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Posted: October 17, 2013 3:54 p.m.

Nothing is free

In 1984, under the Reagan administration and as part of the breakup of AT&T, a special program called Lifeline was established.

It exists to this day to provide free access to phone service for families who meet federal poverty level requirements, and it is a program that those of us who have regular cell service pay for each month.

As with most ideas that are developed to assist low-income families in this country, the program started out with great intentions. But soon the system was overwhelmed by people who abused it, receiving service they didn’t deserve.

The federal government, to its credit, has attempted to correct this situation. And this week, the state of Georgia went a step further. By a vote of 3-2, the state’s Public Service Commission decided to impose a small monthly fee, $5, for each person who receives this free basic service in the state.

We believe this was the right move at the right time. That $5 per month is not going to break any family that is receiving service that, in some cases and admittedly with some enhanced features, costs fellow citizens more than $100 a month.

We believe we should continue to make every effort to assist our neighbors who may be in need, but that help should come at some price, such as community service or a nominal $5 fee.

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