For all the supporters of the Lifeline and Link-Up phone programs that help out the most needy among us by giving them a low-end cell phone and a modest amount of free minutes each month, there are those who bash the program as a scam. Today, at bat was a blogger at the New York Post.
Abby Schachter penned a post titled “Free cell phones are now a civil right.” Suffice it to say, she is none to happy about the free cell phones by the government program. She is particularly incensed that some are now calling a free cell phone a “civil right.”
But who ever said it’s a civil right? Unfortunately, it was Gary Carter, manager of national partnerships for Assurance Wireless, whom she quoted in her blog post:
“The program is about peace of mind,” Carter said. “It’s 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.”
What the …? Mr. Carter, please don’t say things like that. Here we are, supporting the Lifeline program and companies like Assurance that provide the phone service, and you make a public statement that not only are cell phones are a right, but “peace of mind” is as well? We don’t support that concept. There is no right to peace of mind. And while it may come as heresy to readers of this web site, we also don’t go so far as to say that it’s a civil right for every American to have a cell phone.
Such overreaching, outrageous statements as Mr. Carter’s are ammunition for those who are primed to attack the program. Far from being a civil right, it is simply a public assistance program designed to help those who find themselves in financial trouble. And that’s all it is.
The Lifeline phone service program, mandated by the FCC, provides a free cell phone and up to 250 free minutes for Americans who, in general, find themselves at or under 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or already participate in federal assistance programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, Section 8 housing, and other programs.