Thursday, October 11, 2012

Quote of the day

The Adaptive Curmudgeon considers so-called Obamaphones, and calculates that 4% of the American population has one.  That makes him mad.

I’ve got a plan for the next time someone bitches at me about politics because I’m a rich, privileged, wanker who can’t understand their special grievance and the ninth level of hell that is being so broke you can’t afford the iPhone 5.  I’m going to ask if their cell phone is a “free” government “Obamaphone”.  If it is I’m going to scream “I am the 96%” and kick them in the balls.  I suppose then I’ll have to set up a tent in front of a bank and play bongo drums?  I really haven’t thought out the next step ...



Old NFO said...

I can't agree more... :-)

Douglas2 said...

I can't help feeling that we've been OK with the "Universal Service Fee" for years when it has been an invisible subsidy to rural telephone service and provided internet to libraries and schools.

But now that recently (just like many of us) the administrators of the USF Lifeline program have recognized that prepay cell-phone service is of more utility and cheaper than land-line service, we see poor people being given something that we once thought of as a luxury or conspicuous consumption, and we don't like it.

If you qualify for lifeline phone service, you can subscribe to a home phone line where your charges are still over $20 a month in most places, and that is after the subsidy that is almost $10/month. Initial installation is on top of the monthly fees.

I've been paying less than $10/month for my Tracfone cellphone service since the mid-'90's.

In a recent move, I ditched the land-line. I live in an area where I get reliable cell coverage at home, and I couldn't justify the expense when I already have the cell phone.

Likewise the USF lifeline administrators have begun to approve cell-phone companies as Lifeline providers. Both in the initial installation or service connection and in the month-to-month costs, the subsidy covers the whole service rather than a small proportion of it, due to the more competitive nature of the mobile-phone marketplace.

The USF has the express purpose of making sure that as many people as possible have the basic tools of communication that are now considered normal in our society. This goes beyond need to dial 911, it is also being contactable if your child has an emergency at school, and being able to summon assistance from friends and relatives for emergencies that do not require official emergency services. I never saw anyone having a problem with this before we saw poor people on television bragging about their free phones.
Part of the problem may be that what were once luxuries or conspicuous consumption in the past are now considered commonplace necessities, such as central heating and access to laundry-cleaning-machines.
Another part of the problem is that the program has been abused, with "qualified" households getting more than the one phone that they are "entitled" to by requesting phones from different providers or with false information. There has already been a crackdown on the fraud before the current furor, so in the future that will be less of a problem than it has been.