Subsidize¹ my broken TV remote.

Following up on an issue I wrote about more than a year ago, this entry from Technology Liberation Front mentions an interesting argument by those who favor helping Americans negatively impacted by the looming mandatory switch from analog to digital broadcasts. I haven’t seen this angle in this context, but it’s quite instructive of the nonsense politicians use to sell us every more government intrusion and control.

Commerce has been under pressure from — among other places — Congress to include these forgotten basement televisions in the program. In particular, a November letter from John Dingell and 19 other members positively waxed poetic about the issue: stating that millions of consumers would be “disenfranchised” and that the original Commerce plan “disadvantages the poor, the elderly, minority groups, and those with multiple television sets in their home.”

More on disenfranchisement and multiple televisions in a moment, but I want to challenge Congressman Dingell’s initial claim first. It’s a bit presumptuous and insulting to lump the elderly and minority groups into the poor, no? There are no elderly Americans who can afford new televisions, or at least new converters for existing televisions? There are no minorities who can afford the same? This isn’t about helping anyone in need. It’s creating an artificial requirement and then satisfying that requirement with public funds. It’s a political ploy. While that’s obvious to everyone, it’s still shameful. If we need to talk about “the poor,” let’s do that. But don’t make assumptions just to get key constituents invested in a plan they probably don’t need.

Now, to the other claims. This says it as well as I could hope, so I’ll quote the entry:

Maybe it’s just me, but I had never thought of “those with multiple television sets in their home,” as an oppressed minority. And “disenfranchise”? This isn’t voting rights, it’s television. In fact, its not even that — its the right to a third TV in your basement. In fact, its the right not to have to pay $50 (the expected price of a converter box) to get that third TV in your basement to work.

Is there any burden left that Congress expects us to shoulder ourselves? I fear the answer.

¹ Yes, I’m kidding.