Going Digital

I’ve been watching the slew of PSA’s and “news” stories about the life-altering switch to Digital TV this Friday, and doing a lot of thinking.  Today, I heard on the radio that state lawmakers are “concerned” that too many households have not yet gotten their digital converter boxes, and are scrambling to figure out how to help.  I sat incredulous.

A year ago, everyone was scrambling to get the public educated and prepared for the February 17th, 2009 switch.  February came and went, with the Federal government realizing that this was too much for the public to handle.  A Popular Mechanics article detailed the government fears, and estimated that the government had spend $1.5 billion on helping the public make this switch.  This includes 33 million vouchers for essentially free converter boxes.  This was as of May, 2008.  These numbers have most assuredly risen substantially since then.

All of this seems so nice of the government.  We are so blessed to live in a land where our right to sit on our rears watching morally and intellectually degrading junk is supported by $1.5 billion in tax dollars.  This is especially generous of Uncle Sam…er….me, the taxpayer, considering our multi-trillion dollar deficit.

It has been said that the people often get the government they deserve.  Well, if indeed our priority is in having TV over a functioning and solvent government, then indeed we have succeeded.  But, if that is the case our society isn’t worth fixing.

But for a long time I have been bothered by more than the financial aspects of this.  We have had two years of bouncing cartoons explaining the Digital TV change.  Yet, mark my words, there will be people who on Friday will wake up and start screaming that they don’t know what happened.  They will shower, head out the door, and pick up a converter box at Best Buy before going home.  If the government had done nothing but allow the newspapers and TV news to report on it, the same thing would have happened.  The TV networks would have done their best to make sure everyone knows.  More people might have not been ready, but those people would quickly figure out what to do to fix their problem.

These same households that spend hundreds of dollars on X-boxes for their children would have gone out and bought $100 converter boxes, and if they couldn’t afford it, they would have done without for a couple months.  If people value their TV, they would have figured out a way.

I realize that had the government not done what they did, there would have been a whole lot of complaining.  In World War 2 people went without buying new tires or panty hose for years, and now we need the government to buy us TV gear, all the while Washington is boring from our grand children’s pocketbooks.

I wish our people deserved better.  Right now, I’m not so sure.

-Ryan

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