Free Cheese? I never got any free cheese! John Willkie via OpinionJournal.com wrote: > OpinionJournal >[IMG][IMG] > >Your friend John Willkie thought you might be interested in this article >from OpinionJournal and forwarded it to you. > >REVIEW & OUTLOOK >The Digital Homestead Act > >The government offers to subsidize your TV watching. > >America's mandated conversion to all-digital television broadcasting drew a >step closer Wednesday, when the Senate agreed with the House on how and when >to do it. According to plan, the transition will take effect on Feb. 17, >2009. That's when TV stations that now transmit analog signals--around since >the 1940s--must switch to digital broadcasting. > >But wait, there's more! What we like to call the Digital Homestead Act will >also launch the most mockable government handout program since the cheese >giveaways of the Reagan era. Of course, things have changed since the street >distribution of surplus cheddar (caused by dairy subsidies) a >quarter-century ago. The reasoning behind the latest scheme is a lot dumber. >Essentially, Congress proposes to spend up to $1.5 billion handing out $40 >vouchers to millions of Americans who don't need the money--so that they can >keep using obsolete technology. > >But let's back up a bit. Most people won't notice a change in 2009. They >willalready have digital TVs (all new sets sold after mid-2007 must be >digital), or they will still be subscribing to cable or satellite services >that can send digital signals even to analog TVs. > > > >[IMG] > >Yet Congress has latched onto the factoid that some 15% of households don't >have cable or satellite. They still receive signals on analog TVs the old >free-to-air way, using an antenna to get local network stations that >broadcast in analog. This setup won't work when all broadcasts go digital. > >Here's where the absurdities start piling up. The bipartisan party line is >that many of these antenna folks are elderly ladies in nursing homes or >people too poor to pay for digital TVs or basic cable. And since they need >television in order to keep abreast of their democratic rights, e.g., to see >political ads, Congress says that they must be given financial aid so they >can rush out and buy a set-top converter box that will let them see the >newfangled signals like the real digital homesteads do. > >Never mind that an estimated price of a converter box by 2009--$50--is the >cost of a few cigarette packs in New York or perhaps a bag of organic >produceand some free-range chickens. And don't bother pointing out that >UncleSam doesn't reimburse people when their TVs break, or when they must >payfor cable because they can't receive a clear local signal. This is >different, subsidy advocates insist. "This is the government making your TV >go black and then paying only part of the costs for some of the people to >make it work again," Gene Kimmelman of Consumers Union told the New York >Times. > >Fancy that: The government taking something away and not giving it all back. >Ever heard of taxes? Another canard is the notion, put forth by at least one >gushing editorialist, that the vouchers are "free money," since they will be >financed through an auction of old analog frequencies. Sounds like >taxpayer-financed "free" medical care. Or, to look at the voucher program >another way, if the government threw $1.5 billion from helicopters instead, >does anyone doubt that it would eventually find reasons to claw back an >equalamount? > > > >[IMG] > >One universally acknowledged truth--even in Congress--is that the people who >gobble up many of those vouchers will not be needy. Millions of households >with satellite dishes and new big-screen TVs also have at least one old >analog set lying around, and each family is entitled to two $40 vouchers. > >As we learned when many of the non-poor joined long queues for Reagan >cheese,Americans would stand in line for marmoset pelts if they were labeled >"free." To encourage such grabbiness in 2009, Congress has earmarked $5 >million for voucher advertising. Mark your calendars. > > > > >--- Links --- > 1 http://www.wsj.com/?jopinemaowsj > 2 http://opinionjournal.com/ > 3 http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110007715 > 4 http://opinionjournal.com > > >---------------------------------------------------------------------- >You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: > >- Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at >FreeLists.org > >- By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word >unsubscribe in the subject line. > > > > ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.