They are the 4%: Obamaphone I

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.)
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About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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22 Responses to They are the 4%: Obamaphone I

  1. julie says:

    wow .. seriously … wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Woodman says:

    Hunh, poor people must have an awful lot of emergencies. The program was set up to allow poor people a method of contacting emergency services in case of a problem.

    250 minutes is a lot of 911 calls.

  3. Don says:

    You left out that alot of these poeple have more than one free phone because the gov never set any checks on who was getting them the orginal program was for land lines and I guess most people dont get two of those where I work in the free state free as in if you dont work you get free stuff I have heard more than one miscreant boast about have more than one phone some even on the local tv news wish i could find the link

  4. KA9VSZ says:

    A forrner coworker had three free phones and was getting assistance. While working. She failed to show for work 50% of the time in three months(I kept count). Just before leaving for greener pastures, she bought another big screen tv. Somebody tell me again why I am paying taxes…

  5. KA9VSZ says:

    Sigh. Former, not forrner. They look exactly the same pre-coffee without my glasses.

  6. Divad says:

    I too have the cheapest Tracfone available at the time (5 years ago). Turns out that Tracfone is doing pretty well off the gov’s phone program (3.8 million served), and the owner and his wife do pretty well for the Obama campaign.

    http://freebeacon.com/obamaphones-profiting-obamadonors/

  7. Suz says:

    Well, if you launch a 96% protest, at least you won’t have to shower and shave for a few days…

  8. Jess says:

    From what I’ve read, the biggest winner is some Mexican millionaire that makes money off the phones.

    My solution is to make HIM pay for the phones. It’s only fair. That, and send him the medical bills for his fellow citizens that abuse our medical system.

  9. Secesh says:

    The “few cents” they mention is $2.08 on my bill (Federal Universal Service Fund). That really pisses me off.

  10. Doctor Mingo says:

    So let’s assume that it is about $100 per phone. That’s $1,250,000,000. (1.25 Billion with a B).
    I may be under estimating that figure.

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  13. Funny that the commercials show a white, elderly couple getting one of these “free” phones. There should be a VERY strict set of criteria for getting and keeping them. I am so angered by the people that get away with using my money to get public assistance that I have voiced my opinion many times out loud. At the grocery store, I watched a young lady pay for groceries with her food stamps and then count out her cash to pay for the alcohol she was also buying. I looked her straight in the eye and said, “IF YOU HAVE MONEY TO BUY ALCOHOL, YOU HAVE MONEY TO BUY FOOD!!!” Her reply was, “I’s works!!!!” All I could think of ‘while I was laughing out loud, was, “Well, you surely don’t works on your English!”

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