Friday, April 22, 2005

Proposal to cut off free weather data

Hey look, here is a useful government function that a lot of people depend on. Let’s destroy it!

Ok, I had cancelled my usual Friday Big Research Day to catch up on grading, but this has me so pissed I need to spend at least an hour gather information and writing letters. It isn't the biggest injustice in the world; it is just the kind of little stupid thing that republicans do that makes life suck for everyone.

They want to stop the National Weather Service from releasing weather data for free. (via Majikthise and /.) See Accuweather and the Weather Channel sell that data. When the national weather service gives away the data, it interferes with Accuweather's right to repackage the data and sell it. Here's the text of the bill.

The bill says that NWS can only release data in the event of an emergency, like a hurricane or flood, or when required to by international treaty. But as a /.er points out people die all the time from lack of weather information--people at sea on in the air for instance--even when there isn't an emergency. The exception for disasters is barely a fig leaf. It won't protect public safety much at all.

Well, most of the good arguments can be found at Lindsay's site and on /. The bill would make us pay for our data twice. Once in our taxes to support the collection of it, and once when Accuweather sells the data back to us. This bill is like banning public schools because they compete with private schools, or banning the post office because it competes with FedEx.

Here is the record of accuweather's campaign contributions to Santorum. Check out this kind of information now, before someone decides that you have to pay a middleman for it.

Alright, I'm going to eat my lunch, rewrite my comments in a sane fashion and send them to my senators and local newspapers, and then grade.

Oh yes. And the senator responsible for this bill is Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum. Remember that. When you think of who should be targeted to be ousted from the Senate in the next election, remember that Rick Santorum introduced this bill.

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