Pennsylvanians on public assistance now have a new 'civil right' -- free cell phones. Meanwhile, the rest of us get to pay higher cell bills as a result.
Recently, a federal government program called the Universal Service Fund came to the Keystone State and some residents are thrilled because it means they can enjoy 250 minutes a month and a handset for free, just because they don't have the money to pay for it. Through Assurance Wireless and SafeLink from Tracfone Wireless these folks get to reach out and touch someone while the cost of their service is paid for by everyone else. You see, the telecommunications companies are funding the Universal Service Fund to the tune of $4 billion a year because the feds said they have to and in order to recoup their money, the companies turn around and hike their fees to paying customers. But those of use paying for the free service for the poor, should be happy about this infuriating situation, says Gary Carter, manager of national partnerships for Assurance, because "the program is about peace of mind." Free cell service means "one less bill that someone has to pay, so they can pay their rent or for day care...it is a right to have peace of mind," Cater explained.
Well, the telecommunications companies don't seem to love providing this 'right' to poor folks because they are trying to renegotiate the deal with the FCC. The telecommunications companies like Verizon and AT&T want more paying customers, but their desire to reform their deal with the feds dovetails nicely with the political ideology of the current FCC chairman Julian Genachowski, who like all Obama administration flunkies sees 'rights' where others see 'priviledges'. Just listen to how the agency put the question of providing broadband and cell service to those in rural and poor communities. "The goal of reform is to provide eve