Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cell Phones: A way of Life? Are we being bamboozled?

Who knows? I don't. However, I have some thoughts I wish to pose. I cannot promise it will be a paper you can plagiarize for English class or it would be even worth it for that matter. Although, it is 12:27am as I have had a horrible time sleeping lately but that's an entirely different blog post.

I am not a huge cell phone fan. Actually, I am not much of a phone guy period, wireless, wired or other, truth be told. I have never been much of a phone conversationalist. Not to say that I don't have the gift of gab, because I do. I concede to that right up front. While I am being up front I should point out we do have two cell phones in our house. I have had one given to me by work and my wife has one of which my parents gave to her to keep tabs on our youngest son. Although, I opposed both of them in futility. However, I have a lot of issues with cell phones: Who should have one? Are they really all that necessary? Are we being bamboozled? Where to start?

Are the necessary? I don't think so but many would disagree. Right now, 250 Million Americans have some sort of cell phone subscription. The current U.S. Population is at 304 Million and counting. Think about that? 82 percent of the population has a cell phone subscription, 82 percent. I find that mind numbing. I am willing to bet that Cell phones per household is giving the number of televisions in each U.S. household a run for their money if not surpassing them. The last census was on average, two TV's per home.

I work at a high school and they have a rule that if a students phone is confiscated during school for a second or third time, their parent has to come in to get it. I have seen parents come in on Friday before school is out to get their phone for their kid so they can have it for the weekend. I know of one instance when a parent called a student during class to remind them to pick something up at the store on the way home. Same said parent went ballistic when their sons phone was confiscated citing that they were taking away their rights to get in contact with their child in case of an emergency.

Okay, when I was in school, cell phones were not prevalent. The first cell phone call was made in 1973. Anyhow, if my parents had to get a hold of me at school, they called the main office. If it was an emergency, they would call me down to the office. Heck, they might even come to my class and pull me out as they did when my grandfather passed away. However, if it was something like, your taking the bus home today, they would just leave a message. I still don't see why that can't be that way now and eliminate cell phones during school.

Now, I am not saying that they have not done good things. After all, it is a great progression in technology. I know their was a case of a girl who was attacked and thrown into her trunk and was found because she made a call to 911 on her cell phone. I know I have been close to running out of gas and called my wife to meet me at a gas station. Although, like the last statement, its more for convenience than anything and a huge distratcion. How many times have you been at a movie theatre or in a restaurant and someones cell phone rings and they pick it up and start talking. I have never heard, "Oh my God, are you all right? Where are you?" It's always, "What you doing?" "Nothing" "You?" and the precede to talk about nothing... it drives me insane. How about when you are on the road where you find yourself behind a car barely going the speed limit which passed you going 85 a mile ago. Yep, usually talking on the cell phone.

Who should have one? It would probably be easier to say who not to have one... like kids who are NOT yet in high school. I see elementary students with them all the time. I mean why does a 3rd grader need a cell phone? I would like to believe that 8 and 9 year olds are going to a daycare or after school program being watched or supervised by adults and being outside having fun being a kid, not texting their buddies. Doesn't anyone get together anymore? And some have the Internet? Internet? What happen to playing freeze tag on the playground or talking to your friends. I do think cell phones have helped in the deterioration of children's social skills. I also think they are becoming babysitters, similar to that of Gaming consoles. They are definitely seeming to be a status symbol. My nine year old yearns for one. Not in my lifetime. I told him maybe when he is in high school.

Are we being bamboozled? Without a doubt. Okay, I have no problem paying for an outgoing call but an incoming call? Come on! I didn't make the call, why I am I paying for it? The person who called me is already paying for it? Can you say double dipping? Then they say, well, if you call people on the same network we only charge the person calling. Big Whip! How does that make it okay? So, you are encouraging monopolies? That has never worked out for anyone. Wait, let's give you unlimited minutes for a flat fee? But that doesn't always include checking your voice mail because you don't have your phone glued to your ear, we will charge you for that. Oh and texting, that's separate. Only 15c per incoming text... that I didn't ask for in the first place. Well, just get the unlimited texting. I am not 18 and can type 40 acronyms per minute. Yup Acronyms!! "I Luv U" "J- C U L8R. BFA -R" You know how difficult it is to do a complete, proper sentence on a keyboard as long as your index finger with keys that only a 2 year old hand really fits? Come on people.

I know you get charges on your land line as well. We still get charged a Federal Excise Tax, which originated back during the Spanish-American war which we still pay today. How about the new "Federal Universal Service charge?" This fund pays for 4 funds as follows:

  • Lifeline/Link-Up. This program provides discounts on monthly service and initial telephone installation or activation fees for primary residences to income-eligible consumers. For additional information see our consumer fact sheet at

  • High-Cost. This program ensures that consumers in all regions of the nation have access to telecommunications services at rates that are affordable and reasonably comparable to those in urban areas.
  • Schools and Libraries. This program makes discounts available to eligible schools and libraries for eligible telecommunications services, Internet access and internal connections. It is intended to ensure that schools and libraries have access to affordable telecommunications and information services. For additional information see our consumer fact sheet at

  • Rural Health Care. This program helps link health care providers located in rural areas to urban medical centers so that patients living in rural America will have access to the same advanced diagnostic and other medical services that are enjoyed in urban communities. For additional information see our consumer fact sheets at : and

However, I bet that's on your cell phone bill too. So every time you make a call you pay for a war which we fought over a century ago and another fee which the FCC does not require customers to pay for, that's at the discretion of the company. Read Below:

"All telecommunications service providers and certain other providers of telecommunications must contribute to the federal USF based on a percentage of their interstate and international end-user telecommunications revenues. These companies include wireline phone companies, wireless phone companies, paging service companies, and certain Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers. Some consumers may notice a “Universal Service” line item on their telephone bills. This line item appears when a company chooses to recover its USF contributions directly from its customers by billing them this charge. The FCC does not require this charge to be passed on to customers. Each company makes a business decision about whether and how to assess charges to recover its Universal Service costs. These charges usually appear as a percentage of the consumer’s phone bill. Companies that choose to collect Universal Service fees from their customers cannot collect an amount that exceeds their contribution to the USF."

Once again, passing the buck to the liitle guy. Yeah, it's only a small percentage of your bill. Let's just say it is a meager .77 cents a month times 12 months times 250 Million subscribers. Don't worry, we are just covering 2.3 Billion dollars for the phone companies a year. Oh, and if your charged on you land line as well... you can figure it out.

Hey, when was the last time you dropped a call on your land line? Or how about backed into another car when you were calling from a land line? Or your battery died because you forgot to plug it in? Yeah, didn't think so. Cell phones don't need to be a way of life, we just want them to be.

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