Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ignore the Volcano and It'll Go Away

Bobby Jindal just came out against volcano monitoring. 'What the fuckity-fucking fuck???' is, I'm sorry to say, gross understatement.

Until he said that, the most bizarrely jaw-dropping political moment within my memory was...earlier in Jindal's speech, when he cited Hurricane Katrina as an example of why government can't solve our problems. (Shades of Debra Saunders.) He spun out this weird little urban legend movie scenario in which the sheriff has a bunch of boats and volunteers but is prohibited from letting them go help people unless the volunteers have liability insurance. Brownie's incompetence is all because of...the litigation-happy Democrats! You know what would have saved the lives of thousands of poor people in New Orleans? Tort reform.

But volcano monitoring...that's wasteful spending. That's pork. So, by logical extension, is monitoring the levees. We don't need that wasteful government spending; what we need is to let people launch their rowboats.

So when Mt. Rainier or the Long Valley Caldera or the Yellowstone Caldera blow and the ash blots out the sky and and the mudflows obliterate entire counties and cities are turned to ash in an instant, remember that there would have been no value in being able to predict the event. The value lies in unleashing the volunteers. Never mind that the rowboats and the people in them will vaporize in a microsecond when they are launched on the lava flow; as long as their survivors aren't allowed to sue, everything will be alright.

Update: Nate Silver has a more substantive post on volcano monitoring.