Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Case for Drug Testing Rick Scott and Nikki Haley

Herman Cain

Gov Scott

Gov Haley

Rep. Hagan

"Don't blame Wall Street," Cain said. "Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself."

The above expressed sentiment is that of one of the front running Republican presidential candidates, the darling of the week, Herman Cain, a man who has never held elected office.
When he reiterated this... comment... during last Tuesday's presidential debate, the audience erupted in applause, seemingly gleeful about blaming the unemployed for the dire and unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in, as if the unemployed, our American brothers and sisters, would only try harder, then gainful, living wage jobs would fall neatly in their laps and everything would be hunky dory.
The Republican Party of course, is the party of family and Christian values. If I remember my Bible correctly, and I do, Jesus Christ had a high regard for the poor, as he did for families. The Republicans seem to be concerned for the plight of poor families only when it doesn't cost them anything.
Mr. Cain has proved himself vile and loathsome many times before. Recently he told a crowd of supporters that if elected he would erect an electrified fence along the entire southern boarder we share with Mexico in an attempt to curb illegal immigration, one that would be lethal to those attempting to climb it. His audience at the time was receptive to the bloodthirsty idea, as he knew it would be. That's why he said it. But when called on the statement by David Gregory on Meet the Press, on national television, well then all of the sudden it was just a joke... he had been joking, and he really didn't mean it. A fine example of Republican humor.
Mr. Cain knew what he was doing when he made the statement initially. He was pandering to his sociopathic base, and when confronted by sane people, then he didn't mean what he said (until he said he still might consider the deadly fence while apologizing for considering it).
Mr. Cain is clearly a mean, pathetic, sad little man, and clearly a sociopath, who if he were actually to gain high office would constitute a serious threat to the country. He has no ability to empathize with the pain of others. In fact he displays the traits of a predator. As the Chief Executive Officer of the National Restaurant Association in 1996, Cain advocated against a strict .08 blood alcohol level for drivers from being adopted nationally (anyone found driving with a BAL above that number being subject to arrest) because the restaurant industry was losing money by not allowing its customers to drink more. In other words he was worried about business and the propagation of money before the safety and well being of fellow human beings, actively lobbying for policies that were sure to cause death and injury.
His mental derangement explains his valuation of the unemployed, and poor in general. His attitude and statements are of a certain political value, as the applause from his audience would suggest. For some reason Republicans like to blame poor people for being poor, which negates any social responsibility toward them. It is highly inconvenient to remind Cain and his followers that Wall Street did in fact cause the financial meltdown of 2007/2008, through the deregulatory efforts of the George W. Bush administration (at the behest of Wall Street), a Republican administration if I remember correctly, and I do, a political party Cain, and presumably his audience are members of. The financial crisis led directly to high levels of unemployment, and an economy in which businesses are more likely to down size rather than hire.
In other words again, Republicans are directly responsible for the high rates of unemployment the country now faces, while at the same time they blame those affected by high unemployment for not being able to find work (100% of the Republican Senate just voted down the President's Job Bill, if you needed further proof of this).
Stephen Colbert reports:
When confronted with these facts Republicans, Tea Baggers, and the right will either ignore them completely, or attempt to revise history to their advantage, which once again allows them to negate the need to continue to concern themselves with the plight of the poor and unemployed, which allows the likes of Cain, and many, many others, to continue to demonize them with impunity.
As if the poor and unemployed don't have it bad enough, it seems that they are good political fodder for the right (as they are for the left, but the left tends to at least advocate for them, rather than against). The poor and unemployed are poor and unemployed because they want to stay that way, according to Republican dogma. It stands to reason they must be drug addicts as well.
Well doesn't it?! I can speak through personal experience. I'm poor and unemployed, and I'm certainly a drug addict.
I just don't actively use drugs anymore (now if someone forced me to use drugs that would be a different matter).
Their just doesn't seem to be any evidence that would suggest that the poor and unemployed, those who would seek government benefits like unemployment insurance, welfare, or other programs designed to help them, use drugs and alcohol any more than any other segment of society. Several studies, including a 1996 report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, have found that there is no significant difference in the rate of illegal drug use by welfare applicants and anybody else. As a matter of fact another study found that 70% of illegal drug users between the age of 18 and 49 were working full time. 70%.
Yet we have statements like the one from Alabama state representative Kerry Rich, “I don’t think the taxpayers should have to help fund somebody’s drug habit.”
And actions like those of Florida Governor Rick Scott, who passed a law last May requiring welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits.
Why? Because obviously if you're applying for welfare you must be taking drugs, and boozing it up all day watching Judge Judy and popping out babies.
The demonic American Civil Liberties Union did not believe this and is suing the state to stop the practice. They think the law may be discriminatory against a certain sub-set of individuals without probable cause, or rather evidence to back the assumption up. Well, they may be right, and they may be wrong.
Scott thinks that since so many welfare applicants are using drugs the state will save oodles of money by making applicants pay for their own drug test (they'll be reimbursed if the test is negative), which the majority will come back positive, so Florida won't have to pay them any benefits, or for the test.
It hasn't quite turned out the way Gov. Scott thought it would though. A Florida television station, WFTV, reported that of the first 40 applicants tested, only two came up positive, and one of those was appealing the test results. The state stands to save less than $240 a month if it denied benefits to the two applicants, but it had to pay $1,140 to the applicants who tested negative (benefits, plus the cost of the test).
That plus the administrative and overhead costs for the testing program, and inevitable court costs, now and in the future, almost insures Florida won't save a dime utilizing this program.
But what the hell, it's only tax payer money being spent, and there's plenty of that. When you Consider the politics behind the program it becomes well worth it. Scott campaigned with the idea of drug testing welfare applicants, and he won.
Maybe that's why the idea is catching on. Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Ohio, Louisiana, and South Carolina are considering adopting laws like Florida’s. United States Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has introduced the Drug Free Families Act of 2011, which would require all 50 states to drug test welfare applicants.
Nikki Haley, the new Governor of South Carolina wants to start a drug testing program for applicants for welfare and unemployment benefits, real bad. She claimed about half of the applicants at a nuclear site in South Carolina failed a drug test which meant the program was badly needed.
It turns out she got her facts a little wrong. Less than 1 percent of the applicants failed the drug test, the Associated Press reported. That would mean the program was not needed.
She wants to go ahead with it anyway.
Some believe, myself included, that those in a position to implement these testing programs are not as worried about saving tax payer funds as they would want you to think. That they are rather driven by political and idealogical considerations.
They don't like the idea of giving money away to poor and unemployed people, under any circumstance. There is a certain section of their constituency that share that opinion, like these morons:
And poor people and those without jobs tend not to vote, so why bother with them.
However, if we were to give the benefit of the doubt to lawmakers like Vitter, Scott, and Haley, that they just wanted to save money by making sure no one receiving public funds was shoot'en up and snorting them drugs, well that leaves a pretty big door open. Might as well test all state employees for drugs, whether they're applying for jobs, or already have them. They're receiving public funds to get their salaries aren't they, and as Representative Rich so aptly put it, "I don’t think the taxpayers should have to help fund somebody’s drug habit."
And by extension, his own included.
The hero of this story is Ohio State Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) who has introduced legislation to improve accountability in state public officials by, you guessed it, testing them for drug use.
"House Bill 343 requires drug and alcohol testing for statewide elected officials, legislators, JobsOhio board members and recipients of federal corporate bailout money (Troubled Asset Relief Program). It also provides a process for recalling statewide elected officials and members of the General Assembly."
"Republicans in the Statehouse want a state agency to test welfare recipients for drugs and alcohol citing 'legislators' responsibility to ensure Ohioans tax dollars are properly cared for,' but they conveniently gloss over the glaring hypocrisy of avoiding any such testing of their own, while clearly insulting the dignity of Ohioans who have fallen upon rough times and need assistance to make ends meet," said Rep. Hagan. "It is Republican proposals like this that smack of a clear misunderstanding of the daily struggle of many Ohioans in this terrible economic climate. I wish they would just stick to their failed promises from last fall of putting Ohioans back to work instead of attacking those who need help."
"HB343 would require drug testing of state legislators, Supreme Court justices, statewide elected officials, and JobsOhio board members. The officials would pay for the testing, and penalties would be imposed for those found to possess un-prescribed pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs, and/or alcohol in their body at the time of testing. Consequences for positive screenings include outright removal from public office- in the case of JobsOhio board members, and required treatment, possible impeachment, and the ability to recall all other elected officials who test positive."
I applaud Rep. Hagan in his efforts to achieve a certain amount of fairness and sanity towards this issue. But I say his bill doesn't go far enough. What about all of those federal employees who are paid by the American tax payer. Don't want them using drugs while monitoring our water and food supply, or wasting valuable time in congress filibustering things, or starting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... or Libya. Yeah, that's right! Test Obama, as until recently I thought he was hitting the old sauce pretty hard in his efforts at bipartisanship in dealing with the Republicans in Congress. He kept doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. The very definition of insanity, and a huge symptom of rampant alcoholism.
Unfortunately for Rep Hagan and me, the Fourth Amendment puts strict limits on what kind of searches the state can carry out, and drug tests are considered to be a search. In 1997, in Chandler v. Miller, the Supreme Court voted 8-1 to strike down a Georgia law requiring candidates for state offices to pass a drug test. I assume that those already in office would be protected as well.
Oh yes, in 2003, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Michigan’s drug testing of welfare applicants as a Fourth Amendment violation. So people of Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Ohio, might want to write your Governors and tell them to quit wasting your hard earned tax dollars on drug testing programs.
The nation might think they're drunk.

Addendum: On Monday, October 24th, A federal judge temporarily blocked Florida's new law that requires welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits, saying it may violate the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

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