Saturday, January 03, 2009

Priorities

Amazing. There is an article from the AP in today's Post-Dispatch that says the digital television coupon plan may run out of money. $1.34 billion was allocated by Congress to subsidize the national transition from analog to digital television. Some consumers may not get their two $40 coupons. Tragedy of tragedies.

Let's see. We can find $1.38 billion and hours and hours of voluntary informative programming from local and national affiliates carefully explaining to us that we will miss Dancing with the Stars if we don't have the right television or television service. I find it absolutely obscene and indicative of our screwed up national priorities. Do you really think any American has trouble funding their television habits?

Imagine we made the same type of national effort to address some of the truly important aspects of national infrastructure, like public health. How about some government-sponsored coupons to subsidize joining the Y or having a session with a dietitian to learn how to eat better? How about infomercials about your local public health department and what low-cost or free health care services you can receive, regardless of income?

In my opinion, this whole digital tv thing is reflective of our society and our screwed up priorities. We choose not to invest in the important aspects of our national infrastructure. We make sure you can watch TV.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

If people really want something, they'll figure out a way to pay for it themselves, either in money or time or favors or whatever. And if they don't want it, there's no reason to take away their money for it or mandate that they participate.

This goes for every damned thing the government does to "help" things along.

theorytopractice said...

"...or having a session with a dietitian to learn how to eat better?"

Now that *is* a scary scenario. The USDA and their food pyramid have done wonders thus far with the American obesity epidemic. I absolutely love your blog, but *please* rethink that particular portion of your position!

Here's something I wrote on the subject recently:
http://theorytopractice.wordpress.com/2008/12/27/this-is-one-reason-i-fear-government-intervention-in-the-food-system/

The Iron Maven said...

Theorytopractice,

I certainly don't believe all dietitians are created equal.

People need to learn to eat whole foods, learn to cook and stop eating processed food out of boxes, more than they need to focus on calorie counting, portion size and eating more whole-grain food products. We need to change our relationship with food.

USDA, the FDA and the ADA could do better. They need to get out of bed with the processed food industry.

As government agriculture and food policies are part of the problem, they can and must also be part of the solution. Michael Pollan makes some great suggestions here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magazine/12policy-t.html?pagewanted=8

Hey, maybe we could invest some of that $1.38 billion in his ideas?

The point is that I think it is absurd to offer over a billion dollars of public money to make sure people can receive a digital tv signal. I don't think government is the answer to everything, but there are much better and more important things to spend public money on.

Nice blog and sweet fixie, BTW.

-Tracy

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. I have two old TV's (one barely used) but can only get a couple stations where I live, and did the math, and decided the $800-1200 cable costs isn't worth it. I'm debating whether to drop them off at the local pawn shop come Feb. Not much lost if I do.

When I lived in Hyde Park, lo these many years, someone else and I were looking at apartments in a building at the same time. His first question was, "Does it have cable?" The guy did not look especially affluent. I wondered then, too, if maybe there was a better way he could be spending his dough.

Shawn Miller said...

Television is a way many people receive important information about their communities -- about weather conditions or floods, wildfires, traffic conditions, school closings, etc. People -- especially the homebound -- also use public access TV to watch city council meetings and otherwise stay civicly engaged. And since the change to HDTV was the gov't's idea to reclaim the spectrum for emergency responders and wireless networking, it's not unreasonable that the gov't foot the bill. The program was administered badly, but don't hate on TV.