John Cole blogs about the Florida drug test law which targets welfare recipients, and as usual, gets right to the heart of what really counts:
This was never about money. This was about shaming people, humiliating people, making being poor worse than it already was, and giving the soulless goons like the types I mentioned above an opportunity to feel smug and good about themselves at the expense of others.
And not to mention that the program was a resounding waste of money and arguably a massive failure; during the four months that the drug testing was in place, only
[…] 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was marijuana use. An additional 40 people canceled the tests without taking them.
Even if we allow that the 40 who cancelled did so because they were using drugs, rather than for principle or cost reasons, that still only puts the figure up to 3.6%, and as John rightly points out, by the Federal govt’s estimate, only 8% and 10.2% of full- and part-time workers respectively test positive for illegal drug use; in short, welfare recipients are at least only half as likely to use illegal drugs.
To someone who actually thought about this reasonably and rationally, rather than through the filter of political ideology, this only makes sense: people applying for welfare don’t tend to have a bunch of extra cash lying around to blow on drugs; to the modern Republican Party, however, the only people who apply for welfare are lazy cheats who don’t want to work, because if they did want to work, they’d already have bootstrapped themselves into high paying jobs.
Let’s just not talk about how poverty tends to be intergenerational, or how these noble bootstrappers took advantage of the same government-provided privileges and opportunities that they’re trying to take away from the modern poor, or how these same self-made men and women just happened to have parents who gave them a leg up.
There will be some people who still insist this is about saving money; they can’t still very well insist that welfare recipients are all druggies now, or at least not with a straight face. This can be swiftly despatched with the following facts:
Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test
Let’s not kid ourselves here, folks. This whole thing was about class warfare and punishing the poor, because the Republican Party is now the official party of the 1%, because the poor vote for Democrats; it’s fruit from the same poisonous tree that leads to voter ID laws, and just another example of how Republicans are no longer interested in governing, only in being in power.