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February 11, 2010

Conservatives want to stick it to the weather hippies

The northeast is facing the snowiest winter in living memory. New Jersey and Delaware have already spent their entire budgets for snow removal and we're not even halfway through February. State budgets have already been slashed to the bone and states can't borrow extra money to make up for the shortfall. 

So, there are two options: i) Write 'em off until spring thaw; ii) Send in FEMA with snowplows. President Obama, like any reasonable person, has chosen the latter. The alternative would be to let the economic powerhouse of the northeast grind to a halt.

Predictably, the conservative Heritage Foundation is railing against a "snow bailout". As far as they're concerned, the U.S. taxpayer shouldn't have to subsidize losers who live in states with weather. Enterprising and upright Americans live somewhere free of snow, sleet, hail, hurricanes, heat waves, ice storms, dust storms, typhoons, tornadoes, floods, droughts, severe hoar frost, and other climactic upheavals.

If you want to live in a state with weather, go ahead, but don't expect Uncle Sam to subsidize your edgy lifestyle. As far as they're concerned, New Jersey is a moral hazard. Admittedly, they have a point, but not because of federal snow removal.

As Amanda points out, these spending scolds get to have it both ways. They know perfectly well that Obama isn't going to let snow paralyze the economy. So, they can score political points, secure in the knowledge that their roads will be plowed.


Perhaps they'd get behind some military action against the low-pressure system causing this mess. And if the hundred million spent on airstrikes fails to help anything, no worries: everyone knows you can't be a bean-counter when it comes to national security.

New Jersey is a moral hazard, and I'm glad Heritage understands this.

However, the idea that the multibillion dollar tax recipient states in the South and Interior West should not have to do anything to help the Northeastern states, which generously contribute tens of billions each to their development, is a little selfish.

What a great idea to send in FEMA with snowplows, providing they have snowplows and know how to drive them. I just hope they arrive before things thaw. People in the snowy states do not ever deny people in Florida assistance after hurricanes.

So, there are two options: i) Write 'em off until spring thaw; ii) Send in FEMA with snowplows.

iii) Plow the roads just like every year and cut the state budget somewhere else or raise taxes.

As far as I can tell from the linked articles, this isn't anything that normal people would call a federal emergency. The state snow removal operations are proceeding successfully. FEMA doesn't have to send snowplows or anything else: The states have access to all the equipment and supplies they need. They're just whining because they don't like paying for it.

It probably makes some sense to have the federal government act as an insurer of last resort for rare cases of really bad weather, but this is about money, not about clearing snow off of roads.

Make Al Gore pay for it.

Windypundit, your ideas would work in a state without Republicans. Unfortunately, New Jersey is not such a state, which makes raising taxes and cutting spending on the middle class impossible. This leaves cutting spending on the poor, which hit bare bones fifteen years ago and has since started drilling.

Borrowing would actually work pretty well for such a case - it's a one-off event, and in ordinary times the state would be able to pay for it later, when the weather's nicer. The problem is really the conjunction of a deep recession and a spike in the need to spend. It's actually a decent stimulus for the feds to spend money on those things - direct aid to states has one of the highest multipliers of any form of stimulus.

I'm fine with cutting anyone off that happens to live where storms, earthquakes, fires, etc. occur. Provided we actually cut everyone off. We can start for instance with rich assholes who think they need vacation homes on barrier islands.

Make Al Gore pay for it.

Oh, let me guess. One nasty winter on the East Coast proves that there's no such thing as global warming, right? If America's government, financial center, and particularly, media hub were located in the Pacific Northwest we'd be inundated with stories about the bizarrely warm weather this year. We had our smowmageddon last year (the snow collapsed the awning on my house), and this year the winter here (Washington Cascades) has been more like that typical of the Northern California coast.

Weather is one thing, climate another. But then what's the use trying to explain anything to “conservatives”.

One thing that's becoming clear is that Republicans are mostly against money being spent on states that don't elect Bible-thumping illiterate racists to Congress. After all, conservatives who screech about reacting to an winter emergency like it's an emergency are also holding up federal appointees until Alabama gets it pork, and would never, ever suggest that some place like Mississippi not get FEMA assistance after a hurricane (though New Orleans is a different story).

Well, of course all the true conservatives come from the south, where there's no snow. Except when there is, and everything grinds to a halt for three days at the merest suggestion of a flurry.

Right now Atlanta is practically shut down at the threat of solid precipitation.

Ans: Yes.
Lindsay, did you know you are a Canadian and not
an *estadounidense* [!!, m'dear]?
Stephanie Kralevich, for one, falls under the *latter* heading.
Like that.

This is one of those 'on the other hand' stories.

On the one hand towns do tend to underbudget for snow removal (because it's easier to delay payment than for other things, among other reasons). On the other hand, this is the biggest snow event in recorded history (or for hundreds of years) for parts of NJ, DE, Maryland, and DC. You know, the type of thing FEMA was made to respond to.

Nitpicky: this is the mid-Atlantic states getting hit, not the northeast. Boston, for example, has not been getting a lot of snow

There have been plenty of snowfalls this big in New York.

The illiterate Gore followers think that nature follows cycles of a few years, and that all is understood.

Actually, nature follows cycles of immense length and we should be humble enough to realize that we are just beginning to ask the right questions and that maybe we just don't know what is happening long term

Cheers from Londonistan, where it is cold which surely is indicative of not very much

Phantom, I hope you know that there are lots of different length weather cycles: there are short cycles made by low or high pressure systems; there is the seasonal cycle; .... all the way up to Milankovitch cycles which can last 100,000 years (ok there are longer cycles). One important point to remember is that ice records (and other pieces of information) show that global temperature can change fairly rapidly (during the Younger Dryas, the global temp might have changed by 7 degrees C in a few years).

As with all denialists, you throw in Gore's name. I don't care what Gore believes, what matters is that almost all climate scientists believe that people have affected the world's climate and that it will make Earth warmer than it would be otherwise. To check if this is true, we need to look at moderately long periods (decades) to see if temperatures follow the models that follow from that theory--so far it seems true (again, according to climate scientists).

We don't know what will happen with the weather, but if most scientists believe in a theory that shows that pretty bad things will happen if we don't change shouldn't we change? Especially since it has positives even if the theory proves wrong (it would stop the acidification of the ocean which is known to be caused by CO2, it would make the US more energy independent, it would help to put us in the lead in 'green tech' which is a very rapidly growing field, would reduce pollution, ...).

But Gore is at the center of climate change denial.

More to the point, climate change theory does not say snowfall will decrease, only that average temperature will increase. In fact, in areas that it projects to become wetter as a result of global warming, snowfall may increase - for example, East Antarctica.

Phantom has the same pathology of evolution deniers in that creationists are obsessed with claiming that scientists worship Darwin. Conservatives gas a pathological fixation with Gore and oppose climate change policies out of spite. They then go on to project the mirror image of their attitude onto the scientific and environmental policy community.

Whenever some "conservative" "commentator" like Phantom tells me that I have an "Al Gore problem"--which I guess means that I worship at his highly charismatic feet (oh, yeah, like Gore is real charismatic)--I tell them that I have a "Manabe & Wetherald" problem. I was interviewing Wetherald at the Princeton GFDL long before I had ever heard of Al Gore.

Granted, the sun has risen again a few times following the airdate of this program, but we shouldn't be arrogant enough to believe we know what's going on.

Phantom's operative problem is that in a fit of hate for the Clinton and Gore administration in 2000, he decided to vote for Bush in order to "stick it to the libruls," even though Gore offered what was basically a centrist, fiscally conservative platform with tax cuts. Now, of course, over the last 8 years, it became clear that Bush was the wrong choice and that Phantom's fit of spite in voting Republican to get back at Clinton and Gore for being "right" about their policies means that he only has to dig in his heels in his Gore-rage, lest he admit to himself that his life was a waste. I mean, basically, you have a generation of Republicans who were humiliated in their wasteful, stupid obsession with voting for Bush over the better-qualified Gore and Kerry, and the only way they can justify it to themselves is to harbor continued rage against Gore. Doing something about global climate change would mean to Phantom that he'd have to admit that Gore was right about the scientific consensus and Phantom was wrong.

The success of the Clinton administration and the failure of the Bush administration has basically been the worst thing for Republicans because it forced them to become progressively more and more extreme over time because they can't admit their personal/political failures. As the need to address climate change becomes more important over time, you'll see conservatives become more, not less enraged against the idea.

Ironically, on some issues Phantom's policy position is more in line with this of environmentalists than the position of many progressives. For example, Phantom's supported congestion pricing and wants more investment in the subway, while populist progressives like Weiner were busy proclaiming an inalienable right to drive for free. Overall, US liberals are more pro-environment on transportation issues than US conservatives, but in local urban politics there are plenty of exceptions.

On the broader issue of what to do about CC the partisan pundits whose position is nearest to this of environmentalists are the moderate Republicans; taking a cue from Mankiw, many support carbon taxes offset by payroll tax cuts. Gore himself supports carbon taxes. Cap and trade has little support in the environmental movement and the climate science community, and even the people who invented cap and trade, as a solution to acid rain, believe it will be a poor solution to carbon emissions.

many support carbon taxes offset by payroll tax cuts. Gore himself supports carbon taxes. Cap and trade has little support in the environmental movement and the climate science community,

Well, keep in mind that cap & trade was supposed to be the "moderate", "market-based" solution to the problem that everyone, even those who opposed extra carbon taxes, could agree on.

If you're gonna borrow more money from China to bail out the losers from the ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE STATES who bankrupted their RAINY & SNOWY DAY FUNDS with poor planning and wasteful spending, then make them pay it back with interest. Look at Pennsylvania. There, that Gov. and the Legislature is planning to spend over $137mn to gut a National Landmark, The Barnes Foundation in Merion PA, and move its art collection just 8 miles to build a Society GALA Vanity Project in Central Philly while Harrisburg, The State Capitol, is considering Municipal Bankruptcy. Why do States like Pennsylvania, for instance, which is in the snow belt, deserve a bail out when it can't control itself? STOP THE DISGRACEFUL BARNES MOVE! See

Tyro, cap-and-trade and carbon taxes are equally market based. The alternative is regulation. Nowadays the only people who seriously argue for cap-and-trade are partisan Democrats, trying to justify Obama's plan (which is really McCain's plan - in the campaign, Obama promised cap-and-trade with the permits auctioned, whereas now he's proposing to give them away to utilities, as promised by McCain). Environmentalists and climate scientists support either carbon taxes or regulation, after the collapse of the emissions trading market in Europe.


I don't hate either Clinton or Gore.

I opposed impeachment and thought that the Gingrich jihad against him was hypocritical and bad for the country.

Gore, I believe to be an clunky but effective con man who has managed to attract many followers in East Anglia.

Bush was never my first choice for anything, but we'll all agree that he was a better man than either Gore or Kerry.

Who will all agree?

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