We'll find no greater example of what happens when the government runs any non-military operation that requires coordination, business acumen, technical skill, financial management and inventory control than we've seen in the "digital transition." In this arena, the government has once again made the Three Stooges look like the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team.
After the broadcast industry spent billions in technical costs and on-air inventory to run a huge amount of FCC-required PSA's, many in Congress, along with President-Elect Obama, want to push back the transition date:
The Obama team decided to push for a delay after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the Commerce Department, said Monday it had hit a $1.34 billion funding limit set by Congress to pay for converter box coupons.
Once again, human nature wasn't taken into account in the planning of "Operation Digital Dipstick." The government, in its infinite wisdom, assumed that every converter box coupon sent out would be redeemed, and, as it turns out, they were way off. What remains to be seen is how the money put toward the non-redeemed coupons is accounted for - or if it's accounted for at all. It's only your money, so who cares?
In the real world, if you made an on-the-job mistake this inept, you'd be not only fired, but probably investigated. But if you're in government, you're punished by being re-elected or re-appointed. What I tell myself to help ease my frustrations is that at least the government's (and too many voters) practice of rewarding abject incompetence helps keep doofuses out of the private sector.
Remember, that $1.34 billion is just for the converter box program, and doesn't take into account any of the other expenses, including laying out $350,000 in taxpayer money to sponsor a NASCAR driver. Foretelling the destiny of the DTV transition, the car wrecked in its first race. The driver, David Gilliland, was unhurt.
The request for a transition delay comes after the "sweeps" ratings period has already been moved from February to March to accommodate the digital switch and the many technical issues that will arise as a result. The accommodations television stations have made in terms of time and money in an already tough economy is staggering and completely taken for granted by the government, who believes that we all serve at its economy-crashing pleasure.
For those unaware, this "digital transition" isn't happening because the U.S. government really cares deeply about the clarity of your television picture -- it's so they can open up the analog spectrum and sell those newly vacated frequencies. And whenever the government gets dollar-signs in their eyes, somebody is about to be seriously hurt in a moron stampede - and that somebody is always a taxpayer.
It's such a simple undertaking: If you get your television reception over-the-air (aka "there's no wire going into your TV"), you need a converter box or you won't be able to watch TV after February 17th. That this has been a multi billion-dollar concept for so many registered voters to grasp goes a long way in explaining how we ended up with the whiffle-brained government we have.
According to Nielsen, about 8 million households remain unconverted. What about them? Simple. This should be where "The Couch Potato Law of Motion" is utilized ("an object at rest will remain at rest until it no longer gets television reception"). The switch should be made regardless -- people will figure out what they need to do quickly once they can no longer see Oprah or the NCAA tournament.
But the government probably won't view it this way. There will more than likely be a delay -- while more of our tax dollars are dumped down the drain and charged to future generations. Thanks to our government, my unborn grandchildren already have a negative credit score.
In 79 AD, the residents of Pompeii were unlucky enough to live next to an active volcano, but, as eons of human history have taught us: if we can't be destroyed naturally, we'll create our own destroyer. For Americans, a monstrous and incompetent federal government is a Mt. Vesuvius of our own making.
Remember, the architects of the grossly over-expensive and incompetently managed DTV transition also want to run health care, the auto industry, the oil industry, and everything else. Feel better?