Georgia Is at the Center of the Lifeline Phone Debate

December 28, 2013 8:40 am

by Jon Richards · 62 comments

This morning’s New York Times includes a story about the efforts of the Georgia Public Service Commission to impose a $5 per month fee on lifeline phone service–AKA Obamaphones–used by some 721,000 people in the Peach State. The article focuses on how the poor will be impacted by the surcharge.

From her trailer with a rusting roof on Lot 54, Donna James uses the free Samsung cellphone provided by a federal program to speak with friends who give her rides, clerks at medical offices, a caseworker, emergency dispatchers and, of course, bill collectors.

“If it weren’t for my free phone, there were a few times I wouldn’t have made it to the hospital,” said Ms. James, who is unemployed because of chronic health problems and has no other telephone or Internet connection in her home.

The fee, which was supposed to take effect on January 31st, is temporarily on hold, pending a decision on its legality by a federal court. If the injunction is lifted, other states might start imposing a fee as well.

Is the fee for lifeline telephones a matter of requiring some personal responsibility from its beneficiaries, a way to prevent massive fraud in the lifeline program, or a cynical effort to make the neediest decide between their prescription drugs or having a way to get emergency help if needed? Tell us in the comments.

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

peachpundit (@peachpundit) December 28, 2013 at 8:40 am

New post: Georgia Is at the Center of the Lifeline Phone Debate http://t.co/8QrFOfBE3s #gapol

Dave Bearse December 28, 2013 at 9:02 am

Ah, yes, the Reagan-Obamaphone program.

I’m fine with a $5 charge dependent on what the revenue is used for. The program was initiated to insure local phone service would be affordable, not free, for low income people when the AT&T breakup ended long distance subsidation of local phone service.

2g Strategies (@2gstrategies) December 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

From @peachpundit Georgia Is at the Center of the Lifeline Phone Debate http://t.co/KqQ18Gri5u

Noway December 28, 2013 at 10:33 am

If we’re actually having a serious discussion as to whether a $5.00 payment from an Obamaphone user is too much to ask, then we’ll never cut anything substantial from the bloated entitlement budget – ever.

Rick Day December 28, 2013 at 11:20 am

Is the fee for lifeline telephones a matter of requiring some personal responsibility from its beneficiaries, a way to prevent massive fraud in the lifeline program, or a cynical effort to make the neediest decide between their prescription drugs or having a way to get emergency help if needed?

I’ll take “Greed by the phone company” for $100, Alex.

OTOH: $60 a year? For a phone? Pft… maybe we should start a ‘adopt a poor citizen’ program.

Noway December 28, 2013 at 11:49 am

Are you saying that Obamaphone users should pay nothing for their “free” phones, Rick?

John Konop December 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I agree with you…..also, if people pay nothing they have no respect for it……

Rick Day December 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm

No, I said “on the other hand, pft $60 for use of a phone for a year? They should be able to afford it [that was implied]. If not, perhaps some not so poor could participate in a program that *gasp* helps the poorest of the poor.

BRB going to go smoke some ObamaLights, eat an ObamaDoughnut and drink some Obama-bama-coffee

whatever…that is…

Obamaphone….smh…sometimes don’t you just MISS Monica and Bill?

Dave Bearse December 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Actually the phone companies are opposed because they won’t be receiving the fee.

Rick Day December 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm

glad we agree.

analogkid December 29, 2013 at 9:34 am

Who is receiving the “fee” if not the phone companies? The PSC’s rule calls it a “minimum rate,” which would indicate to me that the $5 and the $9.25 subsidy would both go to the company. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Dave Bearse December 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I may be wrong on who’s receiving the fee. Phone companies being opposed means there’s less profit.

analogkid December 30, 2013 at 10:19 pm

I agree that the phone companies oppose the rule because it would negatively impact profit. However, it is interesting given that it would actually increase the revenue per line ($5 + $9.25 = $14.25 vs. $9.25).

They must have done a cost/benefit analysis and determined that the fraudulent lines were worth more than the increased revenue on a reduced number of legitimate lines.

Jon Richards December 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Based on an Internet search, it looks like the $5 will go to the phone service providers.

Noway December 28, 2013 at 11:44 am

We already have an adopt a poor citizen plan, Rick, it’s called well over a trillion dollars in welfare/entitlement payments seized from workers every year.

Rick Day December 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm

What happens when, not due to any fault of their own, those workers lose their jobs, can’t find another and become *omg!* poor? It is a safety net for all, Noway. Not all of us get in deadly auto accidents. But arguing you have never had an accident is no reason to forgo seat belts and insurance. I mean after all, you never have to use those because you just know will never ever have an auto accident. Why should you have to pay for others misfortunes?

See how that works?

Sometimes, a hard worker will regress; either back into disability or unemployment. All they have to do is not pay for social systems because it is…unfair?

Wondering if you count the” entitlements” for disabled citizens who qualify under ADA? Shall you be the first to wheel their chairs out the door and into the street, Noway? Trip a blind person because it sucks to be them and its their fault they are sightless?

If you want to talk trillions in entitlements, lets talk about the bloated military and the plum Congressional programs like the JTF and Bradley systems. Then you have something discuss.
Wait. That leads to unemployment! Cutting the military budgets will create more poor people!

Best to just pick on the CURRENT poor, I guess. Carry on.

seenbetrdayz December 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm

The difference between a safety net and a hammock is how long you stay in it after you land. We’ve got tons of programs that are not exactly designed to lift people out of poverty, but rather to make people comfortable in their poverty. (there’s a quote attributable to Ben Franklin in there somewhere).

Stefan December 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I am relieved to know that you aren’t in charge of risk management for the circus.

gcp December 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm

The “safety net” fell years ago because of too much weight.

Noway December 28, 2013 at 11:52 am

“The article focuses on how the poor will be impacted by the surcharge.”
I’m actually more interested in how those taxpayers who give them the free phones will be “impacted” by having more money taken from their pockets.

Dave Bearse December 29, 2013 at 1:06 pm

What more money is being taken from pockets?

Stefan December 30, 2013 at 10:36 pm

huh? this totally misconstrues both the current and proposed situation. 1) “taxpayers” implies that a tax is paying for this program, that’s not entirely accurate. this is paid by the USF, I believe. 2) even if tax money was being paid, it would likely be less than before, not more. In fact, that’s the entire point of the program. The idea is that there is no cost to the phone recipient, and the phone company gets paid per line by the USF, so the current program incentivizes the companies to attempt to oversubscribe the program.

DavidTC December 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Those things are only ‘AKA Obamaphones’ in the imagination of delusional idiots. In everyone else’s universe, it’s a Reaganphone. Or possible a Bushphone if it’s the abuse you’re worried about, because most of that started when G. W. Bush changed the program to cell phones.

Not that changing it to cell phones was a bad idea, they are cheaper _and_ easier to distribute, and you can actually let homeless people have them. The problem was that there _used to_ be almost no checks on the system, so that people could get multiple phones, and even manage to resell them and whatnot. (The system was fairly well reformed at the start of 2012, but somehow everyone has ignored that.)

Incidentally, those phones cost $9.25 a month, or, rather, are subsidies at that cost by the government. So, yes, a $5 tax to get a $9.25 subsidy is pretty idiotic.

Noway December 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Vote buying by either Dem or Repub politicians is obscene, David. So go ahead and let the takers continue to pay nothing, even a nominal fee, for the phone?

DavidTC December 28, 2013 at 3:42 pm

By ‘nominal fee’, you mean ‘more than half of the entire subsidy’, right?

You realize it’s a _prepaid cell phone_, right? You realize that $5 a month can _get you a real, off-the-shelf prepaid cell phone_, right? So if they had $5 to spare, they’d just do that.

Saying ‘We should charge poor people $5 a month to get a $9.25 subsidy’ is so completely stupid it’s nearly unimaginable. In fact, that would make the _only_ users of this thing people who _could afford a phone anyway_, and are willing to jump through hoops to get plan that’s $4.25 ‘better’ for free. (Although it’s not actually going to be any better.)

(And now I psychically predict you’re about to argue that the subsidy should be _reduced_ now that cell phones have become even cheaper. No, you’re not allowed to ‘defend’ this nonsense tax by arguing that we should do something entirely different.)

mpierce December 28, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Where can I get a phone with 250 prepaid minutes for $5? And if I can, why are we paying $9.25 for it?

DavidTC December 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Where can I get a phone with 250 prepaid minutes for $5?

As I didn’t say anything of the sort, I have no idea why you’d expect me to answer that question. I said you can get _a_ cell phone for that much, not that it would have as many minutes as the Lifeline plan.

Although, as I pointed out, even with less minutes, spending $5 a month in a store to get less minutes is better than signing up for Lifeline. With a phone bought with a Lifeline subsidy, they now have to stand in line or mail in money (And let’s recall how many of them are unbanked, so mailing a $5 check is a good deal more complicated than it sounds.) each month to make their phone work, instead of just buying a new prepaid card at Walmart each month, which will just work. And if they can’t pay for the Walmart phone, they just go without a week or two, instead of having to re-signup for Lifeline or having the government try to bill them money they don’t have, or whatever.

Considering it will probably cost poor people at least $4.25 just to _deal_ with paying the government each month, (Missed wages, gas money, buying money orders, etc), it makes no sense at all for them to sign up for a system to have $4.25 of their phone subsided.

Which is, of course, the entire point of the tax…to try to stop poor people from using it.

And if I can, why are we paying $9.25 for it?

As I rather explicitly pointed out, the argument that we should reduce the lifeline subsidy is a _completely_ different argument than the idea we should start charging people for signing up. I have no problem with reducing the subsidy, or even letting companies bid on it.

Of course, that would have to be the _Federal_ government doing that, not the state idiotically showing up and trying to tax a _Federal_ program.

Dave Bearse December 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm

The payment aspect is a good argument opposing the $5 charge.

DavidTC December 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I actually wrote this in my post, but deleted it:

A lot of the problem that people seem to misunderstand about the poor is thinking they just don’t have money.

They _don’t_ have money, of course, but what they also don’t have is _time_. It’s why they eat crappy fast food, it’s why they don’t take free classes, it’s why any sort of complicated system that will result in them getting $4.25 is _obviously_ doomed to fail.

Why do the poor not have time? Well, they have buses to catch, and multiple jobs to be at, and babysitters they can’t afford, and all sorts of things. There is no possibly way that the poor, or _anyone_ for that matter, would be willing to spend that time and money to pay $5 to get a coupon for $9.25 worth of services. (Hell, when was the last time anyone filled out a $4.25 rebate? And that is presumably easier than having to _sign up_ for a program.)

And at this point, I have stopped attributing Republican ‘harm the poor’ policies to stupidity. It’s malice, people. At least this law is…I’m sure a lot of people pushing them are stupid and don’t understand just how insane it would be to make poor people stand in line for a grand total of $4.25 a month, but deliberately setting up a system to make poor people do that is just blatant _mockery_ of the poor. It’s playing keep-away with a gift, except in this case it isn’t even _our_ gift…it’s the state grabbing the Federal government’s gift and playing keep-away.

‘Dance, poor! Dance for the ability to call a doctor! Dance for the ability to have potential employers call you! DANCE I SAY! Okay, that’s enough dancing, here’s _almost half_ the money that the Federal government tried to give you, I shall keep the rest.’

Medic8310 December 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

DTC

You are delusional if you believe that a majority of the poor people we are discussing here have fallen on hard times due to unforeseen accidents, unemployment, etc. The ones we are discussing don’t have time because they are sitting on their butts, not hitting a lick at anything except maybe procreating. Most probably quit school because they had better things to do or because they have learned, through generations of government dependence, that the government will take care of you if you decide not to. Just continue having kids and we (the government) will reward you with more assistance. I promise you they are not juggling multiple jobs and trying to find babysitters. They will get off their butt and march to the welfare office though, if “their” money isn’t on their EBT card because then their 5 children won’t have anything to eat.

Yeah, $5 isn’t a bad idea…..I don’t care who it goes to.

Some of us are fed up because we work all the time supporting those who are bred to live off of our hard-earned tax dollars.

DavidTC December 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm

You Republicans keep telling the poor people that.

I’m sure they’ll be glad you took the phones away from the poor people working 14 hours a day and don’t have time to pay, so that only the poor lazy people with large amounts of free time can get them.

Wait, what?

atlanta unfiltered December 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Medic,
where did you obtain this firsthand knowledge of poor people? How do you know that they’re sitting on their butts and “probably” quit school?

Medic8310 December 29, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Look around you! Open your eyes!

People that I went to school with are some of these people. As I was graduating high school, going to tech school, and finishing my Bachelor’s degree (all while working a full time job and a part time job to make ends meet), they are sitting on their butts, having kids, becoming a hindrance to society! Yes, these are the ones that I grew up next to in the “projects,” that had the same opportunities that I had, yet they dropped out of school because they had better use of their time….doing nothing except living off of the government, breeding children that my tax money supports, and instilling in these children that the government will take care of them if they are just willing to be lazy also!! Every day I go to work, I see more of the same, an ugly cycle of “we are entitled to have the government take care of us because we are too DAMN sorry to be responsible and accountable!!!”

THAT’S where I obtain this firsthand knowledge!

atlanta unfiltered December 29, 2013 at 5:06 pm

So how many is that? One dozen? Two dozen? Every poor person you ever met (except yourself) is lazy and wants nothing more than food stamps and welfare payments?

John Konop December 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Medic, I have a friend of mine i grew up with who served our country as part of special forces. After his military service he had his own business, 3 kids…….a few weeks ago he contacted me through Facebook……I had not communicated with him for years….it turns out he has been fighting cancer for years….he now lives with a bag instead of a functioning bladder…..and can not hold a job via his health…..he is not even sure if he will live through the year…..he finally gets about 1,000 dollars a month to live on from the government…..between kids, health issues…..not much to live on…….I plan on flying back to see him……life can throw us all curve balls…….think about it….

Medic8310 December 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm

JK

I’m not talking about those who have fallen on hard times due to no fault of their own. In my first post I referenced “a majority of the poor people we are discussing here,” making reference to the ones I discussed afterward. Those who have chosen to be sorry, irresponsible, unaccountable, etc. I don’t mind helping those who need a safety net, it’s the ones in the hammock that I have problems with. They are the majority.

Respectfully

Rick Day December 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Scant 48 hours after Celebrating the Holy Night of the Messiah, and the GOP supporters are back kicking the very people the Messiah commanded them to minister to.

Memory as short as your…..um…your you know what smh

Some of us are fed up because we work all the time supporting those who are bred to live off of our hard-earned tax dollars. while some of us are disgusted with sidemouth race talk from the right wing. Man up, Medic, use the all-encompassing word you want to use not the ‘code words’.

You know how to spell it….come on… they teach it in the military.
Nnnn…Iiii…….

(in b4 BUT I’M NOT RACIST wank)

Medic8310 December 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I know how to spell N***er, I’m educated and I’ve been called it before myself. I’m not just talking about black people (as most Democrats would have people believe once a discussion incites over welfare and laziness) but white people as well. Y’all like to bring race into discussions and try to paint people as racist to shut them up:

If you’re against welfare and sorry people getting free money while you work = You’re a Racist

If you don’t agree with the President or his policies or lies= You’re a Racist

If you’re a conservative or align yourself more closely with the Republican party than the Democrats = You’re a Racist

Get over it guys, not everyone is gonna back down when you call them a racist. It works in the media, but not in real life.

Move forward, this isn’t the 1950′s.

Noway December 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Rick, you’re a race baiting prick. How do you get that he’s talking about minorities? There a millions more whites on the dole than all other minorities combined! What an ass!

Noway December 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

+ 1000 to Medic’s post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Noway December 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm

How about advocating some sort of personal responsibility about the behavior and choices the poor have made that has resulted in their being a societal drain, David? I mean, please!
If you think they have all, or even most of them, have been taken advantage of and been beaten down unfairly by others, you’re incorrect.
You get more of the behavior you subsidize, that is economic fact. And anyone who advocates any semblance of a tough love position is villified and called racist or heartless by the left.
Phil Gramm advocated that those “in the wagon”" get out and help pull”, back in late 95 and by early 96, he was done. He was a smart guy by all accounts, but step up and say the poor need to contribute and you are sliced and diced. Tell me that 40 million folks need to be on food stamps, people! Are you kidding?
The poor have no right to any more than they currently are getting. And they have no claim on that, really. How much, percentage-wise, is enough for any one taxpayer to realistically be asked to “invest?’ Give me a number.

neppie December 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm

For anyone legitimately in a position to receive a lifeline phone, paying is an obstacle. For those determined to defraud the system, the fee won’t be a deterrent. I suspect those in favor of the charge enjoy the dangling carrot aspect.

DavidTC December 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

For those determined to defraud the system, the fee won’t be a deterrent

A lot of people seem to ignore the fact the fraud really was on the part of the _phone companies_, which encouraged a system where they distributed many, many unneeded phones, secure in the fact the government would be paying them $9.25 for each one. That was where the ‘if you run out of minutes, come in for another free phone’ was coming from…not greedy poor people, but greedy phone companies, that would keep both phones active.

As the article points out, there are a hell of a lot of ‘active phones’ out there that the government could not confirm even _worked_…and they probably didn’t, but the phone companies were still getting $9.25 a month for each of them.

But, anyway, what was a deterrent was all the changes to the program back at the start of 2012, where the system became a good deal less stupid and ad-hoc. Now there are much better records being kept, and companies aren’t allowed to get government subsidies multiple times for the same person or even the same household, which basically removes the fraud aspect.

If Republicans were actually interested in political victories instead of inventing nonsense to whine about, they could actually call that a victory. They found a government social program (Via some idiotic news coverage that tried to attribute the problems to Obama, when he had nothing to do with it. But still.) that was wasteful and people actually were, pointed out flaws in it, and the government (The FCC, in this case) said, ‘Hey, you know what? There actually _are_ a lot of problems there, let’s fix it.’

With a _sane_ Republican party, that would be considered a victory, and Republicans in Congress would be saying ‘We uncovered a wasteful government program beset with fraud, and fixed it!’. Even though it was actually the FCC…although if they’d been fast enough they could have passed laws instead of letting the FCC pass regulations. But they could at least take credit for pointing it out.

Sadly for the Republicans, there is _not_ any sort of sane Republican party. And thus they must continue to attribute the problems, and in fact the entire program to Obama, and they must completely ignore the fact that pretty much all the problems were fixed 11 months ago. Both of which are literally delusional beliefs.

saltycracker December 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Too many various free programs to administer. Can’t the cell phone just dial 911 and be put under Medicaid and free lunches under food stamps ? Or would that eliminate some political and bureaucratic empire ?

DavidTC December 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm

They, uh, actually did that. Back in January.

Actually, that is how the system worked to start with, basically you’re eligible if you’re receiving any of half a dozen government programs _or_ have an income under 135% of the poverty line. But back in January they implemented all sorts of reforms of the system to weed out duplicates.

Not that the Republicans seem aware of this at all.

Three Jack December 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm

If taxpayers are going to be forced to provide phones to these losers, then they should at least call a few of us everyday to express their appreciation for our forced generosity.

Better yet, end the program, make em get off their fat, lazy arses and get a job.

Harry December 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

If the Dems don’t use these free phone numbers to get out the vote on election day…then I’ll eat my baseball cap.

Rick Day December 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Select giving to Charity programs can yield dividends, Harry.

People will vote for you forever if:
a. You look like them and
b. You do things that might make their miserable life a smidgen better while running the hamster cages we are all forced to utilize to survive the modern world.

Poor people have congressional districts too. They are allowed representation. If their representative can get a chicken coop exemption for his/her district, or a variance in order to put a cell tower on property, or phones for essential uses, they will reelect him/her. Left or Right, it is the nature of the beast.

If you want to dilute the power of the poor in politics, outlaw gerrymandering, fold their vote into the general district population and instill strict term limits.

Problem solved; political power would be represented by the non-poor instead of the poor!

wait.

Scott65 December 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Go to church much? I’m guessing not (nor to any other religious institution) since it would be in direct conflict of the basic teachings of most major religions as follows (with biblical OT ref):

The Poor and Unfortunate
Not to afflict an orphan or a widow (Ex. 22:21) (CCN51).
Not to reap the entire field (Lev. 19:9; Lev. 23:22) (negative) (CCI6).
To leave the unreaped corner of the field or orchard for the poor (Lev. 19:9) (affirmative) (CCI1).
Not to gather gleanings (the ears that have fallen to the ground while reaping) (Lev. 19:9) (negative) (CCI7).
To leave the gleanings for the poor (Lev. 19:9) (affirmative) (CCI2).
Not to gather ol’loth (the imperfect clusters) of the vineyard (Lev. 19:10) (negative) (CCI8).
To leave ol’loth (the imperfect clusters) of the vineyard for the poor (Lev. 19:10; Deut. 24:21) (affirmative) (CCI3).
Not to gather the peret (grapes) that have fallen to the ground (Lev. 19:10) (negative) (CCI9).
To leave peret (the single grapes) of the vineyard for the poor (Lev. 19:10) (affirmative) (CCI4).
Not to return to take a forgotten sheaf (Deut. 24:19) This applies to all fruit trees (Deut. 24:20) (negative) (CC10).
To leave the forgotten sheaves for the poor (Deut. 24:19-20) (affirmative) (CCI5).
Not to refrain from maintaining a poor man and giving him what he needs (Deut. 15:7) (CCN62). See Tzedakah: Charity.
To give charity according to one’s means (Deut. 15:11) (CCA38). See Tzedakah: Charity.
…and if thats not enough

Love and Brotherhood

To love all human beings who are of the covenant (Lev. 19:18) (CCA60). See Love and Brotherhood.
Not to stand by idly when a human life is in danger (Lev. 19:16) (CCN82). See Love and Brotherhood.
Not to wrong any one in speech (Lev. 25:17) (CCN48). See Speech and Lashon Ha-Ra.
Not to carry tales (Lev. 19:16) (CCN77). See Speech and Lashon Ha-Ra.
Not to cherish hatred in one’s heart (Lev. 19:17) (CCN78). See Love and Brotherhood.
Not to take revenge (Lev. 19:18) (CCN80).
Not to bear a grudge (Lev. 19:18) (CCN81).
Not to curse any other Israelite (Lev. 19:14) (by implication: if you may not curse those who cannot hear, you certainly may not curse those who can) (CCN45).
Not to give occasion to the simple-minded to stumble on the road (Lev. 19:14) (this includes doing anything that will cause another to sin) (CCN76).
To rebuke the sinner (Lev. 19:17) (CCA72).

Of course being the Bible…some of the references are dated, but you can figure it out I hope

Jon Richards December 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm

There’s quite a difference between an individual or group, such as a church, providing charity and the government providing charity. As an individual, I can an do help out people I see in need. If my church (or other group) decides to use my donations to help out those in need, that’s fine, and if I don’t like the cause(s) they choose to help out, I can either stop giving to them or find another organization more in line with my beliefs. But the government takes my money for programs I may not support. I can’t stop paying the tax, and I can’t (easily) decide to switch governments.

I also think it gets back to accountability. The closer the donor is to the recipient, the less chance there is for fraud and abuse. Churches will demand some accountability from those they help. Less so when it’s the federal government.

Noway December 29, 2013 at 8:34 am

Nice cut and paste job, Scott. (eye roll…) How ’bout the saying “God helps those who help themselves”?

Scott65 December 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Ok, so if there is fraud…deal with the fraud. Why does everyone just jump on the “punish them all” band wagon. Why do all disdain for the less fortunate? You never know when you might become one of them. There is a 1% fraud rate in food stamps so instead of dealing with the that the answer is to cut everyones benefits because of “the fraud”. So because of fraud (not by the people who really need the phones rather the phone companies) we are going to punish everyone who is poor…thats a pretty stupid line of reasoning by some not so bright people, and sadly they use that same solution for all programs that help the poor. Now if they used the same reasoning for Wall Street…lets just say I’d LOVE to see the reaction you same people would have. Not to mention THAT kind of fraud hurts millions more people…but who cares…just lower their taxes…that fixes everything

Harry December 28, 2013 at 8:03 pm

You’re not taking the trouble to understand the argument. As Jon indicated, charity is not charity when forced by an autocratic government for purposes of political power. When you rob Peter to pay Paul it’s not charity. You may call it charity and try to tie it to Christian doctrine, but it’s not.

seenbetrdayz December 29, 2013 at 8:25 am

Is it somewhat ironic when someone on the left who regularly bashes the religious right for trying to use government to enforce the will of God immediately starts quoting scripture to guilt said target into um. . . using government to enforce the will of God?

Here I am trying to convince the Christian right that the way to fight abortion in this country is through faith-based organizations and adoption services, and not placing faith in gov’t to do the job, and yet apparently it’s okay to pass a law banning abortion. Or maybe it isn’t.

Noway December 29, 2013 at 8:36 am

And, Harry, you can always count on the support of Paul when seizing money from Peter!

Rick Day December 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Well here is the conundrum. I am Taxpayer Peter and I have no problem with Paul taking my money and doing The Lord’s Work™ with it. Specifically work that might uplift the very poor The Lord spoke plainly about, and make their lives a little more like their Brethren more lucky to be born into privilege. A Phone is not a luxury. That is 1990′s thinking.

So, let us step into your paradigm, with your thought process.

Conversely I am more pragmatic in what programs should be targeted. I yell when Paul takes my money and spreads it to corporate welfare like the military’s weapons program, pork like “bridges to nowhere”, mega corp food subsidies, and the War on Drugs.

The latter is a MAJOR cause of creating the system that actually perpetuates poverty and desperation. The poor are a symptom of a broken system, not an indication of a person’s character.

Of course, you could be just chunking rants at the left and have no clue (or desire) as to how to address these issues.

Harry December 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm

We can all see the results of rewarding bad behavior.

DavidTC December 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm

The fraud was pretty much dealt with 11 months ago, when the entire program was reformed.

And it’s worth pointing out that the fraud was basically due to the phone companies supply the phones. I.e., poor people were encouraged, via the people operating the program, if they ran out of minutes to ‘scam’ an extra month of minutes by getting another phone…which allowed the people running the program to now scam the Federal government out of _years_ of subsidies paying for both phones, one of which was now unused. Somehow, this is the poor person’s fault, not the presumably trustworthy people running the program who told them ‘Just get another phone’.

Anyway, a reasonable Republican party would have said ‘Hey, we pointed out government fraud in a social program, put pressure on the government, and got it fixed. And it saved us 200 million dollars! A complete victory! Help us do that with social program X also!’, all of which are mostly true statements. (They might want to leave out the part where the fraud was due to a G.W. Bush program, but whatever.)

Not this Republican party, however, which keeps wandering around talking about ‘Obamaphones’ and how Obama is buying votes (Despite, obviously, this having nothing to do with Obama at all.), and thus we need to tax poor people more than half of their entire phone subsidy.

PegM December 30, 2013 at 7:38 am

When I pay my phone bill every month, nearly 10% of it is in taxes and other add ons. So now I can look forward to more? I don’t begrudge phones for folks in need, but I resent no follow up, monitoring, and keeping these programs honest. Just about every government program is fraught with cheating.

saltycracker December 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm

By design – to quote a recent bureaucrat: if the government aggressively pursued fraud it might injure some innocent individual. Enforcement is very selective.
The PC answer will always be that the program is inadequately funded.

That is why we can list so many examples while the media generally focuses on the aggrieved and our legislators promise to work on it in committee to “fix” the laws.

seenbetrdayz December 31, 2013 at 4:08 am

Poor folks in Chicago rebel against Al Sharpton’s antics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jzo9lCBYzA4

Why would I post this here?:

The era of victim mentality is coming to a close. For decades, liberal democrats have milked the poverty issue for all it’s worth. You NEED government housing, you NEED a $5 phone, you NEED food stamps, you NEED free stuff. —Except all that comes at a cost. The cost is that you must NEVER become anything better than what you are, ‘lest you go from being ‘blessed’ with government assistance, to being among those who are forced to pay for it all.

Blacks in Chicago are waking up to the fact that all these programs allegedly intended to help the community, have in actually trapped them in a state of poverty. They have been robbed of their initiative, their self worth, and in essence, their future. Democrats are no longer going to be able to play the race card to a political advantage. They’re not going to be able to play the poverty card. They’re gonna have to do better than “hope and change” delivered by a pseudo-benevolent government, but rather they will need to realize it’s time to get out of the way, so that poor people can know what it is like to be free to earn something and be free to keep it.

I hope for the day when democrats realize that the war on poverty has been no more effective than the GOP’s (and now, democrat’s) war on drugs. Both have been useful in garnering votes, but that usefulness has run its course.

saltycracker December 31, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Yep but what concerns me is somehow the Republicans come up with a way to scare these folks into thinking they might be better off with the devil they know on the democrat plantation.