I’ve Got A Bone To Pick

I’ve got a bone to pick. Why do intergenerational communications seem to skip a generation?

We got the news on TV. An ad aimed at seniors just ran. The product was cellphone service.

“Now I can call my grandchildren,” blurted the technology challenged oldster&#185.

I’ve got a bone to pick. Why do intergenerational communications seem to skip a generation?

Why is my dad on Facebook? Not to read about me. He’s got four grandchildren and a great grandchild. They’re much more interesting.

I’ve been relegated to backup relative status.

&#185 – I didn’t realize until now this is “Lifeline Cell Phone” service, free to the consumer because it’s paid for by the government. I’m not sure how happy this bleeding heart liberal is to subsidize grandchild calling. Isn’t that stretching the “Lifeline” concept a little?

16 thoughts on “I’ve Got A Bone To Pick”

  1. Geoff-So impressed that you can admit this free cell phone service is a bit much -even for the liberals!!!! So enjoy reading your posts and sending all good thoughts for a positive outcome to your misfortune and the station’s HUGE mis-step. I live in Kansas now, but think of you as the face of that New Haven station!!! We could use you out here with severe weather season approaching.

    1. UConn21… you can’t have him in Kansas… I still need him here in CT… we get severe weather too… any thunderstorm is severe enough for me to tune in to see what Geoff has to tell me!!! Go UConn!!

  2. The marginal cost of the minutes involved: 0. The cost of the ultra-simple phones: about $5. So, the cost to the society isn’t even countable. Unless you’re a fascist :).

      1. The last table 2.12, for 2009 the average monthly stipend (Lifeline) in CT is $7.15. Some how getting to nearly a Billion Dollars smacks of corporate accounting. Aren’t we all the victims of that? American Samoa went from $8 in 2008 to $1,000 in 2009; nuff said.

        Also, according to the FCC site, Lifeline isn’t specifically cellphone, but rather cellphones are permitted. And, according to the site, it isn’t “free”, but a subsidy. States are allowed to supplement.

        Lastly, this is just an extension (for better or worse) to the Universal Service mandate that goes back decades. See here:

        This is C&P from FCC:
        Lifeline Assistance provides discounts on basic monthly service at the primary residence for qualified telephone subscribers. These discounts can be up to $10.00 per month, depending on your state.

        I’ve seen similar ads, may haps even the same one. Appears to be stretching the truth, a tad.

        1. If there’s enough profit in this ‘free’ service to warrant advertising during local TV news I smell a rat!

          Assurance Wireless offers eligible customers a FREE wireless phone and 250 FREE minutes of nationwide wireless voice service each month. The 250 FREE minutes each month are for local and domestic Long-Distance calling. There are no bills, long-term contracts, activation fees, recurring fees, or surcharges for Assurance Wireless customers.

          Assurance Wireless is brought to you by Virgin Mobile USA and is a Lifeline Assistance program supported by the Universal Service Fund. Lifeline Assistance is only available on one phone line per household. Assurance Wireless is available in limited geographic areas and is subject to the Assurance Wireless Terms of Service.

          1. As I mentioned initially: marginal cost of a cellphone call is 0.

            Also, I went back to the tables, again, and noted that 2.8 has the figure you quoted, 2009. Note that this is some $150,000,000 higher than each of the previous years reported.

            There is this in the footnotes to that table:
            Data includes true-ups reported to date.

            In other words, as I mentioned earlier, creative corporate accounting siphoned off an extra dollop. What’s that Matt Taibbi quote, “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”? Granted, that was aimed at Goldman-Sachs, but might well serve for all corporations seeking “support” from that evil Socialist government; well, Socialist if the funds go directly to citizens without being laundered and lightened on the way to said corporations. They’ve gotta eat, too. Have you seen what’s happened to the price of caviar recently?

  3. As a Socialist, yes I said the ‘S’ bomb in this country, I find it increasingly patronising what people call socialist. If Granddad happens to call his grandchildren on a regular basis that surely is good news as it lets everyone know he’s alright and for the poorest demographic it could literally be a lifeline. One of the big questions that seems to get asked is why should we pay for things were either never going to use? Or why should my hard earned money go to people like ‘that’? If you take a step backwards and look at what socialist tried to achieve during the early part of the 20th century, especially in Europe. Here in the US people see you as being a communist if your socialist well I can sincerely say that’s not the case. Democratic socialism is an international movement for freedom, social justice, and solidarity. Its goal is to achieve a peaceful world where these basic values can be enhanced and where each individual can live a meaningful life with the full development of his or her personality and talents, and with the guarantee of human and civil rights in a democratic framework of society. This is not communism.

  4. Geoff, from what I understand the purpose of the assurance wireless cell-phone..and I think safelink and maybe a couple of others, are to give low-income people access. My late father paid a monthly fee to have this emergency thing around his neck, as did many others, but now a lot of seniors want cell-phones but can’t afford them. You have to prove eligibility to get one. I had to apply twice to show adequate proof to get one. If they do use it to call family and it gives them pleasure, why not? But if you go past the limits, you pay. The seniors and fixed income people have been the un-tapped, ignored market, so it’s about time somebody helped them out, I think.

  5. No doubt you’re right. That’s just not how it’s marketed. The same thing goes with mobility scooters. Both are needed, but probably not by everyone who gets one for free.

    This is why some co-pay is a valuable thing in controlling costs. People spend differently when they have an easily connected stake.

    1. What it amounts to: the subsidy is sufficient to cover the marginal cost of the subscribers and defray the fixed costs of the network. The subsidy is, evidently, too generous. Adding a co-pay won’t change the carriers behavior; in fact, they’d oppose it, as opposition is not in their interest. The last thing they want is any impediment to subscribe. They could, of course, lower the fee to normal users, but market segmentation practices mitigate against that.

      While building cars is a capital heavy industry, it doesn’t compare to cellphone networks. Almost all the cost is in the fixed assets; a call just means moving a few electrons through those fixed assets. Such a cost structure promotes over-use; each added user, no matter the fee, defrays some part of the amortization at little direct cost of use. (Priceline exists because this is widely true, despite what MBA’s may say.) One of the reasons, and it actually makes sense, that the ISPs want to throttle net neutrality is just because “if you build it, they will come” is way true.

      Cellphone networks (or any network without load based costing) are step function defined. That marginal cost is 0 until the final straw breaking the camel’s back. At that point, more capacity is required, and the cycle starts again. The SmartPhone may be the dumbest device ever foisted on humans. From a macro-economic capital allocation perspective, that is.

      Here endeth the Econ/101 epistle.

  6. I looked this up and it was only an hour a month free service. It operates like a TracFone. After the hour is used up the person must buy a card to get more minutes on their phone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *