The “make welfare recipients pass drug tests” movement is coming to Oklahoma…
9:00 AM EDT on August 9, 2011
Outside of hipster first daughters and former drug dealing son-in-laws, things have been kind of quiet on the political front since the legislative session ended earlier this summer. Don't worry, though, the right-wing wackos are currently hard at work in their dungeons crafting idiotic social legislation to appeal to their naive and credulous Oklahoma base.
The first person to unveil some of this legislation is failed Oklahoma City mayoral candidate Guy Leibmann. He wants to show poor people what's up and make welfare recipients pass drug tests before they can collect welfare benefits. From News 9:
Taking a cue from Florida lawmakers, Oklahoma representative Guy Liebmann wants mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients. He will introduce the bill in the 2012 legislative session.
Applicants who test positive for controlled substances will have to get treatment or give up their benefits for a year...
DHS would be responsible for the testing.
"We are facing a significant shortfall next year about $32 million and that is significant, so anything like this would result in a significant impact for us," said Guy Beutler, a DHS spokesperson.
Beutler said DHS is willing to work with Liebmann's office to ensure the bill doesn't prevent some 18,000 Oklahoman children from getting benefits...
Liebmann's proposal may be redundant since all states already require initial drug testing for TANF recipients. According to DHS, that program has a 98 percent success rate.
News 9 called Leibmann for comment but he refused a phone interview. His staff said was on vacation with his family.
On the surface, this sounds like a great idea. I think we all agree that people who rely upon government welfare for survival shouldn't do drugs. But the issue is much deeper and much more complex than that, and Liebmann's proposal to force welfare recipients to take a drug test, and then strip away their benefits if they fail, is flawed logic.
Here are six reasons why:
1. The proposed legislation is redundant. As KWTV reports, all states require initial drug testing for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Need Families) recipients. Additionally, the program has a 98 percent success rate. Those numbers seem to suggest that a majority of welfare recipients are not methed-out drug users, but just normal human beings who for one reason or another find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being poor. Forcing these people to take another test is simply redundant and a waste of time and money.
(p.s. - Here's a page that has all the DHS welfare stats. Pretty interesting.)
2. The proposed legislation is biased. Why just limit the legislation to poor people on welfare? There are millions upon millions of people out there who receive financial assistance or help from the government, like people who receive social security benefits, medicare coverage, farm subsidies, Pell grants, home interest deductions and corporate tax subsidies. Why should they not be held to the same standards as poor people?
Wait. I know the answer to that. Those people have yet to be labeled by the right-wing wackos as lazy deadbeat drug addicts. Don't worry, though, it will probably happen soon.
3. The proposed legislation will not save money. Some people will get out their Tea Party Talking Point Handbook and say that the proposed legislation will save money and lower taxes and keep people off drugs. I don't really see how that's possible. The costs to carry out, track and monitor additionally drug testing would probably neutralize any money saved.
Plus, there's the whole socio-economic impact. What if you deny benefits to someone and they turn to crime as a result? That's going to cost society and taxpayers much more money in the long-term.
And yes, I know there are some people on welfare who will take advantage of the system. They'll commit crimes, use heavy drugs and be the cockroaches of society whether they receive benefits or not. But stereotyping an entire demographic of people based on the callous actions of a few just doesn't seem like the right thing to do. Unless you're Sally Kern, then it's a totally reasonable and logical action.
4. The proposed legislation is likely to be ruled unconstitutional. This could be debated, but if this bill passes — and it probably will — then it will more than likely be ruled unconstitutional like a similar Michigan law. We have this thing called the constitution that protects the minority from the idiocracy of the masses. It's a good thing.
Of course, if the law is challenged, we'll have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the courts defending it. That doesn't really matter to the hypocrites at the Capitol. As we learned when they decided to force women to pay for intrusive (and unneeded) medical procedures in order to have an abortion or essentially discriminate against an entire religion for no reason, they'll do whatever it takes to force their hypocritical theocratic ideology upon everyone. It doesn't matter what it costs.
5. The proposed legislation is politically motivated. Yeah, this isn't a newsflash or anything, but why else would a limited government, anti-spending, personal-freedoms-protecting Republican propose legislation that would increase government, cost money and limit personal freedoms?
The answer is easy. He wants to win brownie points with his simple-minded, easy-to-dupe, constituency. Sadly, enough, it will probably work. Remember, we are not very smart.
6. Finally, the proposed legislation doesn't address the problem at hand. To quote the great Clark Matthews:
My opposition to mandatory drug testing has nothing to do with cost and everything to do with misuse of the results. If the objective were to get help for those who failed tests while on welfare, then I would think it was a great program. Instead, the goal is to reduce the rolls and deny any assistance of any kind. So, basically, the point is to put a bunch of junkies on the street in a state of complete desperation. Where could that go wrong?
P.s. - Are we still on for checkers this weekend?
Anyway, hopefully our legislature will see the redundancies, flaws and stupidity of this legislation and it will never make it out of a committee. Also, hopefully Emily Sutton will dedicate a song to me the next time she sings karaoke. I'm sure that will happen.
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