Dumb Plans and Their Results

Another entry for the Government Should Manage Fewer Things file, with a story on Yahoo! Tech about the idiotic digital transition plan. The converter box subsidy is running out of money:

To subsidize the converter boxes, most of which cost between $40 and $80, the government has been letting consumers request up to two $40 coupons per home. But any day now, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the arm of the Commerce Department in charge of administering the coupon program, expects to hit a $1.34 billion funding ceiling set by Congress.

I sort of understand the FCC mandating the broadcast switch to all-digital. I can also see the argument for providing converter vouchers, since the government is essentially removing analog as an option for broadcast viewers with dated TVs. But two per household?

I’ve pissed and moaned about the stupidity of this from the first day I heard of it. Must be my poor grasp of the founding fathers’ intentions: Life, Liberty, and Federal Subsidies for Multiple-Television Families. This is such a small but pathetic example of bureaucracy run rampant. Someone in a meeting somewhere said, “why not offer two $40 vouchers per household?” and suddenly, twice as much taxpayer money is gone. Sorry, but if you can afford two televisions, you can afford a $50 analog-to-digital converter for one of them.

Just think of the disasters that await on February 17th! Converter vouchers lost in the mail… half the population of New Orleans joins a class action lawsuit for mental distress due to daytime dramas missed… op-ed columnists the world over go into apoplectic shock from this final, spiteful injustice committed by the Bush administration. America falls into darkness without the guiding lights of the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Agence France-Presse.

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