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This is a terribly written article. Try providing/referencing reviews or customer experiences about any of these companies. Sadly, the reality is that being a government approved, taxpayer subsidized entity, often means providing some of the worst service. The same is happening in the healthcare industry, thanks to the extremely shortsighted & highly flawed Obamacare. Taxpayer money is being diverted to the ultra-wealthy, under the guise of welfare/social services.

The Lifeline program is but more corporate subsidy cleverly disguised as welfare. Examples:
• Tracfone Wireless is the US arm of a Mexican telecom monopoly/empire controlled by one of the world's richest men, Carlos Slim. It is quickly becoming one of the biggest players in the US government-subsidized telecom market. Tracfone collects over $452 MILLION yearly from the Lifeline program. Thus, Carlos Slim is just another US government made billionaire. (http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/26/technology/mobile/tracfone-free-phones/)
• Sprint, which acquired Virgin Mobile (founded by another US government made billionaire), acquired over 50% of their customer base from the Lifeline program. Sprint relies on the Lifeline program to maintain it's profit base. (http://bgr.com/2011/11/11/over-half-of-net-new-sprint-subscribers-utilize-government-sponsored-lifeline-service/)
• In fact, the Lifeline program paid out over 20% of the $8.1 BILLION the US government collects from its Universal Service Fund, via a fee charged to every paying telecom consumer, to it's authorized corporate carriers. That's a lot of corporate welfare.

Interestingly, the Lifeline program was expanded greatly under general Republican leadership, and George Dubbya Bush.

Aside from the terrible customer service , often inherent to government approved/subsidized programs, the Lifeline program has been known to be rife with fraud (similar to most government programs, often lacking true oversight).

If one is truly forced into a bad economic situation, for whatever reason (think of those many thousands wiped out economically by the fraud of Bernie Madoff, for example), and cannot even afford a phone, it becomes nearly impossible to then try to improve one's situation, by say, trying to gain viable employment, without legitimate ways for employers to contact you. But should giant corporations and billionaires be able to gain ever-more from these government subsidized programs? It becomes a vicious circle, and possible avenue for corruption. The more people that mega-corporations can force into economic trouble and welfare programs, the more those mega-corporations (and their billionaire owners) can profit, at the expense of everyone else. See the problem here?

I'm certainly not bashing the need for legitimate social service programs, but whom are most really benefiting from these programs?

Wondering why there's no true welfare reform happening in the US? The mega-corporations, and their billionaire owners, are making out like robber-barons on these programs. But they'll never tell you the truth.