What Might Happen if Recipients of Corporate Welfare Were Treated This Way?

Here's something pointlessly awful:

Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing. [...]

"Nobody's being forced into these assistance programs," said Craig Blair, a Republican in the West Viginia Legislature who has created a Web site - notwithmytaxdollars.com - that bears a bobble-headed likeness of himself advocating this position. "If so many jobs require random drug tests these days, why not these benefits?" [...]

On Wednesday, the Kansas House of Representatives approved a measure mandating drug testing for the 14,000 or so people getting cash assistance from the state, which now goes before the state senate. In February, the Oklahoma Senate unanimously passed a measure that would require drug testing as a condition of receiving TANF benefits, and similar bills have been introduced in Missouri and Hawaii. A Florida senator has proposed a bill linking unemployment compensation to drug testing, and a member of Minnesota's House of Representatives has a bill requiring drug tests of people who get public assistance under a state program there.

Reason on random government drug testing of citizens here, here, and here, for starters.

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  • ||

    Is there a reason Steinbrenner is pictured? I've read nothing, so I don't know.

    I have mixed feelings about George. While he owns the curs-ed Yankees, he's also a huge contributor down here in Tampa.

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    I eagerly await the AIG bonus-haters to defend this, a la the "piper-tune" line of argumentation.

  • kinnath||

    I heard this on the radio this morning. My first thought was that people that vote on legislation should be subject to random drug screening -- Hey there ample evidence that some of those dude and dudettes are stoned to the gills when they vote.

  • ||

    Hmmm...$100 a test times the number of recipients times the number of tests per year = a lot of money the states can't afford for something that will do little good.

  • robc||

    Pro Lib,

    I think the city/state of NY helped fund the House that Jeter built.

  • BakedPenguin||

    How about drug testing members of Congress? After all, they're recipients of public funds, and no one is forcing them to run for office.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Damn kinnath.

  • rj||

    So here's the question. Obviously these policies are succeeding now (they've been proposed forever) because they are now possibly cost effective for the state -- drug testing looks cheap if you can use it to kick people off welfare rolls, since the number of people on the welfare rolls is going up. On the other hand...the number of people on the welfare rolls is going up. Unemployment is reaching a wider class of people, maybe even a group of people who will bristle at being drug tested just to get unemployment benefits. So beyond legal challenges, how much of a public backlash will there be to these policies? Is unemployment large enough to reorient class identification?

    Also, from the article:
    Drug testing is not the only restriction envisioned for people receiving public assistance: a bill in the Tennessee Legislature would cap lottery winnings for recipients at $600.

    The only logic for that poor people are addicted to the lottery now, so you can raise the cost without losing customers. That's just breathtakingly cynical and cruel.

  • ||

    Why not link any government program to drug testing? If you have children that attend public schools, your entire family should be drug tested. If you use public roads, drug testing. Driver's license? Drug test. Fishing license? Drug test. Work in a state regulated industry? Drug test. In fact, the only people who would be able to avoid drug tests are people who work outside the constructs of the state. Drug dealers, for example. No drug test.

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    I believe the logic for that would be "If you're on public assistance, why are you blowing your money on lottery tickets?"

  • rj||

    Also from the article:

    Nelson said programs that screen welfare applicants by assigning them to case workers for interviews have shown some success without the need for drug tests. These alternative measures offer treatment, but can also threaten future benefits if drug problems persist, she said.

    They also cost less than the $400 or so needed for tests that can catch a sufficient range of illegal drugs, and rule out false positive results with a follow-up test, she said.


    Who wants to bet every state mentioned will go with the more expensive drug test versus hiring case workers?

  • ||

    You know, I am for legalization of all drugs, but I don't have any problem with this. If they are receiving taxpayer money, be they corporate or individual welfare recipients, we can subject them to any test, drug or otherwise, or they can fuck off. If we want people not to do drugs with our money because it's intended to pay for necessities (I know, I know) to get them through until they are working (or profitable) again, so be it. Tough titties if they don't like it. I, on the other hand, who do not receive taxpayer dollars to survive, should be able to smoke, snort, or inject whatever I want...unless my contract with my employer prohibits it.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    This is why we have bicameral legislatures. So one house can vote on a totally stupid bill intended to humiliate some out group without having to suffer the political consequences of actually doing something.

  • ||

    "If they are receiving taxpayer money, be they corporate or individual welfare recipients, we can subject them to any test, drug or otherwise, or they can fuck off."

    Where does the slippery slope end? Would you limit drug testing to programs where a direct, cash payment is made? Or would you also allow the state to drug test you if you receive a property tax break? How about if you receive the benefit of being allowed to use the public highways?

  • ||

    And why are we not demanding that every employee of AIG get tested for drugs? All workers in all industries that receive federal or state moneys should be drug tested.

    More importantly, Florida has no income tax. We should, therefore, be drug testing people to make sure they are grateful.

  • ||

    If they are receiving taxpayer money, be they corporate or individual welfare recipients, legislators, state, county or municipal employees, anyone who sells any good or service to the state we can subject them to any test, drug or otherwise, or they can fuck off.

    I mean, if the trigger for drug testing is "receiving taxpayer money", then lets be consistent about it.

  • ||

    How about drug testing members of Congress?

    I'm in. In fact, we should implant RFID chips in every single elected and appointed public official, in order that their locations can be monitored 24/7. With a bit of tweaking, we should be able to get an audio signal.

    If you have nothing to hide...

  • ||

    You know, I am for legalization of all drugs, but I don't have any problem with this. If they are receiving taxpayer money, be they corporate or individual welfare recipients, we can subject them to any test, drug or otherwise, or they can fuck off.

    For twelve of my years in the military I was subjevt to random drug tests. One of the very best young (25 years) sailors who ever worked for me was given a LTH discharge because he did some coke one weekend.

    Fuck you very much.

  • ||

    ...monitored by any member of the public 24/7...

  • Jennifer||

    You know, I am for legalization of all drugs, but I don't have any problem with this. If they are receiving taxpayer money, be they corporate or individual welfare recipients, we can subject them to any test, drug or otherwise, or they can fuck off.

    Recipients of unemployment benefits have theoretically paid into the system -- at least, their former employers have on their behalf. If you're going to drug-test unemployment recipients, shouldn't you also drug-test people who collect Social Security benefits, VA benefits, and government pensions?

  • jtuf||

    I agree that drug tests for recipients of welfare is a bad idea. Still, I wouldn't want put up with people protesting outside my office and the government threatening to publish my name like the AIG managers.

  • guy in the back row||

    Instead of that silly suggestion, how about people who receive taxpayer money, either through assistance or salary, are disenfranchised until they are employed or funded by the private sector. It wouldn't be fair to impose a conflict of interest on them, in cases where they need to decide between responsible government and extra pay.

  • Naga Sadow||

    While my knee jerk reaction is like Nick's I agree with most of the posts that this is a bad idea. Mission creep = slippery slope.

    Isn't that one of RC's Laws? Any power used for you today will be used against you tomorrow?

  • ||

    Wow an article forcing Reasonoids to reconcile their scorn for drug tests with their scorn for welfare recipients. This should be a good discussion!

  • ||

    guy in the back row,

    I'll go you one better... anyone who is a net tax drain is disenfranchised. If you're not buying dinner, why do you get to tell me where to eat?

  • ||

    Isn't that one of RC's Laws? Any power used for you today will be used against you tomorrow?

    Very good, grasshopper.

    Technically, they are the Iron Laws. Because there are no exceptions.

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    how about this, folks? Recipients of government money shouldn't have their rights curtailed at all. Why? Because it gets fascism in through the back door of the power of the purse.

    If they are receiving taxpayer money, be they corporate or individual welfare recipients, we can subject them to any test, drug or otherwise

    Did you receive the EITC this year?
    Have you ever taken student loans?
    Do you work in an industry that is in any way subsidized by the government?

    you guys are basically setting up forced jumping jacks in the People's Common Area. After all, if and when we get a universal health care scheme of some kind, no one is safe from the "logic" of subjecting people to this "piper-tune" shenanigans.

    This power of the purse stuff is how get the abrogation of state sovereignty (see the drinking age and drunk-driving BACs. See also the stimulus bill's attempt to dictate who Illinois could have as a governor).

    Stop. Just stop. I'd rather have cash transfers with no strings attached than a Puppet-Marionette relationship with the federal and state governments.

    this, to me, is the fundamental flaw in anarchist beliefs. Force =/= market actions, and we shouldn't let the government, who doesn't have a dime through its own honest efforts, turn around and act like a market actor with ill-gotten gains.

  • Reinmoose||

    The suggestion seems silly to me, actually.

    These people are not fully functional in society for one reason or another, so we're giving them moeny. It may be because they've done drugs, because they can't hold a job for one reason or another, because they get into bad relationships, because they're psychologically ill... the way this bill is talking is that the only people who should receive welfare are the people who have their shit together enough not to need it.

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    I know...any recipient of government money hereby voluntarily waives his 4th Amendment rights and is subject to instant search, arrest and summary termination.

    I mean, they don't HAVE to take government money, right?

  • Reinmoose||

    I mean, they don't HAVE to take government money, right?

    Good point. If many of us acknowledge that economic controls by the government actually cause systematic unemployment and poverty, how can we legitimately ask the losers of those policies to submit to having fewer rights than those who benefit from the policies?

  • ||

    I am for leagalizing drugs. But I like the idea of drug testing anyone who receives government dough for two reasons. First, it will reduce the amount going out, which will reduce my taxes, maybe. But the second reason is that there would be such an outcry, that legalization would begin to look like a good idea.
    Of course, it's all a pipedream anyway.

  • Naga Sadow||

    RC Dean,

    Can you also teach me crane style fighting skills? My enemies are legion and will never see it coming.

  • kinnath||

    This is one of those rare days when I wish I lived in a state like CA that had a voter referendum. I'm sure it would be piece of cake to get a measure on the ballot requiring random drug testing of the state legislature.

  • ed||

    These bills will never become law. Too many pesky constitutional impediments.

  • Nebraska||

    This is why we have bicameral legislatures.

    What's this 'we', kemosabe?

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    the second reason is that there would be such an outcry, that legalization would begin to look like a good idea.

    Suuuure. The "outcry" of "punishing the dopeheads" will just be so thunderous that we'll suddenly all come to our senses.

    Sorry to be such a dickhead, but this is analogous to raping one person to get the level of outrage up about rape in general.

  • ||

    The Origin of the Welfare State in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Legislature

  • Ward S. Denker||

    I would not have a problem with this law enacted everywhere as long as drug prohibition is repealed. I think a condition of receiving state support is that the person undergoes treatment, not imprisonment.

  • Naga Sadow as Obama aide||

    ed,

    What is this Constitution that you speak of? This is a time for bold experimentation.

  • Govt worker||

    shouldn't you also drug-test people who collect Social Security benefits, VA benefits, and government pensions?

    2 of the 3 of those are currently done during the years where one gets qualified for the entitlement.

  • Govt worker||

    The only reason *not* to do this in government schools is that government schools are mandatory.

    The only reason not to do this for users of government roads is that there are no options. (but we're already pretty far down that slippery slope anyway with how many rights are given up when driving)

  • Govt worker||

    Last re this:
    "What Might Happen if Recipients of Corporate Welfare Were Treated This Way?"

    I have no problem with corporate welfare queens being subject to the same treatment. (I'm pretty sure that defense contractors are required to drug test employees as part of their defense contracts)

  • ||

    why limit it to people receiving taxpayer money? you should have to pass a drug test in order to pay taxes too.

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    Gov't worker:

    Government workers, at least the professionals I know, had drug testing once, when they were hired.

    The only reason *not* to do this in government schools is that government schools are mandatory.

    Did the outlaw private schools and homeschooling when I wasn't looking?

    The *real* reason not to do this is that it's going to encourage the government to take over more and more aspects of the economy until "we are all on the dole now".

  • Govt worker||

    Did the outlaw private schools and homeschooling when I wasn't looking?

    You don't have to take govt assistance. You have to go to school of some sort.

    In 1988, the U.S. Congress enacted the Drug Free Workplace Act. The act enabled small businesses to benefit from grants and or contracts if these businesses can create and maintain a drug free workplace. (emphasis mine)

    (don't know if this has been superseded. But it's on the internet so it must be correct.)

  • ||

    I fear I may be more libertarian on drug tests than some of you guys. I believe all drug tests are a violation of privacy, that the government should be prevented from doing it by the constitution and private employers should be prevented from doing it by statute--just as they're prevented from asking about my religion or sexual orientation.

    Performance in a job shouldn't be pre-judged by unscientific moral assumptions about drugs. And the moral worthiness of poor people shouldn't have anything to do with whether they receive government aid.

    After all, why should a welfare recipient's children suffer even more because of his or her drug habit?

  • Naga Sadow||

    What? Now Tony cares about the Constitution? And to think I admired your troll abilities!

  • ed||

    ed,

    What is this Constitution that you speak of?


    It's that fading, arcane document in Capital City that used to guarantee our rights as citizens, except when it never did. Every so often one gang with good lawyers uses it to advantage over a weaker gang. Then the bestest judges in the whole world edit it like a wiki.

  • Welfare King||

    We can still be drunk, though, right?

  • Fluffy||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Butler

    In US v. Butler the SCOTUS properly held that the government cannot use the creation of a class of benefits to achieve legislative ends that could not be achieved directly because doing so violated enumerated rights.

    This extremely sensible decision was quickly eroded and disregarded, no doubt because allowing it to stand as a precedent would have destroyed the modern state in short order.

    If the state can require you to waive your 4th amendment rights to get welfare benefits, there is absolutely no reason why the state cannot impose a 100% tax on all income and property, with the proviso that 75% of your income and property can be deducted from this tax if you waive all of your enumerated rights, including the right to free speech, a jury trial, to not be subject to cruel and unusual punishment, whatever.

  • ||

    shouldn't you also drug-test people who collect Social Security benefits, VA benefits, and government pensions?

    2 of the 3 of those are currently done during the years where one gets qualified for the entitlement.


    What does that have to do with anything? No one is saying that if you ever passed a drug test during your lifetime you don't have to take one to get your welfare check. If its a current requirement for some recipients of tax money, why shouldn't it be a current requirement for all?

  • ChrisO||

    Don't drug-test welfare recipients. Put them to work on public-works projects. Workfare (not the fake kind) is better than welfare. The public gets a return on its "investment." And if the recipient is too fucked up to handle the job, then they're SOL.

  • Gov\'t lawyer||

    hmm....

    Maybe instead of giving away money, we'll just trade the money for 2 ounce samples of urine each month.

    That will mean it's not socialism but capitalism!

    Eureka!

  • James J.B.||

    In Russia, the drugs test YOU!!

  • ||

    Tax TARP recipients, state lawmakers, judges, students on scholarships, farmers who get government subsidies, any state employee, etc. Why target people who are poor? http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2009/03/targeting-poor-some-states-propose-drug.html

  • Telly||

    I'm not comfortable with government mandated blood testing due to privacy concerns. But then on the other hand, most people who actually work for their money have to pass a blood test, so why not the free loaders too?

  • ||

    I could see maybe requiring random drug testing for unemployment benefits, as that is a reason why some people don't end up getting jobs. Maybe even welfare could benefit from these tests.

    Really, are these people serious that food stamps and WIC benefits may require random drug testing. Many people enrolled in those programs are gainfully employed or students in good academic standing... I really don't care if those people are doing drugs, as long as they make good on the taxpayers investment and at least stay employed or get their degree.

  • ||

    I propose that all recipients of all state funds have their urine tested for creatinine and if found positive those funds should be returned to the taxpayers in a pro-rata fashion.

  • engineer||

    I'm libertarian on drug legalization for one major reason: I think people have the right to screw up their own lives in whatever manner they see fit, provided they harm no one else. That said, some substances certainly can mess people up. And if they expect other people to take care of them (via welfare), they can afford to stay away from those substances.

  • ||

    Telly,

    "...most people who actually work for their money have to pass a blood test..."

    How about some facts to back that up? I've been in the work force for 25 years across a variety of jobs, for big and small companies, and I've never been tested. Please define most people.

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