I can’t get the Obamaphone lady out of my head so I did a little research. I found a website with some answers. There might be more details (and there are 38 assorted State programs too) but at least I got a crude outline of what’s going on. Mostly I discovered that this is not an urban legend and (by my math) 4% of American’s are on the cell phone dole.
4% of Americans get a free cell phone!
Let me repeat myself because it freaks me out. 4% of Americans get free cell phones. Nobody directly reports that statistic so I resorted to the arcane black magic they used to teach in school; math. The census bureau says there are 311,591,917 Americans. The web site says there are 12,500,000 recipients of cell phones. Thus 12,500,000 / 311,591,917 = 4%. I did not know that 4% of Americans get free cell phones. Did you?
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…
Here are more facts to ponder:
- Yes, you can get a free cell phone. Well you can’t and I can’t. But there are people who do get “free” cell phones.
- The “free” phone comes with 250 minutes per month.
- The “free” phone comes from the government. The site refers to a “FCC-mandated, government-sponsored program, called LifeLine Assistance”.
- 12,500,000 Americans get “free” cell phones. There are 311,000,000 Americans. Thus 4% of the population is getting a free phone.
- It’s technically not an “Obamaphone”. The web site seems particularly upset with this. “It’s been commonly called the ‘Obama phone’ but that’s an urban legend as free cell phones were added under the Bush Administration.”
- The free phone isn’t a junky one. “A free governmentl [their misspelling, not mine] phone isn’t a cheap wireless phone or a discounted model. These are recent model, fully featured cell phones, backed by prominent mobile phone companies. You won’t get an iPhone, Android or Blackberry, but you’ll get a basic, modern phone.” Wouldn’t that suck? Getting a free phone and finding out it wasn’t a recent model? Of course my phone is nearly a decade old and it was the cheapest out there when it was made. Then again people who get free stuff probably wouldn’t want to stoop to the cheesy old TracFone that I use (and pay for). Not that I’m bitter…
- It’s not a “tax” (like Obamacare) it’s a “fee”. “Everyone who owns a telephone pays. A few cents is tacked on to every phone bill every month. It’s listed on those bills as the Universal Service Fund. All those pennies are put into a program called LifeLine to bring quality telephone service to every American.” I only added the Obamacare thing because they started it. They spin it with “a few cents” and “pennies” so I added my opinion. Why? Because it’s my blog; posted via my phone service (which has a Universal Service Fund “few cents” tacked on every bill) so I will spin it anyway I want. (Note: I am pleased that folks who really go off grid, such as the Amish, aren’t paying it though taxes. That’s cool.)