Saturday, October 22, 2005

Taxes Down the Tube

As though enough of your earnings didn't go to subsidies, transfer programs, protecting government sponsored monopolies, and creating more regulations to make your life more difficult and expensive, Congress has decided yet another way to spend your money.

But don't worry -- those politicians, with their omniscience and your tax dollars, have decided it is in your best interest.

"Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said Congress needs to do something ..." [1]

In order to free up radio spectrum for use in emergencies, they have drafted a bill that will end analog transmissions and switch to digital by April 2009. It's all in the name of "saving lives."

"Digital television promises sharper pictures and better sound than analog TV. But millions of Americans with older TV sets rely solely on free, over the-air-television, and they'll need some type of a converter box to keep receiving their television service." There's always a catch, isn't there?

Not to fear -- Congress is always happy to pat itself on the back for fixing problems it creates. Chairman Stevens is going to help consumers pay for those converter boxes. "'If we're mandating this (digital) conversion, we cannot leave people behind because they can't afford' digital television sets, he said." They estimated that 21 million households have analog television sets. Converters cost $50 and Stevens' hopes to create a $40 subsidy for each one. He is proposing to allocate $3 billion for the subsidy.

I did the math. Twenty one million households times one converter at $40 = $840 million, not $3 billion. If each household has three analog televisions, the cost for the subsidy is $2.5 billion. Apparently, Congress is feeling very generous with my money. Good thing that politicians' priority is with saving lives. I'm sure the two additional converters per underprivileged household will help them accomplish their goal.

Senator John McCain was even more thoughtful than Stevens. He just couldn't wait to make the picture on my television clearer and tried to speed up the process by two years to April 2007. "'There's only one thing more important than money - and that's lives,' he told the committee before his amendment to speed up the conversion was defeated."

Here's the question for you: Are they really saving lives? Why or why not?

Answers may be provided in the comments section or via email. If I receive a thoughtful answer, I'll post it next week.

No comments: