Friday, March 4, 2011

Free Cell Phone, The Obama Phone, Are Taxpayers Being Ripped?

HELENA-WEST HELENA, AR. Reading a recent article was disturbing. The article said:
Whether we like it or not the government provides free cell phones for people that cannot afford one. Along with free housing, free welfare, free food, and free health care, we now have free cellular phones.

See HowTo Get a Free Cell Phone From the Government. Naturally, reading this article caused concern. This appears to be another waste of taxpayer dollars.

We delved further. We have found that the article cited above is misleading if not false altogether. See Safelink FactSheet. The free cell phone program was started by the Reagan Administration and was for landline phones. This program was started with bipartisan (Democrat/Republican) support. This program, while approved by the government, is not paid for by the taxpayers. This program is funded by the telecommunications companies which charge user fees to customers. 

There is also an email in circulation calling these phones "Obama Phones" and blaming the current president for basically giving away the farm. The email says this:
This program was started earlier this year. Enough is enough, the ship is sinking and it's sinking fast. The very foundations that this country was built on are being shaken. The age-old concepts of God, family, and hard work have flown out the window and are being replaced with "Hope and Change" and "Change we can believe in." You can click on the link below to read more about the "Obama phone"…just have a barf bag ready. had this to say about the matter.
The president has no direct impact on the program, and one could hardly call these devices "Obama Phones," as the e-mail author does. This specific program, SafeLink, started under President George Bush, with grants from an independent company created under President Bill Clinton, which was a legacy of an act passed under President Franklin Roosevelt, which was influenced by an agreement reached between telecommunications companies and the administration of President Woodrow Wilson.

This article is not intended to address whether there is abuse taking place in the program. We have, however, been able to at least debunk false email story which is being broadly circulated by too many people without reading accurate information. We found it interesting that the email listed one of the same links we have in this story however that link pointed the reader only to the program qualifications page and did not insist upon the reading gaining an accurate understanding of the program.

Besides, one must be 135% below the poverty line to qualify for one of these phones and you only receive about one hour's use per month. Surely, this is only a safety net.

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