RSS
Japan's earthquake: A case for more U.S. government spending?
The House GOP budget would defund the tsunami warning center that alerted West Coasters to danger last week. Is it time to reconsider the spending cuts?
 
California's Seal Beach Pier was closed by authorities after a tsunami warning, the sort of weather alarms the proposed GOP budget would cut.
California's Seal Beach Pier was closed by authorities after a tsunami warning, the sort of weather alarms the proposed GOP budget would cut.
Getty

The West Coast tsunami warnings that followed Japan's massive earthquake on Friday ignited a debate on what had been a little-discussed element of Congress' spending plan. The House Republican budget cuts would hit hard at the National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which sounded the alarm. The GOP budget also aims to cut humanitarian and foreign aid. Is this an area where we're spending too much, or is the devastation in Japan a reminder that disaster preparedness is costly, but worth it?

Spending on disaster preparedness saves lives: The budget-cutters seem to think that "all government agencies are wasteful or can be easily privatized," says Brian Smith at Earth Justice. But it's easy for those of us "living at sea-level on the Pacific Rim" to understand now that there are some "essential services" that should not be put on the chopping block. Be "grateful for advance warning systems." There's wisdom in paying for them.
"House budget cuts would impact Pacific Tsunami Warning Center"

More government meddling doesn't help: The "key to faster recovery" and greater preparedness is "wealth and the ability to adapt," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. It is the "adaptation and innovation" fostered by Japan's open economic system that saved so many lives. In contrast, countries with "centrally controlled economies" can't match Japan's ability to respond to a crisis. More government spending and control isn't always the answer.
"Death toll in Japan from quake, tsunami — likely over 10,000"

But there are some things only government can do: Budget slashing sounds good when all is calm, says David Dayen at Firedoglake, but horrible natural disasters always demonstrate "the importance of a national government prepared to respond. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan is no different." Saving $126 million at the National Weather Service over the next six months sounds good, except when you realize that we're gutting the budgets of the people "actually preparing for contingencies to protect" us when disaster strikes.
"House GOP budget cuts tsunami monitoring funding"

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week