Slate’s Timothy Noah has an article on the bill in the Senate that would bar the National Weather Service from providing the weather data it collects to the public.
Here’s how Santorum would like things to work:
Santorum has tried to argue that his bill would actually lead to more dissemination of weather information, not less, but of course if that were true in any meaningful sense then AccuWeather and the Commercial Weather Services Association wouldn’t be pushing Santorum’s bill. What the bill actually says is that the NWS must issue all its data “in real time, and without delay for internal use.” This means that the NWS must issue data in raw form that will be incomprehensible to the general public—thereby providing private weather companies with a government-guaranteed opportunity to massage that information into something the public can actually comprehend. That the intended recipient of the NWS’s raw data is the private weather industry, rather than the inexpert consumer, is made plain in the bill’s very next sentence, which states, “Data, information, guidance, forecasts, and warnings shall be issued … through a set of data portals designed for volume access by commercial providers [italics mine] of products or services.” The envisioned “data portals” (whatever they turn out to be) are quite obviously not intended to get all that weather information to you and me.
Just more evidence that Republicans only believe in capitalism when it’s convenient. They’re more than happy to use the government to economically benefit their friends and supporters. (Libertarians take heed.)