Florence Morning News, S.C., John Sweeney column
Feb 10, 2013 (Florence Morning News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Boy, I don't know what it is about the words "Obama phones" that gets people so charged up.
It has to be the "Obama" aspect of the phrase, because I can tell you nobody has an issue with "phones" in general. How do you think we first heard about the alleged "Obama phone giveaway" in Florence this past week (http://bit.ly/Yby5Jh)
People sent us pictures took with their phones.
Of course the people who sent us those pictures are honorable, hard working individuals who pay for their cellular services.
But then again, as we found out, so are the people who have "Obama phones."
The program's real name, by the way, is Lifeline, which has its roots in the 1980s with something called "universal service," an initiative started during the Reagan administration designed at giving low-income individuals access to products and services necessary to surviving in an ever modernizing world.
One justification I came across rationalized someone trying to get a job without access to a phone, cell or landline, to call potential employers or, perhaps more importantly, have those potential employers call them.
Logically, it would be nearly impossible for those people to land a job and improve their situation. It's an interesting concept.
Prior to this week I didn't know anything about Lifeline. I knew a little bit about "Obama phones" thanks to that wonderful YouTube video of a lady in Ohio screaming "Romney sucks," (http://youtu.be/tpAOwJvTOio) but very little about the story behind it.
However, I did some research and learned something new.
Do I think the Lifeline program is a good idea Personally, I'd prefer to see a solution emerge from the free market -- which actually is what's starting to happen after cuts to the program took effect in April 2012 -- but at least I understand the program's concept and have a basic understanding of its history.
As so often is the case with things like this, major supporters of an initiative and major critics have some good points and some lousy ones and the truth is somewhere in the middle.
The middle ground with Lifeline is that in a perfect world we wouldn't need the program at all and in this world, as was proven over the past 12 months, things about the Lifeline can be changed to minimize the cost while still deliver on its intended service.
There is plenty of room for improvement, and I would prefer our elected officials and those working in government devote their time towards finding those improvements rather than getting caught up in the noise of silliness.
"Obama phones." Really
John Sweeney covers politics for the Morning News. Contact him at 843-317-7276 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out www.peedeepolitics.com to keep up with John's daily thoughts and journalistic work.
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