Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Knew Cell Phones Were a Necessity of Life...

After all, no one could live before cell phones were invented about 45,000 BC.  From the August 17, 2012 Dayton Daily News:
A program that provides subsidized phone service to low-income individuals has nearly doubled in size in Ohio in the past year — now covering more than a million people. At the same time, federal officials say they’re reining in waste, fraud and abuse in the program.
Hey, cell phones are a convenience, no question.  But necessity?
Growth in the program is fed by the 2008 decision to extend it to prepaid cellphone companies, which get up to $10 every month that someone is subscribed. The number of cellphone companies offering the service in Ohio grew from four in 2011 to nine currently, with seven more awaiting approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
Advocates for the poor say this growth is to be expected; eligibility is dependent on having a low income or being in a program such as food stamps or heating assistance, and that population is ballooning, they say.
“I am unable to have a cellphone and I need one for emergencies,” said Aliesa Azbill of Dayton, who is in a work training program at Community Action Partnership. She said the 250 free minutes she gets per month through SafeLink isn’t enough to use it for much more than emergencies.
Yes, I have 250 minutes of emergencies a month.  Don't you?


  1. Well I am an 80 year old curmudgeon who pays for his own cell phone and used only 400-500 minutes all last year.

    It disgusts me to see the entitlement attitude in America today but it is not going to change until the whole thing collapses in chaos. And it will!

  2. I use a TracFone myself and don't use even 30 minutes/month. Admittedly, I use it only when necessary, I don't jabber, it is seldom that a call exceeds 2 minutes in length.

    Costs me $100.00/year, plus a new $10.00 phone every few years.

  3. Well, if there is a fire, you can just run down to the fire department call-box on the corner.


    Well you can run down to the pay phone at the gas station.


    Well you can pound on your neighbors door at 3 am, surely they will come to the door and assist you with your emergency...

    I've no argument about the sense of entitlement illustrated here, but we should be aware that the program is nothing new. Region-by-region the people administering the "Universal Service Fee" program have begun to recognize that while a subsidy of $10/month for low-income people to have a landline is helpful, given the relative costs between landline and pre-pay phones, the same low-income people are better off if the subsidy goes directly to a prepay phone that fulfills all of the same functions as a landline.

    Another area where the Universal Service Fee provides a subsidy is rural telephone service. If the costs of providing telephone (and lately broadband internet) service to your rural home would exceed 125% of the state average, then it is quite likely that the phone company providing your landline is getting funds from the same USF.

  4. Another thing:
    In our last place of residence we had the misfortune of getting as our land-line number a phone number that was only a pair of transposed digits different from the phone number of another local resident.

    Unfortunate, because his elderly, blind, and occasionally confused mother also lived locally. She couldn't cope with learning "speed-dial", but could cope the majority of the time with dialing his full 7 digits.
    It was the rest of the time that she called us, at all hours of the day. We ended up figuring out the number for the son so that we could relay the emergency of the moment, at whatever hour of day or night.

    She was always extremely pleasant and apologetic, so in spite of the early-morning calls it wasn't worth changing our number and risking what other inconveniences we might get from changing our number.

    Anyway, I have involuntary knowledge of one individual who needs over 200 minutes per month of call time because of emergencies that might not require fire or police, but do require interaction with another person over the telephone.

  5. I'm in the same boat as Jim, except I'm still on my original 2006 phone.

    I'm actually using even less time now that I don't need it for work.

    I need to start watching the expiration date more closely.

  6. I guess my big problem is the notion that anyone has a right to phone service. What's the cost of lifeline land line service now?

  7. I think the real problem is the Government can't offer anything to people without calling it a "right". Even if it is need based, once the threshold is met, access to the product or service is a "right".
    This is the argument Leftists have used against charities providing the same service for less; they only serve the truly needy, and the charity is given as a, well, charity, not a right, which would cut out some with need. Can't let a need go unmet, you know.

  8. Clayton: CenturyLink says "basic phone" starts at $44.95 a month.

    Cellular service is cheaper than a land-line, comparing basic-to-basic.

    Plus admittedly it lets people get calls to "find work" while out, which is a big help.

  9. Verizon offers lifeline landline service within their wire-line service area for $19.95, after the subsidy. So the cost to the consumer is about $240/yr after installation.

  10. I can see the argument that those poor or displaced who live in shelters, cars, or temporary housing, could specially benefit by having a cell.

    This is especially true for the prospects of getting a job: no permanent home, no landline.

    Pay phones have nearly disappeared, and it is rare to be able to reach a prospective employer without waiting to be called back.

    My AT&T landline cost was over $52/month (though I was not on lifeline service), before I replaced it with my ISP's co-loc. ADSL2+ and baseband POTS bundle, with unlimited US long distance, for around $65 including taxes and govt. fees.

    My bottom-tier Verizon cell service (300 min./month regional plan, no text messaging) is around $38.

  11. Back in the day when no one had a phone (land line or cell phone) except a handful of early-adopting rich people, phones were obviously a luxury. If you wanted to communicate with someone, and you didn't have a phone, then you either wrote a letter or (if the person was located nearby) you just walked to his home or place of business and knocked on the door. Once everybody got phones, however, and made them the default method of communication, those who couldn't afford them were placed at a much greater disadvantage, from the standpoint of being able to communicate, than poor people (even considerably poorer people) were 125 years ago.

    It's much the same with automobiles. A hundred years ago, if you couldn't afford a car, you could probably walk to work, because no city was so big that you couldn't, if necessary, walk (or take a bus or a streetcar) from your home to your place of employment. Once most people got cars, however, most people preferred to use them to get to work, which meant that public transportation could no longer pay its own way and needed to be subsidized heavily, if it was to exist at all, and the ability to commute by automobile made it possible for the urban area to expand, making it much less likely that poor people could live within walking distance of their workplaces. (Once the urban area expanded, housing near the central business district would become too expensive for poor people. If, on the other hand, the employer wasn't located in the CBD (as was increasingly likely to be the case, given that customers could readily get to businesses in the suburbs by car), then it might be almost anywhere in the urban area. That could mean someplace that was inaccessible by public transportation, unless maybe by making several transfers between bus and/or subway lines, possibly with lengthy walks at either end of the commute to get to and from the transit stop. So, from the standpoint of getting to and from work, people who can't afford automobiles are a lot worse off than poor people (even much poorer people) were 125 years ago.

  12. There was a time when a phone booth was available every couple of blocks. Now they are obsolete and people do need to communicate in emergencies. In days gone by, you could make a call to potential employers to follow up. Now they want a number to get in touch with you and expect no calls because of the number of applicants. It is a sticky situation.

  13. I was once put on hold during an emergency call...