Opponents have long called it The Obamaphone – these were the conservatives that hated Obama, thus they did anything they could to coin phrases that make him look bad. With the Lifeline phone service for “the poor” which can include those who lost jobs like during the great recession of 2008 that lasted for years, the guarantee provided by government to cushion the fall of a hard economy with such a service is actually a VERY GOOD USE OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS.
In reading an article about the proposals to end the service one commenter named “daropi” on ArsTechnica stated this:
“Despite good intentions, there are serious problems with the current program. I mean, seriously, $1.3 billion dollars a year to serve 10 million people? Its not like the infrastructure hasn’t been built, its already there now. So what are they spending that much money on? “
This was obviously not a well thought out calculated response, as if we break this down it’s only about $11.00 per month. The cost savings is much more than it’s cost. Having a phone in this current world we live in is vital and saves hundreds and even thousands of dollars to an individual, AND TO GOVERNMENT.
Take for example if that person, because they had that Lifeline phone, was able to get that call immediately from a prospective employer, and because of that immediate response, got that job, where as it might have without such convenience taken 4 months longer. The tax base lost by government is in the hundreds, no thousands of dollars!
Or the friend that needs a babysitter right away, the person with Lifeline service gets the call, is doing nothing so they can go over there and watch the child, does it for free. Without the service there is no connection, stress develops, mistakes made, even a car accident could happen.
When opponents of such services use such blanket concepts of waste of taxpayer’s money, they are ignoring that IT IS THE MONEY OF THAT VERY TAXPAYER that is subsidizing the phone they use. Yes they also subsidize those who are perpetually in the poor zone, but the cost of NOT providing that phone to those who cannot afford one is tens to hundreds of times greater.
Thus it is more efficient in this society to provide the poor with free phones.
Another example of how it helps society can be as simple as someone who is not working could do a favor for a neighbor who is working by going over to feed their dog and cat when the person suddenly finds they can’t get back home due to a car breakdown. They call the “Obamaphone” Lifeline customer, the person goes feeds the animals, and turns on the house lights to make it look like someone is home and poof, life is better for everyone. Without the phone, the animals don’t get fed because they could not contact the neighbor (who does not have internet either) the lights are out, a robber sees that and later breaks in and steals the big screen TV and a laptop.
We all pay for subsidies and sometimes we use them sometimes not. For anyone to criticize this Lifeline program that has been a lifesaver (literally) since 1985 is not understanding the savings to all tax payers that it provides.