Freedom New Mexico
More than 3 million American households don’t have digital TVs and haven’t prepared for the upcoming demise of analog broadcasting.
A converter box that would allow each of these households to keep tuning in after Friday’s deadline usually costs $50 or more.
Based on those numbers, we can conclude that closing the analog-digital gap would cost at least $150 million — or $200 million, just to be on the safe side.
While we’re at it, let’s factor in households that would need multiple converter boxes for multiple TVs and call it $300 million.
If all this arithmetic sounds expensive, bear in mind the government has prepared to spend at least double that $300 million estimate to Leave No Viewer Behind.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress in February included $650 million to facilitate the digital-to-analog transition.
Of course, that sum doesn’t include whatever funds public agencies have spent or budgeted to spend already.
So it seems safe to presume the government will go far beyond the actual costs in addressing this issue.
Even the most ardent supporters of expansive government might admit digital TV reception in every home stretches the “general welfare” argument pretty thin.
For the rest of us, the objections involve not just the inappropriateness of straying so far away from basic responsibilities but the inefficient way all those millions and billions of taxpayer dollars get used in the process.