Are Free Cell phones for the poor a good idea?

Created by Businessminded_plus4 on Jan 7, 2010

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“You're gonna make it after all”

Since: May 09

Grand Rapids, MI

#1 Jan 7, 2010
I have to admit I am very torn on this issue. I have watched a family member try and 'get by' without a phone. You can't get a job, work temp, side jobs, etc. without a phone. But does that mean every person on welfare should qualify for a phone? My family isn't even ON welfare - should be - but she's not.

So far this is costing us 1 Billion dollars a year and rising so I'm curious what are people's thoughts. Interesting subject given how many feel 'healthcare' is so important. Well what if you're so poor you can't even make a PHONE CALL for a Dr appt or 9-11?????

http://video.foxnews.com/v/3962540/cia-spying...
Hurley

United States

#2 Jan 7, 2010
Businessminded_plus4 wrote:
I have to admit I am very torn on this issue. I have watched a family member try and 'get by' without a phone. You can't get a job, work temp, side jobs, etc. without a phone. But does that mean every person on welfare should qualify for a phone? My family isn't even ON welfare - should be - but she's not.
So far this is costing us 1 Billion dollars a year and rising so I'm curious what are people's thoughts. Interesting subject given how many feel 'healthcare' is so important. Well what if you're so poor you can't even make a PHONE CALL for a Dr appt or 9-11?????
http://video.foxnews.com/v/3962540/cia-spying...
Good Post! I have mixed feelings about this program too but apparently it has been around for quite some time...

"The federal "Lifeline" program was created during the Reagan Administration. Lifeline is a federal program created by the Reagan era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1984. The program was enhanced under Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was supported on a broadly bipartisan basis in Congress. The FCC’s Low Income Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income customers at just, reasonable, and affordable rates. Lifeline support reduces eligible low-income consumers' monthly charges for basic telephone service.
Thanks to SafeLink, Lifeline support is now available for wireless phones. Traditionally, the Lifeline program was only available as a discount on a consumer’s landline telephone bill. SafeLink Wireless was created by TracFone Wireless, Inc. when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved the company to offer Lifeline -- a public assistance program that ensures telephone service is available and affordable for low-income subscribers. SafeLink Wireless applies the Universal Service Fund subsidy to an allotment of free airtime minutes and TracFone provides the wireless handset at the company’s expense. Instead of receiving a subsidized monthly telephone bill for Lifeline service, SafeLink converts the total amount of discounted service into minutes each month for one year. The cell phone offers in-demand features: voicemail, text, three-way calling, call waiting, caller ID and access to 911.
SafeLink phones are not paid for by taxpayers or the federal government. TracFone Wireless pays for the phones and also the cost of promoting its SafeLink program to make sure that eligible consumers know about the program."
GR_Paul

West Bloomfield, MI

#3 Jan 7, 2010
#1 There is no such thing as a "free" phone. We will have to yet again pay for something that the poor really "needs".

#2 If any of these needy have cable or Internet at home, then they can go pound sand.

#3 If by phone they really mean cell phone, then they can go pound sand a 2nd time. You can go to any thrift store and find corded and cordless phones for 2 dollars or less. Buy one and get cheap land-line service.

If you are unemployed, then you wont need some cell phone because you wont be tramping around town anyway.

“Don't touch my junk man!”

Since: Nov 07

Middle of the Mitten, Michigan

#4 Jan 7, 2010
I feel a free land line would better suit these people. When it boils down to it you can get by with a land line, and the cost is nearly non-existent.

Why the need for a cell phone? It is not a necessity for life and in all honesty every time I see the commercial for free government cell phones I cringe.
Thewayiseeit

Manistee, MI

#5 Jan 7, 2010
If more than food and shelter is provided to the poor, it would seem to me that their motivation to better themselves is removed. Those making a low income, but not low enough to be called "poor" would also stop trying, again due to the removal of motivation.
Hurley

United States

#6 Jan 7, 2010
Ms Angie wrote:
I feel a free land line would better suit these people. When it boils down to it you can get by with a land line, and the cost is nearly non-existent.
Why the need for a cell phone? It is not a necessity for life and in all honesty every time I see the commercial for free government cell phones I cringe.
I tend to agree. AT&T offers home phone service for as little at $13.75 a month. That's pretty cheap even for someone living at 150% of the poverty level...

http://www.att.com/gen/general...
me rval

Grand Rapids, MI

#7 Jan 7, 2010
"land line," "land line," "land line"....I thought ONE of you would put some thought into this subject...What about those who don't have a stable home and stay from place to place?
SueT

Allegan, MI

#8 Jan 7, 2010
Businessminded_plus4 wrote:
I have to admit I am very torn on this issue. I have watched a family member try and 'get by' without a phone. You can't get a job, work temp, side jobs, etc. without a phone. But does that mean every person on welfare should qualify for a phone? My family isn't even ON welfare - should be - but she's not.
So far this is costing us 1 Billion dollars a year and rising so I'm curious what are people's thoughts. Interesting subject given how many feel 'healthcare' is so important. Well what if you're so poor you can't even make a PHONE CALL for a Dr appt or 9-11?????
http://video.foxnews.com/v/3962540/cia-spying...
You're right, this is a difficult issue to address. The one thing that comes to mind is, we start cleaning up the abundance of
the welfare fraud cases.
I am for those, that needs that assistance. If the fraud cases were taken from the books, we could certainly lower the cost to everyone.
Hurley

United States

#9 Jan 7, 2010
me rval wrote:
"land line," "land line," "land line"....I thought ONE of you would put some thought into this subject...What about those who don't have a stable home and stay from place to place?
You're right. I didn't think of that but the catcher is you have to have a permanent address to qualify for the phone...

I guess in thinking about it perhaps the think to do is just have some kind of co-payment involved. It's the same with medical insurance. It's been shown time and time again that even having a minimal co-pay,$5.00 -$10.00, dramatically reduces the number of Dr. Visits, so I think unless there is a lower threshold for qualifying the person receiving the phone should at last pay something.

Since: Jul 09

Holland, MI

#10 Jan 7, 2010
Hell no it's not a good idea! If the poor want a cell phone they should get a job! Tired of all these government handouts. Pretty soon there will be no disctinction between someone with a job paying his own way and some POS living off the system getting everything for free. Why don't we give the poor free cars while we are at it also. They probably could use a vaction too.

“Time for work”

Since: Sep 07

Location hidden

#11 Jan 7, 2010
Hurley wrote:
<quoted text>I tend to agree. AT&T offers home phone service for as little at $13.75 a month. That's pretty cheap even for someone living at 150% of the poverty level...
http://www.att.com/gen/general...
Good point Hurley, if you stop there. But by the time you add Federal Access Charges, 911 Emergency Billing at the city, county and state levels, Federal Universal Service fees, Sales/Usage Taxes for both Federal and State, and Fees to opt out of Long Distance Service the $13.75 looks strangely like $28.20.
The TracPhone or other similar prepaid cellular service would be considerably cheaper if used only for emergency, job search and continued job maintenance where a phone is necessary (like many temp jobs).
While I am not so certain any government entity should be supplying a phone for anybody as a welfare construct, I am certain that there are better and cheaper options than traditional landline service.
I would like to suggest to Businessminded that possibly she could find it in her charitable giving budget to subsidize a phone for her relative until such time the relative is gainfully employed again. At least that way there is no "overhead" to administer another government program.
me rval

Grand Rapids, MI

#12 Jan 7, 2010
Hurley wrote:
<quoted text>You're right. I didn't think of that but the catcher is you have to have a permanent address to qualify for the phone...
That isn't hard to do Hurley, the "permanent" address thing; You don't have to turn in any lease agreements or anything to get one of these phones, all that is checked is that you don't have a cell phone contract already and your income; Once you get the phone, minutes are deposited on it each month, I believe 120 minutes {?}...I also think that this is a "sales technique" because I'm betting you that alot of people deposit more minutes on the phone thru out the month, which they can do
Jodster

United States

#13 Jan 7, 2010
What ever happened to those donated cell phone's that were given out to the poor "just for emergencies?" They could ONLY call 911 if there was an emergency.

Since: Jun 07

Location hidden

#14 Jan 7, 2010
When will this all end?? We pay for clothes, food, shelter, medical care, now phones??

I am not trying to be cruel here, I am more than willing to make donations to organizations that aid with these items.. of my own free will and when I am able.. but if we continue down this road pretty soon we will all be poor..

“Don't touch my junk man!”

Since: Nov 07

Middle of the Mitten, Michigan

#15 Jan 7, 2010
akpilot wrote:
When will this all end?? We pay for clothes, food, shelter, medical care, now phones??
I am not trying to be cruel here, I am more than willing to make donations to organizations that aid with these items.. of my own free will and when I am able.. but if we continue down this road pretty soon we will all be poor..
You're right, if we do continue down this road we all will be poor. That's what social justice is, think about it. What's more likely to happen government intervention is suddenly going to make the poor rich. Or the rich are going to be sending so much money into the government we all become poorer?

There's no such thing as free.

Since: Jan 09

Hersey, Michigan

#16 Jan 7, 2010
Let's go back to the public telephone system. Strategically placed and accessed via a swipe card.

“You're gonna make it after all”

Since: May 09

Grand Rapids, MI

#17 Jan 7, 2010
Half Days wrote:
<quoted text>
.....
I would like to suggest to Businessminded that possibly she could find it in her charitable giving budget to subsidize a phone for her relative until such time the relative is gainfully employed again. At least that way there is no "overhead" to administer another government program.
I don't consider myself to be a 'sensitive' person but if I am reading you correctly you're being quite sarcastic to say the least. Let this be an example to those whom like to hold judgement and don't know jack sheeet about a situation. Just FYI - I am currently paying the majority of this relatives rent and utilities, occassional food and yes, I just bought her a cell phone so HOPEFULLY she can get a fricken Job. But you won't catch me holding my breath. There is way more here than you'll ever know but suffice it to say don't ever 'assume' and hold judgement on people on either side of 'poverty'. How much should any one family sacrifice for the self-fullfilling bad choices of one relative???????? I'm not sure my relative deserves 'free' but I know without a phone she's fairly dead in the water as far as a job is concerned. Ironically, she has refused to go on welfare so I guess I have to simply stop 'helping', watch her lose her heat, electric and housing one by one.

“You're gonna make it after all”

Since: May 09

Grand Rapids, MI

#18 Jan 7, 2010
abranger wrote:
Let's go back to the public telephone system. Strategically placed and accessed via a swipe card.
On the surface I like that idea. The swipe card eliminates the problem of machines being broken into. Could be a WINNING entrepreneurial idea!!!!!!!

“You're gonna make it after all”

Since: May 09

Grand Rapids, MI

#19 Jan 7, 2010
Hurley wrote:
<quoted text>You're right. I didn't think of that but the catcher is you have to have a permanent address to qualify for the phone...
I guess in thinking about it perhaps the think to do is just have some kind of co-payment involved. It's the same with medical insurance. It's been shown time and time again that even having a minimal co-pay,$5.00 -$10.00, dramatically reduces the number of Dr. Visits, so I think unless there is a lower threshold for qualifying the person receiving the phone should at last pay something.
THAT is a perfect idea. I totally agree NOBODY should get anything for 'free'- Some kind of copay is in my mind a perfect solution. I understand the landline agrument but I agree that once you add the taxes & fees that 'basic' cost is MUCH higher. Perhaps starting with waving those 'fees' for some. The cell phone I just did is running around $10/month -actually a little less. We did the Trek phone and they offered 'double minutes' so she got 120 minutes for 2 months for $20. I'm 'assuming' that these 'free phones' are limited minutes and that means they'd have to buy additional beyond the basic and thus it could be a co-pay situation. But if somebody is spending $20/month or more I think the cell becomes a waste and they should have a landline. Maybe something like a higher co-pay for a pay phone vs. a landline. I don't know the answer....I just know I'm totally frustrated watching this as a taxpayer and living this from my own perspective and so little being discussed as to more viable options....
Hurley

United States

#20 Jan 7, 2010
Businessminded_plus4 wrote:
<quoted text>
THAT is a perfect idea. I totally agree NOBODY should get anything for 'free'- Some kind of copay is in my mind a perfect solution. I understand the landline agrument but I agree that once you add the taxes & fees that 'basic' cost is MUCH higher. Perhaps starting with waving those 'fees' for some. The cell phone I just did is running around $10/month -actually a little less. We did the Trek phone and they offered 'double minutes' so she got 120 minutes for 2 months for $20. I'm 'assuming' that these 'free phones' are limited minutes and that means they'd have to buy additional beyond the basic and thus it could be a co-pay situation. But if somebody is spending $20/month or more I think the cell becomes a waste and they should have a landline. Maybe something like a higher co-pay for a pay phone vs. a landline. I don't know the answer....I just know I'm totally frustrated watching this as a taxpayer and living this from my own perspective and so little being discussed as to more viable options....
So why can't our politicians find solutions like that?

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