After reading this article, I feel like Deb trying to pick a wig for Pedro: “There’s just so many options.”
Complaint 1: Why did the government mandate the end of over-the-air analog signals?
Complaint 2: Why does it happen on the arbitrary date of Feb. 18, 2009?
Complaint 3: Why is the government spending billions to help people buy a converter?
Complaint 4: Why can you get a federal handout for TWO coupons per household?
Complaint 5: Why does the program work on the honor system with no means testing?
Complaint 6: Why are there going to be 33.5 million coupons if only 14.3 million households rely on over-the-air television?
Complaint 7: Why did the government spend money on a study that worries half of surveyed Americans don’t know about the TV transition when said transition is over a year away?
Answer 1: The semi-plausible reason is that the FCC is requiring a more-efficient use of the public’s airwaves. But if that were the real reason, all that would be needed is a date for television transmissions to no longer use the spectrum in question.
Answer 2: Seriously, it was so the Super Bowl would be available on over-the-air TV but March Madness would not be. I wish I was kidding. I’m not.
Answer 3: Television, evidently, is now a living necessity. When Franklin Roosevelt declared a “freedom from want,” is this what he had in mind? (Trick question: FDR never had anything in mind. He was just keeping it real.) So now we’re spending $1.5 bil. to help people watch TV. The thing about the number “billion” is that it tempts you to yell it because you think, “The only reason people are okay with this must be that they misheard.” Really everyone’s okay with it because they like the idea of Bill Gates buying them new TVs.
Answer 4: I will not concede TV being necessary (I survived all right for the year we didn’t have a TV antenna), and so my brain wants to explode when I think we’re going to help people with their second TVs, too. The boxes are estimated to cost no more than $70; they could sell their second TV to subsidize the purchase of their first box. But when you start talking to people about “unlimited wants and limited resources,” they say, “Oprah gives crap like this away all the time!”
Answer 5: Because how else could Congress ensure there would be needy constituents who missed out on the converter coupons, thereby requiring them to ride to the rescue. I told my brother two weeks ago, “I do not believe that there is a single member of Congress who cares about anything more than his own reelection. Maybe there are some naïve ones, but probably not.”
Answer 6: If this really is necessary, why can 33.5 million cable TV subscribers get the coupons that the 14.3 million people like me actually need? I’m out of answers now, because there are none. A $1.5 bil. project with enormous spending holes can only be attributed to Congressmen no longer thinking the word “billion” has any meaning. In the purported words of Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-IL), “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
Answer 7: Because there is no spending accountability. In 2005 President Bush told Congress he would veto a transportation bill if the tab went above $284 bil. He then signed a bill for $286 bil. and said, “I’m proud to be here to sign this transportation bill.” In his defense, though, he’s proud to sign any bill, apparently unaware of the meaning of the word “veto.”
So what am I going to do? I bet I’m not going to do anything and next year my TV would stop working. My wife, however, who is the one who bought our antenna in the first place, will probably get one of those converters, but only after paying full price for it, since she hates having to talk to people she doesn’t know and (as far as I know) she doesn’t know anyone at the FCC. Meanwhile my parents, Baby Boomers that they are, will probably get two coupons even though they don’t need the converters because they have cable. Then my mother will complain that she couldn’t get a third one.