The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

The Affordable Cell Phone Care Act

Groucho
Marx had many great monologues and spiels, but this
is one of his finest:
The nickel today is not what it
was fifteen years ago. Do you know what this country needs today?…A seven-cent
nickel. Yessiree, we’ve been using the five-cent nickel in this country since
1492. Now that’s pretty near a hundred years’ daylight saving. Now, why not
give the seven-cent nickel a chance? If that works out, next year we could have
an eight-cent nickel. Think what that would mean. You could go to a newsstand,
buy a three-cent newspaper and get the same nickel back again. One nickel
carefully used would last a family a lifetime.
Note the absurd application of a Keynesian Money Multiplier effect, where
inflation allows a carefully spent nickel to last a lifetime. Of course, the
gentleman falls for the muddled logic and obfuscation, responding, “Captain
Spaulding, I think that is a wonderful idea.” One wonders if the Chandler
character isn’t simply a composite sketch of the typical congressman.
When
the foil, Chandler, apparently a very rich man (or a well-off politician), says
it sounds like a wonderful idea, Marx replies, “You
do, eh? Well, then there can’t be much to it. Forget about it.”
Here’s
another wonderful idea, the Affordable Cell Phone Care Act (ACPCA), which would
work similarly to the way the Affordable
Care Act
works (or doesn’t). And here’s how it would work, once it has
enough sponsors in the House to push it through, with a new official House rule
that reading it would be optional. And there would be more than enough
seasoned, glib salesmen in and out of office who could promote it across the
nation.
You
own a cell phone. You pay a monthly fee for the service. You’re happy with it.
You may or may not think you’re paying too much, or perhaps you think it’s a
bargain. But, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to pay anything at all? If it were free?
One
of the big selling points of the ACPCA would be the hundreds of thousands of
Americans who don’t own cell phones, who are still relying on land lines and
other outmoded means of communication with their friends, employers, lawyers, bail
bondsmen, and others.
Owning
a cell phone would, of course, be mandatory. This is necessary if the plan is
to work.  If you didn’t own a cell phone,
you would need to purchase one. If you choose to not purchase a cell phone, you
may be penalized an amount to be determined by an ACPCA regulatory and policing
panel. That’s only right. If we’re all one big happy family, we look out for
each other, watch each other’s backs.
But,
not to worry. Great bargains in cell phones and cell phone maintenance would be
offered through the ACPCA.  The ACPCA
would establish cell phone purchase exchanges throughout the nation, or several
in each state. Here one could shop for the best cell phone deal available
according to one’s income, age, and communications requirements. Cell phone
providers would offer a spectacular range of programs covering intrastate and
interstate rates, international rates, special family plans, discounts on
purchases made through your cell phone, your income level, and so on.
Of
course, like any bargain, restrictions would apply. But you needn’t bother
yourself with the way the ACPCA works in the way of availability rules and the
like. That’s all just tech-talk for boneheads and “experts.” You can
gloss over these funky details just as our politicians did when
“reading” the ACA before passing it. I mean, get serious. Who has
time to read through tens
of thousands
of pages of small print? Certainly not your Congressman, nor
your Senator. An easy to read digest of the ACPCA will be made available soon.
For
example, if your present cell phone provider offers you a 1,000-minute package
with a premium that increases a minimal percent of the contract rate in excess
of 1,000 minutes, you will not likely find a better package in any cell phone exchange
that would offer better than between a 5 and 15 minute basic allotment, with
usage rates surpassing that minimum increasing between 50 to 200 percent. Cell
phones that feature picture-taking abilities and web access would need to be
priced at slightly higher minimal rates. Ipads and other communication devices
would be treated as cell phones and their rates have yet to be ironed out. But
you can count on them being dear.
You
can avoid enrolling in the ACPCA if you can prove that your only means of communication
is with a Navajo-embroidered blanket and smoke signals. This would require extensive
documentation proving that you are at or beneath the Federal Poverty Level, and
that you have EPA approval to engage in such polluting activities.
If
you like your current cell phone plan, you
may keep it
– provided it meets all the federal criteria for just and fair cell
phone service. If your current plan does not meet those criteria, it will be automatically
cancelled, and you must shop for a similar plan on the cell phone exchanges. Good
luck!
If
your employer pays for your cell phone because your device is critical to your
job, he may drop it entirely or pass on the increased costs to him over to you.
Or he may drop you entirely.
This is a risk everyone faces. The new cell phone coverage plan is complex and
in many respects incoherent and unintelligible, but these are facets of the new
plan that experts are still sorting out.
Okay.
You’re a young person. You’re groovy and semi-literate enough to have a
driver’s license. You talk and text a lot. You’ve developed “cell phone elbow”
and a “plastic ear” and you’re always bumping into things and people because
you’re focused on that LED screen.  You use
that cell phone a lot! So, it would only be fair to the millions and millions
of older folks if you paid more for cell phone service than they. You would
not, of course, be eligible to have your new cell phone service costs be
subsidized by the federal government via MegaPhone, because, thankfully, you’re
not old enough! After all, those older folks have already put in their time and
paid into the system, but it’s not their fault that they can no longer be able
to eat well except when they get the Senior Special Breakfast at McDonald’s
(Yeech!). It’s your patriotic duty and humanity to help these older folks. They’d
do the same for you, if they could.
But,
help is on the way. Beginning at the end of next year, if the bill passes, the
federal government and the states would split the subsidized costs of MegaPhone
and PhoneAid to better help our seniors pay for cell phone coverage they need,
or don’t need (that’s not up to them).
Don’t
worry if you lose your current plan and wind up paying more for a cell phone program
that offers less. You know what that guy said a long time ago: There’s no such
thing as a free cell phone!
To
make the various cell phone plans more attractive, they have been divided into
five main standardized groups or tiers, graded from the lowest cost to the most
expensive: the Henny Youngman, the Jerry Seinfeld, the Moms Mabley, the Vaughan
Meader, the Jonathan Winters, the Phyllis Diller, and the Rodney Dangerfield. No,
wait. That’s seven. No, eight, including the Jack Benny plan, which is the stingiest.
These plans correspond to the ACA’s iron, zinc, silicate, bronze, cupra-nickel,
silver, gold, and platinum plans.
As
for cell phone repair and maintenance, choices will be limited or nonexistent. This
is economics and you needn’t bother your head with such confusing,
double-talking rocket science. If Cox or Verizon or AT&T once subcontracted
repair or onsite services, you may have to settle for what your new provider
has to offer, which may mean long waiting times or no waiting time at all
(i.e., no services), incompetent technicians or gruff help lines, and limited
or no warranty on the cell phone.
Just
remember: Scarcity is good. It saves resources, and protects the environment.
Did
we discuss another benefit of the ACPCA? You will be allowed to keep your old cell
phone number! This will allow the NSA, the DHS, and the IRS to keep track of
your cell phone usage to better serve you in the future. Universal service for
unity! That’s our motto!
If
you go onto the ACPCA website
to enroll in the new national cell phone program, and you find yourself looping
back to page one over and over again, or okaying plans you haven’t even seen
yet, don’t feel like you’re a duck in a dry hole or that you’re as thick as a
brick. The kinks and bugs are being worked out and eradicated with the best
expertise the government can buy. Have patience. The site will work, someday.
If
you have ideological objections to the ACPCA, don’t bother voicing them. The Supreme
Court
has settled the matter. It’s constitutional. Besides, if you voice
any criticisms of the new program, you don’t really want to red flag yourself
for official scrutiny. Protesting the ACPCA means that you think you’re smarter
than Chief Justice John
Roberts
.
And
there you have it. A program designed with you in mind. Never mind the
naysayers and doomsayers who cry that the ACPCA will just bankrupt the country
and leave us in perpetual debt to the Chinese and Patagonians. That’s racist
talk. Ignore the doubters who write that the new cell phone program is, what
one snarky pundit called it, a “sump for suckers” (he’s being audited
for expressing unpatriotic views and encouraging sedition). There are downsides
to every worthwhile plan that you can only benefit from, because it’s…free!
Free for you and me! So, rally ’round that flag, and enroll today! Call your
family and friends! Spread the word!
Cell
phone paradise is here!

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5 Comments

  1. Jeffrey Perren

    Brilliant.

    I just wish I could, without qualifications, label this satire. 🙁

  2. Edward Cline

    Jeff: Some readers are calling it satire, and want me to write more of it. But, satire isn't in my bloodstream. It's only when I've had a few glasses of wine that it comes out.

  3. Victoria

    Brilliant indeed. You forgot to encourage people to make cocoa and talk to their families about the benefits of cell phone exchanges though.
    🙂

  4. Edward Cline

    Victoria: Thank you. But when you're putting together brand new legislation, you tend to forget the important things, like getting people to talk about cell phone exchanges over cocoa. I'll do better next time, when I put together legislation to be called the Affordable Clunker Care Act.

  5. Tim C

    Heh, "in vino veritas."

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