Free phones for the homeless? America in a picture

They say a picture is a worth a thousand words, or something like that. THC tends to agree, especially when it comes to this reader-submitted picture.

homelessphonesOh, the imagery. The good ol’ stars and stripes. A dilapidated service station. A long line of houseless folks waiting for handouts.

Not just any handouts. Cell phones. You know, those things wedged right in between water and food as being necessary for human survival.

We hear the argument goes that it’s tough for people without homes to secure jobs unless they have reliable form of communication. Which we understand. But that also assumes these folks are out looking for jobs, which is about as easy to swallow as when we tried to drink rubbing alcohol straight from the bottle. (Don’t judge.)

Last we checked, it’s entirely possible for people with homes to survive without cell phones, rare as that may be these days. We’re almost 100% certain that homeless folks and home-d folks are the same physiologically, so it goes to follow that this is yet another unnecessary service we’re providing

And what’s up with the free minutes? Do those burner phones come with free data, too? Must be nice. We usually have to download our porn using pirated connections at Applebee’s and stuff, but if you’re homeless, sounds like you get it provided to you free. How’s that for jacked up?

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11 Responses to Free phones for the homeless? America in a picture

  1. Zoe says:

    Cell Phones First!


  2. Henchman Of Justice says:

    Last HOJ checked,

    Drinking rubbing alcohol does not kill……Kitty Dukakis


  3. Mitch says:

    Hi there, grouchy folks.

    Lifeline is a program that pays the big telecom companies about $10 per month per subscriber to provide either landline or cell phone service to Americans near the poverty level. The program has been around at least since 1996. The $10 can go towards providing a household with either landline or cell phone service, but not both.

    The companies want to sign up customers, because they get the $10 per month for using equipment which already exists, along with the spectrum they’ve already licensed. So they offer free phones as an enticement, creating the photogenic moments so desirable to the right-wing. They also engaged in a lot of fraud, which has been cracked down upon.

    The program provides phone service to people living at or below 135% of the poverty line. It has about 15 million subscribers.

    To provide landline or cell phone service to your poorer neighbors, including both those you deem worthy and those you deem unworthy, various corporations are provided with about $1.6 billion of subsidies. Compare that with the cost of the stealth bomber: $560 million each, before cost overruns, and not counting the $20 billion invested in developing them. (That’s $30 billion.) Or compare that with what Americans for Tax Fairness estimates is the money lost by keeping corporate “offshoring” tax loopholes available: $90 billion.

    Cost of providing a year of phone service to 15 million poor Americans:


    Cost of hoping we get 100 stealth bombers from Northrup Grumman:


    Cost of not closing tax loopholes for corporations “offshoring” profit:


    Of course, the Stealth bomber program doesn’t come with photogenic moments of “unworthy” people gathering to get their “obamaphones.” But it might help you put things in perspective. Good luck. Best wishes.


    • Mitch, We don’t know what happened but your comment went to spam. Sorry about that. Please be assured that our issue isn’t really with the Lifeline program as much as it was the visual that we couldn’t resist. A once proud Old Glory waving in the background and a decrepit gas station that once employed a dozen or more taxpayers with living wage jobs that is now nothing more than a shell to be used to give away phones to the perennially unemployed. The statement about America in general and Humboldt in particular is pretty telling.


      • Mitch says:

        No problem. And I cannot multiply good. The hundred stealth bombers would be more like $75 billion. So add a bunch of ‘x’s to that row. As for the photo and Humboldt in particular… do you not believe that the straightforward explanation is the correct one? That being: the logs were overlogged, the fisheries overfished, the pot semi-legalized, and the people of the colony left on their own to sink or swim in the resulting economic disaster (except for free phone service, I guess)?


  4. Arcatan says:

    I totally agree with you Mitch but would add that generation after generation of elected officials have done absolutely nothing to work towards a real solution. Unless you count grant after grant and tax after tax to further encourage the public’s dependency on handouts of one type or another. I wonder when we passed the point of economic unsustainibility? Decades ago would be a good general guess. We can’t all work for the government, somebody actually needs to produce something, a fact lost on the current batch of Officials who are no better than the last and the ones before them…..


    • Mitch says:


      Well, solutions are politically difficult, maybe impossible in this environment. Repairing infrastructure would be a great way to put people to work. Building housing for the homeless would be a great way to put people to work. But the only government expenditures that don’t cause the Just Watching’s of this world to warn us about unsustainable debt are subsidies for Big Whatever, money for prisons, money for military contractors, and bailouts for banks (without which, we are told, we will all die).

      There is enormous resentment that the people at the bottom of the economic scale are not “pulling their weight.” It strikes me as a bit ridiculous — technology has replaced a lot of the things that would formerly have required labor, “free trade” has moved many of them to places that our corporations consider “competitive” because they don’t have the fair labor floors that Americans fought so hard for, and the jobs that remain require skills that are not easily obtained.

      It will always be easy to point out that there are lazy people in the world, and political parties will often earn easy cred by telling their base that they, the members of the base, are the salt of the earth and all those other people are lazy freeloaders. Freeloaders and lazy people exist in every society — and in every wealth class, for that matter. JW will tell you it’s all those gubmint handouts that increased the number of “bums,” but practically no one WANTS to be a bum.

      The bit about the poor being poor because they are lazy is such a Big Lie that it bugs me that people fall for it. Really: you think the immigrant woman cleaning your hotel room or the guy slaughtering cows or picking lettuce, all working their butts off for minimum wage, you think they’re lazy? Compared to the typical business executive who shuffles numbers and chats people up? Please.

      The problems are straightforward and easy to understand once you stop accepting the bullshit about “the poor” which the ultra-wealthy used as raw material to construct the Tea Party: technology has eliminated a lot of work, the interaction between “free trade,” capitalism, and first world labor protections has predictably moved a lot of the remaining work to low-wage, low-protection locales, and the tax burden has been shifted from the ultra-wealthy onto the middle class.

      In a country that didn’t have our race issues, people might have understood this. But our country is still recovering from having enslaved one race while decimating the native peoples of the continent it stole from them. That means the politics of resentment works exceptionally well at pitting the white people who have lost their jobs against, especially, the descendants of slaves. People will fight hard to explain their unfortunate situation, and they’ve been encouraged by the owners to fight amongst themselves.


  5. Just Watchin says:

    Obamapbones…..keeping drug dealers connected since 1996. Maybe THC should post a picture of a stealth bomber to even things out.


  6. Bigblok442 says:

    For many years I have said America has the “richest poor in the world.” That picture shows one example of what I mean. If you compare ‘our’ poor to the ‘rest of the world’s’ poor, then you know what I am talking about. Free cellphones?, “only in America!”


  7. Mitch!

    btw, free cell phones are not necessary in many other countries b/c with regulations one can obtain a very good plan for $25 per month. I known this is true of my relatives in Turkey for example who cannot afford an iPhone due to tariffs (they could afford them at the price we pay).

    And THC, I think your response to Mitch! is pretty disingenuous. What about the part of the headline that says “Free Phones for the Homeless?” or the 2 or three paragraphs basically taking the line that you used to hear on right wing radio about people on welfare who also have a TV.

    It’s not about the TV, it’s not about the cell phone (anymore b/c of their price) it is about the television service, it is about a monthly phone bill it is about the cost of rent or a home it is about the insufficient minimum wage.

    It’s a rigged game and yes Arcatan we can do better but what is happening now and the leaders you would like to elect are there to protect those with a voice and to make sure those without a voice can’t even phone a friend.


  8. Just Watchin says:

    After reading the LoCo article about the AHHA presentation yesterday, it looks like these fine citizens will have the run of the Playground for quite some time. With a statement like :”pets, drugs and alcohol will be permitted”, you know no one is serious. Even Bergel said it’s time to call the cops in.


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