Friday, April 3, 2009

T.V. Nation

So, it appears that the switch from analog television to digital that was supposed to take place this February has now been postponed until June. This will give the remainder of the U.S. population time to buy and hook up their converter boxes so that no one will have to miss a moment of Wheel of Fortune, God forbid.

When I heard about the switch to digital I simply asked my husband, “Do I need to do anything to keep watching LOST?” When he said no, I promptly stopped caring about the switchover. However, since then a few things have happened that have piqued my interest in the subject: 1) The government handed out coupons for converter boxes, effectively subsidizing the American capacity to turn on a box and zone out without having to think; and 2) the switchover was postponed until June so that everyone has four extra months to locate these subsidized boxes and hook them up. This whole thing has got me irritated and D is sick of hearing about it, so you, my dear readers, are left with this blog.

First of all, the government subsidy on converter boxes is driving me out of my mind. Seriously, the government is subsidizing our capacity to watch TV? What the hell? Has television become that important to our society that the government has to provide subsidies to make sure we don’t miss our shows? Never mind health care; forget higher education – what we’ve really got to worry about as a country is making sure our TVs work! *shudder*

My health insurance premium costs $115 dollars more per month than my mortgage, home insurance, and property taxes combined. You read that right – $115 more. I could own an entire additional house (and probably a bigger house than what I have now, I might add)…. or, you know, I could have health insurance.

But I guess this isn’t really the government’s problem. They’re too busy making sure I can continue watching TV to do anything about it, I suppose.

Frankly, it makes me sick that watching TV ranks higher than health care as a matter of national importance. Television access is not a basic, inaliable right. You don’t need television to live. Nobody’s going to go homeless tonight or die of malnutrition because they couldn’t access digital television channels. But somehow TV has become a matter of such national importance that government vouchers are being given out to subsidize our habit.

Secondly, the date for the switchover has been postponed in order to make sure everyone gets their converter boxes. So, in effect, it isn’t enough that the government has subsidized the converter boxes so that they will be available to everyone – the date also had to be postponed to accommodate those of us who are such slackers that we couldn’t even get up off our lazy butts to get the converters on time.

The whole thing is just ridiculous, if you ask me. In my humble opinion, if you can’t come up with $45 and wander into a store and buy the converter box, you probably don’t need to be watching TV.

It should not be the government’s responsibility to make sure that people can watch TV. National security? OK, go for it. I’m a little paranoid about such things, but at least it falls within the realm of what government was designed for in the first place. Education? Sounds great – set standards and make sure kids learn what they need to succeed. Health care? Absolutely make sure that everyone has access to affordable (as in, costs less than their mortgage) health care.

But TV? Give me a break.

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