The world’s richest man is apparently making a lot of money off a government program aimed at helping the poor Americans.
Every time someone gets a phone through Lifeline, a government program that gives phones to low-income Americans, TracPhone, a company in which Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim has a controlling stake, nets $10, Fox News reports. The company’s CEO, Frederick “F.J.” Pollak, who is a major Obama donor, also makes a profit from the data plans and minutes beneficiaries of the Lifeline program buy.
The Lifeline program has been pushed into the spotlight recently after a video surfaced of an Obama supporter saying she would be voting for the president because he gave her a free phone. Though the woman credited Obama for her phone, the president didn’t start Lifeline; it began in 1984 -- Ronald Reagan was president then, for your information -- as a landline-only program, and President Clinton expanded it to include cell phones in 1996, according to the Atlantic Wire.
After the “Obamaphone Lady” video was posted on The Drudge Report, some alleged that the video's widespread circulation was fueled by racism, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Regardless of the controversy over the phone itself, the allegations that Slim is benefiting off a program aimed at helping the poor may only fuel characterizations of the $69 billion man as a super-rich mogul who capitalizes on the woes of others. Slim’s son noted in an interview with Bloomberg in May that his father was taking advantage of the “opportunities” provided by the European Debt Crisis.
Critics, including hundreds of protesters at George Washington University in May, have also accused Slim of making his money off the backs of the Mexican people, as well as off of stifling the country’s economic development. Slim has additionally urged us normals to continue working until we’re at least 70, arguing that it would help to boost the world’s struggling economies.