Though I loved the Muppets growing up, I was terrified of the muppet Crazy Larry.

I had a storybook where he used dynamite to set off a volcano. I remember having an anxiety freak out – I kept asking my grandmother, in her 1950s living room decor, whether or not there was a volcano in Chicago. She told me no, but I kept thinking she was lying. I was 5; I lived near midway airport, and I believed there was a volcano on “The North Side” (this is how alien North Siders were to us growing up).

So I may be bias, but I think volcano monitoring is an excellent investment.


The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, a stratovolcano located in Washington state, in the United States, was a major volcanic eruption. The eruption was the most significant to occur in the contiguous 48 U.S. states (VEI = 5, 0.3 cu mi, 1.2 km3 of material erupted), in terms of power and volume of material released, since the 1915 eruption of California’s Lassen Peak….

By the time the ash settled, 57 people (including innkeeper Harry Truman and geologist David A. Johnston; a full list is available here: [1]) and thousands of animals were dead. Hundreds of square miles were reduced to wasteland, over a billion U.S. dollars in damage had occurred ($2.74 billion in 2007 dollars[2]), and the face of Mount St. Helens was scarred with a huge crater on its north side. At the time of the eruption, the summit of the volcano was owned by the Burlington Northern Railroad, but afterward the land passed to the United States Forest Service.[3] The area was later preserved, as it was, in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

I’m not sure what to make of a GOP that thinks volcano monitoring is a stupid idea. Let’s see: non-rivaled and non-excludable. Sounds like a good thing for the government to be into; the libertarian critique would be that this takes away the ability for people who aren’t afraid of living in danger of volcanos to pay cheapers rents, in the same way monitoring rivers for pollution hurts though who don’t mind some pollution and don’t want to contribute to monitoring. I don’t buy that.

Tyler Cowen has more.

I like that when Jindal, a 40-year old Indian, is advised by professional GOP staff on how to present his tone, they tell him to talk as if he is talking to 8-year olds. Slow-bus ones at that. I am going to write more next week about the new “lowbrow” appeal of the GOP.

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One Response to Volcanos

  1. Ed says:

    What’s new about it? Nixon’s people told him 40 years ago to make sure he appeared at a lot of county fairs in the deep south.

    The only thing new about it is the extent to which the high end of the movement has disappeared. When the sole targets of all the party rhetoric are rubes and abortion clinic bombers it becomes kinda superfluous to have Buckley and Safire delivering the message.

    Also, the talking-like-they-are-infants thing is universal. Look at Tim Kaine’s State of the Union response from 2006 (i think). The “There’s a better way” speech. It’s easily as bad as Jindal if not slightly worse because you’d expect more of Kaine.

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