OK, so there is a program that telephone and cellular phone subscribers pay for that gives away cellular phones to the poor and dare I say 'near-poor'. The money comes from Universal Service Fund fees that are tacked onto most phone bills. The Universal Service Fund is:
The Universal Service Fund (USF) was created by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1997 to meet Congressional universal service goals as mandated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The 1996 Act states that all providers of telecommunications services should contribute to federal universal service in some equitable and nondiscriminatory manner; there should be specific, predictable, and sufficient Federal and State mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service; all schools, classrooms, health care providers, and libraries should, generally, have access to advanced telecommunications services; and finally, that the Federal-State Joint Board and the FCC should determine those other principles that, consistent with the 1996 Act, are necessary to protect the public interest. As of the third quarter of 2012, the USF fee, which changes quarterly, equals 15.7 percent of a telecom company's interstate and end-user revenues - Wiki
One of the approved uses of this money is to give free cellular phones, and cellular phone service to people who qualify. Who qualifies? Well, according to the Obama Phone website up to 35% of all Americans
If you, or members in your household are, receiving the following benefits you automatically qualify for the Lifeline program. Those interested in the program must have an income of less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. (For example in the 48 Contiguous States and D.C the income level is $22,350 per year for a family of four.)
Qualifications can vary by state. - The Obama Phone
- Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income – commonly known as SSI
- Health Benefit Coverage under Child Health Insurance Plan (CHIP)
- The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program.
- Low-Income Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP
- Federal Public Housing Assistance ( Section 8 )
- If you are a low-income Eligible Resident of Tribal Lands
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families – TANF
You have got to be kidding me. That is a huge number of people. And in certain areas of the country, I guess people could claim that everyone has an Obama Phone like was done in the video from Cleveland, Ohio earlier this week...
So where do I sign up for free alcohol? But seriously, I do not have a land line phone. The cable company is more than willing to give me one for free, but I gave that phone up years ago because the 'Free' phone cost me about $10 a month in taxes. Part of those taxes was to fund this program which is probably being abused all to hell. What's next? Free internet? Apparently this is the direction that we are headed.
Keep this in mind the next time you look at your phone bill. What other programs are you paying for through fees in your phone bill.You might find some surprising things. Take the NY City area. Their phone bills also include a surtax for the Metropolitan Transit Authority. All of this you pay for to subsidize other people.
Yes, some people should get help. But I bet that people will be surprised at just how much help poor people already get as they cry to politicians to put their hands into your pockets yet again... Don't wait for any accountability anytime soon. They only want to audit the rich. There is no interest in auditing what happens to the money when it it given to the poor (in exchange for votes).