Editorial: Entering superhighway the right way

Aug. 20, 2013 @ 10:59 PM

Enjoying the creature comforts of a cellphone? Our president knows it, too, and not just through any surveillances of the National Security Administration.

Perhaps a newer meaning to the phrase “Obama phone” is on the way.

That’s the misleading term that stuck when he was rumored to be giving free cellphones to poor people. It is connected to Lifeline, a program started under Ronald Reagan and expanded to cellphones under President George W. Bush. Some telecommunications companies marketed the discounted service as an “Obama phone,” and added a free phone for those signing up.

The new reference could refer to yet another charge added to cellphone bills. Companies of all types often add small charges to our bills, increasing revenues without sending shockwaves to customers.

Smart consumers understand the ploy and make adjustments accordingly, up to and including eliminating the product from their day to day living.

But cellphones aren’t likely to be eliminated. More and more, they are communications headquarters for each of us and less about being a telephone. In fact, we’ve seen where calling someone is the worst function of some cellphones.

What the president has in mind is dodging Congress and implementing a tax on cellphones. It would reportedly last three years, then be gone, having generated at $5 a year per phone about $6 billion. The funds would pay for high-speed Internet connections in schools.

A Federal Communications Commission survey reports more than half the nation’s schools have slower Internet connections than the average home.

“The tax on tea that the American colonists rebelled against was only a penny,” said Peter Ferrara, a senior fellow for entitlement and budget policy at the free-market think tank Heartland Institute. “But they were smart enough to recognize that a penny imposed by undemocratic decree today established the principle for any amount to be imposed by decree tomorrow. Are Americans today capable of understanding that?”

We have a Constitution. President Obama is not above it.

We’re all for high speed Internet in our children’s classrooms. But the president, even if he does believe this Congress “dysfunctional” as he said last week, should go about it the right way.

And that is not by the very action that drove colonists to fight for our independence.