Great Moments in Government

Seriously, there are times when I think that here we are in the 21st century and THIS is the best we can do for leadership in public service.

This first story is about some hydrogen buses that the VTA (public transportation in San Jose, Santa Clara, etc.) has running. If I told you that new car was going to cost you 32 times more each time you filled it up and you wouldn’t be able to repair it, well you probably would pass on it… not the VTA.

The most glaring figure: Zero-emission buses – or ZEBs – cost $51.66 to fuel, maintain and operate per mile compared to just $1.61 for a 40-foot conventional diesel coach. They break down much more frequently, and replacement parts are next to impossible to order, according to the report.

[From VTA: Zero-emissions bus runs super clean, but super pricey – San Jose Mercury News]

And now for the Jesse Ventura of California, our own Guvernator wants to trim MediCal by making people fill out more paperwork. Brilliant.

Now, with his health care expansion on the rocks and the state facing a multibillion-dollar budget gap next year, Schwarzenegger has proposed a plan to make most enrollees of state-sponsored medical care fill out more eligibility paperwork as a means of saving money – a move that critics say is insidious.

[From Governor’s plan would cut Medi-Cal rolls]

Maybe They Should Talk to the RIAA

“As network and affiliates, we both have an interest in slowing down the explosive growth of DVRs. This is about combating DVRs. As we developed this at every stage, there was an agreement that however we put this together, disabling the fast-forward function was key.”

[From Techdirt: Dear ABC, You Don’t Compete With TiVo By Making A Product Worse]

I swear you just can’t make stuff up this good. I can se some of the logic that the broadcasters and cable execs are using, which is if you have video on demand built in with these features, then people will overlook what DVRs are providing at additional cost. However, this same logic relies on an assumption that in an environment with easily obtained competitive product that provide a superior feature set, that customers will still sit on their butts and not do anything.

I always find it ironic that large and successful businesses seriously think they can compete by restricting customer choices and benefits. It reminds me of the RIAA’s near decade long fight against downloadable music. Rarely have we seen so much money spent on a technology, DRM, who’s sole role it was to restrict customer behaviors and provide no ancillary benefits. As we sit here today on the verge of the music industry abandoning their failed DRM attempts, the broadcaster and cable industry is poised to start another war on the consumer that will too end in failure.

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