Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Continuing Saga Of The Best Bureaucracy ...

Uh, hi! "Where have Smitty and the delightful Mrs. Werbenmanjensen been?" you may be asking yourself. Well, jetlag hit me hard, and I seemed to have picked up a virus along the way. I spent 36 of the 72 hours of Friday-Saturday-Sunday asleep, not leaving a whole lot of time for anything but the minimum necessary to live.

And now the real bloggage begins.

I meant to post on this last year, but plain forgot. One of my favorite little absurdities of British life is the TV License. I don't actually mind paying the fee, as it's a tax to finance the BBC, and having a major broadcaster accountable to the public is, in my opinion, more desirable than a broadcaster accountable to corporations and their shareholders, who are in it for the money alone. Given that there's a strong mix of both public and private broadcasters in Britain, I'd say the marketplace of ideas is well-rounded.

So paying the license is not the absurd part. The absurd part is the following fine print on the back: "If you are registered blind, you can claim a 50 percent concession on your license fee."

Please: If you're blind, it's just a radio, and you don't license radios.

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Blogger Middle Kid said...

Wow. The license costs $270 a year. And, like a driver's license, you have to contact the authorities when you move. Do you have to display it or carry it around in your wallet? While I understand that it's like a mandatory contribution to your PBS station, I'm not sure if I understand the mechanics.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

"The authorities" can demand to see your TV license if they show up, but I'll be damned if I know where our 2006-2007 license is. They also claim to have technology that can identify unlicensed TVs, but I wonder about that. Sure, they could audit cable TV customers, but what if you're just getting it over the air?

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Howard said...

It's not absurd. The licence is one per household. A household may contain sighted as well as blind people. The concession is to compensate the blind people for not being able to see the TV which their sighted cohabitors are able to watch.

Doesn't take too much thought to work out, does it? ;-)

And yes, TV receivers can be detected; see the Wikipedia article on 'Television Licence' under the subheading 'Detection of evasion of television licences'.

2:54 AM  

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