What good has big government ever done?
Well, among other things, big government has set up a system of buoys across the Pacific Ocean that very effectively and efficiently notifies the American people, and people of all Pacific nations, when a tsunami may be approaching. On the morning after a huge earthquake in Japan sent a tsunami across the Pacific Ocean, Colleen Hanabusa, a U.S. Representative from Hawaii, took note of the fact that the congressional Republicans’ budget cutting plans included the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency that includes the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the big government bureaucracy that has very effectively made it possible for people living near the Pacific Ocean to know when a big tsunami is headed their way.
Trying to justify cuts to the government agency that runs the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Republican congressional leader Eric Cantor said, “We all have to do more with less here.”
Do a little more with less? What kind of less is Eric Cantor talking about? How many of the tsunami warning buoys does he want to take out of the water?
Cutting the budget of NOAA, with all its protective services, is like selling a house’s fire alarm for a dollar at a garage sale in order help with a family debt. It’s a rotten idea, given that the dollar saved doesn’t make a significant impact in the debt, and given that the fire alarm functions both to save people’s lives and to save money. If a tsunami slams into the U.S. Pacific Coast without warning, our nation will lose a great deal more money than could ever be saved by cutting the budget of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Speaking in the U.S. Capitol, Representative Hanabusa explained the concept of an economically productive investment in good government, saying,
“As I walked over here, the Capitol guard asked me, Ms. Hanabusa, is everything okay at home? And then it struck me what this is all about. We are people, and we are always going to be there to help others.
We must also look at why Hawaii has really been prepared for these kinds of disasters. I do congratulate both the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, as well as our officials back home who did an excellent job preparing. But I would also like people to consider what it cost and how we were able to come here.
Remember when the good Senator from Hawaii, Senator Inouye, did that unspeakable thing, that earmark called the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. And, yes, it was an earmark. He had the foresight, as only, for example, like my good colleagues from Oregon and people who represent their districts, to know what that district needs and started way back when with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. And that has grown. If you watched the news this morning, as I did from 3 o’clock in the morning, you could hear them saying, our projections are this, we’re looking at what’s going on, and we think it’s going to be about 2 feet. We got those projections before they hit Hawaii. You know what? They were right. What do we have to attribute to that? The fact that there was wisdom and there was funding and there was the recognition that a Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was essential.
It’s not only for Hawaii. It’s for the whole Pacific. When they wanted information of what it meant for Guam, what it meant in Japan, what it meant for the west coast, who was the expert? The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.”
Forget the ideological faith of anti-government Republicans: The facts show that government does its job remarkably well, often much better than the free market ever could. There’s no corporation willing to step forward to protect our shores when the next big earthquake strikes. That’s a job for We The People, and we need to push back against those who would rather eliminate that work than accept a more balanced sacrifice to include contributions from those who can best afford it.