Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Repost if you agree. For real, this time.

I'm not a big one for reposting my own work; even though I'm not a regular blogger, I usually have something different enough to say that it isn't necessary.  However, in light of the new drug testing for welfare recipients law that was recently signed by Gov. Rick Scott, I thought I'd dig this one up, as my views on the subject haven't changed one iota.

What I find even more reprehensible is the common prejudicial thinking that resulted in this law: that if you are poor and struggling, you must be an addict too.  What about mandatory testing for all elected officials?  What about testing for those hefty land subsidies, often handed out to the very people who bitch the most about "welfare parasites"?

Interestingly enough a February report from the Center for Law and Social Policy found that legislative proposals to drug-test TANF recipients are, in fact, based on stereotypes, and not evidence:
          "Proponents often claim that drug testing will save money; however, this is based
            on a false assumption that many applicants will be denied benefits. Random 
            testing is a costly, flawed, and inefficient way of identifying recipients in need 
            of treatment"

Another thing that keeps getting glossed over is the fact that if these parents lose their benefits, it's their kids who won't eat.  "But Aleah, won't this MAKE them put their kids first, before their addiction?"  Do I really have to answer that?

Overall, I wouldn't have such an issue with this if it made testing mandatory for EVERYONE: everyone elected to a government job, everyone receiving federal grants, everyone drawing unemployment, everyone getting those farming subsidies, etc. etc. etc... and WOW! Think about the money the government would save then!!!

So, here's my "repost if you agree!" response.

from January:

Did you know that "Kentucky just passed the best law ever! to be on Food Stamps, Medicaid, or Cash Assistance for your Children or Yourself you have to pass a DRUG test. Now every other state should do the same. Re-post if you agree and are tired of people taking advantage of the system to be fucking lazy and do drugs"?  Yeah, I didn't know that either.  And interestingly, when I checked Snopes, I discovered that not only had Kentucky not passed that law, but a federal court ruled in Michigan that a similar law violated Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

"But wait!" you say. "Why can't the government mandate that you can't be on drugs if you're getting 'government handouts' that come out of my hard-earned tax dollars?" (these comments usually from the same Second Amendment-loving anti-government people who literally shit their pants at the thought of an individual mandate on health insurance). 

Well, let's explore that.  If you want to place drug testing restrictions on so-called "government handouts", we're gonna have to test people who are drawing unemployment, those who get those niiiiice farm subsidies, every single person on Medicare, anyone getting veteran's benefits, housing subsidies, temporary relief from foreclosure, and a number of other government assistance programs.  'Cause they're all fucking lazy, right?  And if someone pees dirty, we're going to yank that assistance, because their kids don't deserve to eat, right?

Actually, according to this lady, you shouldn't even be breeding if you're getting a government handout. This is what she had to say about people on welfare:
"For the welfare losers: If you can't afford to feed, clothe, or shelter yourself or your family without the aid of the government (and therefore, the taxpayers), then it should be COMPLETELY within our rights to drug test you. Drugs are illegal (as stupid as it is, yes, weed IS illegal in the U.S., but that's a separate issue), and you should not be using welfare money to break the law. You should be allowed NO luxuries, such as booze, cigs, candy, drugs, etc. You should get a basic landline phone and an answering machine, not an iPhone. You should be put on mandatory birth control until you're off the government dime. You already had children you can't afford, you don't need to make more. GET. A. JOB! Making life as shitty as possible for those who abuse the system might encourage them to get off it."

Well, (raising hand), I am one of those people who was on welfare.  My older son, who, according to Ms. Anderson, shouldn't have been born, was fed through WIC and other programs while I went to nursing school.  I had a government handout that helped me pay for heat, helped with my rent, and helped put him in daycare so I could work weekends at the Elks and spend my weeknights studying  (yes, every goddamn night; I have the GPA to prove it).  I was lucky enough to have a mother that paid for nearly all of my tuition and a grant from the Single Parent Program that gave me nearly a thousand dollars to help pay for my nursing books.  I dressed both myself and my boy with clothes from the Salvation Army, and my aunt's mother did my hair for free. No, I didn't do drugs, but I occasionally bought a bottle of $9 Moscato to sip before bed. 

I am so sick of people judging those who are less fortunate than they.  I am tired of people throwing out "lazy" and "leeches" and "parasites" when talking about people who are on government assistance.  Sure, everyone knows "someone" who pops out a kid every 11 months and uses their child support money to buy a Blackberry, but contrary to popular opinion, those people are not the norm.  MOST of them are like I was, trying to make ends meet. To suggest that someone would want to be on welfare is absolutely amazing to me.  You have no clue how humiliating it is to go to a public assistance office and tell them you need help, or have the receptionist at the doctor's office tell you loudly that they need to see the latest copy of your kid's medical card. 

For those of you who think that way, I won't change your mind.  Years of prejudicial thinking and watching Fox News have and will continue to feed your biases.  What I will do is continue to teach my children compassion, and tolerance, and empathy, and they will teach their children the same.  And in a few years, when you're in my hospital, receiving care that's paid for with Medicare and other government-subsidized monies, I will care for you with compassion, and tolerance, and empathy.  No judgment here.


Hurricane Chelsea said...

Well said.

Veronica said...

While I agree with you for the most part (I have a cousin who for medical reasons can no longer hold a job to support her children alone and their fathers are deadbeats from her not so great days!)I did have someone point out something to me that I'd never thought of before- to get my scholarship in college, I had to take a drug test, as was the final step for many jobs I have applied for. While not all companies do so, many are starting to require drug tests for their employees and prospective employees these days, including most federal jobs. So, if you have to pass a drug test to get a federal job or federal scholarships, should you not have to pass one to get federal loans, welfare, etc.? This is not something I had considered before, but seeing as the federal deficit is what it is, maybe this isn't such a bad idea afterall. Just something to think about. (Though I would say to make it across the board testing, not just selective!)

Aleah said...

Veronica, you're correct that making it across the board would be much more palatable; I, too, feel that if drug testing is going to be done, it should be done across the board. However, I'd wager that it won't be the people on welfare who will be testing dirty. Florida did a pilot study in '98 to see whether it would be financially prudent to test welfare recipients for drug use; their findings were that such a small number of recipients were actually found to come up positive, they actually lost a LOT of money from the costs of testing. So, this time around they're going to make the applicant pay for the test (which will knock out plenty of people right there, because if you don't have enough money to make ends meet and feed your family, you sure as hell don't have an extra forty bucks [the amount that one DHCS estimated for the cost of a single test] to pay for a drug test).

Veronica said...

lol Yeah, after growing up in FL, that soooo doesn't surprise me!! Of course, I am the product of the AMAZING (insert dripping sarcasm here!) Florida school system, so really, its a miracle (did I spell that right!?) I managed to get through college!!

Jess said...

Thanks for this. We are on food stamps and Medicaid, without which we would not afford groceries every month or be able to take our kids to the doctor. My husband works his ass off and I can not find a job that would pay me more than day care would cost. It isn't like I ENJOY being on welfare. The looks from the people behind me in line at the grocery store when my EBT card won't work right away are just AWESOME. I can't wait to be done with these things but as it is we can hardly afford our bills and rent. I can't even afford to buy a nursing bra for fuck's sake. That everyone receiving assistance is lazy and drug addled really pisses me off.

staceyjw said...

People shouldn't be so smug- this economy is bad, and fickle. Bad things can happen so fast, no matter how well you have planned, and how hard you have worked.

Drug testing is futile. Most people dont use drugs, and few people on assistance do (which has been shown in FL) The druggies smart and motivated enough to get benefits at all are smart enough to pass a drug test too. Addicts that are a mess don't bother with government benefits, as it takes too much work. I think drug tests are a violation of rights, and I have never had to take one, nor will I agree too. The upper class is the worst of all drug abusers.....