Someone in Washington Gets It (Well, Sort Of)
Three cheers for Missouri Senator Kit Bond. Touring the southwestern corner of his state, which was recently ravaged by a killer tornado, the Senator struck a blow for common sense. When a reporter asked if the federal government should buy weather radios for everyone, Mr. Bond (correctly) described the idea as pure hogwash:
"At some point, you've got to take some responsibility. The federal federal government, unless you're in need, is not going to buy your lunch for you; it's not going to buy your TV set, and a weather radio is probably something a provident, responsible family should do," said Senator Bond.
"We're not going to go out and buy everybody a radio -- come on," said Bond.
Mr. Bond's Democratic colleague, Claire McCaskill, offered a more calculated response, suggesting the government's primary responsibility is funding the National Weather Service:
The important thing is to make sure they have the accurate information on there. We do fund the National Weather Service, make sure they have the experts, the satellite photographs," McCaskill said.
Having lived in Tornado Alley (off an on) for decades, we can only endorse Senator Bond's remarks. The ultimate responsibility of keeping someone safe rests with the individual, and there's no excuse for not making the necessary preparations. A NOAA weather radio is a wise investment for any individual (or family), and they're quite affordable. A good-quality model (like the Midland WR-300) lists for under $50 on Amazon, and they're often cheaper at local retailers.
Additionally, a number of broadcast outlets offer weather updates for their audience, delivering watches and warnings via internet or cell phone for a modest fee, or in many cases for free. Between a weather radio and other alert sources, residents in tornado-prone areas have plenty of options for getting the information they need to survive the storm.
If they don't...well, the gene pool always needs a little flushing. As Senator Bond suggests, the idea of Uncle Sam buying everyone a weather radio is simply ludicrous. But, we're also reminded that the federal government is subsidizing TV converter boxes, in preparation for the switch to digital broadcasting in 2009.
By that standard, it's no wonder that some want the feds to buy an alert radio for every home. And why not throw in a giant, plasma-screen TV to boot? Severe weather coverage looks so much better in HD.
As for Senator Bond, how long will it be until some left-wing pundit or blogger describes his weather radio comments as "mean-spirited" or "heartless?" We'll give him credit for getting it right, but in fairness, we've got to ask: did he support the bill that provides the converter box subsidy?
Mr. Bond is correct in noting there ought to be limits to federal largesse. But those limits should extend well beyond the notion of free weather radios.