Don’t expect a taxpayer-subsidized Trump Phone

They aren’t special in any regard anyway

Just some obscure North Korean phone you’ve never heard of.
  • Just some obscure North Korean phone you’ve never heard of.

Dear Hipster:

Are Obama Phones still called Obama Phones, or are they now Trump phones? And I must also ask, is any kind of free phone something a true Hipster would carry? I mean, what if someone approaches you in Starbucks (this could happen!) to ask, “What kind of phone is that?” Should you tell the truth and risk getting into some sort of political battle?

— Vivian

Continuing the saga of “Things I Never Heard of Before Today,” I had to Google that, too.

Fun fact: there’s no such thing as an “Obama Phone.” Telecommunications subsidies for the needy have existed since long before President Obama’s first term. Subsidized landlines first appeared in the ’80s, and the cell-phone program that rolled out during President Obama’s first year in office was actually implemented during the Bush II years under a 1996 law. The so-called “Obama Phones” are administered through a federal agency, which was created by an act of Congress. Bluntly, President Obama and his executive predecessors had little, if anything, to do with the matter. Many people just assume the president does everything unilaterally, perhaps by waving some sort of presidential wand from the Oval Office; which is probably how you and everyone else heard about Obama Phones in the first place.

Phones provided through the Lifeline program aren’t special in any regard. Actually, they are usually pretty generic, and would probably not draw comment in the hypothetical Starbucks. Even so, any hipster with a generic handset can happily answer the question with, “Oh, it’s a surplus North Korean Arirang [or whatever]. You probably haven’t heard of it before. It’s pretty obscure.”

Because it looks outwardly like a normal phone, he never has to mention the device’s provenance and can thus not be lured into ill-informed political debates with passers-by.

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