Despite the evidence and the constitutional legality, dozens of states are pursuing laws requiring welfare recipients be tested for drugs
Conservatives love to preach small effective government. When it comes to imposing their moral standards on others however, their policies change quickly to tax wasting, ineffective and overreaching management of the state.
The best and most recent example is the attempt to drug test welfare recipients in most Republican controlled states. It’s classic conservative mentality at work, to think that all welfare recipients are free-loading drug abusers. Particularly in Rick Scott’s Florida.
The experiment in the Sunshine State not only failed miserably, it was deemed unconstitutional last week by a federal judge. US District Judge Mary S. Scriven also rejected the notion that there is any correlation between welfare and drug abuse, and she’s right.
The ALEC legislation that Governor Rick Scott signed into law has failed on multiple fronts. First off, not only has it proven that all welfare recipients are not on drugs, but those on public assistance use drugs far less than the well to do.
In the four months before a temporary injunction was put in place by Judge Scriven, the State of Florida confirmed that only 2.6 percent of the state’s welfare applicants failed the drug test. Most tested positive for marijuana. Compare the 2.6 to the 8.7 percent of Americans who use drugs and the myth of the welfare drug abuser would seem to be just that, a myth.
Second, when Governor Scott first passed the law, he claimed it would save tax payers money. Well he was wrong on that account too. People who passed the drug test had to be refunded the $30 fee by the State of Florida.
The end result is that the testing costs more than the money they saved from those who tested positive. During those four months Florida actually lost about $45,000. Similarly, the State of Utah spent $30,000 that whole year to weed out welfare applicants on drugs. The total number of people who tested positive was 12.
So as you can see, drug testing welfare applicants is not only a fourth amendment violation, but it’s also a complete waste of money and time. You would think that would deter the sane among us from going down this road in other states or giving it up in Florida, but not everyone has the same definition of sanity.
In 2011 and 2012, nine other states adopted their own laws requiring welfare applicants to be tested or screened for drug use. In 2013, even after the evidence was shown to not work, 29 other states have proposed similar legislation. You can bet they are all looking carefully at Judge Scriven’s decision, but they are not deterred.
Why would more than half the states in the country want to go down a failed road? Perhaps our more conservative politicians can’t handle the thought of a few people on public assistance smoking pot from time to time. I’ll bet you anything that drug use among our politicians is greater than 2.6%.
Perhaps it’s just a case of our governors being misguided. Governor Scott no longer maintains the law was created to save tax payer money:
“Any illegal drug use in a family is harmful and even abusive to a child. We should have a zero tolerance policy for illegal drug use in families — especially those families who struggle to make ends meet and need welfare assistance to provide for their children. We will continue to fight for Florida children who deserve to live in drug-free homes by appealing this judge’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.”
If Mr. Scott cares so much about the children in families with illegal drug use, why is he focusing on the people who use it the least? The cost no longer matters as long as the children are safe. What this has become is just another front in the war on drugs that targets the least fortunate among us.
Regardless of the nonsense that spews from Scott’s mouth, the real reason he and other governors like him have continued down this futile drug testing path is ALEC. The reach of the American Legislative Exchange Council is so great that now seem capable of penetrate Democratic States with type of model legislation.
This largely conservative, corporate fascist law making group is responsible for creating laws like this. Laws that turn conservatives into hypocrites by taking their small effective government ideology and turning them into lawmakers that waste tax payer money and infringe on our constitutional rights.
So long as groups like ALEC exist, you can expect to see other state legislation rob us of our money and freedom. ALEC is made up of corporate interests only interested in their bottom lines, not welfare crimes. In this case, drug testing profits for the healthcare industry.