Two words, morons: Trac Fone.
The reality today is that it's cheaper to own a Trac Fone than it is to have a landline. You're a lot more limited in the number of calls you can make when you're buying your minutes in 60-minute bundles, but the upfront investment is a lot lower. The image below is from the Trac Fone website, but I've seen them at Family Dollar for $14.95.
But I guess even a $14.95 phone is a little too much luxury for poor folks to deserve. Let's hope the haters never find out about Safelink or they'll really freak out.
[Over the years I've learned that other things the poor are not allowed to possess include automobiles that are not rolling death traps, digital tvs, clothing that doesn't look like it came from Goodwill, and decent shoes. They must also never ever allow any red meat other than the cheapest form of hamburger to cross their lips, they're not allowed to waste their money on soft drinks or ice cream, and god forbid they should ever use their EBT card ("food stamps") to buy potato chips.]