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TV converter money can be put to better use

I don’t write about politics much but this issue has me aggravated.

In fact, I don’t even really follow non-local politics as a general rule. (Sadly, I had to ask a co-worker to answer a specific question for me just so I could finish this column.)

Someone pointed out to me yesterday that it’s only a little more than year away before a federal law goes into effect that will make most televisions in America go dark.Yes, you read that right.

Chances are, a year from now, the TVs you have in your homes won’t work anymore without special converter boxes estimated to cost around $60 each.

Unless you have a high-dollar HDTV, satellite, or a digital cable box already, you more than likely fall into this category. There are DTVs (Digital Televisions), of course, that aren’t high definition, but most people who can afford DTVs generally just purchase an HDTV.

Reports estimate that about 20 million American homes, and about 70 million televisions, will no longer work after February 17, 2009.The special converter boxes the majority of people will need to make their televisions work are slated to go on sale in stores next month. This is where me being aggravated comes in. To help the &uot;poor and elderly,&uot; the government has agreed to provide $40 coupon vouchers that people can use toward the purchase of a basic converter box. Yes, it’s a lovely gesture of them, I’ll admit.

But the $150 BILLION dollars they have allocated for this program could be better spent in more-needed areas.

My point is, why was this conversion so necessary in the first place?

Is digital television so important that the federal government really thought they needed to spend over a hundred billion dollars to support it? Talk about frivolous overspending!

And here I thought the Republican party was generally against excessive government spending.

Now that’s a laugh!

That money would be better put towards helping the elderly through social security, building better roads, helping children… anything but the entertainment industry. (As if Americans needed another excuse to sit around in front of the boob tube all day!)

Oh, wait, I get it… now they’ll be able to see their favorite politician’s faces in Hi-Def.

What better way to scream &uot;VOTE FOR ME!&uot; than to appear in brilliant color and clarity in front of millions of viewers. Lovely!

Just to clarify, though, buying a converter box won’t make your analog TV an HDTV. In fact, it won’t change your picture at all.

Instead, it will simply change the digital signal sent out by broadcasting stations into an analog one that your TV can read.

Personally, if I’ve got to spend money on something anyway, I’d rather fork out a few extra dollars for a new HDTV, instead of buying a $60 converter box that isn’t going to change my picture one bit. Basically, I look it as a money-making gimmick for electronics companies.

Americans are faced with this choice: either spend $60 per TV for a box that isn’t going to do anything except make your once-functioning TV work again the same as it always did, or spend even more on a new HDTV and get a better picture in the process. I’ll be willing to bet most folks except the very poor will go with the HDTV.

I wonder how many campaign donations those electronic companies who will profit off this made to politicians in Congress to get this law passed?

Absolutely ridiculous.

Want to let me know what you think?

Have a suggestion for a future column? Feel free send an email to: jennipher.dickens@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7208.