In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 24, 2009 / 30 Shevat 5769

Botching the digital switchover

By Tom Purcell

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Well, that didn't go very well.

I speak of the switchover from analog television to digital that was supposed to occur on Feb. 17.

The Congress mandated the switchover in 2005 with good reason. Digital broadcasting offers superior picture resolution, multiple programming options, and it frees up the airwaves for use by emergency responders.

America's 1,800 television stations invested lots of dough to build digital operations. Many were ready to switch over well before Feb 17. But there was a problem. Millions of television viewers weren't ready.

Folks who still watch old analog tubes — people who receive their TV signal through rabbit-ear antennas, for instance — needed to do one of three things to prepare:

They could have bought a newfangled digital television.

They could have kept their old tube and subscribed to a cable or satellite service.

Or they could have kept their old tube and antenna and purchased a digital converter box for $40 to $80 (antennas in some areas may not receive digital signals as well as they did analog, but that's the breaks).

The concept was simple enough. It was so simple, in fact, that the Congress decided to complicate it. The Wall Street Journal explained how in a fine editorial last week.

First, the Congress established the TV Converter Box Coupon Program. With a budget of nearly $1.4 billion, the program promised each U.S. household two $40 coupons to purchase two digital converter boxes.

But by November of last year, the Commerce Department told the Congress the program was about to run out of dough. Worse, half of the coupons that had been issued weren't yet redeemed — and were about to expire.

Congress did what it does best: nothing.

In January, after many coupons had expired, it was clear that millions of American households would not be prepared for the digital switchover. Sure, they could have bought converter boxes with their own money. But why spend your own dough when the government is eager to kick in?

In the face of the growing crisis, the Congress did what it does even better: blame Bush.

By February, just days before the long-planned switchover, the government was desperately behind processing applications for converter-box coupons — it faced a backlog of more than 4 million. It would take months to catch up.

So the Congress did what it does best of all: stall and spend more dough. It delayed the digital switchover date to June 12. Then it slipped $650 million into the "stimulus" bill to fund even more converter-box coupons.

In any event, despite four years of government planning — despite numerous public service announcements, newspaper articles, mailers, how-to Web sites, community advocacy programs and millions in taxpayer dough — approximately 5.8 million households were still not ready for the digital switchover.

I have a hunch things would have gone more smoothly if the government had done nothing at all.

I'll bet people would have figured out what to do on their own, just as my father had to figure out numerous technical innovations over the years.

He sought assistance from the guy at the electronics store. He talked to neighbors. He read the newspaper. He read instructions. As he mastered each concept, he helped others.

He learned how to install an antenna on the chimney and rig it up to three televisions on three separate floors. He spent hours kneeling in front of the tube in search of the perfect picture (all my family ever got to watch was our dad's backside).

He made it through the new stereo system, the Kimball organ and the VCR just as millions of Americans did: without one government program.

Too many politicians view the American public as hapless and clueless. But where the digital switchover is concerned, it's the Congress and the government that are hapless and clueless.

As the Journal speculates, do we really want these birds running our health care?

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© 2009, Tom Purcell