This story is a perfect example of the inherent corruption of the welfare state. It might actually be the best example, since the program itself is mind-blowingly absurd. I still run into people who don’t believe the “free” cell phone program actually exists; they sit in stunned amazement when I show them articles I’ve written about it. One of my friends immediately checked his cell phone bill to see if the surcharge that funds the program was really there, muttering curses under his breath when he found it.
One of my colleagues at Human Events referred to the Obamaphone as an example of “fungible welfare.” In the end, it’s all fungible; every dollar handed out in benefits frees up a dollar for the beneficiary to spend elsewhere. But this particular benefit is deliriously ripe for abuse – we’re handing out taxpayer-funded hand-held electronic devices, and some of these “free” phones are pretty nice. Until this year, there was virtually zero oversight on the program – you flashed your food stamp card and you got a phone. Little was done to prevent individuals from absconding with half a dozen of them.
The corporate-welfare angle of the story also shows how the welfare state provides incentives for corruption. There’s no reason for these corporate executives to be super-careful about who they give their taxpayer-financed swag to. In fact, they have every reason to be as loose as possible with the goodies, because they get paid big bucks to distribute and service the phones. Nobody caught on the Project Veritas video acts like they’re handling valuable public property that must be safeguarded with their lives and sacred honor… but then again, nobody looks at any “public property” that way, do they?