Skip to comments.Taxpayers foot bill for free [low income] government cell phones [$1+ billion per year!]
Posted on 06/12/2012 5:17:25 PM PDT by kevcol
New questions have emerged about a government program that has given away millions of free cell phones and service to people with low incomes and those in rural areas.
The money comes from the federal "Universal Service Charge" on your phone bill. It has its roots way back in the 1930s. The goal was to make sure people in rural areas and the poor had access to telephone service. In the 1990s, it expanded to include wireless phones.
Since then, the numbers have exploded. The cost of the program is now more than $1 billion dollars a year. The FCC, along with some Democrats and Republicans, are trying to reign it in.
On an abandoned lot on the West Side of Chicago, a sign on a bright green tent advertises a deal too good for many to resist.
"My daughter told me about it. It's a government phone," said Jeanetta Anderson.
When asked if she had to pay anything for it, Anderson said no.
She's right. This is one case where "free" really means free -- at least, for the people receiving the phones.
When asked who pays for the program, cell phone user Michael Brown said, "The government or the taxpayers. Someone. I don't pay for it. Like I said, I can't afford it. It helps me."
An FCC spokesperson said: "Since 1985, [the wireless service program] has helped low-income consumers find jobs, contact friends and family, and call 911 in emergencies, and we will not allow fraud and abuse to destroy this valuable program for the nation's most vulnerable citizens."
(Excerpt) Read more at abclocal.go.com ...
There is no doubt in my mind I officially become a geezer, lol.
A phone, landline or cell, is actually not a necessity. They are nice to have, but one can live without them. Sort of like tv or cable.
People need to eat, have shelter and warmth or cool in extreme climates and education.
I know government programs supporting these things are abused. But I won’t gripe as some people actually are in need. Bad on the abusive ones.
A phone does not fall into the category of necessities.
but it makes people easier to keep tabs on.
The Amish have one phone on a pole for emergencies. Seems to work for them.
i’m paying for cell phones?!?!
bad enough i paid to buy people cars (cash for clunkers) .. now i’m paying their freakin phone bill?!
it’s time for a major freakin tax revolt ... take our money out of their hands.
WTF? He has a J-O-B and he qualifies for a FREE phone? Yes, I am shouting.
Well, maybe he needs the phone because he's been late to work too many times and he will be out of a job soon.
The world has turned upside down.
And to insure that they vote the “right” way.
If it wasn't for the 90% who abuse government programs for the needy we could take care of the truly needy in a dignified way.
I’ve seen the commercials.....I’m OK with helping pay for food and shelter for people that need help, but the line should be drawn well before buying them a cell phone. When my mom-in-law’s health started failing and we decided that she needed a phone her family pitched in and got her one, never considered getting a freebie from the gubmint.
I don’t have an issue with the elderly.
But as usual, something that started out good has been abused.
I suggest you study the writings of the Founders. It is 100% irrelevant if some bill helps someone in need.
The only question that should be asked when evaluating a proposed government program is this: is it allowed under the United States Constitution?
Well meaning people in government have done irreparable harm to our Republic.
Our Founders were wise to warn us against those who would use the taxpayer money for charity. Such undertakings corrode a civil society and ultimately impoverish it.
The money would be better left in the hands of the people who earned it. Private charities are always better at serving the truly needy.
Government programs are always designed for one reason -- to increase the power of the State. They have successfully produced what the Statist desires: a captive voting block who become literal parasites on those who actually work for a living.
Our Republic is in serious trouble because of one reason -- Government.
You're right on top of it 'FCC spokesman'
I know people who have 3 or 4 of those phones. You've got Safelink and Assurance that I know of, probably half a dozen more.
I have to ride the bus to work every day (my own fault, seems the DMV and me don't agree on me having a license) and hear welfare moms, street punks, ex-cons, etc. bragging about their 'obama phones'. NO LIE! These idiots will definitely be in the voting pool for the Zero.
I could tell you all so much more about these people by having to live amongst them because of my own bad choices. I was once upper-middle-class (whatever that is) and never thought I'd be seeing and hearing what I do these days.
It is truly shocking.
Actually if you lived in Massachusetts you’d be paying for free cars too! Plus: free AAA, free insurance, free repairs, free everything!
Correction: welfare baby momma's
hope/pray good fortune swings back your way FRiend, hang in there...
Low income 'consumers' is exactly what they are. Producers? I think not.
Yeah, I'm beating up this thread. 'contact family and friends' ???? Ex: "Yo' whacha doin?" "Yeah, I be going to get a foty and smoke a blunt. Wha u b doin? "
Your tax dollars are paying for shiftless punks to talk to their 'peeps' all day long.
Thanks for the kind words, I remember your screen name from way back.
Don't worry, Ol' L4T is just gettin' warmed up.
I'm not 'killed' yet, therefore I must be stronger.
My journeys have been good to me even though others wouldn't see it that way.
I don't talk to others very much, but thanks for reaching out.
I can’t argue with a single thing you posted.
But I, conversely, can’t figure out how to get the toothpaste back in the tube.
Cut everything off and we’ll have people standing in the streets begging for help ala Katrina. Keep things in place, the programs grow and grow.
rockvillem: “I suspect one underlying premise of the program is that a phone can be a necessity at times of a life-threatening emergency.”
If so, then every citizen should get a “free” cell phone. In fact, let’s mandate that everyone carry a GPS transmitter and computerized health monitor that will automatically notify health authorities in case of medical emergencies. Why? Because even citizens who can afford communications equipment, like a cell phone, may be too incapacitated to use it in a medical emergency.
(There are plenty of premises for government to give away “free” stuff, and government is always bureaucratic, rife with fraud, and inefficient — always!)
There is a cercomstances in which almost every modern service imaginable might be defined as a “necessity”. Whether any good or service is a “necessity” or not, it is not acceptable to have the Federal government steal from the mouth of the producer to provide that good or service.
That goes for cellphones, TV, stereos, as well as food, shelter.
I’m pissed too. I’m paying for their cell phones, while I don’t even own a cell phone myself. Sure, I could afford one, but I choose not to, because it’s an unnecessary expense for me. If I can live without it, these moochers can too.
Cut everything off and well have people standing in the streets begging for help ala Katrina. Keep things in place, the programs grow and grow.
Yep, the toothpaste is definitely out the tube. With either Mitt or Obama the Rats, GOP-e and RINOs will form the governing coalition of rabid Statism.
It pains me to hear Mark Levin talk of spending the next 80 years rolling back government. Any objective reading of history clearly shows that has never happened, nor will it ever happen.
Some catastrophic event or series of highly volatile events will have to occur to compel the States to dissolve the various unconstitutional Federal bureaucracies. Large numbers of Federal bureaucrats will have to be fired and their pensions revoked. All buildings that housed the unconstitutional federal activities must be grazed and the land sold to private individuals.
All courts below the Supreme Court need to be dissolved and re-constituted with very strict Constitutionalists. The very first evil amendment that must be repealed is the 17th, shortly followed by the 16th.
For Liberty to once again reign in our Republic, unconstitutional Federal government power must be neutralized in a very short term (few years max). There is no other way to defeat the parasite class that inhabits D.C.
When D.C. and the surrounding areas constitute the seven poorest counties in America, then you will know that Liberty is once again present across our great land.
Sadly, the likeness of any of this happening is 0.00000000000000001
All is not lost; Our Founders were be quite surprised to see that our Republic has lasted as long as it has. The were very wise about the nature of man and the utterly vile, sadistic, evil humans that are attracted to public service (should really be called Public Abuse.)
I agree with your arguments in general, but let me play Devil’s advocate for a moment. I don’t see anything in the Constitution to authorize the feds to operate a mail service. Sure, the USPS is supposed to be private, but we all know they cannot operate without constant government support, so they are a de facto arm of the Federal government.
Should we eliminate the postal service also then? Or pass an amendment authorizing it? Or is this a case where it is actually proper to find some room in the “general welfare” clause or some such cubby hole?
Maybe this is an outdated example, since the postal service is becoming obsolete anyway, but pretend we are in 1950 and it is necessary, and cannot operate as a private entity because it is too unprofitable.
Oliver Wendall Douglass had a phone on a pole on their farm outside Hooterville.
Holder’s peeps need phones so they can tweet their drug deals.
There is no way to justify our present public monopoly of the post office. It may be argued that the carrying of mail is a technical monopoly and that a government monopoly is the least of evils. Along these lines, one could perhaps justify a government post office, but not the present law, which makes it illegal for anybody else to carry the mail. If the delivery of mail is a technical monopoly, no one else will be able to succeed in competition with the government. If it is not, there is no reason why the government should be engaged in it. The only way to find out is to leave other people free to enter.
Milton Friedman, Friedman, Milton & Rose D. Capitalism and Freedom, University of Chicago Press, 1982, 29
Yes, it would be impractical to cut off all the entitlements completely and simutaneously. So, we just need to think of workable solutions (why can’t Newt worry about these “American Solutions”?!?)
I can think of two possible avenues we could try. First, we could try to phase the programs out. Do a review of all recipients, grandfather in those truly in need who cannot adjust rapidly, at least for a period of time, and then stop accepting any new applications for assistance.
Second option, we partially privatize all the programs by farming out the administration to privately operated relief organizations, and supply them with a steadily diminishing amount of funding over a period of years. Let them determine standards and controls that will allow them to help the people most in need and weed out the parasites, as well as run programs to transition people off the rolls. If they are successful, and meet their targets, the organizations can get a “bonus” of funds for their own discretionary spending, giving them a profit motive to find ways to accomplish the job efficiently.
any functional cell phone is able to dial 911.. No minutes or plan is needed.
any functional cell phone is able to dial 911.. No minutes or plan is needed.
With regard to fraud...
I am a triage interviewer for a local food bank.
Several weeks ago I was interviewing a single woman that had kids 16 and 14 years old. On the intake sheet I noticed there was a phone number listed but no money for a phone listed under her expenses. I asked her about this and she said, “I got me a free obama phone. Don’t cost me nothing. Do you want the other numbers?” I asked what she meant by other numbers. She said, “Oh, my kids got obama phones too, you need those numbers?” I said no, while silently cursing under my breath.
This program is 100% free and 100% funded by you and me. The phone costs them nothing and they get 250 minutes of free talk time per month. I don’t know how much minutes cost after the free 250.
The post office is mentioned in the Constitution, actually.
So you are saying that a phone that is charged and will turn on need not have a plan to dial 911?
I didn’t know that. And it sure should change the free cellular thing, imho.
Well, like Levin, I hate to give up.
In the past, there was a certain amount of shame about being on the public dole. As in many areas of life, the more people that crossed the line...the more it became acceptable and more people lined up to get on the gravy train.
Like I said, I hate to give up, but I am at a loss to change human nature.
As you said, our Founder’s may only be surprised at how long it took for things to come where they have today.
Still the best country in the world to live, imo!
Since I have no desire for the US to become a third world country, I equate food and shelter as necessities.
Thank you for your very thoughtful post.
It at least gave some alternatives.
The FCCs basic 911 rules require wireless service providers to transmit all 911 calls to a PSAP, regardless of whether the caller subscribes to the providers service or not.
You don’t need no Obama Minutes.. You just need a functional phone.
The Obama phone much like Obama himself is a fraud.
Any charged phone can call 911 - plan or not. Also if you need to call 911 and you’re out of phone tower range - no bars -there’s a good chance the call will go through.
D’oh! Guess I’m overdue to reread the whole thing again if I forgot that part.
I didn’t know that, but find it interesting.
So all the phones that are trashed due to upgrades could be recycled for 911 calls to people that have no phone.
Those ideas sound rational and workable in a rational world. But, the cold reality is they would NEVER be implemented -- by the left or by the RINOs.
No government willingly gives up power. Yes, throughout history there have been times when there have been small moves towards Liberty, but it is always short-lived.
To get back to the Liberty our citizens enjoyed in the 1800s is impossible through legislation at the national level.
We will never wean ourselves back to less government. True dramatic reform at the National level can only come about by actions by the States.
The other option for obtaining Liberty is through a 2nd Revolution (impossible to imagine) or through complete economic collapse (something no one should desire).
Reality demands that we look coldly at those who currently rule over us. They are not our friends, they are not after our best interests. Government at all levels are infested with sadistic humans who live to seek ways to control and abuse the citizenry.
Government is also infested with people with low morals who seek only to steal the productive wealth of others.
That is the current reality of government. I am trying my best to convince as many people as possible to view government in the way our Founders viewed government -- as something inherently evil.
We cannot survive with people assuming that this program or that program exists to help the downtrodden. The fools who believe that are handing over the rope to their enemies.
I leave you with two quotes from Thomas Jefferson.
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.
I dont see anything in the Constitution to authorize the feds to operate a mail service...
Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution, known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, empowers Congress "To establish Post Offices and post Roads".
Section. 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; To borrow Money on the credit of the United States; To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States; To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States; To establish Post Offices and post Roads; To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court; To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations; To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings;And To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
I don't know either, but I do know that the Safelink TV ad says "you can never go over your plan minutes." What does THAT mean?
Yes - for kids in your family (those too young to be trusted with a phone) or neighborhood kids - or if your city has an abused women's crisis center - they'll take your extra phones for their clients - and you get a tax donation write-off.
I don’t see how the two concepts are connected except in that giving people food and shelter (which is taken from the hard working mouths of those who actually labored to produce) tends to cause all folk to do even less for themselves.
I am of the same opinion on theses matters as Benjamin Franklin, the best way to help the poor is to do less for them and thus compel them to do more for themselves.
I sincerely pray you are never completely down and out hungry. BUT...if you are, ping me...I’ll read some Benjamin Franklin to ya. ;)