Policy

Orrin Hatch: Drug-test Welfare Recipients

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Watcha got in that beaker, sailor?

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

People seeking unemployment benefits or welfare would have to first pass a drug test under a proposal Sen. Orrin Hatch will try to add to legislation extending the social safety net during this time of economic turmoil.

Hatch, R-Utah, said his idea would help battle drug addiction and could reduce the nation's debt. He will try to get the Senate to include his amendment to a $140 billion bill extending tax breaks and social programs this week.

"This amendment is a way to help people get off of drugs to become productive and healthy members of society, while ensuring that valuable taxpayer dollars aren't wasted," he said after announcing his amendment. "Too many Americans are locked into a life of a dangerous dependency not only on drugs, but the federal assistance that serves to enable their addiction."

State Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, introduced similar legislation during Utah's legislative session but ultimately abandoned the bill because the programs are governed federally. […]

"It is simply immoral for them to use taxpayer dollars to fund their addiction," he said. "Clearly, people who have a drug addiction need help, but they need to step up to get the help."

It is simply immoral for them to use taxpayer dollars to fund their addiction

This is, alas, nothing new. In addition to social-welfare recipients, lawmakers have identified several other sub-classes of people ripe for being forced by the state to urinate on command, including (but not limited to) student athletes, kids who dare take part in other extra-curricular activities, and even kids who do nothing all day but draw "I Heart Conor" in their Pee-Chees. (They still have those, right?)

Always missing from these flippant tramplings of our privacy rights are two classes of people: Lawmakers themselves, and recipients of corporate welfare. Wouldn't you feel just a little safer if Patrick Kennedy got his fluids checked on regular basis? Ya think some of those juicy subsidies for film productions ever land in the hands of people who use drugs?

The moral of the story here is not new, but bears repeating: If you are at all dependent on the state, whether by choice or force, and you don't have the good manners to be powerful, you will always stand the risk of being treated like a patient at a criminal asylum. It is as good a reason as any other to resist further encroachment of the government on our private lives.