Free cell phones are now a civil right

No comment necessary.

Pennsylvanians on public assistance now have a new ‘civil right’ – free cell phones. Meanwhile, the rest of us get to pay higher cell bills as a result.
Recently, a federal government program called the Universal Service Fund came to the Keystone State and some residents are thrilled because it means they can enjoy 250 minutes a month and a handset for free, just because they don’t have the money to pay for it. Through Assurance Wireless and SafeLink from Tracfone Wireless these folks get to reach out and touch someone while the cost of their service is paid for by everyone else. You see, the telecommunications companies are funding the Universal Service Fund to the tune of $4 billion a year because the feds said they have to and in order to recoup their money, the companies turn around and hike their fees to paying customers. But those of use paying for the free service for the poor, should be happy about this infuriating situation, says Gary Carter, manager of national partnerships for Assurance, because “the program is about peace of mind.” Free cell service means “one less bill that someone has to pay, so they can pay their rent or for day care…it is a right to have peace of mind,” Cater explained.

Not sure how I feel about this. I’ll have to give it some thought for now

I don’t think I am exaggerating to say that I hear about 100 claims of some right for every time I hear someone acknowledge a responsibility.

Am I naive to think the two should be more in balance? Would I find that ratio in the Gospels?

I wonder if all this feelgood charitableness is a plan to sink us. If everyone votes everyone else’s income to help someone else, we’ll all be broke, in the name of good intentions. I’m sure someone will come on here and blame me for being realistic because I refuse to bury my head in the sand like too many others. “How could you?” I could, in order to prevent socialism, which the Popes condemn. That’s how I could. The country’s 14 T in debt. The funny thing about deception is that most people can’t see it…

Unfortunately, as is usual it’s been boiled it down to a couple well worded talking points to make something appear far more outrageous than it really is.

This is a public assitance program and nothing more. To qualify you need to be on one of these programs.

. Medicaid
. Food Stamps/SNAP
. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
. General Assistance
. Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
. The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program (NSL)

Either that or be at the national poverty level.

Basically we’re talking about the poorest of the poor here and one step shy of homeless so I have no problems with some of my bill or tax dollars going for it. The phones are bottom of the barrel and all they do is make phone calls the tune of about 4 hours a month which is not exactly alot of “free stuff” as the article in the NY Post makes it out to be.

Similar programs are also offered in serveral states throughout the country.

Being that we live in a capitalistic society having people with hardly a pot to **** in is a side effect of our country’s chosen way of life. Providing people that have extremely little income with an extremely basic way to communicate for a few hours a month is not alot to ask of us or private industry in general. We need to lose this attitude about how the poor have it easy or telling ourselves it’s not “fair” that we have to pay for things we can afford while the poorest of the poor get scraps from out tables like dogs for “free”. Yes we have it so hard.

By the way the guy that said it was a civil right is a manager for Assurance Wireless. His opinion on what is and isn’t a right is really a matter of opinion but don’t let that stop the NY Post from using it as ammo.

This doesn’t seem to be anything other than than the Lifeline service which long distance telecommunications companies have been funding, via the Universal Service Fund, for decades. The only difference is that in Pennsylvania, and some other states, instead of paying for a hard wired telephone and service, the program is now paying for a bare-bones cell phone. At a cost of $10/month, perhaps it is cheaper than the old-fashioned alternative?

No one, despite the derisive claim by a columnist for the NY Post, is calling the program a civil right. But it does seem to be a humane program.

The voice of reason :slight_smile: God bless you…

When I pray the Rosary, the first 3 Hail Mary prayers are dedicated to Faith, Hope and Charity… Seems like this is a reasonable and applaud-able effort to make the later prayer a reality. God bless the fine State of Pennsylvania

Rights are… given by God, to everyone throughout history, for freeeeeeeeee! Those are LIFE, and LIBERTY. Our founding fathers got it exactly right. Every human that ever existed, or will ever exist, has both of those. Beyond that… I would ask two questions whenever someone lays claim to a right… 1) Who (name please) gave you that right, and 2) what authority allows them to grant that right? So far no good answers to those two questions. Everything else is charity, and should be voluntary IMHO.

I’m releived to see that the headline turns out to be more melodrama.

Though I would like to propose a new assistance program: have cell phones expropriated from talkative teenagers and given to unemployed people to help them find jobs. Sound like a plan?

dear u.s. government

I want a FREE Droid smartphone!




Whoever grants you your rights also has the power to take them away. While there is no indication God will ever take away the rights He has granted, what about ‘government granted rights’? You may feel that you now have this ‘right’. It may, however, be repealed in a few years. ‘Real’ rights, conversely, cannot be taken away. Incidentally, in regards to the poor receiving only bare bones sustenance, everyone I know who is living off government assistance has cable TV.

I am SO GLAD that the federal government is SO COMPASSIONATE that it’s making me buy a cellphone and give it to someone else.


Great suggestion! I was just about to comment on the employment aspect. No job = no phone = no job, I would think.

Wanna cut down the deficit? Tax cell phones: $0.10/min., .05/text, .05/Kb of data.

Let’s bring back the good old days when only Drs and drug dealers had cells :smiley:

Free Cell Phones: The Sign of a Civil Society

Free cell phones for low income Americans may not be a civil right, but providing them is a mark of a Civil Society - the sort of society in which I want to live.

Communications are part of our national infrastructure. Before the invention of the telephone, if you wanted to “reach out and touch someone” you literally had to travel a road to do it. Surface roads are extremely expensive to make and maintain, but the importance of enabling people to travel and connect is so vital to the welfare of the nation that we do not think twice about the government spending taxpayer dollars on them.

Today, we take free roads for granted. That wasn’t always the case - at one time, private toll roads were the norm in the United States. Imagine how much it would add to the cost of “doing business” in our nation if corporations had to pay a toll on every road they used to transport their goods from one location to another. Businesses benefit a great deal from taxpayer subsidized roads.

The invention of the telephone simply opened up a new type of “road” that is faster & cheaper to use. As digital technology improves, the types and amount of material we can “transport” by telephone will increase. Who knows, maybe in the next century, our great-grandchildren will be saying “Beam me up Scotty”!

If you accept that everyone should have free access to expensive surface roads, then you should also accept that everyone should have free access to the “teleroads” - there is no conceptual difference between them. Until teleroads are free for all to use, it is only right that we subsidize their use for the poorest among us who cannot afford to pay the “tolls” private companies charge. Basic cell phones for are the cheapest and easiest way to do this.

Give. Me. A. Break.

Cell phones are a new toy created by our consumerist culture to convince us we just have to have the newest thing (probably buying it on credit). Far from enhancing our lives it is degrading our society and destroying our ability to communicate with each other.

As for toll roads, they might have been preferable to what we have in terms of efficiency, cost and environmental damage.

Cell phones are not a necessity, much less a civil right.

This is just plain ignorant. The roads are only free if you make your own gasoline and avoid the motor fuel tax (which is illegal). Today’s toll booths are called “gas stations.” A massive chunk of what you pay at the pump is a tax that is (theoretically) used to pay for the roadway system. In recent years the pols have raided the cookie jar and demanded that MFT funds pay for non-road things like bike paths and public transportation, so the MFP cookie jar is nearly empty nowadays.

But the fundamental system has been that the people who use it, have to pay for it. This is absolutely nothing like giving away free cell phones to the poor. It’s a very nice gesture and I’m sure they appreciate it. But it’s simply not good government. If you want to donate to Tracfone to make this available to people, you should. But the government is out of bounds giving away 250 minutes a month. I can see it for 911 calls and perhaps 30-60 minutes a month. If they want more than that, they gotta pay for it. Cell phones are not a basic necessity of life.

Where is the “right to free communication” provided for in the Constitution? and if the people of PA don’t like it, maybe they should stop voting idiots into their state offices.

This is just plain ignorant.

The definition of a “road” does not require the use of cars. If that were true then the Romans would have been building pedestrian ways and horse paths.

And were do you think the word “turn pike” comes from? It’s a throw back to the private road system that once dominated in the United States.

As for the highways, they are still subsidized by tax payers, despite the fact that they are “exclusive” to cars. Try riding your bike or walking along the shoulder of a highway and see what happens when a police car goes by.

But the fundamental system has been that the people who use it, have to pay for it. This is absolutely nothing like giving away free cell phones to the poor. It’s a very nice gesture and I’m sure they appreciate it. But it’s simply not good government. If you want to donate to Tracfone to make this available to people, you should. But the government is out of bounds giving away 250 minutes a month. I can see it for 911 calls and perhaps 30-60 minutes a month. If they want more than that, they gotta pay for it. Cell phones are not a basic necessity of life.

If you don’t like it, vote against it. That is how a Civil Society operates.

Having a cell phone is not a right, but if we are for helping the poor with the necessities of life, considering that some type of phone is a necessity in our society (few public phones anymore, need to communicate over long distances) and considering that cells are cheaper than landlines - I don’t really see what the big deal is. My only caveat would be that phone records should show regular efforts at getting a job that can support the user/family.

Sometimes stories like this smack of resentment of the poor. (He went and squandered his inheritance, why does he get a fatted calf and a feast and all?)

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