Finally Something Worth Inhaling

Tuesday, 21 Feb 2012 04:49 PM

By Chris Freind

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Random drug testing of welfare recipients and public workers is racist, discriminatory and blatantly unconstitutional.

Believe that, and you’re smoking something.

drugtesting.jpg
Drug testing kit.
(Getty Images)
The drug testing issue is again making headlines around the country. In Pennsylvania, a scaled-down program is now underway, applicable only to welfare recipients who have been convicted of a felony in the last five years or are currently on parole.

Too bad. It should include every single non-elected person receiving a paycheck courtesy of John Q. Taxpayer.

The only people who should be exempted are elected officials, since their employers are the sovereign people. They are not collecting government assistance checks, nor are they hired as civil service workers. True, many leave us wondering if they’re on drugs. And yes, at first glance it seems hypocritical to enact laws that legislators do not have to follow, but they are in a unique position.

What’s next? A State Rep fails the test and is stripped of his seat? Not practical, probably unconstitutional, and a very dangerous precedent.

That said, it would be a smart move for these elected office holders to voluntarily take a drug test.

The point of state-mandated testing is to ascertain whether someone receiving money, given to them by hardworking taxpayers, is using those funds on illegal drugs.

This is not a police-state tactic designed to incarcerate drug users, (since it isn’t the consumption of drugs that is illegal, but manufacturing, distribution and possession). It is simply a program to ensure responsible stewardship of the people’s money.

No one is forced to go on public assistance, just like no one is required to work at a private company that mandates drug tests. It’s part of the deal — take it or leave it.

Lost in the debate is that drug testing isn’t discriminatory, but is increasingly common throughout society. Many companies require clean drug tests as a condition of employment, since drug users would be high-risk, untrustworthy employees.

Public assistance is supposed to help the recipient and his/her family survive. If recipients can’t be clean, they should receive no benefits, as those benefits are a privilege, not a right. It is simply arrogant to think one is entitled to benefits without conditions.

Here are some of the more disingenuous arguments the pro-druggie side uses:

Argument: Welfare recipients are no more likely to use drugs than the rest of the population.

Who cares? That’s totally irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what the percentages are, although that claim is certainly suspect.

The majority of the population isn’t directly receiving taxpayer-funded benefits. Don’t like testing? Fine. Get a job. And if you have a public sector job, be thankful you do and act responsibly to keep it. You work for the people. Your salary comes from their money.

Argument: Drug testing is expensive.

If government starts operating like a business, the price wouldn’t be that high. This common sense expenditure would surely even pass Tea Party muster.

By definition, government must spend money, but should do so smartly and efficiently. Testing should be for all new applicants, and randomly for existing recipients, somewhere in the five to ten percent range.

And financially and ethically, what is the cost of taxpayers subsidizing a crack addict’s drug habit?

Argument: Drug testing is unconstitutional, violating the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.

Answer: That’s insulting to every citizen not on the public dole. The anti-testing folks, including legislators and the ACLU, are not Supreme Court justices, so it’s not up to them to determine constitutionality.

Welfare recipients aren’t being forced to do anything. They choose to apply for welfare. After that, they must abide by the conditions placed upon them in return for receiving public money.

Argument: Random drug testing is thinly-veiled racism and an attempt to demonize public sector workers by associating them with welfare recipients, whom many think are drug-users from the inner-city.

Answer: Tough to believe these accusations could be made with a straight face, but that’s exactly what was thrown at me during two televised debates.

Such weak arguments only bolster what most people instinctively know: random drug testing of those receiving taxpayer money is sound policy that preserves the integrity of “charitable” giving.

Given that a Democrat is the prime sponsor of the Pennsylvania bill, and his party bills itself as the defender of the poor, minorities and public sector workers, those charges don’t stand up for a second.

This issue has nothing to do with race (many on public assistance are white), and zero to do with demonizing public sector unions (as many in the private sector are also tested). It has everything to do with taxpayers’ expectation that their money be used for humanitarian purposes (public assistance) and an intelligent, stable workforce (public sector employees).

"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" ran a segment with one of its “reporters” interviewing Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the legislator who sponsored a testing bill.

Both men, while right on the issue, may have lost the PR battle as they looked foolish at times.

That’s a shame, because those types of miscues set the issue back in other states, giving credence to otherwise baseless arguments that should have been smoked from the get-go.

It’s not what you say, but how you say it. So let’s say it loud and clear:

“This is your paycheck (a lot of taxpayer money). And this is your paycheck on drugs: Absolutely nothing!”

Finally something worth inhaling.

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Friendly Fire Zone.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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