Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette. Hsiao: love within the family (parents for children and children for parents. Yi: righteousness--the noblest way to act in a situation. Xin: honesty and trustworthiness. Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others. Chung: loyalty to the state and authority. --Confucius (Kong Fuzi)

All articles appear in reverse chronological order [newest first].

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I believe the past is relevant, sometimes more than others of course. In most cases we are seeing history being repeated, so it is most relevant.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pushing my “1984” button: Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients.


by Glenn Littrell

I know how on the surface ideals like this always sound good, but upon examination you have to ask, 'what good does it do'. Yes too many on welfare are on drugs, but so are too many who aren't on welfare.

First let me address the graphics talking points:

  1. As most of these types of graphics do this one has little regard for accuracy: The three states are not the first, they are just the current. Florida has tried it before and failed on constitutional grounds. Michigan and Arizona have tried it before and the programs failed on their own merits. The cost savings, number of positive test was so small they were deemed failures as well as incurring large legal bills.
  2. Constitutionality: The question of constitutionality is the 4th amendment -- protection against 'unreasonable searches'. Remember this is the government, not a private employer. This is a law, not a company policy. What's next, drug test for anyone who claims a tax exemption? Sorry, this pushes my "1984" button.
  3. It’s OK to test people who work for their money: Well I don’t think so. In 26 years at the Post Office, 4 years in the Military, numerous other jobs, I have never had to take a drug test to get hired or to get my paycheck. I know some places require it, but that doesn't make it right. So lets not act like mandatory drug testing is required of everyone seeking a paycheck.
    It may or may not be constitutional either way, but if it is not critical to job performance, what I stick in my body, off the clock, is my business... within the law.
  4. The last point “If you can afford to…” to a degree is a valid point, but it amazes me how often we seek to point this logic at the poor, and that is where this graphic and these laws are pointed at, not the drug users, but the poor who have no powerful lobby to protect them. Why not attack the CEO, or the billionaires who cry about the taxes on their second or third home, or their golden parachutes. Surely if they can afford those they can afford to pay their fare share of taxes. Same for Exxon and the other giant corporations. Same for the Walton’s (Wal-Mart) who export jobs overseas, pay sub-par wages and benefits while they rake in enough profits to occupy 5 of the top 10 spots for the richest people in the world. Surely they could afford to pay a decent wage, keep the prices down, and still rank in the top 20? Or is that sacrilegious? Is it more appropriate to attack the poor, more popular or just easier?


 Source 1     Source 2     Source 3

When I first saw the graphic above touting the failure of the drug testing the website was flooded with disclaimers blasting it for not citing sources (I have added just a few sources (3)), yet none of the protestors on the website, or advocates for the laws seem to be able to cite any sources or proven studies supporting either the claim of high drug usage among welfare recipients or the influence of drug testing on usage.

How many really have to drug test to get their paychecks? In the case of welfare recipients the one who test positive is not the one that welfare targets. The parent test positive... the child is denied benefits.
Of course those who need the help are the least able to fight for it: the children, the poor mother who gets a false positive.

How accurate is the system? These aren't crime labs conducting these test... its minimum wage subcontractors. Minimum wage, untrained and if you believe that those on welfare are corruptible then what about the underpaid lab worker or clerk? Some high wage professional seeking a high paying job bribes a clerk to switch test results. The high roller gets his job but who do you think his specimen is going to be switched with? ...a poor single mother who in-spite of a clean specimen fails her test!

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It is not the poor who are running this country into the ground, it is the failure of those with power, money or connections that are failing us. We keep dumping on the poor because we are brainwashed into thinking that they are a threat to us... those lower on the ladder may climb over us so we concern ourselves with keeping them down which distracts us from what those above us are doing to keep US DOWN.

How about we make Congressman, lawyers, CEOs take drug test? How about every church member whose church receives tax breaks, every student who receives grants and scholarships, every home owner who gets an exemption or homestead credit, every person who avoids jury duty, every married couple or parent who qualifies for a tax credit. Give them all monthly or even quarterly drug test.

DRUGTESTceoSOops, that wouldn't work because it wouldn't happen. They all have the ability to fight such legislation, yet they all benefit from the laws that make their incomes possible, they all receive tax breaks, incentives and reductions just like the welfare recipient.
We need to stop dumping on the poor, it pains me how often I here people complaining about how many children a poor woman or family has just because they receive some type of assistance. Since when did being poor become a crime?

“Supporters say the measures are designed to break the cycle of poverty by helping drug users find treatment…”

But if this is the purpose of the law  then why isn’t its application wider? If drug testing would reverse the cycle of poverty then why not test everyone? The “well off” as well as the “welfare”? If it can reverse the cycle of poverty then it could prevent the cycle of poverty by testing everyone so as to prevent the well off from being led down that road. Random drug testing at schools, not just the run down school, or just the welfare students, but all students. Drug testing for parents in the suburbs, at the PTA meeting. Random testing at NFL games, NASCAR events, church events.

Of course that would be ridiculous, intrusive, and excessive. Not to mention impossible because no one would stand for it. Why? Because its a proven fact that laws and punishment do not guarantee adherence. There are social, psychological, and emotional forces at work that push people down the wrong path every day in-spite of the consequence. Those that choose the wrong path come from every economic level, not just the poor, and those at different levels have more to lose yet they make that choice. The rest of us would not stand for those intrusions even if we knew we were drug free, yet we believe that it should be imposed on those at the bottom of the economic scale, why? Because it works? Because poor people are poor by choice? Because poor people are more prone to crime? Because single mothers are single by choice? No, because it caters to our more cynical view of the poor.

Much ignored statistics and results point to the failure of drug testing or the uselessness of it:

“…Arizona was the first state to impose a testing program. In 2009, it began testing new welfare recipients when there was a "reasonable cause" to suspect illicit drug use. So how many of the 87,000 people subjected to the program have tested positive since then?  Just one.  That's right. The much-touted program netted a single drug abuser…”  source 4

Keep in mind the Arizona program was not arbitrary, was not random, it targeted the most likely to abuse and it caught only one user out of 87,000? If testing for reasonable cause produces such poor results arbitrary random testing makes little since.

What about the savings? In example after example the savings account for little of the total coast of welfare, as little as 1%.

In cases where participants are required to participate in rehab programs to continue to receive benefits there is the added cost of those programs. If one believes in the effectiveness of drug rehab programs why isn’t there a greater emphasis on funding those programs?

And who benefits from those drug testing programs? The children of the drug user who is kicked off of welfare? No. The Owners of the Drug rehab clinics? Yes. The owners of the drug testing labs? Yes. The general public? How?

Things that make you go ‘hmmmm’.

Without examining the number of legislatures in states where these laws pass to determine how many of them own or have investments in these clinics we can just look at the state of Florida where the governor who pushed for drug testing welfare recipients has connections to the industry and once was forced to resign as CEO from a company that admitted to 14 counts of Medicare fraud. source 5

If the hearts of these legislators is in the right place then why is it, that in every state where these laws are proposed, the legislators in favor of the laws always vote down amendments that would require them to take the same drug test? 

Why is it that testing for alcohol is never included in the testing? Oh that’s right, it’s legal. Or is it because the alcohol industry has powerful lobbies at the state level? But doesn’t alcohol have a greater impact on the cycle of poverty than drugs, just because of the sheer magnitude of its availability (because its legal).  Go figure.


UPDATE: Another example of the fallacy of drug testing the poor… the waste and uselessness of trying to shame and prove the poor are more likely to be on drugs than the average citizen. Let's face it, the laws are less about limiting drug use than it is about reminding poor people who's boss.


note: 1984 is a dystopian novel by George Orwell published in 1949. The novel is set in a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as "thought crimes". The tyranny is epitomized by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. Big Brother and the Party justify their oppressive rule in the name of a supposed greater good. The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth (or Minitrue), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to re-write past newspaper articles so that the historical record always supports the current party line. Smith is a diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother.

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