I was at a sports bar last night, and they had a screen showing CNN. The sound was off, but the title was "is volcano monitoring an economic benefit?"
I didn't have any context, so I just thought that this was some sort of oddly reductionist "if you're a hammer, all you see are nails" sort of thing. I mean, monitoring volcanos doesn't do much for the economy per se, but what you're trying to do is give sufficient notice to have timely evacuations, so you'll save that money in avoiding disaster relief. This is pretty basic.
So then I did a little searching online and found that it was in Bobby Jindal's rebuttal to Obama's speech. Ok, so it's just a bunch of partisan arm waving about the stimulus bill, which includes (along with the kitchen sink) some money for volcano monitoring.
We can argue that basic scientific monitoring should go through some other funding channels, but really, nobody thinks that spending a little federal dough to prevent/mitigate a natural disaster is a bad thing, right? Right? The fact that we're talking about the governer of Louisiana, beneficiary of decades of intensive weather monitoring and hurricane forecasting, is either infuriating or hilarious.
Edit: Maybe I should read the other geoblogs before posting. Once again, late to the party! See here and here and...