Is having a used cell phone a basic necessity? That is the question currently raging in America, where more than half of the states in the nation allow for free cell phones and up to 250 free minutes each and every month for those unable to afford their own, falling into the same category as food stamps and Medicaid.
The service has actually been around for three years already in some states but it was a story in the Los Angeles Times that has suddenly made it into a burning issue. The free cell phone program began earlier this month in the state of Utah, with Assurance Wireless, the cell phone service provider which is providing the service in the state, saying that with levels of unemployment at such a high, providing cell phones to those low income citizens “who need help and resources during what continues to be tough economic times for many”, at least according to the company’s director, Grace Boehm.
As with any initiative, however, the service has its critics, many of whom feel that including cell phones in the category of basic necessities is a step too far. “Our society cannot afford to give free everything to everybody,” says a senior fellow from the Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector. “Most poor people already had adequate phone service and will continue to do so.”