Are Cell Phones a Civil Right?

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According to a video on Fox News, if you receive welfare from the state of Pennsylvania, you are entitled to a cell phone.

Every welfare recipient will not only receive a cell phone, but also receive 250 free minutes.

An article on the Daily Mail online is reporting that the $4 billion Universal Service Fund will provide Pennsylvania’s poor, along with schools and libraries, free cell phones.  The task of paying for the service goes to telecommunications companies, who then apply a universal charge to their paying customers’ cell phone bills to recoup their costs.

Reading and thinking about all of this, my question to you is simple: is having a cell phone a civil right?

There was a time when the answer would have been a straight-forward “no”.  Cell phones were luxuries.  But nowadays, even children are being provided with cell phones, with reasons being cited including safety.

Assurance Wireless, a contract-free company that provides cheap cell phones (around $10 per handset), says that there are over 5.5 million potential users of the free cell phone program in Pennsylvania alone.  That’s a lot of cost to cover.

Talking to the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review, Robert Rector from Heritage Foundation said that free cell phone programs are wasteful and unnecessary; especially given the current economic situation.  Others agree.  The Fox News video took the stance that providing cell phones as part of a welfare package was frivolous.

What do you think? Are cell phones a civil right?