Better And Better

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Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm paying for this, WHY, exactly?

Cell phones are not a "human right;" they are a convenience. For that matter, a telephone is a convenience. You might need one to work (in which case, it's tax-deductible), but you don't need one to live.

That's why I'm wondering why, in the name of a Vulcan deity conning a tugboat, my tax dollars are subsidizing cell phones for the poor.

Anyone have an explanation or elucidation, on this net-widening of necessities for the masses.

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11 Comments:

At Monday, August 30, 2010 8:48:00 AM, Blogger Pappy said...

Matt, I feel the same way, but when I dug a little bit(http://www.safelinkwireless.com/EnrollmentPublic/benefits.aspx) it says the government isn't paying for this service. now as much as I would like to believe in corporate altruism, something just ain't right.

 
At Monday, August 30, 2010 9:15:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Except that the phone companies pay for it by paying into the Universal Service Fund, with monies obtained from a "Universal Service Fee," which all the rest of us have to pay, without an option to say no. WHY do the phone companies charge us that fee? Because th FCC told them to. So, calling it a non-taxed item is pretty specious.

I never said that it was an "Obama Phone;" I said that it was BS that I'm paying for other people's cell phones. And I'll stand by that.

 
At Monday, August 30, 2010 9:24:00 AM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

I have one, but you probably won't want to hear it, or like it.

Why, you ask? Because, the more people that can be conned into sucking at the .gov teat, the more people that can be relied upon at election time.

Those who rob Peter to pay Paul can always count upon Paul's support.

Politicians make promise after promise of free things to those without the sense to ask where it comes from or what it will cost. Those who do ask are lied to or given confounding or confusing doublespeak that doesn't really answer the question. And then we end up here.

Get enough people on the taking side of the equation, and the politicians become unstoppable, because those who vote for them are eager to keep their personal gravy train rolling.

Kind of like Social Security. My mom argues against the .gov, and rails against "this spending" and "that spending." When I mention that SS ought to be cut completely, because it isn't the .gov's job to prepare me for retirement (all the while financing themselves and their insatiable desire to spend my money), she goes ballistic, arguing that she put into that system, and it's her money and that cutting it would be wrong and bad. Nevermind that it should never have started, or that her return on investment would have been triple what it is now had ANYBODY but the .gov been running it.

It's become an entitlement. And now that they're used to it, taking it away becomes impossible. And the more that people are suckered into it, the more support the program enjoys.

 
At Monday, August 30, 2010 12:14:00 PM, Blogger charlotte g said...

I spent years working with people that were tolerably functional in my eyesif they could get their act together well enough to qualify for food stamps, Medicaid or Chips, etc. Believe me, none of them I ever knew voted.
I have heard something about this, and I do know that to cut costs, a number of welfare offices can only be reached by phone to set up appointments, or online. Same for many health clinics. Most clients don't have computers, but of course they can use public libraries,if the libraries haven't been closed for budget cuts. That in no way answers your question, I guess, but I can see a rational need for some people to have access to help. Of course, limited minutes per month can be used up pretty fast when you are put on hold for 30 minutes to an hour, on either government, health or corporate business.

 
At Monday, August 30, 2010 6:43:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

This is about as bad as the homeless folks up here with cell phones... sigh... and yes WE ARE PAYING FOR IT! dammit!

There was a picture in the WAPO last Christmas of Mrs. Obama at a homeless shelter, and half of them had cell phones...

 
At Tuesday, August 31, 2010 9:38:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

I point this out, friends, because I didn't have a cell phone myself until about three years ago. Why? Because with my financial status, I didn't feel like I could afford one.

 
At Tuesday, August 31, 2010 10:10:00 AM, Anonymous pax said...

Charlotte G: Wait, so your answer is, "So they can get more government benefits more easily"? Is that right...?

Matt: We finally broke down and got cell phones about four years ago. Too broke before that, but finally realized the safety aspects of being able to call for help when the (crappy, old) cars broke down in the middle of nowhere made the cell phone relatively cheap insurance.

 
At Tuesday, August 31, 2010 10:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What was it Marko said? Anything that costs someone else money isn't a right? I'm tired of living within my means and being taxes to pay for those who can't or won't. I'm not even counting SSI, which I will never see asa a 40 year old male.

Matt
St Paul

 
At Tuesday, August 31, 2010 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Sabra said...

Matt, the cell phone was the first thing to go over here when I had to cut expenses. I still haven't replaced it. I kind of like being harder to get ahold of.

Looking at this issue in particular...I can see the necessity of a phone, because it is next to impossible these days to get a job without one, and applying for gov't assistance is also difficult. My ex is raising hell because I refuse to give him a phone number aside from my mother's.

That said...You can go to Cricket or Pocket and get monthly cell phone service for ~$30/mo. for their basic plan, including taxes and fees. That's simply not out of reach of most poor people, even though you'd have to come up with probably $80 or so at the start for a phone. (These plans are also unlimited talk/text/long distance.)

The local phone companies offer a stripped-down service for $14/mo, but from the way I've heard that promoted in commercials it's probably also subsidized at some level.

 
At Tuesday, August 31, 2010 1:22:00 PM, Blogger On a Wing and a Whim said...

Anything people have or receive for long enough, they grow to believe is a right.

Once upon a time, when I was young, unemployed, and broke, I negotiated with my roommates to pay for rent by doing laundry, cooking food, and cleaning until I had an income again. Three months later, my class load became bearable and I got a job. When I had cash for rent, I also had no time or inclination to cook, clean, or do laundry beyond my own mess.

When the gravy train stopped, dishes didn't clean themselves and food stopped magically appearing, they got extremely upset with me and demanded I both pay my rent and cook and clean up after them. They reasoned that I had been doing it for months, and it was therefore my duty to do, and their right to receive. We parted ways in bad temper, and haven't spoken since.

The lesson quite painfully learned early on has been easy to see every time someone declares something "their right" or a "need".

 
At Sunday, September 05, 2010 5:42:00 AM, Blogger KD5NRH said...

I could see it as an unemployment benefit while the person is actively seeking work. It's hard to get a job if the employer can't contact you, and showing up every day to check in isn't going to score points with most of them. If they're not working or looking for work, though, I'd say they've got plenty of time to walk to the nearest pay phone.

 

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