Wisconsin’s Drug Testing Program Expected To Be A Fruitless Tax Dollar Suckhole
Republicans Launch another witch hunt, this time by drug testing welfare recipients in Wisconsin
In another stellar example of the GOP’s willingness to expend tax revenue on their clumsy persecutions against the poor, Wisconsin yesterday became the latest state to mandate drug testing of welfare recipients. It’s been tried before, with laughable results. Without exception, state governments have expended tens, and more regularly hundreds of thousands of dollars on tests that typically return less than a full percent positive.
We can glean two pertinent observations from this imbecility. The first is that today’s GOP is incapable of adapting to circumstances and building its platform based on real world data. The party is pushing policy according to its narratives, the most important of which is the mythic construct of the shiftless and drug-addled, undeserving poor — their primary outpost on the hike up “Bullshit Mountain.”
Point-the-second is that the Republican mantra for fiscal responsibility is less of a hypocrisy and more of a flagrant lie. Drug testing programs have consistently cost states exponentially more spending than they cut. Republicans, in fact, have no qualms about putting a burn on our national bankroll, as long as it subsidizes the lifestyles of corporate royalty or fattens the military industrial complex. Both are embodied in Paul Ryan’s latest budget proposals, which, as lamented by Veterans for Peace, slash Medicare and student aid programs to subsidize an additional $25 billion in military spending.
Federal law prohibits states from drug testing or otherwise excluding SNAP recipients. Since the United States Government doesn’t allow states to meddle in the SNAP program, states can only create their exclusions from the much smaller TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program. Last Summer, Governor Scott Walker sued the federal government, contending that SNAP recipients should be classed under the broader categorical heading of “welfare recipients,” which would place discretion in the hands of the states. Republicans are, as ever, concerned with the most fundamental of all liberties: the freedom of states to starve the working poor, and their total freedom to conduct their brand of economic jihad on our nation’s unemployed and underpaid.
Cost efficiency and vindictive motivations aside, the relevance of drug testing for recipients of government assistance is more tenuous than ever. According to a 2013 national survey on drug use and health, marijuana is the only drug consumed by 65% of users of illicit substances. With many states decriminalizing marijuana (and experiencing a subsequent economic lift), the handful of users ferreted out by state testing programs drops to an even more inconsequential fraction.
Walker explained that:
“Employers across the state frequently tell me they have good-paying jobs available in high-demand fields, but need their workers to be drug-free. These important entitlement reforms will help more people find family-supporting jobs, moving them from government dependence to true independence.”
Walker declined to define “good-paying” or “true independence,” although the I can only imagine a living wage would be more conducive to those aims than state-mandated drug testing. So would the abolition of so-called “right-to-work” laws (signed into effect in Wisconsin by Walker last spring), which weaken the bargaining powers of unions to negotiate better pay and fairer conditions for workers.
But we all know where conservative priorities lie on that particular front. In the meantime, we can expect more inept inquisitions carried out in the name of the GOP’s war on the poor, and can expect them to continue until we, as a people, wage an effective war on them.
*Addendum: Drug testing for welfare recipients, or anyone, by the state, is arguably a violation of the fourth amendment, which prohibits the unlawful search or seizure of one’s person or property, emphasis mine. This is here confined to a footnote, given the GOP’s public disinterest in the liberties of individuals as compared to corporations, or in any section of the bill of rights that isn’t profitable to the NRA.
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Raine Laurent is a socialist and social critic from the New Jersey wastelands. She has worn many hats: poet, actress, and sometimes journalist, but gave up on wearing hats because she now spends all her time tipping them to Bernie Sanders. Her greatest priorities in life are the acquisition of perks and a Karl Marx themed snow globe.