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Cell phone offered for no fare, is that fair?

READ MORE: Cell phone offered for no fare, is that fair?
A free cell phone, free minutes, and free voicemail… sound too good to be true? A government program is making it possible for those who qualify, but not everybody's happy about it. The program is called Safelink. It provides free cell phones and service to the elderly, homeless, and disabled. It is paid for by federal tax dollars. Dolores Brown saw a commercial for Safelink a couple weeks ago, and decided to check it out. "It's completely free, you know, and that's wonderful. I just can't imagine anyone doing anything like that for the elderly,” she said. Dolores is 70 years old. She's an actress and singer here in town, but can't get enough work to pay the bills. She relies on food stamps and government-assisted living, and now a free phone. Originally designed to provide free emergency-service to landline telephones, Safelink recently expanded to include cell service. A pre-paid company called Tracfone provides those eligible with 71 free roll-over minutes and the option to buy more. Now Dolores feels more comfortable leaving home. "When you're in the street and you have an emergency, everybody, everybody has a cell phone, and to have to borrow somebody's phone in the street is really embarrassing,” she said. Some, like Cindy Bodenheimer, don't mind her tax dollars paying into the cell phone program. "I work with elderly people and there are a lot of elderly people that live by themselves, anytime we can keep somebody from going to the hospital, and maybe a problem being addressed at home, I think is a good idea. And the same thing for homeless people, if they had somebody they could call that might could give them some immediate assistance, it might save everybody in the long run." Others are not pleased. "It stinks. We're working for them to get a freebie, even if it's for 911 purposes it's still, you know, get a job, that's all there is to it,” said Joe Marx. Social workers and those who work with the homeless say the program provides the means to get that much-needed job. Dolores says she understands people's concerns, but is glad Safelink is there to help her. "I'm sorry for the people who do have to pay, because we're living in a bad time, economy-wise, but by the same token, it's still wonderful that there are people out there willing to help the elderly, who cannot afford it." According to Nielsen research, 90 percent of Americans have at least one cell phone. About 32 million people don't have cell service. Cell phone companies like Tracfone hope when the economy turns around, subsidized customers that no longer qualify for the free phones will turn into paying customers.

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When we all quit our jobs

You are not the only one that feels this way. The reality is that when the hard working TAX paying Americans continue to lose their jobs where will the government collect money to pay the lazy ones living off us..... You (those who voted for Obama) sure are getting the change you voted into office.. thanks for making me pay the price of a government that wants to control YOU. Wake up people - it is only going to get worse unless you make a stand

Free cell phones

These cell phones r not just being given to elderly. There are 4 people that live on our hill in Hickory NC that got them just because they have food stamps. They received them so they can add some minutes to it and call their girlfriends and boyfriends all day. One guy even got one so he did not have to pay for service and was able to call his drug dealer. All anyone needs to get these phones is a food stamp card. Not everyone one on food stamps is broke. Many of them around here recycle all day and make a good living while not being able to show they work at all. They receive government programs on a lie. They laugh because it is so easy to get away with at our expense!!!!

Cell Phones for the helpless....

It is amazing to me how the comments on this subject have veered off the subject to become political polemics against "socialist" (read old style Communist) agendas. One of the themes seems to be "someone is getting something free", as if everyone in society today has not benefited from the efforts of others. Not a one of us, outside of some in the rural areas, has paid an extra cent for sewer, water, electricity or road infrastructure. No one here can throw the first rock as much as you might like to deny this. The difference between a society and a civilization is the manner in which the weakest and most helpless among us are taken care of by those with means. It was known as "noblesse oblige" when there was a functioning aristocracy. It seems there are few of "natures noblemen" left.

So how's that free cellphone working out for you

I don't care how weak or helpless you like to think you are, you do NOT rate a free cellphone on the taxpayers' dime. PAY YOUR OWN WAY THROUGH LIFE, DEADBEAT!


They are not free. Someone (tax payers) are paying for them. If they need a phone, give them one that can only dail 911.

cell phone

What ever became of families taking care of their own. Charity begins at home. We have bred a society of people who have aging parents who believe it is society's responsibility to take care of thier parents. I suggest these elderly peoples' children give up their cell phones, flat screen TV's, computers,etc. and buy their own parents a cell phone. If they are such humanitarians, let charity begin at their own home and take care of your parents and quit putting their care on others. YOU OWE THEM THAT RESPECT! Both my parents are dead, we never put them in a home and they were cared for at home until their death. It is the last act of love and respect a child can show their parents while they are living. What is the matter with people?

I do pay

I may not have been around for the initial ifrastructure to be built, but I am paying for it as I use it daily, monthly and yearly. In fact I am still paying for a lot of others to use it as well who will never put a dime into it. So I don't see where I am getting anything for free.

Malette... that reasoning is

Malette... that reasoning is weak. While I personally may have taken from the pot of freebies that the Gov't has offered a time or two over the course of my life, I have in turn put INTO that pot many times that for others of lesser means. I'm sure this is true for most if not all of the middle class working stiffs of this country. We are taxed to death. I dare anyone to say othewise. Times are tough right now for everyone. I'm all about helping out people that need the help. I am also tired of giving part of my paycheck away to losers that don't want to go to work because they are getting everything they need for FREE!!! True story- I stopped at a local convience store not too long ago and was asked by this person standing out front if I had some change to spare so he could get something to eat. It so happened that I had a coupon for a free burger at a local fast food place a few blocks up the road that I offered him in place of the money. He turned me down. Let charities do the work of providing free stuff to people that need it, not the Gov't.

Free Cell Phones

Just look at it this way: if the government gave out free reading glasses, some people would own 800 pairs. This "free" cell phone handout is just another expensive socialist gewgaw that the taxpayers will pay for.

free cell phones

Is it fair to give free cell phones to poor people? About as fair as giving bailouts to the people who got us in this mess.

Phones are important to social networking

One of Obama's great ideas is to create a free wireless connection for every american. The phone is the first step in linking people to each other. We have all been in need and since being on disability myself for the past 10 years for my chronic fatigue syndrome I know what it is like to need the government to step in and offer medicaid, food stamps, housing, transportation vouchers, and methadone programs. A cheap land line phone service has jumped to nearly $25 a month. People like me on a fixed income would have to sacrifice and there is little to give up. If it wasn't for my mother's generousity I wouldn't even have the internet. People need to be able to stay in touch. Suppose I was at the doctors and the taxi wasn't waiting for me when I left so I had to wait. Who would take care of my doggies and let them out to do their business unless I could call a pet sitter? 70 minutes isn't a lot of free time if you think about it. But it allows you to get an emergency taken care of. It's money well spent to ensure people are connected.

Doggies? Really?

Why do you have pets if you can't afford a phone?

Go back in the doctor's

Go back in the doctor's office and use their phone. I swear once someone gets a taste of government handouts they go whole hog and ask for everything that's available. I don't see why you have the right to stay connected. Connected to what? 911? Last time I checked 911 is a free call on cell phones. If these phones are for emergency purposes only then scrap the minutes and only let it be used for 911. Obama is trying his best to ruin this country the first year in office. I'm afraid he's going to succeed before he can be impeached.

guess what

Guess what... We are all on a fixed income that isn't getting any better while our taxes, gas, and food are going up!

One more incentive

I think this is just one more incentive for the lazy to not work, why would you want to work when you can have a hand out. Well I work because those hand outs aren't for me, I make my own way through life. And I believe if you have to live off the tax payers dollar, housing, food stamps, cell phone, transportation, medicare, for whatever reason. Sorry you can't have your doggies if you can pay for their food and expenses why can't you pay your own. I can't afford a dog as much as I want one right now and I work full time plus. My bills come first. Including the cell phone.

Are you kidding me?

If you can afford "doggies" and a "dog sitter", then you can afford to pick-up some of your own tabs. The next time my kids ask about getting a dog, I'll just explain to them that mommy can't afford it because I have to pay for you.


Total and complete waste of my tax dollars!

Free Cell Phones

Government abuse and misuse of our tax payers dollars. It's time to vote our Senate, Congress and President OUT OF OFFICE! They have put our country on the road to Ruin!


the mid term elections are just around the corner in 2010, and don't forget we have local elections this year for county commissioner spots too. just keep electing the same old same old and you will get what you voted for.

WOW Now you're talking

You're completely right. We should totally vote out our current president because the former president of course had this country in such good shape when he was in office. All this turmoil and economy distress must have just come about in the last 6 months. RIGHT!! Check again. Remember one day you will be elderly and your circumstance may cause for you to need someone elses help. Don't be selfish.

One day we may be elderly.....

Ah, day we may be elderly and need someone else's help. Unfortunately though, under Obama's insurance plan, many of us may not get to experience much of old age. The younger will be taken care of first and the old folks will be denied care. Medical procedures will be granted based on the value of the individual, and guess what - young people are going to be worth more to the government than the old. So, I'll take my "help" from others now and ask to keep my own money to put my kids through college. Cell phones are not a necessity. We survived without them for years.

OMG... seriously people?

OMG... seriously people? there is so much more to this program than just giving away free phones to people on government assistance. First off, while all of you are focusing on the amount of people that abuse the public assistance program, think of all the people that actually depend on it for legit reasons. I was unemployed for over a year and it was NOT by my own doing. I collected unemployment and would have been absolutely grateful to have a free cell phone. It was enough just to keep up with my light bill, rent, car payment, and insurance. I didn't have cable, phone, cell phone, internet. I have to leave my friends number on applications just to try and get a job. I was on food stamps, cause i honestly couldn't afford to buy food on my own. Had I known there was a program to get a free cell phone, you damn right i would have taken it. everyone wants to point the finger at everyone else for the problems in this country. when bush was up for re-election everyone was like "oh give him a chance to finish what he started" well, we gave him a chance. so what if a liberal is in office. a conservative just stepped down and honestly i can see a damn thing good he did for our country. course, I'm not one of the "good ole boys " maybe i don't get it. but I damn well intend on giving this president a chance to finish what he started. at least what he started wasn't all about war and money. and this person said it right... alll of this economic distress surely did not come from 6 months of this man being in office... THINK people.. one day you all may be in a bad part of your life and will be crying out for someone to help you. I just hope you get the help you need when that time comes.

Bad times WILL come

But why would you have taken the free cell phone if you had a friend willing to let you use his/her phone number to receive work calls? You referred to receiving help when you need it. It sounds like you did so why would you have taken more? Did you have a cell phone before becoming unemployed? If so, then you had emergency 911 service during your tough times. If not, then you definately wouldn't have become entitled to it. With the direction that our country is heading in, I am afraid that it will be our children crying out for help FROM our government.


You don't think it is selfish to take for free what others pay for?

No, they don't think that

No, they don't think that because that is a socialist liberal's way of thinking. You all voted these clowns into office. We tried to tell you.


This is crazy. Since when are cell phones so important in life that everyone needs to have one at the cost of the working public. I would like to see how many of the minutes were spent on emergency calls or life threatening situations and how much were spent getting there dealer on the line.


Cell phone companies like Tracfone hope when the economy turns around, subsidized customers that no longer qualify for the free phones will turn into paying customers..... yea just like welfare and Medicaid were suppose to help people "get back on their feet". it will turn into a permanent entitlement program.

what's next?

subsidized beach vacations? discount cards for Ruth's Chris? The report notes 32 million citizens do not have cell service. How many of them qualify for this freebie? How many of them would accept it? 71 free minutes now. How long before that number balloons? Someone needs to wake up. When the government spends more money than it receives in tax revenue, it is forced to borrow. That may not mean much to those living on the dole. But for those of us who work, these programs, in part, mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren.


This is a waste of taxpayer dollars. They don't give free cell phones to soldiers overseas. Great acting job, on food stamps and government assisted living.

Where's the violin?

I agree w/the acting job...stopping to ask to "borrow" someone's phone is soooo embarassing, but getting foodstamps & assistance is not? Oh, I'm sorry, she's the only one having a tough time making ends meet