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Old 10-29-2009, 08:31 PM   #21
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This safelinkwireless program is kept very quiet. I have never heard of it, and I work in government in PA. I entered my zip code, and it is definitely a viable program here. I have read that cellphones can be donated to county aging offices mandated by the lottery to administer services to people 60+, but these phones are reprogrammed to dial 911 only. Why not just provide medically vulnerable individuals with a first responder system for free instead?
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Old 10-30-2009, 01:54 PM   #22
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That is great. I'm a bit happier when people stop sticking their hands in my pockets for something that they didn't work for.
Turns out no ones hand is in anyone's pocket.

The Obama Phone? | FactCheck.org
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:05 PM   #23
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Turns out no ones hand is in anyone's pocket.

The Obama Phone? | FactCheck.org
It turn out the government's hand IS in our pockets. Where does the money for this "free" phone come from? Here's what the USAC website says:

Quote:
In the past, only long distance companies made contributions to support the federal Universal Service Fund. In 1996, Congress passed a law that expanded the types of companies contributing to the Universal Service Fund.
Currently, all telecommunications companies that provide service between states, including long distance companies, local telephone companies, wireless telephone companies, paging companies, and payphone providers, are required to contribute to the federal Universal Service Fund. Carriers providing international services also must contribute to the Universal Service Fund.
Telecommunications companies pay contributions into one central fund. USAC makes payments from this central fund to support the four Universal Service Fund programs.
So, if you have any type of telephone you pay a mandatory tax (required by the government). It is on your phone bill. I suppose we could say that "we" aren't being taxed, it is the phone companies, but that's as dumb and transparently incorrect as saying that individuals only pay less than 8% SS tax, because "the employer pays the other half." The employee pays both halves.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:31 PM   #24
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Not so fast.
From Factcheck:
"SafeLink is run by a subsidiary of América Móvil, the world’s fourth largest wireless company in terms of subscribers, but it is not paid for directly by the company. Nor is it paid for with "tax payer money," as the e-mail claims. Rather, it is funded through the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company, an independent, not-for-profit corporation set up by the Federal Communications Commission. The USF is sustained by contributions from telecommunications companies such as "long distance companies, local telephone companies, wireless telephone companies, paging companies, and payphone providers." The companies often charge customers to fund their contributions in the form of a universal service fee you might see on your monthly phone bill."

The Feds did not tell the phone company to put the bite on their customers to fund their contributions to this fund. That was a business decision, but then where else would the companies get the money.

We could go back and forth on this but that risks getting all "Soapboxie" and I am not going there so this is all I will post on this subject.
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Old 10-30-2009, 05:02 PM   #25
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So, imagine that I prefer not to contribute to this cellphone give-away. If I stop paying the Universal Service Fee on my phone bill, will the company stop billing me. No. So this is a tax that I must pay.

Or are you claiming that I am voluntarily paying for this because I choose to have a phone, and can stop contributing by making the alternative choice and not having a phone. This is not very practical for me. It's still a tax.
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Old 10-30-2009, 05:09 PM   #26
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Wow...... that whole string of participants is sinister! Sure, it's not a tax. It's funds collected by telco's for a non-profit set up by a branch of the Fed Govt (the FCC) which we hapless citizens pay through a mandatory universal service fee. Hmmmmmm.......
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Old 10-30-2009, 06:13 PM   #27
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Let's go beat the **** out of those old and poor people, and get our money back.
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Old 10-30-2009, 06:39 PM   #28
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Let's go beat the **** out of those old and poor people, and get our money back.
Man you seem like the happy go lucky burn one type. Didn't think you would advocate violence on the poor and old.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:00 PM   #29
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I'm not objecting to the program - I really don't know enough about it. Maybe they all really really need the cellphones and it's a good idea to provide them. I don't know and that's not what I'm objecting to.

What made me (foolishly) weigh in on this discussion was the assertion that it is not a tax, because it is a fee that is required by law. That's a terrible kind of wordsmithing that distorts what is really happening. The government requires the telco to pay a fee. The telco specifically identifies this fee and passes it on to me. I am required to pay it if I want phone service. Yes, it passed through a middleman (the telco) but it was in fact a government requirement that I pay this. Calling it a fee instead of a tax makes no difference in terms of requiring me to pay the money, nor does it make any difference in how much say I get in what is done with my money after it is no longer mine. It's a government mandate whether you call it a tax or not.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:17 PM   #30
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Did anyone notice my mention of the "McMansion in the wilderness"... or does this not qualify as "those deadbeats"?
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:39 PM   #31
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Or are you claiming that I am voluntarily paying for this because I choose to have a phone, and can stop contributing by making the alternative choice and not having a phone. This is not very practical for me. It's still a tax.
Yes, of course it is a tax. It's worse than direct tax from DC, because the phone companies have to pay the admin costs of collecting it (for which we are also billed). I guess some folks wouldn't consider it a tax if it didn't show up as a specific line item on your bill? I'm glad they put it right there. I wish more companies would explicitly charge customers the (honest) compliance costs they incur for taxes and regs.

And, yes, this fee pays not only for free cell phones for the poor, but to run phone lines out to rural McMansions and for several other purposes.
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Old 10-30-2009, 08:07 PM   #32
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Did anyone notice my mention of the "McMansion in the wilderness"... or does this not qualify as "those deadbeats"?
Not sure what you meant by that Ron. I worked for a Baby Bell and saw "Special Construction Quotes" on a few real mansions on the hills of Phoenix. Some of them got real testy about paying 15K+ to have land line installation for their mountainside compound. Not sure what was done in the rest of the country but in 14 Western States the folks wanting off the grid remote locations had to pay. The Central Office upgrades were a different story entirely.
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Old 10-30-2009, 08:44 PM   #33
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the assertion that it is not a tax, because it is a fee that is required by law. That's a terrible kind of wordsmithing that distorts what is really happening. .
That's my position too. Paying taxes is paying taxes and it's what many of us do with a third (or so) of our money. But it sure seems dishonest for wordsmithing like this to be part of the scheme.

As far as the program...... Hey, this world is what it is and you have to take advantage of whatever you can. It appears my MIL will qualify due to income (less than 135% of poverty level) and we're applying for her on that basis. If it works out, I can stop providing her with a pre-paid phone and use that money to buy myself a couple of six-packs every month.
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Old 10-30-2009, 08:54 PM   #34
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Let's go beat the **** out of those old and poor people, and get our money back.
Don't see a mob forming behind ya there......... You might be marching down that path alone!
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Old 10-30-2009, 09:06 PM   #35
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If it helps poor and/or homeless people land a job (by having a phone to search for openings and a call-back number to set up interviews, etc.), so that they can become productive, tax paying citizens, I would consider it a good use of my tax money.
And that could be a good use for the program, and I wouldn't have any problem with my tax dollars going for that. But...

I don't see any requirement that you use the phone to find a job, the only requirement I saw was low income. Then make calls for any purpose you want, whether it helps you to get a job or not - right? I dunno, seems like this could be handled another way. At least some requirement that you are actively looking for a job, maybe some screening service to allow calls only to-from numbers from employers that have signed up with the service? That would really help connect employers looking for entry-level people with entry-level people. How does a homeless person make those contacts without help? How do they avoid getting ripped off by unscrupulous employers (which the service could screen)?

Now, before one can say it is "a good use of my tax money", we would need some documentation that shows that this money actually has a positive return. That in spite of some people using to find out where/when to meet at the bar, that enough people used it to get jobs to pay enough taxes to offset the costs. But I haven't seen too many govt programs set up to actually determine if they are cost effective or not. Good intentions are nice, but we ought to have some understanding on effectiveness before we throw money at a problem.

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Old 10-30-2009, 09:20 PM   #36
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That's my position too. Paying taxes is paying taxes and it's what many of us do with half (or so) of our money. But it sure seems dishonest for wordsmithing like this to be part of the scheme.
Yep, and this is why I have a problem with people quoting marginal tax rates as if they have any meaning. In essence, the amount I pay for my pre-paid phone is a 100% tax for me, since I have to pay for it and others don't. And I only get ~ 30 minutes per month for that, not the 60 minutes that these people get.

There are so many hidden taxes like this.

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Old 10-30-2009, 09:34 PM   #37
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Isn't it the telco's that are making out with this deal? The only incremental cost they incur is for the subscriber handset. Almost all telco's have excess capacity on the infrastructure side so no cost there for a bunch geezers making a few minutes of calls per month. But they get to bill the plan for the handset + the service. Sweet.

Reminds me of the local gas co. which askes for contributions to pay for gas/heat for folks who can't afford their winter heating bills. Since, by law, they can't turn those folks off anyway, collecting those contributions simply funnels money to them for service they'd have to provide anyway.

Generally, I think utilities are doing OK and exist as an interesting collusion between business and the govt.
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Old 10-30-2009, 10:02 PM   #38
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Im all for this! So exactly where do you draw the line for giving people things they have not earned at the expense of others hard work
I like your statment and 100& agree with you. ot
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:04 AM   #39
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Man you seem like the happy go lucky burn one type. Didn't think you would advocate violence on the poor and old.
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Don't see a mob forming behind ya there......... You might be marching down that path alone!
This was sarcasm...
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Old 10-31-2009, 06:59 AM   #40
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Let's go beat the **** out of those old and poor people, and get our money back.
Yea, and the phones, too!
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