Today a stranger commented on one of my blog posts (amazing, no?) Because I am crazy, I spent almost an hour and a half composing a response. Deciding to not let that time go to waste (as though what had already been done could really be undone) I decided to tweak it into a new post.
I am unsure if this commenter even read my actual post because it was written in response to the very types of comment he/she made. I would summarize Concerned Citizen‘s comment this way:
“Based on what I learned from a friend; I believe the Assurance Wireless ‘free cell phone’ program is an appalling handout, because…”
- …it gives free iPhones and free minutes to lazy good-for-nothings who sit at home on their rear-end and let the government and generous (well-meaning but unenlightened) people take care of them.”
- …the government adds insult to injury (to taxpayers) by additionally paying cell phone program participants $1500 to appear in Assurance Wireless commercials.”
- …no one truly needs this service when they could just use the $10 landline program.”
- …a hand-up program would be so much better than this unnecessary and appalling hand-out.”
First, let me say I learned something today while researching my response. So, “thanks,” to my anonymous commenter. I like to learn and hope to never speak from ignorance.
Second, despite what I learned, it still has to be true that either their lame-o friend is lying to them or the commenter is lying to me. No Lifeline program gives folks free iPhones.
Assurance Wireless offers only the one (uber-basic) handset to program participants. However, being that Assurance is operated by Virgin Mobile there are some models of Virgin Mobile phones that are able to be used with the program. If a person already owns one of these phones, or is willing and able to purchase one elsewhere, they could use it with the service provided by Assurance. Note: Virgin Wireless service (in the U.S.) is not compatible with any device running on the Apple platform; this includes the iPhone.
Safelink Wireless is operated by TracFone and therefore it is conceivable that another TracFone may be able to be used with the program. However, I could not find a concrete answer on this. Again though; no iPhones are available or able to receive service through the program.
ReachOut Mobile currently offers the Lifeline/Link Up program only in select states. So select that I had actually never heard of them until today when I went to research my response. This company, like the others, will provide a basic free phone but, strangely, also provides (right on the program website) the opportunity to purchase other phones that are compatible with the free service. Now, I don’t find it too wild to imagine that a person (even in a very tight financial position) might eventually be able to come up with $15 or $20 to purchase themselves a nicer phone–maybe with birthday-money they get in a card from their grandmother. . . However. . . there’s no way they should be able to come up with a spare $449 for a Motorola Droid 2 or $499 for an iPhone 4. I’m sorry, but no truly impoverished person would even accept an offer from a friend to purchase one of these phones as an “upgrade” for them. They would instead take that money and use it to buy things such as:
(I know this because these are the very things our own impoverished selves often run out and buy as soon as we have enough money!)
Apparently this friend is a participant in ReachOut Mobile (not Assurance Wireless) and has somehow managed (outside of what is provided by the program itself) to lay his hands on an iPhone.
It may please other concerned readers to know that on Jan. 31, 2012 the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) adopted its Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking reforming and modernizing the federal Low Income program.
As far as their question,
“And the emergency use argument? What’s wrong with a land line phone that costs $10 a month?”
The LifeLine program does indeed offer you the choice of cellular or landline service; but the landline is not $10 a month. Through the program you receive a $10 credit on your landline service. In some states you can only receive this credit if you disable long-distance service on your phone.
Having a landline at home does not help me when my kids and I are lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood or stuck in a rural area with a dead-battery, flat tire, or other problem. Having a landline doesn’t enable my children’s school to reach me at work. Having a landline doesn’t enable clients (and potential clients) to reach me if I am away from home. Other than, perhaps, an elderly, retired person who basically stays at home; I don’t know who would opt for the more expensive and less helpful landline program.
The commenter would like to instead support a program that is a “hand-up not hand-out”. I will share that having the SafeLink Wireless cell phone and service helped me to develop, grow, and maintain a housecleaning service for over a year and a half (almost two years!) This would have been very difficult for me had I only a landline to use. My cleaning service never brought in enough income to lift our family of six above poverty level–but at least it was an honest job that was providing a useful service and buying us our laundry detergent. I feel the LifeLine cellular program did give me a wonderful hand-up! I am sure it is doing the same for others.