoring in the package. Those scientists work ROUND THE CLOCK on a science that directly impacts a population should the proverbial you know what hit the fan. Earthquakes + volcanoes = potential disaster. This isn’t PORK, it’s public safety. It pains me to see people equating it as anything less. Just because there aren’t any volcanoes or earthquakes in your area doesn’t mean that they don’t threaten and impact the lives of some of your fellow Americans.

  58. George

    Thats all very interesting, Phil. How about also covering the purported North American comet impact in 12,900 bc? Its been published in Science and the PNAS — but not on BA!

    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/41/16016.abstract
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;323/5910/94

    Perhaps politics has consumed your time?

  59. Jaxtrader

    It’s a shame that so much of our scientific community has been reduced to begging for scraps from the gov’t. It’s unfortunate but the insatiable appetite for gov’t funding from the scientific community is causing many otherwise supportive individuals like myself to wonder whether real objective scientific processes still exist or is it all for the next grant.

    It’s sad but the general public simply doesn’t place the same level of value on areas of scientific research as the scientific community does. When that’s the case the gov’t is the only source that will still produce. I have real difficulty with this as it seems that many studies and much research are/is dictated by and produced with politics and funding sustainability in mind and the results mirror that environment.

  60. I wonder if Gov. Lingle of Hawaii or Gov. Freudenthal of Wyoming would say that the billions earmarked for “water-related environmental infrastructure assistance” are pork?

    After all, they don’t really need any new dikes.

  61. There was a lot of other ammunition that Jindal should have used and didn’t. That pretty much proves his incompetence.

    $144 billion will flow to state and local governments with few limitations on how the money can be used. Most of it will probably wind up being spent on pork barrel projects. $3.4 billion will go to “clean coal” technology – there is zero scientific evidence that coal can ever be made into a clean energy source. $200 million will be spent on the new Homeland Security headquarters building. And so on. So if you thought this stimulus package had no pork barrel spending in it, you’d better think again.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Finding-the-Pork-in-the-Obama-usnews-14418781.html

    “1) Green golf carts. Ever rode a “neighborhood electric vehicle?” Well, you might want to now. The stimulus includes a tax credit toward the purchase of NEVs, which closely resemble golf carts in appearance. They are considered green vehicles because they use an electric battery instead of gasoline. You fill it up with juice by plugging it into a home electrical outlet. Don’t expect to be able to take your NEV far outside of your neighborhood, though. Federal regulations limit their top speed to between 20 and 25 miles per hour. Freeway cruising is out.

    Those aren’t the only green vehicles getting stimulus subsidies. There is also $300 million to buy “green” cars for federal employees.

    2) Closing the ice-breaking gap. The U.S. Coast Guard is getting a shot in the arm from the stimulus, thanks to $98 million for a “polar icebreaker.” That’s not a new gum flavor, but a ship. The service currently has three ice-breaking ships able to sail through the frozen Arctic Ocean, but it wants a new and improved one to upgrade the aging fleet. Thad Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard, testified before a House panel last summer that icebreakers are needed for national security reasons. “Russia, Germany, China, Sweden and Canada are all investing and maintaining and expanding their national ice-breaking capacity,” he said.

    3) Homeland security stimulus. That pricey icebreaker is just one of several examples of homeland and national security spending contained in the stimulus not directly connected to restoration of the economy. There is also $200 million to “design and furnish” the Department of Homeland Security headquarters. De Rugy says that security spending should be considered by Congress in bills related to security, not the economy. “There was no debating these things on the merits,” she says.

    4) Clean Coal. While Obama has stressed the number of “green jobs” his stimulus will create, $3.4 billion of the $787 billion will be spent on old-school, non-green energy technology. That’s how much goes to the Fossil Energy Research and Development program, a Department of Energy project that, among other things, seeks to reduce the amount of carbon emitted by the use of fossil fuels. Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow and director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, says that most of this money will go toward the development of clean-coal technology. “The goal is to develop a technology that can capture carbon dioxide from coal in a coal-fired power plant,” he says. And where’s the stimulus in clean coal? Weiss says that we won’t see the results of this investment anytime soon, and $3.4 billion is probably only a fraction of what is needed for real clean-coal technology to ever be achieved. But, he adds, in the short term, “this would create research jobs and jobs at power plants.” That isn’t stopping critics from calling this fossil energy provision pork.

    5) Mystery Meat. It’s hard to know just how much pork there is in the stimulus package for one simple reason: We still don’t know how exactly a huge chunk of it will be spent. A whopping $144 billion from the bill is flowing directly to state and local governments. That means the true amount of pork will depend on the priorities of your governors, legislatures, and mayors. The best guesses for what this money will be spent on might be in a list of “ready-to-go” projects released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in January, dubbed the “Main Street Economic Recovery.” Some of the most outlandish of these projects — such as an $886,000 36-hole disc golf course in Austin, Texas — won’t be allowed to receive stimulus dollars because the bill explicitly says that none of its funds can be used for “any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.”

    But a prohibition on funding toward any “stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project” was dropped from the final version of the bill. That means that many other porky projects from the U.S. Conference of Mayors report are open to get money. That includes $150 million for parking improvements at a Little League facility in Cidra, Puerto Rico, and $6 million for a “snowmaking and maintenance facility” at Spirit Mountain ski area in Duluth, Minnesota.”

  62. Scott

    Phil,

    Simply stating that a multiplier exists for spending on volcano monitoring doesn’t make it so. You know better than to make unsubstantiated comments like that so I eagerly await your post with the data to support that “Funding science pays off multiply in the long term; it always has.” and these specific provisions fit it in with that data.

  63. Scott

    55. BJN Says:
    February 25th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    This is 2009, not 1776. There’s a good reason that Jefferson et al thought the constitution was a living document.

    It was only living in that it has a mechanism to be amended. No one ever intended for the document to reinterpreted with the whims of the majority. A document like that is meaningless. If it can mean anything, it means nothing.

  64. Maybe Jindal and Palin could team up and cast the false gods out of all those volcanoes.

    BTW, if I was an American, I would have been completely insulted by that speech of his. I sounded like he was talking to a bunch of first graders. Even the title, “Americans Can Do Anything”, reminded me of the “Dick and Jane” stories we read as toddlers.

  65. Dan Veteran

    All this over a little attempt to play on words. The governor wanted a cute little sound bite. Volcano eruption = spending eruption. It does not mean he is anti-science only that he is a politician living in a sound bite world. He is getting far too much publicity from this.

    Dan

  66. Quiet Desperation

    Well, you have to be fair. Jindal is pretty far out there in the religious ether even for a Republican. He’s in Alan Keyes territory.

    I had hoped that the last election would finally start to see a willingness of the GOP mainstream to start to throw off the yoke of the evangelicals, but I guess it’s not happening yet. This one party rule never works out. It’s pretty much bankrupted California. The Democrats in this state are completely and utterly disassociated from reality. Most of the Republicans, too, for that matter.

  67. http://hotair.com/archives/2009/02/10/ap-about-obamas-no-pork-assertion

    “Barack Obama made the claim at least twice yesterday that the stimulus bill had no pork in it. In his prime-time press conference, Obama almost angrily rejected the notion that the Generational Theft Act contained pork:

    “But what I — what I’ve been concerned about is some of the language that’s been used suggesting that this is full of pork and this is wasteful government spending, so on and so forth.” …

    “But when they start characterizing this as pork without acknowledging that there are no earmarks in this package — something, again, that was pretty rare over the last eight years — then you get a feeling that maybe we’re playing politics instead of actually trying to solve problems for the American people.”

    And earlier in the day, during his Elkhart town-hall meeting:

    “And, listen, I know that there are a lot of folks out there who’ve been saying, “Oh, this is pork, and this is money that’s going to be wasted,” and et cetera, et cetera. Understand, this bill does not have a single earmark in it, which is unprecedented for a bill of this size, does not have a single earmark in it.”

    In a literal sense, that’s true — but only because the stimulus bill is essentially an Omnibus Earmark Package. It consists entirely of local and state projects that would normally only get funded as earmarks on other appropriations. Even the Associated Press calls shenanigans on this claim:

    “THE FACTS: There are no “earmarks,” as they are usually defined, inserted by lawmakers in the bill. Still, some of the projects bear the prime characteristics of pork – tailored to benefit specific interests or to have thinly disguised links to local projects.

    For example, the latest version contains $2 billion for a clean-coal power plant with specifications matching one in Mattoon, Ill., $10 million for urban canals, $2 billion for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrid cars, and $255 million for a polar icebreaker and other “priority procurements” by the Coast Guard.”

    And how did Obama sell this to the good folks in Elkhart? By using the same, old, tired pork-barrel pledges he supposedly rejected:

    “Obama told his Elkhart audience that Indiana will benefit from work on “roads like U.S. 31 here in Indiana that Hoosiers count on.” He added: “And I know that a new overpass downtown would make a big difference for businesses and families right here in Elkhart.”

    That’s pork, no matter what Obama calls it. The stimulus package contains nothing but porky, wasteful spending, most of which has little chance of creating jobs within the first year, when jobs will be most needed. Obama even sells it like pork. If it looks like a pig, acts like a pig, gets sold as a pig, and stinks of pork

  68. papabear

    I wish the republican’s were this frugal with spending when they were in power. I think it’s hilarious how they are acting high and mighty about the same things they were doing while in power. Jindal’s an idiot, but the point he should have been making was that many of the programs being funded by this bill were poor forms of economic stimulus…the supposed aim of the bill. I have no problem with volcano monitoring, but even Keynesians would admit it’s probably not the most efficient type of stimulus. I’m not picking on the volcanoes, just using it as example of how the stimulus is nothing more than business as usual Washington politics. Jindal on the other hand is simply attacking any thing the other side of the isle comes up with…which is exactly what the dems were doing a few years ago.

  69. the bug guy

    An example of return for investment (from “Green Gabbro” blog):

    A $1.5 million investment in monitoring at Pinatubo (near a U.S. air force base) earned a greater than 300-fold return when the volcano erupted explosively in 1991: hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property (mostly airplanes) was saved, as were thousands of lives. That 30,000% figure comes before you attempt to put a value on human life.

    A high end example, but not something to be taken lightly.

  70. Nemo

    I want me a Maglev!

  71. Beelzebud

    Republicans call spending a trillion in Iraq patriotic, and they call spending less than that here at home pork.

    Priorities.

    Naming a site full of right-wing rants ‘hotair’:

    Priceless.

  72. jearley

    Out here in the West, volcano is directly related to infrastructure. Several volcanoes, Rainier, Shasta, McLaughlin and others are located close to Interstate 5. I can see the remains of the rim of Mt Mazama from Interstate 5- that’s the one that erupted and resulted in Crater Lake. Preserving and protecting infrastructure is, in part, predicated on predicting the effects of environmental hazards to that infrastructure.
    The argument about including this sort of monitoring in the stimulus bill has some validity. I personally feel that it should have been more limited in scope, addressing only job issues, but certainly, if it is also about improving infrastructure, then the inclusion of volcano monitoring is OK.

  73. John Varsik

    Actually anybody who has driven the I-15 from Las Vegas to
    LA on a Sunday afternoon lately might not think high-speed
    rail was such a bad idea either.

  74. @papabear “I wish the republican’s were this frugal with spending when they were in power. I think it’s hilarious how they are acting high and mighty about the same things they were doing while in power.”

    Yes, it’s disgusting to see this “Cry Deficit!” coming from the Republicans who drove up the national debt from ~$4 trillion when they took power eight years ago to ~$9 trillion when they left office. They obviously have no credibility on the issue of deficits and pork barrel spending. It’s taken me a long time to realize that the Republicans and Democrats are playing a variation of “good cop/bad cop”. They take turns on which side is the “bad cop”. The winner of this game is them, both parties, the ruling class plus the rich robber barons who received billions of dollars from the TARP program and will receive further billions from the Obama administration. The loser is We The People.

  75. jsam

    Isn’t the salient question “is the study worthwhile”? I think the poster who said Washington State and Yellowstone nailed it. Yes, it’s worthwhile. So, call it what the hell you like. Do it. Argue over the colour of the wrapping paper if you must – but do the right thing.

    The debate on the constitution as a living document it has been around a fair while. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Constitution. To my taste I find people who insist in literal truth in anything written scary; all fundamentalists start from that premise.

  76. Harknights

    I guess part of the problem I am having with some of these statements is this. Some of you say that “this sort of thing should be in the regular budget.” Unless I missed something, all of this should be in the regular budget. What is in the Stimulas that shouldn’t be in a regular budget? This is an additional spending package. That means above and beyond regular. Why is stimulating a construciton project more important than a science project? Both will buy tools from companies that manufacure tools. Both have employees. Both have projects. I think some of you need to take a step back and see the larger picture. Except Tom. All I have to say about him is “Plant.”

  77. “Thats all very interesting, Phil. How about also covering the purported North American comet impact in 12,900 bc? Its been published in Science and the PNAS — but not on BA!”

    Maybe because Discover actually has more than one blogger.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/01/05/nano-diamond-discovery-suggests-a-comet-impact-killed-the-mammoths/

    To paraphrase what Phil sometimes says, There is a whole web site attached to this blog!

  78. Ian

    There was a time when they were the party of science. But as they drive away moderates and pander to loons this is what you get.

    And an enthusiastic AOL “ME TOO” re: the Republican hypocrites who cry about fiscal control when for the last eight years they out deficit spent every previous administration COMBINED. And they have the gall to say they tried to stop it and the economy tanking deregulation, but the evil, not in control of everything Dems stopped them. I even heard one guy try to pin our current situation on Jimmy Carter. Damn, they are pathetic.

  79. Davidlpf

    If they were a few more people keeping an eye on what the banks were doing and some tighter rules in what they can do all and most of this probably would not have happenned. But I know mor rules and regulation is of course a bad thing.

  80. Joedog

    The U.S. Geological Survey, within Interior, is preparing for $140 million that, among other things, will go toward paying private firms to use new airplane-based laser technology to produce a more accurate topographical map of the country. The information is useful for such things as tracking sea-level rise and flooding.

  81. David D

    Somehow, this rather inept performance by Jindal is “republicans shilling anti-science, but recent statements by Dr. Chu about the end of California agriculture, or Dr. Hansen’s coal deathtrains or his endorsement of civil disobedience are NOT anti-science?

    BA–got the blinders on BIG TIME. How disappointing, yet how typical of this blog.

  82. Lawrence

    @David D

    Well, you’re still reading it.

  83. MH

    Ian says: “There was a time when they [Republicans] were the party of science.”

    Uh, when was that? That hasn’t been the case since at least Nixon.

  84. David D

    @Lawrence–

    Yeah, that’s part of my insanity–doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, as Prof. Einstein would say.

    I guess I expect something better from BA, than this partisan BS.

  85. ccpetersen

    David D, you fail to show us details of partisan BS, however your insistence that it’s partisan BS strikes me as… um… partisan BS.

  86. Michelle

    …You know, after astronomy my nearest science fascination is volcanoes. And I’m glad you mentioned Yellowstone. It’s a FREAKY place. Should this thing blow up (unlikely in our lifetime but you know?) it would be a catastrophe for the planet.

    I can’t believe this guy. Has he never heard of the Vesuvius? Never seen the moulds of Pompeii? It’s a lesson from ancient times right there. And what about Mount Pinatubo? Heck, what about St. Helens?!

    They were nice examples of pretty mountains that are wayyy more dangerous than you’d think.

  87. David D

    @ccp–

    See my 1st comment. The lack of comment on BA’s part on Chu and Hansen coupled with his “outrage” at someone decrying funding for volcanoes seems pretty partisan to me.

  88. Guysmiley

    This guy is such a tool. What we SHOULD be monitoring is how corrupt the state of Louisiana is getting.

  89. LukeL

    While I do agree volcano monitoring is needed, there is still way too much pork in this bill. The mayor of Milwaukee wants to use stimulus money to build a light rail from Milwaukee to Kenosha, to supplement the Amtrax lines.

    The problem is that virtually no one uses Amtrax, except for getting to Chicago either to fly out of ORD, or attend some special event. It is these kinds of projects that bleed money. Anyone who lives in Kenosha and works in Milwaukee already owns a car, and will not take a train and then walk or take a cab to their job.

    Use the stimulus to build roads, schools, hospitals and other such things which provide jobs RIGHT NOW. Put pet projects and science funding in the budget.

  90. Scott

    Ihad a great response tothis one but it’s allalready been said… Volcano monitoring IS important but it doesn’t belong in a bill designed to stimulate the economy now. What really ers me about this bill though, all the Dems kep saying there are no earmarks in the stimulus bill. How is 140 million dollars fo Volcano Monitoring not an earmark? From what I have seen its nothing but a bill chock full of all the Dem’s wishlist of spending from the last 8 years that they couldn’t get past Bush…

  91. Damn. I live 90 miles from the Yellowstone caldera. I say double that volcano-watching budget!

  92. Kevin S

    Oh! A hat tip to Seattle, I’m honored! :D

    Personally I think volcano monitoring is a fantastic idea. Last time there was note-worthy activity from Mt. Rainier most of the major rivers east of the Cascade Mountains were filled with mud. The whole Rainier Valley was filled with dirt and mud from the mountain, which then made it’s way all the to Elliot Bay in Puget Sound. And that was just mud from melt. Long story short… if that volcano ever erupts, I would definitely like to know well ahead of time!

  93. sdrDusty

    “It is these kinds of projects that bleed money.”
    And everyone knows, highways are free! No upkeep or expansion… and environmentally friendly! Nothing could be better!
    Why is it that expressways are not expected to make a profit, but transit is?
    Amtrax. hm.

  94. J

    Why is it that expressways are not expected to make a profit, but transit is?

    It’s not the rails that are expected to make a profit, it’s the vehicles.

    Both tractor trailer trucks and freight trains are expected to make a profit. Both charter buses and passenger rail are expected to make a profit.

  95. justcorbly

    When Republicans say things like that Jindal quote, it can mean only one of two things: Either they thing the American public is stupid, or, the speaker is stupid.

  96. Daffy

    Actually, it IS Republicans in general. Lately I am hearing my neighbors (who are ALL Republicans) complaining about the “Obama Recession.”

    Seriously…does joining the Republican party cause brain damage?

  97. David D

    @Daffy–
    “Actually, it IS Republicans in general.”

    Nothing like a good stereotype to keep the conversation going, eh?

  98. There is an infinite amount of science that can be studied, and we don’t ever have enough money to fund the research into all of it. In the current economic climate, we can afford to cut back on some of it and fund things that are a little deeper on the infrastructure lattice of our society like roads and job stimulus. Something like volcano monitoring is damned expensive and on the “CEO bonus” side of societal luxuries vs getting people food on the table and a roof over their head.

  99. Mentat

    Wait a minute, isn’t “wasteful spending” the very thing that keeps modern capitalism going?

  100. LukeL

    Highways do make money via car registration fees, tickets, and tolls. Rail also does very little to help the environment, because those trains still need fuel to operate and have to be made in factories which produce pollution, along with the fact people have to drive or take a bus to get to the train station, then drive or take more public transit to get to their destination.

    light rail just cannot work in America because we are too far spread out compared to Europe. Also anyone who owns a car would rather drive themselves than take a bus (not to mention the long waits, delays and at least in Milwaukee heavy crime on the buses and near bus stops.) Public transportation just cannot work on a massive scale.

  101. Stimulus for infrastructure makes sense – a one shot blast of cash. From the notes above, it looks like much of the USG money may that bill (in local terms, commissioning a new telescope).

    My concern over stimulus research is the temporary nature. Hire scientists to research something. What happens next year, or whenever the economy strengthens? Does the program get shuttered, possibly midstream?

    Not much point having volcano monitoring if there’s no one watching the monitors. I’d hate to see that new telescope rotting because there’s no longer a budget — or worse: eventually sold off to developers for the value of the real estate (ref: David Dunlap Observatory)

  102. Public transportation would work if we were spending $6/gallon for gas.

  103. There seems to be a double standard among Jindal’s apologists regarding government jobs. On one hand they complain that government jobs are just “Make work” with no public benefit. Then when we point out, for example, that the jobs that the USGS and the National Weather service perform save thousands of lives and tens of millions of dollars, they complain that these jobs are not “Stimulus”. The appropriation is not just volcano monitoring, it also includes seismic monitoring and stream gages.

    Yes, the $140 million for the USGS not only directly creates jobs constructing and installing sensors, but is essential. Seismic sensors and stream gages are not just useful scientific research, they are a vital part of the nations infrastructure that has been neglected. Does anybody think it is a good idea to build dams, levees and bridges without complete and detailed information about water flow? Or discovering previously unknown faults when constructing buildings, dams, bridges and roads?

    Early warning of natural disasters not only saves lives but can minimize the economic damage. The USGS and PHIVOLCS estimate that their eruption forecasts for Mount Pinatubo saved at least 5,000 lives and perhaps as many as 20,000. In addition to the many lives saved, property worth hundreds of millions of dollars was protected from damage or destruction in the eruption. When aircraft and other equipment at the U.S. bases were flown to safe areas or covered, losses of at least $200 to 275 million were averted. Philippine and other commercial airlines prevented at least another $50 to 100 million in damage to aircraft by taking similar actions.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/02/jindal-versus-volcano.html

  104. ‘Wasteful’ spending? Wasteful spending is using taxpayer’s money to pay the salary of Bobby Jindal…

  105. Dan

    CNN’s got an article about some people are upset by this:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/25/jindal.volcanoes/index.html

    I have a question for Gov. Jindal

    So Gov. I assume that you would have the exact same objection to any funding that would go to increased hurricane monitoring?

    I mean, we really don’t need that right.

  106. Zar

    “I’m upset by this partisan post.”

    Translation: I have no worthwhile argument against your viewpoint, but I’m going to criticize you for having such an opinion anyway. Because there are no facts: just opinions.

  107. David D

    @Zar–

    Perhaps you should read the comments more carefully. There have been several commenters who have provided worthwhile and thoughtful arguments in opposition to the original post. Some have even done so without having to resort to referring to those with different opinions as having brain damage.

  108. MadScientist

    Wonderful. As if the USGS/AVO/HVO don’t have a hard enough time getting money to monitor volcanoes in the USA. The alternative to spending on monitoring volcanoes is to simply pray to your god of choice and then die in a horrible way when a volcano does erupt. Death scenarios available (and which you have no choice in) include (but are not limited to):

    * whacked by a pyroclastic flow: you might not even have time to realize what hit you – probably the most pleasant way to go
    * ‘close enough’ to a pyroclastic flow: severe burns, concussion, broken bones – you probably die slowly and in extreme pain
    * buried in sand: in a large eruption the sand piles up very quickly – imagine a blizzard but with sand instead of ice – you’ll die slowly and painfully as you attempt to fight the sand
    * the airplane you’re flying on encounters an ‘ash cloud’ from the volcano and your engines flame out – the captain will probably tell everyone that they have a few minutes before the aircraft hits whatever happens to be below unless he’s lucky enough to be able to restart an engine and develop enough power to get the aircraft under control

    On the west coast Mt. Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens are still significant threats. Many of the mountains in the Aleutian Ranges of Alaska remain threats. Even the Big Island of Hawaii is really pretty small and you wouldn’t want a really big eruption on Hawaii (but if a catastrophe were building up you’d want to know and evacuate the island).

    I can only surmise that the imbecile Bobby Jindal couldn’t give a damn about the safety of the American public. Why complain just about monitoring volcanoes? There are mountains of money also wasted on the FAA, NTSB, FEMA, the Emergency Warning Network, the NOAA and its National Weather Service. Why waste money on the police and the military? You dont need them – just pray to Bobby Jindal’s god.

  109. Jim B.

    I so appreciate this Jindal enlightenment. Thanks, Phil! I didn’t know the rising star…the darling of the Republican party was so narrow-minded regarding science. This is an double-eye opener. I don’t see why a person of faith has to throw away the intellect that God gave them. It’s not impossible to hold science and religion in the same brain stem….they’re not exclusive ideas.

    Everyday now, I am so relieved that Jindal and Palin didn’t achieve the national stage in government(at least not yet), but I’m appalled at what Jindal has thrust on the young, developing minds of Louisianna. For the next few years anyway, it looks like there’ll be regional or state pockets of scientific ignorance. We just have to hope and “pray” the anti-science plague can remain isolated and does not ever spread to the national level.

  110. If Mount Rainier erupts and wipes out Seattle, will Jindal be issuing an apology?

  111. DGavin

    The problem with the normal appropriations channels and USGS, is that it is the -most- underfunded, understaffed federal agency, and has historically been given the shaft as far as budgeting.

    USGS is still using a few analog, RF transmitting seismographs that were built in the 1970′s, and routinely drop data transmissions because of thier antiquated technology. They are such power hogs that they have to use Nasa RTG (Nuclear) batteries to power them, because a solar power array the size they would need would not be portable enough for even a team of four geologists to pack into a site, even with a few ATV’s to help.

    Most of the modern equipment USGS has is made available by Partnerships from universities, which has been thier only real method of getting access to better equipment.

    On average there are 2 volcanoes that are active in the USA per any given day, and per year, a total of 6 Volcanoes are active on average. Yet the government has given USGS a budget that doesn’t even allow it to replace seismographs that die. There are 5 that went offline just last year, that have not been replaced in Oregon alone. This has been going on for close to a decade. Basically at this point, USGS has lost about 25% of it’s monitoring capabilties in the last decade.

  112. James McCann

    The purpose of a stimulus bill is to stimulate the economy. Keynes suggested paying people to bury money in the ground – it literally does not matter for the purpose of stimulus what the money is spent on. Infrastructure is a good thing for stimulus money to be spent on but there is no reason to restrict the spending to infrastructure.

    How many really think Jindal was taking a principled stand against this spending rather than posturing for the 2012 primaries? Anybody?

  113. doofus

    Where do I sign up to become a volcano watcher?

    And to quote further from Nigel Tufnel, “What are the hours?”

  114. yoss

    I highly suggest you read/watch the rest of his speech.

    This isn’t anti-science, it’s anti-government spending! He talks about the developments made in post-Katrina Louisiana schools to help their children. His speech calls for more development in nuclear power, off-shore oil drilling, research and development of more efficient vehicles, and alternative energy sources. There’s jobs there, and the money is actually useful!

    A mag-lev train from Vegas to Disneyland? Tax-payers in the north east won’t see any benefits in that! That type of project should be left to the tax payers of Nevada/California.

    I love your blog, but this whole republican = anti-science sentiment is beginning to give me the impression that you’re more of a political commentator than a scientist.

  115. Naomi

    As a geology major, I say we tie Jindal to Mt St Helens and don’t give him any updates on the state of the volcano. Let the anxiety make him reconsider his stance!

  116. Naomi

    …And seriously, volcanoes are my major love. I’d love to monitor volcanoes!

  117. aptain swoop

    hale_bopp:

    To paraphrase what Phil sometimes says, There is a whole web site attached to this blog!

    Maybe, but unfortunately when you type in the web address it brings you to the Blog and there is only a tiny link to the website.

  118. MadScientist

    @Naomi:

    You should know that wouldn’t work; Mt. St. Helens just isn’t reliable. I suggest you take Jindal to Stromboli instead and leave him somewhere on the Sciarra del Fuoco – Stromboli never disappoints and you can enjoy a delicious pasta marinara at the Punto di Brunzo restaurant while watching the Strombolian fireworks. I haven’t been keeping tabs on volcanoes lately, but there’s one volcano in Papua New Guinea which spat out a few tons of sand every few minutes – I know it started the near-continuous eruption in 1996 and stopped briefly in 2004, then resumed – but I don’t know if it’s still puffing. The great thing about taking Jindal to Papua New Guinea is that you also have an opportunity to see if cannibals crawl out of the forests to take him before the volcano gets him.

    Another alternative is to sacrifice Jindal to the Hawaiian volcanoes; I hear he’s still a mental virgin – that is, he’s never been exposed to thought or facts.

  119. As someone to the right of Gengis Khan on most matters, I’d still have to say that Jindal is a complete and utter knob. He’s completely undefensible. If *I* can’t defend him, what does that say about the current leadership of the RP?

    Kick them all out, and start again with a party of small government and individual freedom, with a sound grounding in rationality and science.

  120. Nigel Depledge

    RL said:

    Scott is right. Volcano monitoring is worthy science and worthy of money, but its not going to to stimulate the economy. The money for this should be spent in the normal budget process. Its not meant as anti-science.

    Looks like you totally missed the point of the stimulus package.

    Not only does the funding of volcano monitoring generate knowledge about volcanoes, it does these other things too:

    Employs vulcanologists, who can then:
    pay their mortgages,
    buy fuel for their car,
    buy groceries,
    send their kids to college (where they in turn will spend money on food etc.)
    continue to pay off any loans they currently have
    and so on.
    The package also includes vulcanological equipment, made by high-tech instrumentation companies. Are you suggesting these guys don’t need the business?

    All of the money gets spent, and the process of money moving around like this is what will help get the economy back on its feet.

  121. Gonzo

    Thanks for the post Phil. YOU give me hope. Jindal is king of the idiots.

  122. Nigel Depledge

    Mike Saunders said:

    On this topic I believe Gov. Jindal is correct, as are Scott and RL. While Volcano Monitoring may well be critically important science it doesn’t belong in a stimulus package.

    I’ve seen this sentiment echoed in several comments, but none of you has bothered to explain why.

    So, don’t just leave it there, explain why extra science spending doesn’t belong in the stimulus package.

    If Mr. Plait is correct and residents of Volcano Hazard-prone states need some research then the monies should come from an appropriate allocation – perhaps FEMA?

    FEMA is not the right agency for volcano monitoring – judging from a long way away, it seems that FEMA is the agency to establish plans and contingencies to put into effect when something bad happens. Perhaps the NGS would be appropriate?

    Although, speaking of FEMA, ironically, shortly before Katrina hit Nawlins, I learned a dialect word from the north-east of England: fema, meaning weak and ineffectual. Coincidence? (Well, yeah, prob’ly.)

  123. Nigel Depledge

    Mike Saunders said:

    Nor does it do any good to tar and feather Gov. Jindal as anti-science when he’s trying to, in good faith with a time-honoured platform . . .

    Whoa, hang on a sec, there.

    Jindal’s framing of the whole thing is anti-scientific. “Something called volcano monitoring” does not indicate that volcano monitoring is worth doing but being funded through the wrong mechanism. No. It is an implied indictment of spending anything on volcano monitoring.

    Jindal is not saying that the stimulus package is the wrong mechanism for this spending. He is saying that the spending should not be going to many of the projects that are in the stimulus package at all. “Wasteful spending”, he said, picking out, among others, spending on vulcanology.

    If a criticism of spending money on science isn’t anti-science, then what is it?

  124. MSNBC has picked up on this retarded Jindal-volcano comment as well.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29389625/

    What an imbecile.

  125. Susan

    Spending is spending, ie: stimulus to the economy. If the money isn’t wasted what is there to discuss? Scott is completely wrong and apparently keen to find some nitpicking criticism to make. Is it supposed to make Jindal look less like an idiot?

  126. Todd W.

    @David D

    Somehow, this rather inept performance by Jindal is “republicans shilling anti-science, but recent statements by Dr. Chu about the end of California agriculture, or Dr. Hansen’s coal deathtrains or his endorsement of civil disobedience are NOT anti-science?

    Could you provide a link to these statements so that readers can assess them for themselves?

    Also, please explain how their comments are of a comparable level to what Jindal said. Are they likely to be running for the corner office in 2012? Phil also didn’t comment yet on RFK Jr. and David Kirby’s recent HuffPo articles on the Omnibus Autism Proceeding rulings. Where is the outrage? Could it be a lack of time, an overabundance of anti-science crud to choose from, and trying to focus on those things that have the greatest impact?

  127. RL

    @Nigel Depledge

    No, I did not miss the point of the stimulus. And simply, I don’t believe that funding the volcano researching as part of this bill will stimulate the economy to any degree worthy of including it in this bill. An important fact regarding this stimulus bill is that normal budget procedures are avoided. Offsets for spending are not in force. This spending is not counted for budget making regions. It just adds directly to the deficit. This spending doesn’t belong in a emergency bill. It belongs in the regular budget which was announced today.

    I do believe that government spending can have a multiplier affect, but not in all programs. I don’t believe that this line item has the impact that is claimed by you and readers here. Sure that money will go to some people (I don’t know how many) and go into the economy. But the impact of that is not worth going outside of the budget process.

  128. scienceteacher

    Regarding the comments on the Milwaukee light rail, have any of you ever tried to drive from Milwakee to Kenosha during rush hour? The traffic is incredibly conjested taking somtimes 3 hours to make the trip. I will agree with the “no one uses amtrak” comment but it is simply because it is not fast or efficient. The reason people would rather drive is because the trains in this country are expensive and few and far between. We do not need a rail system to cover the entire country that is foolish, we simply need a cheap, reliable, and efficient series of trains, busses, and subways. Take a look at New York City. The public trasport in that city is tremendous, many people simply do not even own cars becuse it is much easier to use public trasportation. Same with Chicago although not to the same extent. National rail is not necessary or feasable here as it would be in Europe, but a series of trains connecting the major areas of the country would be excellent. With air travel being what it is, slow and expensive, I would much rather travel on an express train. Alot of comments here are about investing in infrastructure, cheap, reliable, safe, and efficient public trasport seems like the perfect way to do that.

    Milwaukee area resident.

    oh and as an asside the violence rates on Milwaukee public trasport are vastly exagerated. I would and do gladly ride a Milwaukee trasport bus any time. I just wish there was a way for me to take it to work.

  129. Madd1

    Lets not forget (and I liked him) J. McCain saying
    “Pork funding like two million dollars to an observatory in Hawaii”

  130. Muzz

    Wasn’t it explained earlier that the geophys and seimologists would use the money to replace a lot of equipment and infrastructure?
    There’s an awful lot of highly skilled trades and engineering involved in that.

  131. David D

    @Todd W

    See LA Times 2/4/2009 (I googled “Chu end of California agriculture”):

    “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” he said. “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” And, he added, “I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going” either.

    For Hansen, see guardian.co.uk 2/15/2009:

    “The reason is this – coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet…
    The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.”

    Hansen specifically endorses civil disobedience at “A Call To Action On GLobal Warming:”(Try the vimeo.com/3268481?pg=embed&sec= link).

    “Dr. James Hansen, an internationally-recognized climate scientist, calls for Americans to take part in the Capitol Climate Action on March 2 at the Capitol power plant in Washington DC — expected to be the largest display of civil disobedience against global warming in US history.” (emphasis added)

    There sure is a lot of anti-science and “twisting science for political means” to choose from. I didn’t even mention the Census debacle.

  132. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Meyer said:

    Unless I’m missing something here, volcano watching — or probably most research based-science — is unlikely to have such an effect. But another way the stimulus bill is supposed to be a shot of adrenaline, while volcano watching is more like broccoli; important and nutritious, but not appropriate to the case in point.

    It’s all well and good to claim that science does not stimulate the economy, but no-one has actually demonstrated this.

    Why do you think that most research-based spending will fail to stimulate the economy?

    Where do you think the money assigned to science actually goes? (Aside from employing scientists, that is.)

    Last time I looked, most science labs have quite a lot of high-tech equipment in them. High-tech equipment that is made from a wide range of different components. If spending money on high-tech laboratory equipment won’t stimulate the economy, then what will?

  133. Jo

    @MadScientist

    Pele would be pretty pissed at having Jindal offered to her as a sacrifice, regardless of her intolerance of fools. I’ve had the pleasure of doing research on Kilauea and know full well that the scientists who do work at the Volcanoes National Park are at least conscious of local lore regarding their fiery Mistress.

    I like the idea of tossing him to Stromboli instead. Good food and good wine. Although the thought of watching ‘godless’ heathen cannibals size him for dinner him in Papua New Guinea is just as entertaining.

  134. Scott

    Nigel Depledge Says:

    It’s all well and good to claim that science does not stimulate the economy, but no-one has actually demonstrated this.

    Why do you think that most research-based spending will fail to stimulate the economy?

    You have it backwards. If you want emergency stimulus money rather than funds from the regular budget, you need to demonstrate why science spending is stimulative, what the multiplier is on the spending, and why its better than other options for stimulus.

    Contrary to your and Phil’s assertions, it is not plainly obvious that there is a signficant mulitplier to this spending. If you have data demonstrating that, please provide it. Otherwise your assertions are no better than those that attack as “anti-scientific”.

  135. Todd W.

    @Scott

    What would you recommend be in the stimulus bill? What has a “significant multiplier” to the spending?

  136. David D

    @Jo–

    Yeah, that’s the ticket–anyone with different political opinions should get tossed into the volcano! Or fed to cannibals!

    Hope and change!

  137. Nigel Depledge

    The Arquette Sisters said:

    Phil, Phil, Phil… A touch thin skinned on this one? The point the governor was trying to make (poorly, but that is another issue) is that the stimulus bill is pork-centric. That is not any more anti-science than saying your reply is pro driving the economy into the ground.

    However, in the process of trying and failing to make his point about pork-centricity (which is a separate issue, and one which I am in no position to judge without extensive additional reading), Jindal says that money spent on science is money wasted. So, Jindal was being anti-science.

    Phil’s point was that Jindal was being antiscience, not that arguments about pork-centricity are antiscience.

  138. Scott

    Todd W.

    Increase in food stamps
    Extension of unemployment benefits
    Direct Infrastructure spending that has a return of its own

    I would also like to see incentives that directly to businesses that add to their payroll.

  139. Quiet Desperation

    want me a Maglev!

    Fine. *You* pay for it.

    Actually anybody who has driven the I-15 from Las Vegas to
    LA on a Sunday afternoon lately might not think high-speed
    rail was such a bad idea either.

    Anybody who willfully drives that route during a known high traffic period has no right to complain about anything. When I used to do that I took a 3 day weekend and came home Monday morning. By the time I got back to the Southland it was nearing noon and I miss the Monday work rush. Oddly, I never once thought the government should build a multibillion dollar train to support my vacation habits.

    Vegas has been ruined by the evil hotel comglomerates types anyway. Not even worth it. Some of the local indian casinos have better blackjack.

  140. Harvard Econ Prof Robert Barro had an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on what the multiplier is from government spending. Worth a read if you want to delve into it. I think to be fair nobody knows exactly what the effect this level of spending by the government is going to have.

  141. Todd W.

    @Scott

    Increase in food stamps
    Extension of unemployment benefits
    Direct Infrastructure spending that has a return of its own

    I would also like to see incentives that directly to businesses that add to their payroll.

    And what is the multiplier on return of this spending? Do you have data to back it up?

  142. The Daily Show called out that line in particular last night, too. It made an interesting juxtaposition with Jindal’s use of Katrina to bolster his credits. Jon Stewart wins, once again.

  143. Phillip West

    I don’t see Jindal’s opinion being anti-science as much as being anti-bad science. Expensive low margine of benefit “scientific” efforts should not be funded by public money. But here too Jindal’s opinion is flawed in that some of what he thinks is good isn’t. Sure we should fault him – and educate him on the particulars just as we are with Obama but Jindal and the GOP should be credited with attentivness to cost/benefit. For example Mag Lev trains – have you ever looked at how efficiecnt std trains are? Forget the small benefit and cost of the mag lev -just implement good train systems. The flawed example is “increase efficiency of automobiles” the potential gain just isn’t there. A major thermodynamic breakthrough would be a boost of a few percent -big deal.

  144. Todd W.

    @David D

    Thanks for the quotes. Let’s look at them a little more closely, by expanding the quoted text:

    In a worst case, Chu said, up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappear, all but eliminating a natural storage system for water vital to agriculture.

    “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” he said. “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” And, he added, “I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going” either.

    A pair of recent studies raise similar warnings. One, published in January in the journal Science, raised the specter of worldwide crop shortages as temperatures rise. Another, penned by UC Berkeley researchers last year, estimated California has about $2.5 trillion in real estate assets — including agriculture — endangered by warming.

    So, the “end of agriculture” comment, based on this news article from the LA Times, seems to be describing the worst-case scenario, not what will definitely happen. Further, there appear to be a couple studies supporting conclusions of that magnitude. So, I don’t exactly see how this is an anti-science comment, and certainly not of the same degree as Jindal’s.

    Regarding Hansen’s opinion piece in the Guardian, I would say that it is exaggerated hyperbole, based on a quick glance. But again, it does not belittle science in the way that Jindal did. It twists it, yes, but does not downplay the importance of science.

  145. newideas99

    Jindal is just a front man for the GOP and Big OIL! Obama made a big commitment to green energy last night. However the question is where will the money be spent. It’s nice to see that President Obama and that Mr. Chu and the Energy Dept. are moving quickly to fund alternative energy projects. However most of what you see is the obvious and well known programs. We need to concentrate more on break thru technologies! Otherwise we will never really change the world! I recently discovered a company called Energetics Technologies. They have a process called SuperWaveFusion, which could be a possible breakthrough in cold fusion. I recently read that 2 independent labs have replicated this process, this is the type of new thinking we need!

  146. Adam Keith

    There are many other examples to call the Republican Party antiscience. This is NOT one of them.

    You are dishonest to say it is. The argument is that it has no business being in the stimulus bill. That is an appropriation, that is legitimate and needs to be addressed. But not in the manner that it was.

    It was one example, of many, of Democrats packing the bill with things that had nothing to do with the intent of the bill, that is, to stimulate the economy.

    You just hate the Republican Party, and your bias (not too different from theirs) shines through.

  147. David D

    @Todd W–

    There is no SPECIFIC science to back Chu’s claim that California’s agriculture and cities will disappear in the next 90 years. None. You can “raise specters” about world wide crop shortages or endangered real estate assets all you want, but that does not constitute science. Jindal was making a political response to a political topic. Chu is Obama’s top science advisor. I think there is a world of difference in degree–Chu’s alarmism carries more weight in Obama’s world than Jindal’s poorly chosen example.

    And as far as Hansen–”twisting” science DOES indeed belittle science. I mean, isn’t that one of the things BA ranted about for the last 8 years? But how nice of you to dismiss it as just a little “exaggerated hyperbole.”

    Meet the new boss . . .

  148. Todd W.

    @David D

    I don’t see anywhere in Chu’s statements that CA’s agriculture and cities will disappear in the next 90 years. He says that in the worst case this is something that could happen. That is quite different from your characterization.

    Regarding Hansen, I agree that he is in the wrong and that his twisting of the science is inappropriate. But supporting science and twisting, as Hansen has done, it is a far cry from denigrating science and ignoring it, which Jindal is apparently doing.

    However, all this aside, Phil’s lack of comment on either of these statements may be due to a number of factors, some of which I already mentioned. If you have proof that he is being partisan, then present it. If it is merely conjecture on your part, then tone down your rhetoric. Until you know what his reasons are (he may not have heard about them, for example), leave the accusations out of your posts.

  149. IVAN3MAN

    Somebody mention unemployment?

  150. David D

    @Todd W–

    I think it is irresponsible for a scientist of Chu’s stature to SPECIFICALLY suggest that it is possible that California’s agriculture and cities will disappear in the next 90 years, without having a SPECIFIC model/study/whatever to back that up.

    I also believe that twisting science is the same as belittling and denigrating science. Twisted science is just as dangerous as science that is ignored.

    I have been a reader of this blog for many years, and I don’t think I am the only one that has noted that it has a definite, political bias to it, one that has (in my opinion) become more pronounced in the last year. There may be other reasons why BA has not commented on Chu and Hansen, but (again, in my opinion) I suspect that political partisanship has at least something to do with it. I don’t think my “rhetoric” needs to be toned down at all, especially in comparison to some other commenters.

  151. Joe Meils

    Um… on a related note… is anyone else amazed by the GOP still having one of the worst senses of timeing on the planet? Jindahl rips on volcano monitoring on Tuesday… and on Wed. evening, Chile explodes! (What a bunch of schmucks!)

  152. Robbie

    MadScientist: “Wonderful. As if the USGS/AVO/HVO don’t have a hard enough time getting money to monitor volcanoes in the USA. The alternative to spending on monitoring volcanoes is to simply pray to your god of choice and then die in a horrible way when a volcano does erupt.”

    How about not living near volcanoes? Is that a possible alternative to your list?

  153. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    How about not living near volcanoes?

    So, that would depopulate much of Mediterranean Europe, Indonesia, the Phillipines, Malaysia, Japan, Hawaii, the West Coast of the U.S., the center of the U.S. (Yellowstone), parts of Chile and Argentina, etc. In other words, a pretty sizable chunk of the world. Russia and China have some pretty large tracts of land that are volcano free, but I don’t think they’d allow all those people in there.

    By your logic, we should not spend money on hurricane monitoring, and people should not live near areas that are affected by hurricanes. Or how about flood monitoring, which knocks out people living near rivers or in plains areas. Then there’s tornadoes, which strike just about anywhere.

    Bottom line, people are going to live near volcanoes, just like they’ll live near hurricane zones, rivers, plains, and so on. Not only that, but business will be located there, too, as will some government buildings. Because of that, in part, it is a cause worthy of funding.

  154. Japhy

    I like what Paul Krugman had to say about it:

    “So what did Bobby Jindal choose to ridicule in this response to Obama last night? Volcano monitoring, of course.

    The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.”

  155. These were my comments as I was watching him dig his hole:

    Why does Gov. Bobby Jindal Sound Like a Creepy Mr. Rogers?
    http://www.turningleft.net/2009/02/24/why-does-gov-bobby-jindal-sound-like-a-creepy-mr-rogers/

    Yes, I mentioned the volcanoes. Unbelievably silly.

  156. Robbie

    Todd W. let’s confine our discussion to the US. “We”, the collective people of the US, should not be forced to spend money on things like that. Let the spending be spent locally and in states affected by these things. So yes, people shouldn’t live near volcanoes if they expect me to pay for the study of those volcanoes for their safety. Let them spend their own money or move. I don’t expect someone that lives near Mt. St. Helens to spend his own money studying flood and hurricane protection for New Orleans where I live.

  157. Robbie

    Paul Krugman: “The intellectual incoherence is stunning.”

    That describes most of Mr. Krugman’s New York Times pieces so well.

  158. TB

    Sigh…. So many of you can’t just get over the fact that Obama is President, and that the stimulus passed. Wasteful spending or not it passed. Stop crying, stop hating, and see what actually happens instead of all of this useless speculation. Republicans have no leg to stand on when it comes to being fiscally responsible because the fact is that in my lifetime they have NEVER been fiscally responsible. The Democratic party is the only party that has balanced the budget in the time I’ve been alive, and Republicans manged to undo that almost right after Bush won.

    Also, it is a fact that science was very much underfunded under Bush. Funding science is a very important investment, and should be encouraged. If you don’t think that is true ask yourself why the computer you are using right now is so much smaller than the first computers, and if funding NASA had anything to do with that.

    Anyone who is not making over 250,000.00 a year needs to stop talking about their taxes being raised because they will not get raised. Also, stop acting like Reagan only lowered taxes while he was President. The fact is he raised taxes far more times then he lowered them, so please just stop.

  159. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    OK, so LA should pay for its own hurricane monitoring and not benefit from nationally funded monitoring? I see… Because, y’know, natural disasters that affect one area have absolutely no effect on other areas, right? Individuals displaced by natural disasters won’t be going to other states. They’ll just stay put and live in the ruins. And industries that deal nationally/internationally won’t have any impact on their operations outside of the impacted zone. And, in the case of volcanoes, the ash will conveniently settle in one state and not cover multiple states or the entire continent.

    And of course, the industry that supplies the parts to the industry that builds the equipment that monitors the volcanoes, well, those are also all conveniently located solely in states that have volcanoes, and they don’t do any parts business with any other companies in non-volcano states, right?

    Keep in mind, that the study of those volcanoes does protect other states that do not contain the volcano. While the greatest devastation would be in the area immediately around the volcano, other regions would also be impacted financially, if not physically. If/when Yellowstone blows, I’ve a pretty good feeling that LA may feel its effects just a smidge.

    Although you, personally, might not be directly affected by volcano monitoring, your state may see an economic effect from boosting those activities. I haven’t studied the distribution of companies that would be affected by this spending, though, so it is possible that there are no companies at all in LA that have any dealings with anyone associated with the monitoring.

  160. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    If you feel so strongly about the issue, and believe that the Federal government is overstepping its authority and acting unconstitutionally, why don’t you sue? Or find a group of people willing to pool resources to sue? What are you willing to do to ensure that they are held responsible and to prevent such an abuse from happening again? Will you do anything, or just grumble about things on a blog?

  161. David D

    @TB–
    “Anyone who is not making over 250,000.00 a year needs to stop talking about their taxes being raised because they will not get raised.”
    We don’t know that at this time. And if you think those higher taxes on all those “rich” folks won;t get passed on down to the rest of us . . .

    @Todd W–
    Sue? Probably not. But I know that a lot of folks are getting pretty steamed about this issue; hence, the proliferation of “Tea Party” events that are coming down the pike. And do you really think putting BIDEN in charge of the recovery is such a frickin’ good idea? He can’t even remember the “website number.”

    So people aren’t just grumbling on a blog, they are taking action. Dissent is patriotic isn’t it?

  162. Todd W.

    @David D

    But, if they are violating the Constitution, then they should be held legally accountable, no? Demonstrations are all well and good for voicing an opinion, but they really don’t accomplish a whole lot. And my question was mainly directed at Robbie personally. What is he going to do? There may be “people” and “Tea Party” events, but what is he going to do? Is he just going to grumble on a blog? Is he just going to be one more voice in the crowd at one of these protests? Or is he going to take some action that is going to have a real effect?

  163. Robbie

    Why has that question relevant to this debate? Why would I tell you what my plans are? Supposing I did sue, the Supreme Court is not likely to take the case as other issues raised by people with far more influence than me with more direct constitutional implications have been ignored or rejected by the court. (That sentence is too long.) It still may be worth a shot however.

    Todd W.: “Although you, personally, might not be directly affected by volcano monitoring, your state may see an economic effect from boosting those activities.”

    Even if my state got money from the federal government for this and jobs were “created”, I’m not so immoral that I would support it. All federal money comes from the people of the US and I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I supported taking their money at gun point and using it for my own benefit. And neither should you.

  164. @Todd W “If you feel so strongly about the issue, and believe that the Federal government is overstepping its authority and acting unconstitutionally, why don’t you sue?”

    I’m not a lawyer. I only play one on TV, but I believe there is something called Sovereign Immunity that prevents that:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity

    “In the United States, the federal government has sovereign immunity and may not be sued unless it has waived its immunity or consented to suit.”

    I vote for tar and feathering. It’s time we bring back that venerable tradition. With a some chicken feathers and a bucket of tar we can bring these pols to their senses once more. :)

  165. Someone may have already proposed this, but I have an offer to Mr Jindal. We can stop monitoring volcanoes if we can also stop tracking hurricanes. Fair’s fair, yeah?

  166. Corey S.

    Gov. Jindal sucks. That’s not really up for debate. He’s wrong on science 99% of the time. The problem with the two-party system is that the Democrats suck, too. The vast majority of them are either ignorant of economics or dishonest enough to believe that the minimum wage helps the very poor, that free trade is detrimental to our economy, that something magical called ‘the multiplier’ exists (if gov’t spending did have a multiplier effect, why not just tax income at 100% and have the government spend it all? Follow this to it’s logical conclusion and you should support lower marginal tax rates, even on the rich), etc.

    The conclusion I’ve come to is that government cannot, by its nature, spend money efficiently- not even on science. Therefore, we should severely limit the amount of money government has to spend.

    Phil- you claim that spending on science is always stimulative; that it always has long-term benefits. I tend to agree. But what you’re not looking at is *where* that money comes from and *what* that money would have otherwise been spent on. It’s very possibly – I would say overwhelmingly probable – that the money spent by private individuals would have a more ‘stimulative’ (in terms of growth) effect and go to more efficient projects, and therefore create better technology (and have more money left over to fund projects for studying the universe).

  167. Nigel Depledge

    RL said:

    @Nigel Depledge

    No, I did not miss the point of the stimulus. And simply, I don’t believe that funding the volcano researching as part of this bill will stimulate the economy to any degree worthy of including it in this bill. An important fact regarding this stimulus bill is that normal budget procedures are avoided. Offsets for spending are not in force. This spending is not counted for budget making regions. It just adds directly to the deficit. This spending doesn’t belong in a emergency bill. It belongs in the regular budget which was announced today.

    I do believe that government spending can have a multiplier affect, but not in all programs. I don’t believe that this line item has the impact that is claimed by you and readers here. Sure that money will go to some people (I don’t know how many) and go into the economy. But the impact of that is not worth going outside of the budget process.

    OK, I understand that this is your point of view, but you do not explain why.

  168. Nigel Depledge

    Scott said:

    You have it backwards. If you want emergency stimulus money rather than funds from the regular budget, you need to demonstrate why science spending is stimulative, what the multiplier is on the spending, and why its better than other options for stimulus.

    Contrary to your and Phil’s assertions, it is not plainly obvious that there is a signficant mulitplier to this spending. If you have data demonstrating that, please provide it. Otherwise your assertions are no better than those that attack as “anti-scientific”.

    Well, first off, I don’t have it backwards.

    You are the one criticising the stimulus package. The onus is therefore on you to demonstrate that your criticism is valid.

    I am no economist. All I know is that increased domestic spending of any kind will stimulate the economy. What I do not know is the extent to which spending in different areas will do this, nor how to judge what would or would not be a “significant” multiplier.

    Seriously, I’m all ears (metaphorically), but I would appreciate at least an attempt on your part to justify your statements.

    BTW, in what way is describing additional funding for vulcanology as “wasteful” not anti-science?

    Irrespective of the degree to which science funding can stimulate the economy in the short term (which is all you seem to care about, as the long-term economic benefits of science have been demonstrated too many times to count), Jindal’s comment was anti-science. His framing is that extra spending on vulcanology is “wasteful”, irrespective of the mechanism by which that funding is applied.

  169. Nigel Depledge

    Phillip West said:

    The flawed example is “increase efficiency of automobiles” the potential gain just isn’t there. A major thermodynamic breakthrough would be a boost of a few percent -big deal.

    Actually, what makes more difference to the efficiency of a car is how you drive it. A few basic changes to the way you drive (e.g. always use the highest gear possible, accelerate slowly, drive smoothly, don’t exceed 60 mph) can have an immediate impact of about 10% on fuel efficiency.

    But it sure makes driving dull.

  170. Nigel Depledge

    newideas99 said:

    They have a process called SuperWaveFusion, which could be a possible breakthrough in cold fusion. I recently read that 2 independent labs have replicated this process, this is the type of new thinking we need!

    If cold fusion is a possibility, this is indeed a huge breakthrough.

    Can you cite the peer-reviewed article that describes the breakthrough, please?

  171. Nigel Depledge

    Adam Keith said:

    You are dishonest to say it is. The argument is that it has no business being in the stimulus bill. That is an appropriation, that is legitimate and needs to be addressed. But not in the manner that it was.

    And you, too, seem to have missed the words that Jindal used.

    He was not saying that the vulcanology funding was going through an inappropriate mechanism. He was saying that it was “wasteful”.

  172. Nigel Depledge

    Robbie said:

    Todd W. let’s confine our discussion to the US. “We”, the collective people of the US, should not be forced to spend money on things like that. Let the spending be spent locally and in states affected by these things. So yes, people shouldn’t live near volcanoes if they expect me to pay for the study of those volcanoes for their safety. Let them spend their own money or move. I don’t expect someone that lives near Mt. St. Helens to spend his own money studying flood and hurricane protection for New Orleans where I live.

    Heh. Even I know what the “U” in “USA” stands for. Seem you don’t.

    But I bet you eat stuff that has been grown in volcanic soil.

  173. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    Why has that question relevant to this debate? Why would I tell you what my plans are?

    I asked because you seem to feel very strongly that this sort of spending is unconstitutional and that the government should be held accountable. I’m just curious how strongly you feel about it. Are concerned enough about it to actually do something, or are you just going to vent your frustrations into little dots on a screen?

    Even if my state got money from the federal government for this and jobs were “created”, I’m not so immoral that I would support it. All federal money comes from the people of the US and I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I supported taking their money at gun point and using it for my own benefit. And neither should you.

    So, if you were in a disaster, you would not accept any money or assistance from FEMA? If you lost your job, you would not accept welfare or food stamps? When you are older, you are going to reject Medicare or Medicaid, right? And those rebate checks that former Pres. Bush sent out, you refused yours and sent it right on back, didn’t you?

  174. Todd W.

    @Tom Marking

    I’m not a lawyer. I only play one on TV, but I believe there is something called Sovereign Immunity that prevents that:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity

    “In the United States, the federal government has sovereign immunity and may not be sued unless it has waived its immunity or consented to suit.”

    Hmm…sovereign immunity, huh? Bummer. Though in questions of Constitutionality, wouldn’t the people be able to have legal recourse to try those responsible (i.e., Congress)? Any lawyers reading this thread that could answer that question? Would it fall under one of the exceptions that waive immunity?

    I vote for tar and feathering. It’s time we bring back that venerable tradition. With a some chicken feathers and a bucket of tar we can bring these pols to their senses once more. :)

    Intriguing idea, but then you’d have to worry about all the PETA demonstrations.

  175. Robbie

    Todd W.: “So, if you were in a disaster, you would not accept any money or assistance from FEMA? If you lost your job, you would not accept welfare or food stamps? When you are older, you are going to reject Medicare or Medicaid, right? And those rebate checks that former Pres. Bush sent out, you refused yours and sent it right on back, didn’t you?”

    You know, I thought about replying to each question, but that misses the point. Taking money that does not belong to you, that you did not earn, is wrong. And it is all taken backed by the threat of lethal force. Maybe it says something about why we have so many economic and social problems when people think it’s okay.

  176. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    You know, I thought about replying to each question, but that misses the point.

    So you wouldn’t accept any of that aid?

    And it is all taken backed by the threat of lethal force.

    Last I checked, lethal force was not authorized for the collection of taxes. Perhaps you have some evidence that lethal force is used?

    May I ask, would you get rid of all Federal taxation? All government spending? If not, then what level of taxation is justified? What should the government be allowed to spend the money on? And, most importantly, why?

  177. Robbie

    No. I would not accept that aid.

    If you don’t think lethal force backs up all laws you are free to try your luck.

    The 16th Amendment didn’t always exist. How was the country doing before then? A repeal of the 16th Amendment and strict constitutional interpretation of the role of government would be fine with me.

    “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
    – James Madison, 4 Annals of congress 179 (1794)

  178. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    I’ll ask again, since you didn’t answer my questions:

    Last I checked, lethal force was not authorized for the collection of taxes. Perhaps you have some evidence that lethal force is used?

    May I ask, would you get rid of all Federal taxation? All government spending? If not, then what level of taxation is justified? What should the government be allowed to spend the money on? And, most importantly, why?

  179. Robbie

    Quoting myself: “And it is all taken backed by the threat of lethal force.”

    The threat of lethal force backs all laws. The vast majority of people are not stupid enough to make them act on that threat so there isn’t a case I can think of.

    I answered your questions about government spending as well as I can. The powers of the federal government are few and definite, and ard are defined in the Constitution.

  180. @David D “Somehow, this rather inept performance by Jindal is “republicans shilling anti-science, but recent statements by Dr. Chu about the end of California agriculture, or Dr. Hansen’s coal deathtrains or his endorsement of civil disobedience are NOT anti-science? BA–got the blinders on BIG TIME. How disappointing, yet how typical of this blog.”

    I also am interested by BA’s choice of excerpts from the Jindal speech. If we look at a transcript of what Jinal actually said:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/24/sotn.jindal.transcript

    the offending paragraph appears to be:

    “But Democratic leaders in Congress — they rejected this approach. Instead of trusting us to make wise decisions with our own money, they passed the largest government spending bill in history, with a price tag of more than $1 trillion with interest. While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a “magnetic levitation” line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called “volcano monitoring.” Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.”

    So the anti-science line is concerning the $140 million for volcano monitoring specifically and the other two examples he cited. I get the feeling that Jindal was tossing the volcano line out as some type of joke but it didn’t come off too well. Just 3 paragraphs later he says:

    “To strengthen our economy, we need urgent action to keep energy prices down. All of us remember what it felt like to pay $4 at the pump and unless we act now, those prices will return. To stop that from happening, we need to INCREASE CONSERVATION, INCREASE ENERGY EFFICIENCY, INCREASE THE USE OF ALTERNATIVE AND RENEWABLE FUELS, INCREASE OUR USE OF NUCLEAR POWER, and increase drilling for oil and gas here at home. We believe that Americans can do anything and if we unleash the innovative spirit of our citizens, we can achieve energy independence.”

    Presumably all of the activities that I’ve highlighted with caps involve science and technology and their funding by the federal government. I would disagree vigorously with Jindal’s proposal to increase nuclear power but I wouldn’t call it anti-science. So not everything in the speech was anti-science.

  181. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    The threat of lethal force backs all laws. The vast majority of people are not stupid enough to make them act on that threat so there isn’t a case I can think of.

    A citation of law authorizing the use of deadly force would suffice. Lacking anything concrete to back up your statement, it is, therefore, merely your opinion that taxation is backed up by lethal force, rather than a statement of reality.

    I answered your questions about government spending as well as I can. The powers of the federal government are few and definite, and ard are defined in the Constitution.

    So, if I understand correctly, disaster relief should never come from the Federal government, regardless of the impact on the national economy. The funds for the stimulus package should come from the states (if even them), not from the Federal government, except for construction projects on post roads and post offices, as allowed by the Constitution. In fact, the Federal government has absolutely no authority to give money to any private business or individual, but only to do the specific things delineated in section 8 of Article I (e.g., mint new money, give out patents, raise and fund an army, etc.).

    Did I get your stance correct? If that is the case, then what is your proposal for how to mend the economy? While it is certainly within your right to merely criticize, I would hope that you have some alternatives to offer up, regardless of whether anyone will actually heed your advice or not.

  182. Robbie

    Todd W.: “So, if I understand correctly, disaster relief should never come from the Federal government, regardless of the impact on the national economy.”

    Correct. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and there is really no such thing as a national disaster, except war. But that’s what the military is for. Disasters are limited to states and localities and the government response should be from state and local governments. (Of course that says nothing about private and charitable help.)

    Yes, I agree with that entire paragraph you wrote summarizing my stance.

    My proposal for mending the economy is to free the economy. To unchain it from burdonsome regulations, tariffs, and taxes. To eliminate taxes on businesses and corporations, slash the federal budget except for things it is specifically called to spend on, to drastically lower taxes on individuals (the only real payers of taxes), eliminate entitlement and social programs, to do as much as possible to squash corporate/government corruption and cooperation, and generally increase the freedom of the individual in America.

  183. Robbie

    Oh, whoops. Forgot to say that just because something has an impact on the national economy doesn’t give the government carte blanche to do whatever it wishes. To suppose it does means government can go to a totalitarian state for virtually any reason. Check out some quotes from founders farther up the page.

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” — George Washington

  184. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    Okay. So would you eliminate regulatory agencies, such as FTC, FDA, etc.? If so, how do you propose ensuring the safety and efficacy of, say, medical products? If not, should the government be allowed to levy taxes to fund those agencies? Followup to that, if they should not be allowed to levy taxes to pay for the agencies, how should they be funded?

    (Sorry, all, for drifting off-topic.)

  185. Robbie

    Yes. Ensuring the safety and efficacy of medical products or whatever is easily done by the market. You won’t see many people shopping for headache medicine and taking rat poison. Or getting on airplanes with a high crash and fatality rate. Humans are stupid, but not so stupid they act against their own interests (only a person can know his own interests, and can never know someone else’s). Business people are also not so stupid that they will impose great risk on their customers (tobacco companies excluded) and expect to stay in business.

    I’m not an anarchist either, there will still be laws protecting peoples’ rights in case you’re going to reply that businesses will be able to screw people over. No one is allowed to violate the rights of others, this includes business people. That is why eliminating government/business cooperation/collusion is so important in a free society.

  186. Yes. Ensuring the safety and efficacy of medical products or whatever is easily done by the market.

    This message brought to you from the John D. Rockefeller school of government.

  187. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    Ensuring the safety and efficacy of medical products or whatever is easily done by the market.

    Might I suggest studying a little about the history of food and pharmaceuticals in this country, and how contamination and fraudulent products were even more rampant than they are currently before the Food Purity Act, which subsequently developed into the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. The market cannot regulate itself.

    I wouldn’t say you’re an anarchist. You sound like a libertarian, arguing a “buyer beware” approach. However, you say that there will still be laws protecting peoples’ rights, but who enforces those laws? The individual by suing the company? What happens when the individual does not have the financial resources to pursue a suit and no private organizations take up their case pro bono? So, if not the individual, then who? It is the duty of agencies like FTC and FDA to enforce the laws and regulations under their purview.

    I will not argue that those agencies are perfect or free of corruption, but I would argue that they do a great deal of good and create a much better environment for everyone in the country than if they did not exist. If they were abolished, as you propose, we would be thrown back to the days of snake oil salesmen. Heck, just take a look at the “herbal remedies” and homeopathic “medicine” industries for an example. Those are largely unregulated.

    What alternative, then, would you propose to prevent such a situation?

  188. Robbie

    Todd W.: “However, you say that there will still be laws protecting peoples’ rights, but who enforces those laws? The individual by suing the company?”

    Uh, the government. How about filing criminal charges when businesses falsely advertise, cheat, poison, whatever?

    What’s the problem with snake oil salesmen? If people want to buy crap they’re free to buy it. If it doesn’t harm them, but does no good either then they have wasted their money. It is none of my or anyone else’s business what they do with money they earned.

    Todd W.: “Might I suggest studying a little about the history of food and pharmaceuticals in this country, and how contamination and fraudulent products were even more rampant than they are currently before the Food Purity Act, which subsequently developed into the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.”

    I think the history you’ve been reading is guilty of confusing cause and effect as well as some chronological bungling. Politicians react to problems raised by people in the market well after the market itself is working out the solution. The politician then co-opts the solution as his own so he can increase his power and impose his will on others.

  189. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    Uh, the government. How about filing criminal charges when businesses falsely advertise, cheat, poison, whatever?

    This has worked incredibly well for curtailing quack herbals and homeopathic remedies, hasn’t it? In fact, in the early days of the FDA, starting around 1906 and continuing for several decades, if there was a suspect product, the government could not take any action against the manufacturer until they filed a law suit, and then they had to prove that the product did not do what it claimed or that it was unsafe. The manufacturer did not have to prove anything about their product, ever. No proof required that it actually did anything. No proof required that it is safe, much like dietary supplements, herbal “remedies” and other alternative “medicines” today. For the average person, therefore, it was next to impossible to distinguish between those products that were safe and effective, and those that did nothing or were dangerous.

    So, just as in the very early days of regulation, in a criminal suit the onus of proving the case is on the victim, not the manufacturer. Once again, the manufacturer need not prove anything.

    If people want to buy crap they’re free to buy it. If it doesn’t harm them, but does no good either then they have wasted their money. It is none of my or anyone else’s business what they do with money they earned.

    The issue is not whether or not the product has not effect and also causes no harm, but rather the harm that can result from trying such products instead of products that actually can help. For example, in diseases that lead to permanent injury or death, products that do nothing actually do cause harm, even if they have no direct side-effects. In the absence of enforcing proof of safety and efficacy, how do you propose the consumer judge what actually works and is safe from what is unsafe or has no effect?

    I think the history you’ve been reading is guilty of confusing cause and effect as well as some chronological bungling.

    Have you studied the history of food and drug regulation? It sounds like you haven’t and are once again asserting opinion as fact. As a good introduction to a lay audience, I would suggest the book Protecting America’s Health: The FDA, Business, and One Hundred Years of Regulation by Philip J. Hilts. The introduction of regulation, and the gradual improvements of the regulations, have resulted in safer, more effective medical products. It is the regulations, not the market, that caused this to happen.

  190. Robbie

    I have not read that book, but in checking it out at Amazon.com I saw a review which contained this text: “I was appalled by the vitriol the author spewed against all conservatives, and the conservative ideology, calling all conservatives a group of “white men” who were bound by “their anger against minorities, government, and established elites”. Leaders such as Ronald Reagan were desribed as having an ideology that was “a bundle of fears and dislikes”, and an “anger that holds together the radical conservatives”.”

    Is what this woman says true?

    Todd W.: “So, just as in the very early days of regulation, in a criminal suit the onus of proving the case is on the victim, not the manufacturer.”

    I am not a lawyer, but is the onus in proving the case in a criminal suit not on the state? I thought the onus of proving civil matters is on the plaintiff. If someone shoots me and I press charges against him and there is enough evidence to indict, I do not have to prove that the man shot me. The state does.

    Todd W.: “In fact, in the early days of the FDA, starting around 1906 and continuing for several decades, if there was a suspect product, the government could not take any action against the manufacturer until they filed a law suit, and then they had to prove that the product did not do what it claimed or that it was unsafe.”

    And this is call for regulation of the market? Sounds to me like business/government cooperation or the state’s dereliction of duty.

    Todd W.: “The issue is not whether or not the product has not effect and also causes no harm, but rather the harm that can result from trying such products instead of products that actually can help. For example, in diseases that lead to permanent injury or death, products that do nothing actually do cause harm, even if they have no direct side-effects.”

    And what about the increased costs and time imparted on people that need the medicines by regulations like those the FDA impose? We can’t consider things in a vacuum or act as if there are no alternatives. It costs billions of dollars and years of time in many cases to get drugs on the market. But there is no way to measure the added cost of human suffering and death because of these regulations and delays. But that is what truly must be considered, whether the FDA (and other things) causes more harm than good. Are the costs associated with regulation more acceptable because they’re hidden even if they’re greater than the visible costs associated with no regulation?

    Todd W.: “It sounds like you haven’t and are once again asserting opinion as fact.”

    Hey, I cheated and specifically said “I think”. I made no assertions.

  191. Robbie

    Todd W.: “Have you studied the history of food and drug regulation?”

    Sorry, forgot to answer. No.

  192. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    I am not a lawyer, but is the onus in proving the case in a criminal suit not on the state? I thought the onus of proving civil matters is on the plaintiff. If someone shoots me and I press charges against him and there is enough evidence to indict, I do not have to prove that the man shot me. The state does.

    I don’t recall that. However, the author did spend some time illustrating how Nixon’s administration corrupted the FDA on political ideology. It mentioned some other periods of corruption within the agency without regard to party affiliation. IIRC, it kept pretty much with facts and did not seem to state things based solely on political affiliation. But then, I read it without looking for offense or from any party viewpoint.

    I am not a lawyer, but is the onus in proving the case in a criminal suit not on the state?

    I probably stand corrected on this, that it is the state and not the victim that must proves its case. Regardless, this still allows the manufacturer to just produce their product without proving safety and efficacy (S&E).

    And what about the increased costs and time imparted on people that need the medicines by regulations like those the FDA impose?

    The regulations allow for fast-track approval of certain products, as well as temporary exemptions in special cases, so the time bit is not as large an issue as you seem to think. The time costs to develop a new drug to ensure that it won’t kill the consumer would still be an issue. As for the time and cost to make sure it actually does what is claimed, personally, I’d much rather spend a little more to have that assurance.

    You should also consider the impact of legal suits against manufacturers on their insurance premiums, which affects the costs of their products. The price is not solely due to the regulations. As you say, we must not look at things in a vacuum.

    But there is no way to measure the added cost of human suffering and death because of these regulations and delays.

    Sure you can. You can do a baseline study examining the costs associated with a disease for which a new drug is in development. Once the drug is approved, do another study to compare the costs.

    The FDA walks a fine line between overly slow, but ensuring S&E products, and overly fast, allowing dangerous products on the market.

  193. Robbie

    Todd W.: “As for the time and cost to make sure it actually does what is claimed, personally, I’d much rather spend a little more to have that assurance.”

    Sure, but neither you nor I apparently has any horrible disease that may be cured or lessened by a radical new drug that hasn’t been certified.

    Todd W.: “You should also consider the impact of legal suits against manufacturers on their insurance premiums, which affects the costs of their products. The price is not solely due to the regulations. As you say, we must not look at things in a vacuum.”

    Of course, but is that helping your point? Drugs are getting by FDA regulations and tests are obviously not doing their jobs or people wouldn’t be suing (unless it was something like patent infringement). I have no statistics on how many of the lawsuits are patent/copyright related versus safety & efficacy related. Do you?

  194. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    Sure, but neither you nor I apparently has any horrible disease that may be cured or lessened by a radical new drug that hasn’t been certified.

    Well, not yet. You’re taking a rather short-sighted and selfish point of view. I’m not psychic, so I can’t foresee whether or not I’ll get ill in such a manner, and I’d be willing to guess that you are not psychic either. I also can’t foresee whether or not someone I know (family or friend) might get such a disease. If they do, I’d want to be sure that the treatment they receive actually works.

    Drugs are getting by FDA regulations and tests are obviously not doing their jobs or people wouldn’t be suing (unless it was something like patent infringement). I have no statistics on how many of the lawsuits are patent/copyright related versus safety & efficacy related. Do you?

    I don’t have any stats on copyright vs. S&E cases. My point regarding the law suits is that it drives up prices. With regulation, the products are considerably safer, thus reducing the likelihood of a company being sued due to injury. It’ll still happen, as no medicine is 100% safe, but the overall number cases and size of awards are, I would wager, going to be lower than without regulation. Now, you might argue that fear of being sued would make companies work to ensure the safety of their products. However, the majority of awards can generally be absorbed by the company. They can just up the prices on their products, including ones that are needed by society as a whole or certain special populations.

    Keep in mind, I am not of the opinion that government is all shiny and good. But, I think that your “government is bad nd overstepping its bounds” mentality is keeping you from seeing the broader implications of eliminating various parts of the government.

    Take some time to look at the history of one aspect (e.g., food and drug regulation) and work out what would happen if that regulation went away.

  195. @ Todd & Rob (and Flanders, too, if he’s listening):

    Safe drugs is a drop in the bucket.

    Name one industry or institution in this country that isn’t better off regulated than not. (And try visiting some South American or European country and see what real regulation looks like.)

    Let’s take a sampling:

    Mining/minerals: kiddies in the coal mines? Black lung? Poisoned rivers/towns/countryside? Yup, there’s a good example of self-regulation by the market.

    Railroads/shipping: Oh, Mr. Rockefeller, you are such a cad! Oof! Hey! Why’d your goons punch me in the stomach? Price fixing, intimidation, violence, thuggery, monopoly. Uh-hmm.

    Oil/energy: Mr. Rockefeller…again??? Add toxic waste to the list. I’d go after you but the tarballs have me stuck to the ground.

    Chemicals: Love Canal, anyone? Superfund sites? Thalidomide babies? Oh yeah. The industry’s record is spotless on this one.

    Let’s move into the lighter industries, shall we?

    Clothing/textiles: Oh, those uppity immigrants! No more sweatshops? We’ll just have to ship our production overseas, where a mere pennies a day will buy us all the cheap cotton polyester blends we need.

    High tech: it’s green, right? Computers? Apple Computers? Apples are green, right? Oh, that little issue about disposal of toxic waste…no big deal. Into the landfill it goes! If not our landfill….Shanghai!

    And on.

    Honestly, this is where me and the hard-core Libertarians part ways. I’m all for personal responsibility, but why don’t the same standards apply to corporate individuals? The sad record is, corporate “citizens” do not always behave in the interests of the public. History has shown time and again they must be regulated. When they are not…. I got this condo on a canal I sell you real cheap.

  196. Robbie

    kuhnigget: “Honestly, this is where me and the hard-core Libertarians part ways. I’m all for personal responsibility, but why don’t the same standards apply to corporate individuals? The sad record is, corporate “citizens” do not always behave in the interests of the public.”

    Uh, I think they apply and most “hard-core” Libertarians do too. Note that I stressed the need for criminal liability in these matters not civil. That applies to what Todd W. said too in his last post. A really large corporation might not care much about being sued, but we shouldn’t keep the focus only on really large companies or suing. A smaller company would care about being sued and the owners and operators of both care about going to prison.

    Of course corporations don’t behave in the interests of the public kuhnigget. No one on the planet does. There is no such thing as public interest. There is only self-interest. There are no angels, just people. This fairy tale view of the world a lot of progressives have is ridiculous and dangerous. Self-interest however is not selfishness. I’ll let you figure out the difference kuhnigget.

    Todd W.: “You’re taking a rather short-sighted and selfish point of view. I’m not psychic, so I can’t foresee whether or not I’ll get ill in such a manner, and I’d be willing to guess that you are not psychic either. I also can’t foresee whether or not someone I know (family or friend) might get such a disease. If they do, I’d want to be sure that the treatment they receive actually works.”

    I don’t think I made my point clearly when I said that. A person with a terrible disease might not have the luxury of waiting for something to get through FDA approval. They may also be willing to take the bigger risk that something might not work for the chance that it does or at least relieves their pain for a while. They may very well die while waiting.

    If anything you expressed the selfish view for imposing on others what you think should be done, even if it isn’t what they want.

  197. @ Robbie:

    Of course corporations don’t behave in the interests of the public kuhnigget. No one on the planet does. There is no such thing as public interest. There is only self-interest.

    I’m glad I don’t live on your planet.

  198. IVAN3MAN

    @ Robbie,

    Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, back in the 1980s, stated: “… there is no such thing as society, [only the individual]…”

    That’s why her colleagues stabbed her in the back when they realized that their parliamentary seats were on the line. You get what you give. C’est la vie!

  199. Todd W.

    @Robbie

    A person with a terrible disease might not have the luxury of waiting for something to get through FDA approval. They may also be willing to take the bigger risk that something might not work for the chance that it does or at least relieves their pain for a while. They may very well die while waiting.

    Right, and that is why there are individual-use and orphan-drug regulations to allow for faster approval or for use of an investigational drug for individual use, not to mention getting enrolled in a clinical trial. So, they do have access to the drug, even before it is approved. The risk is rather larger than an approved drug because the profile isn’t yet known. For those willing to take that risk, there are options.

    If anything you expressed the selfish view for imposing on others what you think should be done, even if it isn’t what they want.

    If ensuring the well-being of others (in a limited sense…I loathe the idea of a totalitarian parent-type government a la 1984), holding companies accountable for producing products that actually do what they say they can do and are safe, and educating people is selfish, then yep, I am. I still suggest that you take a good look at the history of drug regulation and get a sense of what an unregulated industry is like.

    Oh, and another thought that occurred to me: which part of the government should be responsible for enforcing the criminal violations of companies, if the FDA is done away with? Where will the manpower come from, without overtaxing the staffing that is left?

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