Entitlements

Here is a story about a recent court case in which a federal judge blocked the State of Georgia from charging $5 per month charge to low-income recipients for federally-subsidized cell phone service. One reason I find this interesting is that as recently as 1999 only 32% of Americans had cell phones, according to this site, and 25 years ago almost nobody had one.

Cell phone service, an almost unobtainable luxury a quarter of a century ago, has now become an entitlement that the poor should not be forced to go without. Charging poor people even $5 a month for one is, apparently, a large enough burden that the charge was struck down be a federal judge.

The article notes that about 14 million households receive this federal entitlement. With about 116 million households in the US, that is about 12% of all US households.

What an amazingly wealthy country we are that people would think it is unreasonable to deprive the poor of cell phone service, and even that it should be illegal for them to have to pay $5 a month for it!

Randall G. Holcombe is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas.
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