I have been trying to find an excuse to buy a flat-panel, high def TV for some time, now. I didn’t buy one when I still had a steady job back in Illinois because I was trying to save up for Grad school, and I was able to get my dad’s old TV fixed for a hundred bucks. The need for a new TV didn’t exist.
But, oh, how things have changed.
Beginning in February of 2009, all television transmissions will be exclusively broadcast through HDTV, rendering any TV without HD capabilities useful for watching videos or playing video games only. If you turn on your non-HDTV after February 2009, you will be forced to stare at a blank screen. HD converters will be available to consumers who do not wish to purchase a brand new TV, and there is currently a government funded program that is administering coupons to those consumers to offset the cost (around $50 to $70) of the device. The coupons have a $40 value, and there is a maximum allowance of two coupons per household.
But if I’m going to have to pump another fifty bucks into, essentially, a one hundred dollar TV, why not just go the extra nine yards and shell out the six hundred for a new one? This would turn a third and nineteen from my own two into a fourth and ten from the eleven, bringing my punter out of the end zone as he attempts to punt my debt over the fifty yard line and into surplus territory. He’ll ultimately fail at getting the ball out of my own territory because, as in the case of the Bears, my punter is also Brad Maynard, and spending more money in an attempt to bail out others doesn’t get you out of debt.
But that’s what the Bush administration is doing, right?
Yes! And that brings me to my next justification on why I should, in fact, purchase a new TV. The proposed economic stimulus package is on the verge of being signed, and everyone (who has paid income taxes and made more than $3K and less than $150K last year) should be getting their $600 rebate check between May and June of this year. “It’s the economy, stupid!” Spend your damn check, I tell myself, on consumer goods. Be a patriot. Why would I want to do something as silly as pay my rent with my rebate check and trust that my landlord will pump that income into the economy? Why should I pay my phone bill, make my car payment, or lower my credit card debt? That will only give lenders more reason to increase credit and lending availability, thus contributing to the $14 trillion in mortgage debt and $9 trillion in consumer credit card debt that plagues this country. While the boost in borrowing availability would lead to an increase in consumer spending, the increased debt will likely lead to an inevitable interest rate cut to bail out consumers who are continuing to spiral deeper into financial turmoil.
What? The Federal Reserve just cut fed funds rates again?
When lending interest rates are cut, so are savings rates. There’s no way I’d put my money away right now. It’s just not worth it. Investors are quietly putting their money into 30-year Treasury Bonds, because it is currently the soundest investment. The rate of return on those bonds is somewhere around 4%—the same rate of inflation, meaning that you’re better off keeping your money in a fire-proof safe under your bed. Investors are weary about investing in stocks—it’s just too risky—and high-yield savings accounts are going the way of the Dodo because lending rates have been slashed.
So it’s my duty to spend this rebate check on a new TV, to stimulate the economy, to make it come. What kind of American would I be if I didn’t? Why use the money to pay off debt that I’m eventually going to accrue again, anyways? Instead of lowering my credit card debt and becoming a contributor to the formation of new debt availability, I chose to spend the money on consumer goods in an attempt to save this nation. The economy loves periods of increased lending availability—the anticipation of the act is enough to make it squirt. But such irresponsibility leads to foreclosures, panic, plunging markets, and the weakening of currency. Can someone say recession?
Not if I have to say anything about it. On to Best Buy!
If you are interesting in purchasing a converter for an existing non-HDTV because the set is in perfect working order, it has some sort of sentimental significance, or because you are and always will be madly in love with it, you can apply for the $40 coupon at https://www.dtv2009.gov/ApplyCoupon.aspx . These coupons are available on a first come, first serve basis. Also, they expire within 90 days of the date mailed, so don’t sit on them too long. Allowing them to waste away may just lull the economy back to sleep.