Did you ever look at your welfare, LIHEAP, TANF and SSI checks, Medicaid reimbursement checks and your food stamps and say to yourself, “That’s nice and all, but how can I make the productive pay for my cell phone, too?”
If you have, you’re in luck. The Universal Service Fee, found on the telephone bills of those who actually pay their telephone bills, does just that. And now, thanks to this tax that’s called a fee, crack heads, welfare queens and other layabouts get free cell phones and 250 free minutes of talk to make their drug deals and annoy the rest of us in movie theaters.
Assurance Wireless, which is in 26 states and Washington, D.C., started in Pennsylvania in February and is now being publicized in newspaper, TV and radio ads. The company reports more than 5.5 million people could qualify for the program in Pennsylvania. Gary Carter, manager of national partnerships for Assurance, was not able to provide the exact number of people who have signed up.
SafeLink, which has been available to Pennsylvanians for three years, is in 39 states. Spokesman Jose Fuentes could not provide an exact number of users in Pennsylvania, but said there are more than 2 million nationwide.
“The program is about peace of mind,” Carter said. “It’s 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.”
“One less bill” that they have to pay is one more fee I’ve got to pay. Gary Carter seems to forget that.
Strangely, I CTRL+F searched the Constitution for the “right to peace of mind” but came up blank.
Critics of the program say free cell service is no right, particularly in an unstable economic climate.
Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, said that with $910 billion of the national budget slated for low-income assistance, he finds free cell phone programs “particularly wasteful and unnecessary.”
“Our society cannot afford to give free everything to everybody,” he said. “Most poor people already had adequate telephone service and will continue to do so.”
Of course we can afford to give free everything to everybody, silly. It’s all coming out of Obama’s stash, newly replenished to the tune of $2.4 Trillion.