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Government Welfare: Cell Phones for the Poor
The Heritage Foundation ^ | January 18th, 2010 | Rachel Sheffield

Posted on 03/31/2010 4:41:10 PM PDT by Conservative Coulter Fan

Government-sponsored text messaging? You got it.

Welfare recipients in approximately 20 states–with more to follow– are currently eligible to receive a free cell phone with a limited number of monthly minutes. All individuals that qualify for state or federal welfare–food stamps, Medicaid, etc.–and have an income at or below 135% of the poverty level, are eligible. According to a Fox News report, the cell phone service is currently the fastest growing welfare program in the country.

In 2008, the fund that foots the bill for this program contributed $819 million to subsidize low-income telephone services. The fund is projected to grow to over $1 billion this year. That’s $1 billion of over $800 billion the United States will spend on welfare in 2010.

This particular program is covered by the federal Universal Service Fund. At first it received its money by essentially taxing telephone companies that provided long-distance service, with the money then being used to provide affordable rates for those living in less densely populated areas where phone service was more costly. However, in 1996, Congress voted to extend the use of this fund to subsidize low-income households and subsequently expanded the list of those required to pay into the fund to include: local telephone companies, wireless companies, paging services, and payphone providers. (Naturally, the cost for this fund is passed to the customer.) In 2008, the Federal Communications Commission began subsidizing cell phones for low-income households.

Besides the $1 billion price tag, which is likely to increase as more states implement the service, not to mention the concern for growing entitlement created by this program, cell phone recipients are loosely monitored. According to Heritage welfare expert Robert Rector, this means that if an individual’s income increases to where he or she is no longer eligible for the service, there is no one to make sure he or she stops receiving it.

Jose A. Fuentes, director of Government Relations for TracFone–one of the providers of the free phone service–says that the phones are not meant “for heavy usage.” Instead, they are meant “for quick phone calls, as well as a way for people to reach you in case of…emergency or for calls from a potential employer,” not meant to replace a landline. This idea indicates that not only should government subsidize phone service, but that as SafeLink, one of the providers of the cell phones, states, “cell phone ownership is a right.”

This is just another example of the ever-expanding welfare state and the increasing entitlement mentality. At the very least, policymakers should require greater monitoring of the program to prevent misuse. Furthermore, if the purpose of the cell phones is truly to give lower-income people more access to potential employers, participants should be required to account for their job search activities. A welfare program that does not require personal responsibility will only encourage dependency and diminish human dignity.


TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS:



1 posted on 03/31/2010 4:41:11 PM PDT by Conservative Coulter Fan
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan

I didn’t know Heritage Foundation produced free content.
I fugured you had to pay for their opinion.
Which I certainly wouldn’t do.

At least that’s what Limbaugh says.

$25.00 a year or so.

Hmm, maybe I’ll check ‘em out.


2 posted on 03/31/2010 4:45:57 PM PDT by humblegunner
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan

I am so sick of these leeches. My taxes pay for all this crap, including bailouts for their poor borrowing decisions... and I can’t even get a refi loan.


3 posted on 03/31/2010 4:51:00 PM PDT by pnh102 (Regarding liberalism, always attribute to malice what you think can be explained by stupidity. - Me)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan

I researched this, a while back, for Pennsylvania. You get a free cell phone if you are poor enough AND have no other phone service. Verizon will give you a regular land line for about $15/month, but if even that’s too expensive or you have no home at all, you can get a cell phone from welfare.
Meanwhile, a cheapo cell phone from Virgin Mobile, paid by minutes and no yearly commitment, can be had for about $7/month. That’s a better deal because you can call long distance for the same price as local, whereas Verizon costs twice as much and you can’t call anything but local.
How much the govt is paying for welfare cell phones...I dunno! Could be a lot more.


4 posted on 03/31/2010 4:56:07 PM PDT by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (STOP the Tyrananny State.)
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To: pnh102

A report on FoxNews today stated that people with 20% down payments and excellent credit were having a hard time getting a new home loan.

And here we are worrying about the poor.

If the middle-class can’t buy a home, then there’s a lot more important things to think about that the poor.

If the middle-class who pays the bills of the poor, isn’t making it, this nation is in serious trouble, and those troubles will make cell phones the last thing on the poor’s mind.


5 posted on 03/31/2010 4:59:03 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (Il Douche' and his Douche Baggers will save us...)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan
Free cell phone commercials all over the TV.
I want my free cell phone!
I want 30% off my mortgage!
I want my free gas cards!
And I want my $2500 that I'm saving on my health care plan!

Just so happened to pass down the street in front of the Social Security office. All the cars in the parking lot were luxury new cars. I spotted a few Caddies, Lexus, BMWs, and Tahoes. I really have to go back with my camera to capture it.

6 posted on 03/31/2010 5:00:07 PM PDT by chemicalman (Everyone is investing in gold. I'm investing in lead.)
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To: chemicalman

Would if be legal to take pictures of the drivers too?


7 posted on 03/31/2010 5:04:27 PM PDT by Conservative Coulter Fan (I am defiantly proud of being part of the Religious Right in America.)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan

Why do I bother working if the government is just going to hand out everything?


8 posted on 03/31/2010 5:07:36 PM PDT by Soothesayer (The United States of America Rest in Peace November 4 2008)
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To: Soothesayer

“Politicians never accuse you of ‘greed’ for wanting other people’s money -— only for wanting to keep your own money.”


9 posted on 03/31/2010 5:11:37 PM PDT by Conservative Coulter Fan (I am defiantly proud of being part of the Religious Right in America.)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan

These days I never see a person poor or not without a cell phone.


10 posted on 03/31/2010 5:11:52 PM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan

A relative works in the library, people come in all the time to use the computers for the free cell phones, and many other programs. Often they have designer handbags.

Reference to the “free cell phones” has become a common remark here about wasted government money.


11 posted on 03/31/2010 5:24:04 PM PDT by Williams (It's the policies, stupid)
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To: Williams

<Often they have designer handbags.

Knock-off designer handbags are sold on the street. Having a ‘designer handbag’ isn’t necessarily an indication of misspent funds, only of bad taste.


12 posted on 03/31/2010 5:29:52 PM PDT by radiohead (Buy ammo, get your kids out of government schools, pray for the Republic.)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan

Try to get the masses to carry government issued personal tracking devices with them at all times: not a chance. Call them free cell phones and they will madly sign up for them and wear them always. Free internet is not a bad idea either. And free cable TV keeps them off the street corners and lowers the crime rate.


13 posted on 03/31/2010 5:29:57 PM PDT by Reeses (All is vanity)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan

Well..., I looked at it and it’s hardly worth the trouble to go and get something like this. When I looked for Texas, you got 68 minutes ... LOL ...

Heck, I can use that up on one call with some of my relatives... it wouldn’t do someone like me any good... of course, I’ve got a lot better phone with iPhone... :-)


14 posted on 03/31/2010 5:39:06 PM PDT by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: Soothesayer
You were saying ...

Why do I bother working if the government is just going to hand out everything?

Well, if you check into it, the stuff they hand out is barely worth anything. You or I would never tolerate what they "hand out" ... LOL ...

It's like these "minutes" that they hand out... it's just 68 minutes in Texas. Heck! I've got relatives that use that up with me in just one call ... :-)

15 posted on 03/31/2010 5:41:05 PM PDT by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: DoughtyOne
You were saying ...

If the middle-class who pays the bills of the poor, isn’t making it, this nation is in serious trouble, and those troubles will make cell phones the last thing on the poor’s mind.

Heck! I just looked into it and they're "handing out" what is the equivalent of maybe one phone call for you or me (at least to me with some of my relatives). I would hardly call it worth anything -- at least it wouldn't be worth a darned thing to me... LOL ...

16 posted on 03/31/2010 5:43:23 PM PDT by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: radiohead

Yep. We call them Canal Street Specials here in New York. The Chinese and Nigerians have been selling such knockoffs for years to both gullible locals and tourists.


17 posted on 03/31/2010 5:44:11 PM PDT by Clemenza (Remember our Korean War Veterans)
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To: Star Traveler

I’ve never sent a text message because I didn’t see the value in it. I guess I just have to go on welfare so I can see just how important texting really is.


18 posted on 03/31/2010 5:44:40 PM PDT by Oshkalaboomboom
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To: Reeses
You were saying ...

Try to get the masses to carry government issued personal tracking devices with them at all times: not a chance. Call them free cell phones and they will madly sign up for them and wear them always. Free internet is not a bad idea either. And free cable TV keeps them off the street corners and lowers the crime rate.

Hmmmm..., come to think about it... I guess it is a lot cheaper than what it costs to house them in prison, actually ... :-)

19 posted on 03/31/2010 5:45:18 PM PDT by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan; wardaddy; Black Agnes

Perfect! Now the welfare-ites can better organize flash-mobs to mug and beat whitey!

And we paid for it!


20 posted on 03/31/2010 5:46:22 PM PDT by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan
...the fund that foots the bill for this program contributed $819 million...

It's way past time for leaving unchallenged the use of obfuscating language like this, which is especially irritating when it comes from the Heritage Foundation. Funds like this don't foot bills for anything, taxpayers pay a tax that taxpayer-paid bureaucrats confiscate and then pay-out to preferred political supporters. Want to know why your cellphone bill is so high? Ironically, if one were able to remove the cost of financing this confiscation from the economy and honest, "poor" working people would be able to afford cell phones.

And it's about time for this "official poverty" level to be tossed. I've yet to see a single program that didn't use an actual hurdle above 100 percent, usually 200 percent.

21 posted on 03/31/2010 5:47:21 PM PDT by Prospero (non est ad astra mollis e terris via)
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To: Oshkalaboomboom
You were saying ...

I’ve never sent a text message because I didn’t see the value in it. I guess I just have to go on welfare so I can see just how important texting really is.

It works great on the iPhone. I use it when I don't want to talk to someone on the phone but need some information. I mean, if I want to get off the phone with my brother in a hurry -- forget it ... LOL ...

So, he's a prime candidate for a text message, doncha know... :-)

22 posted on 03/31/2010 5:47:58 PM PDT by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: Star Traveler

I’d give it another once-over. If there was only one call, you’d hear the screams about it from there. That sounds rather iffy. Who knows though..., you may be right.


23 posted on 03/31/2010 5:49:47 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (Il Douche' and his Douche Baggers will save us...)
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan
They're buying votes.

sw

24 posted on 03/31/2010 5:53:14 PM PDT by spectre ( Spectre's wife)
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To: DoughtyOne
And here we are worrying about the poor.

If you look at the stats posted up at the top, it is hard to say we have anyone who is really "poor" in this country.

I look at all the truly poor people in the Third World. What they live in is true poverty, and it is nothing close to the living standards of the average welfare recipient in this country.

25 posted on 03/31/2010 6:03:03 PM PDT by pnh102 (Regarding liberalism, always attribute to malice what you think can be explained by stupidity. - Me)
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To: DoughtyOne
You were saying ...

I’d give it another once-over. If there was only one call, you’d hear the screams about it from there. That sounds rather iffy. Who knows though..., you may be right.

In Texas it was 68 minutes total... and like I was saying above, I can't get off one phone call with some of my relatives in 68 minutes... LOL ...

26 posted on 03/31/2010 6:06:38 PM PDT by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: Soothesayer
Why do I bother working if the government is just going to hand out everything?

Another leach off of the hardworking people of America.

27 posted on 03/31/2010 6:21:10 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: radiohead

Having any kind of designer handbag and getting a free phone is a sign of the government misspending my funds.

I hope you know the “poor people” who show up for these programs are often dressed well and driving a newer SUV.

Many many people in this country are living big off the system.


28 posted on 03/31/2010 6:23:45 PM PDT by Williams (It's the policies, stupid)
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To: Williams
Having any kind of designer handbag and getting a free phone is a sign of the government misspending my funds.

How about people who drive their cars to get groceries with food stamps?

I'll bet the US is the only country where that happens.

29 posted on 03/31/2010 6:33:08 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: Conservative Coulter Fan

Your tax dollars at work. Perhaps soon the government will begin to issue social secretaries and even butlers, while demanding that everyone else pony up for the cost.


30 posted on 03/31/2010 7:54:02 PM PDT by Jack Hammer
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To: humblegunner

Not only free content on their site, you can pick topics that they will email you for free.


31 posted on 04/01/2010 3:39:55 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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