George Will exposes another spectacular waste of federal tax money: subsidized television upgrades:
Feeling, evidently, flush with (other people’s) cash, the Senate has concocted a novel way to spend $3 billion: create a new entitlement. The Senate has passed — and so has the House, with differences — an entitlement to digital television.
If this filigree on the welfare state becomes law, everyone who owns old analog television sets — everyone from your Aunt Emma in her wee apartment to the millionaire in the neighborhood McMansion who has such sets in the maid’s room and the guest house — will get subsidies to pay for making those sets capable of receiving digital signals….
Remember, although it is difficult to do so, that Republicans control Congress. And today’s up-to-date conservatism does not stand idly by expecting people to actually pursue happiness on their own. Hence the new entitlement from Congress to help all Americans acquire converter boxes to put on top of old analog sets, making the sets able to receive digital programming. All Americans — rich and poor; it is uncompassionate to discriminate on the basis of money when dispersing money — will be equally entitled to the help.
The $990 million House version of this entitlement — call it No Couch Potato Left Behind — is (relatively) parsimonious: Consumers would get vouchers worth only $40 and would be restricted to a measly two vouchers per household. The Senate’s more spacious entitlement would pay for most of the cost — $50 to $60 — of the converter boxes. But there is Republican rigor in this: Consumers would be required to pay $10. That is the conservatism in compassionate conservatism.