Saturday, January 19, 2008

Peeing for $

I get a lot of forwarded rants about how the country is going to hell in a handbasket and how I should "forward this email", yada, yada, yada.

Most of the time, what they consider the deterioration of our country I consider progress so I just ignore them. But today I got one that made me scratch my head and go "Hmmmm?" Here it is:

"Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test. Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their ASS, doing drugs, while I work. . . Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?

Pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don't. Hope you all will pass it along, though . . . Something has to change in this country -- and soon!

Okay, rhetoric and hyperbole aside, the core idea ain't all that bad.

I'm not saying that we just slam the door on anyone who can't pass a urine test. But I don't think it would be unreasonable to make it a condition that anyone who failed a urine test must be enrolled in a treatment program in order to receive assistance. I'm even OK with tax dollars paying for the treatment program. If they failed to complete the treatment program sucessfully, then assistance could be substantially reduced or eliminated.

What do you think? Did I just lose my bleeding heart liberal street cred?

Or is this a reasonable idea to help people get on their feet and stay there?


doc said...

i want to be Secretary of This New Cabinet Level Department. lawdy knows it will take that much funding to find and round up all the miscreants so we can test the bejeezus out of them. and, of course, the initial funding will be insufficient, so we will have to raise taxes on, well, all the people we'll be testing...and when re discover how hard is is to find people who don't necessarily want to be found, we'll have to hire out to some contractors -no bid, of course- who have that experience, say, oh, haliburton?

works for me...

great idea!

Xavier Onassis said...

doc - "...lawdy knows it will take that much funding to find and round up all the miscreants so we can test the bejeezus out of them..."

I don't suggest "rounding up" anyone.

When people apply for assistance, they have to submit paperwork. What's wrong with having them submit to a urine test at the same time?

For the people who are already on assistance, the checks are mailed out on the 3rd of the month. It shouldn't be a big deal to include notices that they need to report to the office and undergo urine testing in order to continue receiving benefits.

For homeless shelters it's even easier. You want a warm place to spend the night and take a shower? Pass the urine test. Failed the urine test? Fine. You can still stay here if you sign up for this rehabilitation program. If you drop out or fail to complete it, you won't be allowed back.

I think that policy encourages a path to recovery.

I think our current programs are enablers. They allow people with mental illness and substance abuse problems to stay ill, stay stoned, avoid seeking help and continue to live on the street.

Joe said...

Gee, I beat you to the punch with this blog:

I've got drug testing in my job. If I fail I'm gone. But I'm supporting drug use with my tax dollar. Pisses me off to no end.

Doc said...

x.o. -

i didn't speak, nor will i, to the proposed solutions' theoretical efficiency from any particular political paradigm.

what I was speaking to [badly, apparently] was the fact that for a social program of that magnitude to work it would have to be centrally administered, with clear thresholds scientifically devised, defined and administered.

which means a government. probably the feds [assuming the program made it past the Supremes] because they have the resources to run it.

which means more bureaucracy, which would mean more people, a cabinet level agency to administer/oversee it, which would mean more taxes, more infighting every year about this time as congress pulls together the details of the {currently 2009} budget.

let us posit, for the sake of conversation, that your proposal worked as you describe say, oh, 80%of the time. not at first, but 5-6 years down the road.

you think the monetary trade-offs equal out? that is, would the monies spent administering a national program be less than the monies pulled back to the treasury from folks dropping off certain social programs?

what happens to the samples? is the new cabinet level department required to hold on to the specimens? why? for how long? who are they allowed to share the information with? does that information get tagged with your SSN? Is it linked to your credit scores? why? why not? though DNA has been harder to get from urine, it gets easier every day: will dna be able to be extracted from your sample? why? who gets that information?

and you may indeed have to go find people: people will come in as others, they will find ways to game the system.

or have you thought of all of this?

Midtown Miscreant said...

As a working, self sufficient, self avowed imbiber of a certain herb I tend to get a bit outraged over drug testing. That said, I can understand the need to not support someone involved in serious substance abuse. The question is where do we draw the line. Booze and cigs, equally destructive but legal, should they be on the list? I think the idea has some merit,but it also has drawbacks. Lets say that 2 dirty tests mean you lose assistance. The children of the addict are the ones who will suffer. That assistance is what puts the roof over their heads and food in their bellies. So in the end the child suffers for the parents transgressions. Its a tough call.

Ambitious Fledgling said...

I actually got the same email. I completely agree. I don't agree with the treatment idea, simply because if you don't pass on an employment screening you don't get the job. So don't apply for help if you're using. Otherwise we're spending more tax dollars to help drug addicts who can simply clean up to get on the system and then use it. I think it should be like you're on probation. Tested randomly. I'll tell you why.. I would guess that 8 out of 10 people in the system are system users and know how to manipulate it. I have a family member like this.. she knows ALL the ins and outs of the system. Also a drug user, with children. There is no simple answer to helping people who need help, or weeding out the ones who actually need it and the ones who abuse it. However, I definately think this is a good start.

JW said...

What about all the people who don't get drug tested but are paying taxes. We have to start this just because YOU'RE pissed you have to piss?
How about we just outlaw drug testing? It's a privacy issue. What's next? Drug testing to get electricity?