There is no bigger motivator for respect than fear, and it has inspired some of the greatest tyrannies in history. On a much smaller scale, in an experiment today, the National Weather Service will begin test marketing new tornado warnings. It is an attempt to get people to take those warnings more seriously.
It is frustrating to those working in government jobs when nobody takes them seriously. Very few people are ever scared by a government employee who does not work for the IRS. Even Al Gore, who once did a pretty good job of making people worry about the impending climate apocalypse, appears cartoonish today. He is only taken slightly more seriously than the end of the Mayan calendar.
Our apathy towards tornado warnings is not because people are ignorant. Most of us just cannot run down into their basement every time a tornado warning is issued. Three out of four tornado warnings fail to materialize. In some parts of the country, people would spend their entire summer in their basement, an unrealistic option for anyone outside of the public sector.
The average American is so inundated by warnings that most of them go completely ignored. Gas pumps are now covered with warnings about the dangers of drinking petroleum and smoking while pumping it, yet today there is nothing scarier than the price.
Rather than strive to become more accurate with their predictions, the NWS just decided to ramp up the rhetoric. It’s the same kind of logic that puts up a road sign warning of a missing manhole cover ahead. It has to be the best idea out of Washington since color-coding the terrorist threat alert.
The new warnings are bold and sensational: “Complete destruction of entire neighborhoods…” and “mass devastation is highly likely, making the area unrecognizable to survivors,” sound more like they were composed by an aspiring Hollywood spec writer for “The Walking Dead” than someone in a gray government office.
The best one probably is: MOBILE HOMES AND OUTBUILDINGS WILL OFFER NO SHELTER FROM THIS TORNADO — ABANDON THEM IMMEDIATELY.” Some bureaucrats think we need to be reminded to eat and breathe. Nobody thinks mobile homes are protection from tornadoes — the danger has been well established comically, even before Larry the Cable Guy.
Note to Washington: you can stop with all the warnings. People knew how to eat before the USDA issued guidelines, and we don’t need to be reminded to cook chicken. We know tornadoes are deadly. Outside of a few crazy people who like to chase them, and one or two Judy Garland fanatics, very few Americans do not realize the potential danger.
You need to spend your time doing something more important, like finishing your spec script.