Drug Policy

Nikki Haley Pledges Not to Let Reality Get in the Way of Drug Testing


Via Alan Vanneman comes this ThinkProgess piece on Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.), whose commitment to drug-testing recipients of unemployment insurance trumps her fealty to reality.

Haley…admitted today that she was wrong in asserting that half the people who applied to work at a nuclear facility in the state had failed drug tests, yet said she will still push to drug test the unemployed.

Haley has been advancing a plan to force jobless South Carolinians to pass a drug test before they can receive unemployment insurance, claiming an epidemic of substance abuse. The problem was so unbelievable, Haley said last month, that at the Savannah River nuclear site, "[of] everybody they interviewed, half of them failed a drug test."…

The Savannah River Site story has been central to Haley's drug testing push. "It's the reason you hear me focus so much on job training," Haley told the AP.

"I'm not going to say it anymore," Haley said, but nonetheless said that she'll continue her push for drug testing, even though the basis for it is entirely incorrect.

More here.

Back in 2002, Reason's Jacob Sullum pointed out that drug-testing is as irrelevant to job performance as it is ubiquitous. In 2008, Greg Beato explained "How Americans learned to stop worrying and love workplace drug testing."

And in January 2011, Reason.tv checked in on New Jersey pols who wanted to start drug-testing schoolkids as young as 11 years old:


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  1. We don’t need no stinking warrants or presumption of innocence when TEH DRUGS are involved.

  2. I’m for legalizing all drugs. On the other hand, I’m for not paying deadbeats my money. A real quandry.

      1. I don’t see a quandary. If people shouldn’t be punished for using drugs, they shouldn’t be drug tested by the State as a condition of getting benefits.

        1. The quandary is that I wouldn’t mind if a Sanskrit test and Quantum Mechanics test were both required before any free money was handed out.

        2. Except you are not entitled to benefits. This is one of those places where reasonable libertarians disagree, and the dichotomy is as follows:

          1. He who pays the piper calls the tune
          2. Government should not engage in social engineering

          That said, the SLD applies, and there should not be unemployment benefits/social safety nets in the first place. However, if the taxpayers, the people who pay the money, say, through their representatives, that you have to jump through flaming hoops and battle the Sarlacc to get government benefits, well, it’s their money.

      2. rac – i read that florida spends much moar $$$ on testing than they save w the DQ’s off state assistance.

        1. That claim was debunked here awhile back. They compared the cost of the tests with just one month of dole money.

    1. No quandary at all if you stop blaming high unemployment on the unemployed. Our economic problems are not the result of a spontaneous surge in laziness. Libertarians can be such moral busybodies…

      1. No, it’s a result of people like you.

        1. Of course it is.

          1. This could all be solved with more stimulus and more government jobs!!!

      2. Of course the current high unemployment rate is not because of a surge in laziness. Who said that? Some people are unemployed because they are lazy, but I don’t think anyone has suggested that that is a major cause of the current problems.

        1. I don’t think anyone has suggested…

          That’s what makes it a straw man argument.

    2. As bad as it is, government checks to people aren’t nearly as harmful as government regulations.

      1. *they are… damn it.

        1. Bingo. If it was really just about helping poor people, you’d cut them a check and shut the fuck up (standard libertarian disclaimers apply). But, left and right, it’s about controlling poor people.

    1. She’s the spitting image of Angie Harmon.

      1. No way – Angie Harmon is way hotter.

    2. I took one look and realized that I would probably agree with pretty much anything she said. Leave her alone!

      1. This is why men should have never gotten the vote!

        1. Only eunuchs should be allowed to vote.

          1. Property-owning eunuchs.

            1. Property-owning eunuchs married men.

              I could go along with that.

              1. MMMmmm…I find that married men are more ruled by their dicks than singles.

                1. cause they either aint gettin any or its same old. but since im single, i luvs me some strange

              2. A difference without a distinction.

  3. It always fun to confirm a significant portion of the GOP hasn’t ever gotten past “Drugs are bad…mmkay?”

  4. Via Alan Vanneman
    “Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Piss Cup of Sumatra.”

    1. “I say, Holmes… haven’t you had your fill of drinking piss yet?”

      “Not as long as Alan is willing to overflow my bowl, my dear Watson. Now go get on the Victorian inter-netting contraption and give that fine chap Vanneman another tip o’ the deerstalker.”

      1. “Sherlock Holmes and Vanneman’s Giant Talking Gerbil” (Recommended reading level: Ages 4-8)

  5. I’m all for drug testing unemployment recipients, welfare recipients, and government job seekers. But on one condition, they drug test me before I have to pay my taxes, and if I fail, they get no taxes from me.

    1. If you want me to support a drug-testing regime, my condition is that the most powerful recipients of pay and benefits from the government (I’m referring, of course, to the politicians) must all become to subject to yearly surprise drug-tests.

      1. I will go along with that.

  6. As long as there are companies that require drug screenings as a condition of employment, I am completely on board with drug testing for the unemployed.

    Why should a person be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, if they are denied employment because of a failed drug screening?

    1. Doesn’t work, unless you think there is something extra special about drug testing.

      Try this: Why should a person be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, if they are denied employment due to employer policy on _____________?

      That policy could include, well, credit checks, background checks, you name it.

      Now, if you want to get rid of unemployment benefits for everyone, that’s fine. Otherwise, you are saying failing a drug screen is so extra special bad that you should not only lose a job, you should lose unemployment benefits as well.

      1. Wow. Do you really not see the irony between your handle and this comment?

        1. That was directed at “free2booze,” btw.

  7. Subtext – You know who has two thumbs and likes cavity searches?

  8. I am actually in favor of drug testing those on the public dole . . . because I don’t want MY MONEY TO PAY FOR YOUR WEED. You wanna toke, swallow or sniff? Do what every other responsible drug user in America does . . . abstain from drugs while you are looking for a job, pass the drug test and go back to getting high once you are hired. Otherwise, I don’t want to pay for your stash – I have a hard enough time paying for my own.

    1. I am actually in favor of drug nicotine and daily blood alcohol testing those on the public dole . . . because I don’t want MY MONEY TO PAY FOR YOUR WEED BOOZE AND CIGS.

      I don’t see why one and not the others.

      1. Three reasons:
        1. The drugs they are testing for are illegal. I do not like that fact. This could all be solved by changing the law, and making them legal. That’s not going to happen. So, I don’t want to subsidize illegal activity. I would rather not aid others in breaking the law, especially if those on public assistance are shown to come from demographics that are more likely to be arrested, prosecuted and sent to jail for breaking drug laws – which is a further drain on my wallet.
        2. It’s expensive. Booze is relatively inexpensive – same for cigs. Not so drugs. Once again, legalizing the products and subjecting them to market forces within a legal framework could help some in this regard. Not going to happen.
        3. Third – there is nothing – NOTHING – libertarian in supporting the subsidization of drug use. I have thought this through, wrestled with it, and came to the conclusion that the only solution to this is legalization. The drug laws are dumb. However, I don’t want to be robbed in order to pay for somebody else’s illegal habit. Yes, even though I am guilty of breaking the law every time I toke, I accept responsibility for what happens should I get caught. If the guy who is toking on the public dole gets caught, goes through the retarded legal process, and ends up in jail, I have in fact robbed myself of even more money and contributed to the Drug Warrior complex.

        1. Two quick thoughts.

          1. If you do wish to see many of these illegal drugs made legal, as you suggest in your first point, then supporting a drug-testing scheme makes achieving that objective more difficult. The reason being that if an industry arises around this drug-screening, they will become an interest group that will oppose legalization because legalization would take work away from them.

          2. While you are probably right that subsidizing drug-use, or other activities, is not libertarian, I would think opposing a government scheme to collect bodily fluids or tissues from people (and who knows what the government would eventually do with such information) would be in-line with libertarianism. Also, isn’t a drug-testing scheme written into the law sort of a subsidy for the drug-testing industry? I would not be surprised if the drug-testing industry is encouraging the Governor and the state legislature to pass this bill.

          1. A respectful reply to your thoughts . . .
            On thought number one, you make an excellent point. It would seem that supporting a drug testing scheme would make legalization more difficult. But it also seems that you have made a bit of an a priori assumption concerning the drug testing lobby. Fact is, they already exist, already constitute a lobby, and are not going away, even if legalization should occur – think of the military, independent businesses still testing, etc. Strengthen an already existing lobby? Perhaps.
            Your second thought is also good, and gets at a critical question for libertarians everywhere – can a libertarian ever support the collection of bodily fluids for any purpose whatsoever? Some would say no. Think again of the military (I was Navy for 7 years, so I speak from experience) – is their random collection of urine to test for drugs legitimate? And another point – this drug test is entirely voluntary. The government is not forcing anyone to do this – they are simply making it a condition upon which money will be delivered to the person applying for benefits, i.e., money. So, how is this different from a private company doing the same – freedom of contract, right?

            1. As for thought one, we seem to largely agree that creating more jobs and businesses dependent on the continuing prohibition of drugs will strengthen the drug prohibition lobby.

              As for the second thought, just look at how libertarians feel about the industry that has grown out of the government mandate to mix ethanol into gasoline. I imagine libertarians would feel similarly about another industry born out of a government mandate rather than market demand. Just seems like a recipe for more crony capitalism.

              BTW, I believe drug tests are appropriate in jobs where impairment would seriously endanger the public.

        2. 1. Speeding is also illegal. Should we put governors on the cars of unemployment assistance recipients? And while we’re at it, if we’re going to spend money and time invading the privacy of others to ensure that no money ends up in the hands of those who might break the law at some point, shouldn’t some sort of direct, video monitoring be in effect? I mean, they could take your money and subsidize serial killing with it, after all.

          2. Booze isn’t relatively inexpensive…maybe by volume, but not by effect. A $50 bag of good pot will get one moderate stoner high 5 or 6 times. Can you get drunk 5 or 6 times on 50 bucks? I can’t, and I don’t even drink that much. I won’t pretend to know going prices on other drugs, but I do know that poor people seem to have no problem getting crack, which appears to me to be one hell of a more significant high than what alcohol does for you.

          3. There is nothing libertarian about the subsidization of drug use, no…but that seems a fairly asinine argument to relate to this situation. “Subsidization” implies affirmative intent, of which there is none here. People aren’t being given money to buy drugs, they’re being given money in lieu of the returns from gainful employment…what they do with that money is neither here nor there, unless what you are really advocating is that recipients invoice everything they spend their government money on. Drug testing is nothing more than a backdoor for requiring them do so in ONLY one area…drugs. Supporting drug tests for unemployment recipients is a wonderful way to support the perptuation of the drug war, because it continues to place drug use in categories where only drug use exists, under guidelines that guide only drug use…the underlying basis of all drug/moral prohibition.

          1. Your points, one by one . . . number one: this is pure hyperbole. Refer to my post response to JT Florida above.
            Number two: If you cannot get drunk 5 times off of 50 dollars worth of alcohol, then something is wrong with you. I say this as an alcoholic. Though I consider that point to be the least/weakest of my points, it still stands: a free market regime of pricing would ultimately make drugs less expensive.
            Point three: fuck affirmative intent. I am concerned with the practical effects. I am all for ending the WOD – that’s the answer to all of this. I know we can agree on that. But here’s reality – that’s not happening anytime soon. Plus, it may not be politically correct to point this out, but it is true that those who receive government assistance on average are more prone to arrest for drug related charges. Those arrests and incarcerations cost all of us money – it’s all part of the WOD! So, while we all wait for that blessed day of change when toking and smoking are finally legal, I suggest that the drug tests actually serve a useful and practical purpose – it forces people to get stop using, at least temporarily, and will lower the risk of their arrest and incarceration, at least for a small window of time. The end results may not be overwhelming, but it saves all of us money in the long run.

      2. RC – aren’t these already preconditions of WIC/EBT? Although money is fungible and people are essentially paying for alcohol and cigarettes anyway…

    2. I don’t want my money to pay for your McDonald’s and Justin Bieber tickets.

  9. “Via Alan Vanneman”

    So does he puke, piss or poop them out?

  10. Unfortunately my state rep introduced a bill like this for Georgia past session. He just happens to have made his pile from drug treatment facilities, but that just gives him the gravitas he needs to show how bad the situation is.

  11. How about testing governors for their fidelity toward their spouses?

  12. I’ll take a drug test when Haley takes an I.Q. test (or lie detector test)

  13. I’m in favor of drug testing.

    If the human resources person / government official responsible for the drug testing requirement personally catches the urine sample.

    With their mouth…..

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