L in the Southeast

L in the Southeast
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Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Birthday
November 04
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Retired PR Director
Bio
I am a retired Public Relations professional who now writes purely for fun and catharsis. I covered most of my memoir-type pieces in the first three years here. Lately I have dabbled in politics, current affairs, pop culture and movie reviews. Life is my muse.

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APRIL 17, 2012 8:04PM

Political Shades of Gray

Rate: 38 Flag

Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal yesterday signed legislation that will require applicants for welfare to submit to drug testing and pass before they can receive benefits.  The Republican majority in the Georgia legislature passed the bill for the legislation over predictable objections of Democrats.

Those who back the law, which will go into effect on July 1, 2012, believe the testing will prevent welfare recipients from using taxpayer dollars to support their drug habits, if they have them. 

Opponents suggest the testing will present a further financial burden to the applicants because they will be required to pay for the testing themselves.  Opponents also point out the departure from the usual Republican preference for smaller government, noting the new administrative requirements in order to enforce the law and process the test results.

I am a fiscal moderate who leans to the left normally, but who on occasion can see the right’s point.  Anecdotal and other reports of welfare recipients using their food stamps as currency for purchasing drugs instead of buying food for their children are troubling to any person who pays taxes.  Welfare fraud is a reality and the prevention of such fraud has so far eluded the powers that be. 

According to the governor’s ga.gov web page, when Florida passed a similar law in 2010, their welfare applicant pool decreased 48% and saved the government nearly two million dollars.  However, that law has been challenged on the basis of constitutional issues, and GA state Senator Vincent Fort of Atlanta has vowed to do the same as soon as the law goes into effect.

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It troubled me deeply when many employers implemented random drug testing on their employees, although I completely understand why any employer would want to mitigate the negative costs on the business that result from employee drug problems.  I felt then, and still do, such testing is a serious invasion of physical and personal privacy which punishes all employees for the poor behavior and/or illness of the few. 

When I worked on the Atlanta Project back in the mid 1990s, my company was partnered with a southeast Atlanta group of neighborhoods plagued with the challenges of relentless poverty and underinvestment.  One of the community leaders I came to know was someone who lived in the area’s public housing and who received some level of welfare assistance.  Ms. W is a dignified woman who works tirelessly to improve the lives of her neighbors and their children.  I cannot imagine asking a woman like her to submit to a drug test before she can receive her benefits, nor can I imagine her submitting to such a test without a huge fight.  She fights drugs and drug trafficking every day of her life.

And yet, for as many of the Ms. Ws as there are – and I know there are many – there are significant numbers of citizens who do, in fact, “work the system” for all it’s worth.  And there are, without a doubt, welfare recipients who spend what little money they get on drugs, leaving their innocent children to go hungry and fall prey to the lures of easy money as drug mules for the local dealers or to predatory pimps.

So, on the surface, it would appear the new Georgia law could possibly be a good thing if it prevents parents of children who need financial assistance to survive from using the cash they receive on drugs.

But would it?

If an applicant for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) flunks the drug test, the law says the applicant can designate someone else to receive the funds on behalf of his or her children for up to a year.  Assuming that designated person is clean and sober, what is to prevent that person from simply handing the money over to the druggy parent? 

As for the anticipated reduction in welfare applicants, presumably because drug-using adults know they won’t be able to pass the drug test, all that means is there will be a lot more children going without food and other necessities who will have even  less of a chance of having their needs met, ever.

By the way, if the Republican politicians in Georgia and the other two dozen or more states pushing similar laws would agree to submit to drug-tests in order to receive the “government benefits” they collect daily, monthly and annually, I might be able to see the wisdom of this move.  For now, though, poor people, a constant thorn in the sides of those who believe poverty should be almost illegal, will continue to be persecuted. Watch what happened last December when Florida’s governor was approached by a reporter from the Daily Show:

 Yeah, I didn’t think so, Governor!

Once again I’ll pose the question I have yet to get answered by anyone on the right. What happens to the children of drug users who are here, whether Republicans like it or not? If they live through their childhoods, what are the chances they will grow up to be contributing members of society? If their drug addicted parents can’t get money through welfare, they will get it through other means; e.g., prostitution, armed robbery, drug trafficking and sex trafficking.

You might wonder how many people in Florida actually tested positive for drugs out of those who were tested. In August 2011 a Florida TV station learned in an investigation that out of 40 people who had been tested under the Florida law, two tested positive, with one of those two being disputed. That’s a probable 2.5%, 5% at the most.

The law of diminishing returns says it’s a waste of money, especially when the law is a “matter of principle” as described by a woman on my local news this afternoon. I’m all for making people do the right thing. I don’t want any of my tax money buying drugs for welfare recipients. But I think wholesale drug testing is morally wrong and fiscally irresponsible. And, it is probably unconstitutional.

I guess it could be a lot worse, though. In Georgia, there is also a big push to have drug testing for unemployment benefits!

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I find this disgusting. Poor people have only their dignity left, now they are taking that. I agree with you and I would bet, the government employee's will have a much larger % on drugs than than the poor who again are being stepped on by the people in command, or should I say republicans!
How about mandatory drug testing for anyone running for office as well as a comprehensive psychological profile that must be posted on the internet by the Secretary of State. Oh and while we're at it let's pass legislation that requires a mandatory rectal examination for anyone who wants a prescription for Viagra.
I hate politics and politicians. I really really do!
I tend to be politically liberal, but having worked for thirty years in health care and witnessing first hand the amazing number of drug users and drug seekers among the entire population, I think I support this legislation. Having worked for both very large hospitals and pharma companies, I was tested randomly for thirty years and passed with flying colors each time. I think if I owned a business, I would probably do it as well. Drug use is illegal; if it were not illegal that would be a different situation. I guess I fail to see how this is an affront to the poor or to someone employed by a company that requires it. Just my opinion for what it is worth.
And your question IS a good one, what happens to the children? And one more thing, I do support the random drug testign of all federal employees which includes Those Idiots in Congress.
This bill may have made clean bottled pee a lucrative new business venture. Such a complex situation.
Scanner: It just keeps bothering me that underneath these laws is an underlying disdain for “certain people” and this is just another encoded way to stick it to them.

Kate: I haven’t seen that one, but I will. Thanks.

jmac: I like ALL of those ideas.

Matt: It’s definitely an unsavory bunch.

Bea: Your opinion is always worth a lot to me. I can understand how a person in the medical field could agree with this legislation. At first, I thought I agreed with it, until I decided to write about it. We are becoming a nation that governs to the criminal element instead of the non-criminal majority. Every time I go through the nonsense at the airport it reminds me of the old saw: closing the barn door AFTER the horses have escaped. These wholesale, dramatic measures are done for show; and they penalize the lawful majority. It is an affront to the poor because they are the ones being singled out; no other people getting funding from the government are subjected to such testing (that I know of.) I wasn’t kidding: if ALL recipients of government funds (including paychecks!) were required to take drug tests, I would sit down and shut up about it.
Reports are that GE had an average tax rate over the past five years of negative 18%. That sounds like corporate welfare to me. Who do we drug test?
Ok w me as long as everyone who gets public money has to...university researchers, corporate heads (tax breaks are gvt money) ....

r
Follow the money. Who stands to benefit from all the drug testing?
Gov. Scott in Florida put the controlling share of Solantic (medical clinics that do drug testing) into a trust under his wife's name. Always watch what the other hand is doing...
When I walk into the closest beer/lotto/24/7 store, there is always a TV blaring the news above the cash register. Every time his bald head shines on the screen, everyone standing in line shakes their heads together and breaks out cussing. No one here understands how such a man who made Multiple Millions fleecing both Medicare and Medicaid can be elected to run a state with so much money ripped off from the Feds and ain't serving time.
And guess whose firms will get the most $$ from the new drug tests??
You guessed it.
His wife...
nerd cred: I say we test the entire GE board of directors and the IRS!

Jon: I hear ya!

Larry: That I didn’t know! That should be a conflict of interest in anybody’s book.

Mission: Maybe that’s because the folks who voted for Scott would not be caught dead in a convenience store? Lot’s of rich people down there, right?
My heart skipped a few beats when I saw your title, as I recently finished the ..."Shades of Gray Trilogy." Wondered with bated breath how you were going to mix politics with the topic of "mommy porn" and S & M in the daylight! Putting all that side (with difficulty), I did read your well written and thoughtful post and appreciate the POV. Somehow, however, I cannot get my mind off the "kinky sensation" that the "Gray Trilogy" is soliciting from the reading public. Your title tickled my recently titillating tales of pure, eye-popping fantasy. Forgive my scintillating, salacious segue.
The lines that divide the rich and poor are blurred here Leslie.
Wealthy whites do not shop in these stores.
They call them Hadji marts...
I doubt it's that great of a problem. The right wingers use issues like this to work up their fearful and resentful base. better that then them paying attention to the much greater waste of public funds on the military and the ridiculously vast prison system which is their, in large part, because of short-sighted, overly harsh drug prohibition laws.
Cathy: Mommy porn?!?!?! What have I missed?

Mission: Did you mean to say they DO shop in Hadji marts?

Abra: Well, at the moment it is the law in my state of Georgia, so come July 1, it IS a problem. I agree with your assertion that the right wing concentrates on such things to avoid looking at their shameful spending on the things you mentioned.
Hah! "50 Shades of Gray" by E. L. James is first book of 3. If you're like me, you'll soar through all three without a hitch! Easy, breezy, sleazy read! ;)
"poor people, a constant thorn in the sides of those who believe poverty should be almost illegal, will continue to be persecuted. "

So well put. That is what I see every day. I would rather err on the possibility that a few might abuse it, than create obstacles that could keep people from getting help they need to survive...especially children. I want us to be better than this.

When Clinton ran for office he talked about Welfare Reform and the need to spend more money initially. Then he compromised with the Republican Congress and all that happened was massive slashing. That was a huge disappointment, because Clinton understood and clearly articulated what was needed to reform welfare so people could become self-sufficient.
If they are so concerned about welfare fraud, why aren't they going after the middle eastern corner store owners who are committing it by laundering food stamp money?

Do they realize that those people have kids at home who will not have CPS to call on because they cut the funds for that agency too?

Half the time, laundered drug and big ticket welfare fraud money is used to buy the right wing politicians off, so this corrupted and stupid mess is just about what they will do. I hope they all get carjacked and left naked out by the airport one of these days.

Great post.
I may be showing my age, but I have a problem with food stamps, too. I would much prefer the system that was in effect when I was growing up -- surplus food. Much to my father's wounded pride, our family had to resort to that during another Republican recession back in '57. Indeed, one of my songs is called Guv'mint Cheese.

Alas, there is no chance of that happening again, since too many retailers make too much money from food stamps. Still, I think diets consisting largely of yellow corn meal, spam and powdered milk might actually help reduce America's obesity problem.

As for the asshat governor of Florida, I'm waiting for the day crooks like him and Scott Walker reside in the Big House instead of the Governor's Mansion. It's also little known, but one of the biggest beneficiaries of Florida's drug-testing folly is Governor Asshat's walk-in clinics. It's for damn sure the program ain't payin' for itself.
Interesting post and I can see several sides of the issue.

There's appears to be a little inconsistency in stating that you don't want drug testing because it's "fiscally irresponsible" yet you show a hyperlink suggesting that combatting welfare fraud saved millions of dollars in Georgia.

The reality is that government will rightfully-intrude into people's lives if those same people are wholly-dependent on the government for survival or other basics.

Want to be educated in the public school system? Well, prove you live in the school district. Want to claim social security benefits because you're disabled? Well, you better not be gainfully-employed. Want to drive on public highways? Well, you better be insured and not be drunk. There are tests for each of these situations.

A mandated drug-testing/verification of sorts is already occurring in the U.S. in the way of vaccinations for school age children. I don't think anyone besides anti-vaccination extremists would claim that's not a good program.

Similarly, legally-forced blood/DNA-testing is done for DWI-suspected incidents and paternity/child-support determinations.

If you want to structure this issue as an assault on the poor, how do you feel about police setting-up surveillance cameras primarily in "economically-distressed" areas of the city to combat crime? Is that prejudice towards poorer neighborhoods or just the best use of limited resources?

I think a good compromise would be that positive-test people be allowed to enroll in substance-abuse programs/counseling while still receiving benefits. However, after several failed tests over the course of 2+ years, then I agree with cutting-off benefits.
It's just another case of the political right taking a swipe at women. Just in this case, it's women who don't have the finances or political clout to fight back.
I don't have answers for the drug problem, but I don't think this is it. Particularly if they're putting the cost on the recipients and not offering effective counseling and rehab programs as a counterpart. I'm a little surprised that I'm not more outraged by it, but I think the prevalence of testing in employment situations has made it seem fairly commonplace.
Thank you for pointing out these (often troubling, yes) shades of gray. It's important to see them in the clatter of so many certitudes expressed by so many.
I agree with you. It seems so unconstitutional and unAmerican to drug test these people. On the surface it appears to be understandable and permissible, but if you go a little deeper, you start realizing the negative ramifications. Slowly, our freedoms and rights are being taken from us.
This is a complicated issue I've been grappling with for a while now. My first reaction was much like those on the right; if you're not using, where's the humiliation? You should be proud to hand over a sample. Also, let's face it, there is a lot of drug abuse that goes on in impoverished communities.

But then I think...how many "upstanding" citizens on the government payroll are drug users/abusers of some kind? Alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, sugar (yes sugar)--all legal toxins which affect the nation's bottom line in terms of health care costs. Yes welfare fraud does exist, but the taxpayer money lost is small potatoes compared to things like medicare fraud and over-paid government contractors. Once again, the poor are squeezed for every last cent while others get a pass.
Putting the cost on the individual that doesn't have money for food and shelter is hideous. I'm conflicted on this but my mind immediately goes to the children because they never have a voice. Drug testing at work is one thing, or after a work related accident. If some of us are forced to pee in a cup, then all of us should pee in a cup, level the playing field.
Mime: No politician can say with any certainty what he or she will do once they are plunged into the alligator pit known as Washington, D.C. It is way past frustrating.

Zuma: You and I both know the answer to that question. I deliberately confined this post to broader issues.

Tom: Having been in seventh grade in 1957, I remember clearly how devastating it was for the father of any family forced to go “on the dole.” I’ve never tasted a brick of government cheese, but I’ve heard plenty jokes and songs about it.

Joisey: Thanks for pointing out what looked like “a little inconsistency” in my post. I left out the word Florida in that sentence, which led you to believe I was talking about Georgia. I recall their savings was $1.8 M, which in the scheme of state budgets, is not a significant amount of money, especially in light of the flaws in the process. I do like your suggestion in your last paragraph.

Amy: Women and minorities, I think.

jlsathre: IMHO, that is the biggest problem with modern political campaigns – there is never a sane and rational give-and-take discussion about the murky area between the polarizing soundbites.

I Love Life: …and what is utterly fascinating, it is being done by the political party that screeches ad nauseum about personal freedom and individual rights.

babe: Exactly.

asia: In FL, the person gets the testing fees back if it comes back negative; I’m not sure if that’s the case in GA.
“Opponents also point out the departure from the usual Republican preference for smaller government, noting the new administrative requirements in order to enforce the law and process the test results.”

Can you name one opponent who said something as asinine as that? The main reason anyone would support this welfare provision is to save money. Let’s not forget, when Florida passed a similar law the welfare applicant pool decreased 48%. By giving this ridiculous notion any face time, I can only conclude that you have no idea what smaller Government means.
Johnny: You should know about asinine.
L - meanwhile the mexican drug cartels rake in huge sums out of all the well to do yanquees that snort their stuff....to the delight of the same snorting crowd that sells them all the latest in weapons galore laughing all the way to their banks (offshore of course!)....maybe off topic....but the hypocritical stink is unbearable.....
Roberto: Yes, the list of examples of duplicity is long. Thanks for your thoughts.
Well said. Next target - get the TSA to stop profiling folks who have medical implants as potential terrorists.
The issue of welfare fraud is completely bogus! Proof comes from the $30,000,000 that G.W. Bush spent on rooting out welfare fraud in the federal system. And guess how much they actually found?








$11,000

It amuses me no end to see conservatives get all in a snit about how those no good poor people (AKA pesky minority groups) are committing all of that fraud, waste, and abuse when they conveniently ignore the LARGEST contributor to government fraud of all -- the Defense Department!

The Defense Department has not had an internal audit since Bill Clinton was POTUS. Since that time, a documented $20 billion in cash has "mysteriously" disappeared from the DOD books. I'm talking about pallet loads of $100 bills being used to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, hard cold currency that was literally airlifted in by the pallet load to support the war. And not one dime has been accounted for!

Doesn't it seem as if there's a double standard going on in Conservativeland? Until such time as people of the GOP persuasion give as much outrage to DOD fraud as they do to welfare fraud, it will be hard for me to believe that outrage against poor peoples' drug habits will be anything more than racism and ignorance.
geezerchick: Common sense is apparently not allowed in government agencies.

old new lefty: Hear, hear! Notice how NO ONE on the right will ever talk about DOD fleecing?
Either decriminalize drug use or make Everybody, and I mean Everybody (Senators, Reps, Pres, lobbyists, bankers), have to pee in a cup or submit a blood sample when they desire to complete a transaction, such as trading on the stock exchange or voting for a bill. Let's see how fast that turns things around, you betcha!
City managers are also pressing employees who smoke cigarettes to be tested and if the smoking employees don't pass "nicotine-free" test results, their health insurance costs are higher than those non-smoking employees. Some smokers are even passed up for promotions because they can't perform their job obligations and duties as well as non-smoking employees, particularly those positions where extraneous physical activity may cause shortness of breath or other permanent personal injuries, including, but not limited to, cardiopulmonary dysfunctions.
ccdarling: Faster than a speeding bullet!

Belinda T: I know, smoking has been a workplace issue for quite a while around here. At least in that case they are penalizing the ones who DO, not the ones who DON'T.
"You might wonder how many people in Florida actually tested positive for drugs out of those who were tested. In August 2011 a Florida TV station learned in an investigation that out of 40 people who had been tested under the Florida law, two tested positive, with one of those two being disputed. That’s a probable 2%."

Really?
This whole issue is just too sloppily handled by the states.

Firstly, figure out how widespread the problem is. If we're looking at another one of these constitutional amendments to prohibit flag burning when I have no clue when the last public episode of an American flag being burned on American soil in anger took place (it may have been decades ago), we're wasting both time and money.

Secondly, determine, by other than just anecdote, if this problem is concentrated in a given population. If you haven't determined that, and I can't imagine that they have, apply the solution universally.

Thirdly, don't put obligatory financial burdens on populations without money. That's class warfare. (As is not applying the solution universally in the absence of hard data.)

Fourthly, test this to see what the consequences are. If, say, a state that tried this found that its welfare rolls shrank drastically, the only way that helps is if this shrinkage didn't have a serious impact on poor child nutrition. If that's where the savings went, we have two problems: the moral one of starving children and the financial one of the lack of success in later life of currently malnourished children who fail at education because of being malnourished. Do we have data where this has been tried on what the consequences have been? Assuming it works doesn't cut it. If we're going to hurt people, we need real evidence.
L,

I don't see a problem with making them test to receive money. Once they are identified then we can move on to a solution. If they are just in the shadows we can't help them.

As for what will happen to the children if we don't give parents money which they use for drugs. The exact same thing that is happening now. Food money that is going to drugs isn't going to food for the kids. As for the other crimes, they are still doing that. I see lot lizards all the time who are working for more drug money. So, it's already happening.

Now I don't have a problem with making them test to get free money when the federal government requires me to do it to earn money. I drive a truck.

I have to take a federal government mandated drug test when I change employers, when I take my federal government mandated annual physical, and on a random basis during the year.

So how does that sit with your 4th Amendment qualifications? They have no reason to believe that I've ever used drugs. I'm not in a position such as an airplane pilot or Secret Service agent. I do not haul hazardous items of any type.

Finally, I would like to see the program done as a test program to see if it actually saves any money. I'm sure people can make a cost analysis but I doubt the models would be accurate. If you only catch and help 1 or 2% of those tested it may not be worth the expense.
I appreciate your nuanced take on this, Lezlie, and I agree that it sometimes takes me some mental rumination to see how I feel.

If they're really worried about welfare, about helping people become self-sufficient, about helping people lift themselves out of poverty, I'd much rather see them put some serious efforts into education. Like, in exchange for food stamps or welfare, what about an education plan? Enrollment at the local community college for any kind of job training? GED completion? Child-development classes for parents? Free or subsidized child care for said people to use while they're getting an education? Nutrition classes?

If we're going to bother to be intrusive into people's lives, we might as well do something useful. The cycle of poverty didn't start with welfare checks and government cheese. It comes from an utter lack of opportunity. From poor neighborhoods, sometimes poor parenting, under-educated and under-employed parents, and a lack of good jobs.

All the drug testing in the world won't change the basic problem. I know how lucky I am to have been born to parents who valued education, who supported me, kicked me in the butt, and expected that I would get an education. I know my own kids would be C and D students without a supportive home.

How do we help adults didn't have the support from home and as a result, didn't get an education, and have no prospects?

I don't know the answer, but drug testing sure as hell won't do it.
If you don't like being tested don't go on Government support. Simple. And maybe, just maybe, if you stopped being a drug addict your life would improve.

If you're going to live in mom's house you gotta live by mom's rules. Or Uncle Sam, too.
"...there are significant numbers of citizens who do, in fact, “work the system” for all it’s worth"

Source?
No easy solutions, eh Lezlie. I love that you lean one way - but are open to suggestion from the other! I so agree on testing the politicians as well as the 'poor'- IF the poor are tested! The poor may not have money - but politicians are ethically and morally bankrupt! I say before any of them can run for office - they need to be hooked up to polygraphs - for the REAL good of the country! AND drug test them! I think that if the people who so arrogantly ruin others lives(yours, mine, ours,)had to have such rules applied to themselves? OMG - they'd be screaming amendment rights - AND bloody murder! Frackin' arrogant hypocrites...(shall i tell you how i really feel..LOL) Well done, Lezlie! ps(god forbid we tax the rich...)
Test for what, too? I had to get a drug test to work at this office job I had--btw, I was operating computers, whoo, whoo. They didn't tell my doctor what to test for. There are dozens of substances in question. The lab bill was $1000--over 10 years ago--and then my office had a fit about paying for it.

I just don't think it's practically effective, and I'm against it morally and ethically as well--just another aspect of the criminalization of poverty in this country.
I'm just wondering about the cost effectiveness of it. I don't see how it's illegal, just intrusive. The thing is, most of us with jobs related to the government have to take urinalysis, at least to get a job. I can't see why anybody asking for government benefits should be any different. I'm not against it on privacy grounds, I just think that it's a waste of money.
I wonder how much the decline in welfare recipients in FL was a result of people not being able to pony up the cash for the test, rather than people thinking that they'd fail it?

It's hard for me to be at all blase about this issue. Our foster daughter was "raised" for her first 4 months by her crack-addicted mom, who did make sure she ate - formula, provided through government programs. If her mom had been required to make a choice between crack and formula, precious Addie would have starved. (And all of her extended relatives would have failed the drug test too - that's why we were blessed with her for two years; CPS couldn't find a non-addicted family member without going over 1,000 miles away.)

No amount of tax savings could ever, ever be worth starving babies. Who knows what these wonderful children could grow up to be, given the chance? Isn't feeding them a worthwhile use of our money? Or do we want to throw away whole sections of our populace, to an even greater extent than we do now? If we decide that's what we want, we may as well all move to the third world, because the third world is what we are becoming.

And isn't it ironic that a lot of those pushing these "test them so they don't take benefits" policies are the ones whose panties are in a monumental twist about the "unborn". Pathetic.
There are five states [CA, OH, PA, NY, TX] with medicaid/medicare fraud and a small fraction of these claims have been litigated. An even lesser amount include welfare recipients. What's that tell us about class war?

Back to the original post, please.

I am for drug testing in some instances where safety and security are concerned.

While I understand the fundamental arguments some [including myself] that random testing is subjecting invasive procedures, if these tests prove to save one life, I would think saving lives supersedes claims by some that their rights are being violated. Example: Drug testing for athletes. Another? Crack whores who become pregnant risk defects and deaths to babies; if you have ever been a witness to a baby born addicted to crack or other drugs [Fetal Alcohol Syndrome], would your conscience allow you to simply do nothing to deter this from happening?...just some random thoughts to think about.

And to all the scumbag doctors and health care providers writing an astronomical amount of Rxs to their patients, I would think they should also be considered a part of the problem and possibly a part of any solution to the ongoing issues of addictions and treatment plans.
UncleChri: I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question. Would you be more specific? Is it my math you are doubting or the results of the TV station’s investigation?

Kosh: As usual, you are impressively coherent in your approach to problem solving. If only…

Catnlion: Thanks for weighing in on this. Let me respond a paragraph at a time:
1. You are the first conservative I have had comment on my blog who has expressed any interest in “helping” the drug addicted.
2. Here you only talk about “them,” and not the children who are going hungry and/or being neglected.
3. I don’t either – as long as every other person receiving federal tax dollars is also required to test.
4. I am fundamentally opposed to all these federally mandated tests. We should not all have to be inconvenienced because of the few who break the law.
5. It doesn’t. I think it is unconstitutional and morally wrong.
6. That’s what I think, although it could be said the test has already been done in Florida.

froggy: I honestly don’t think those legislators or the people who support them care about doing good for the poor, the children of the drug addicted or anybody else. They are only interested in ideology, whether their measures are workable or not.

Baltimore: I, too, tip in favor of the clean and sober ones, and I agree we need a real reform of just about all government programs to reduce the utter waste of money they all produce. But it does not make sense to me to “throw good many after bad,” as my grandfather would say, just to please the rabid branch of a political ideology. If our legislators would spend more time investigating the practices of their state and federal departments instead of constantly running for re-election, I am convinced they could clean house and recover billions of dollars in waste alone.

Laura: First of all, bless you for taking in a foster child. Addie wouldn’t have had a chance without someone like you and your family. The irony you speak of has haunted me for decades. Why won’t the conservatives talk about what to do about the children who are here because they are more interested in condemning their wayward parents than they are in the future of those kids?
Harrison Price: I didn’t mean to ignore your comment and the one from Dienn Anum, I just skipped them by mistake. I know what you wrote here is how you feel, but I just think the matter is far more complicated than that. And I’m sure you know there are people who are unable to “stop being a drug addict” on their own. Believe me, I do not enjoy paying all these taxes just to see it wasted. But there are far bigger areas of the government wasting far greater amounts – the Department of Defense, for instance.

Dienne Anum: What, you don’t believe there are people working the system? I have known some personally. If I had named specific numbers I would have cited the source. This is my opinion.
Belinda T: I took in a friend of my son’s years ago who was born to a crack-addicted mother. He was raised by his great-grandparents, people barely able to care for themselves. This man child had all kinds of developmental issues that plague him now in his adulthood.
Drug testing for safety and security is acceptable to me. But when the only reason for testing is to prevent poor people from getting any help from the public coffers, I find that unacceptable. Again, if all federal employees and recipients of all government tax dollars (that includes the military and the Congress), then I won’t say a word about any of it.
Most of these sort of drug tests - where the time of testing is known ahead of time - capture primarily marijuana usage. It's nearly alone in how long it is detectable in the system. The drug that does the most damage - fully legal alcohol - is flushed right out. Even opiates and prescription drugs only last a few days. So, you're basically penalizing what could be a random toke off a joint once every few weeks. Marijuana usage is the least of our problems.

Add to this the statistics of the miniscule percentage of the population that actually test positive EVEN for marijuana, and it's a complete fraud to force people to submit to this AND pay for it when they're already so down and out that they need assistance.

And to actually support blanket drug testing for everyone for jobs, unemployment..... hell... what's next? Social Security? There's plenty of us baby boomers getting to SS age who enjoy a little pot now and then. That's MY business.

I can't believe how many people are so eager to give up fundamental freedoms for the completely illusory "feeling" that they'll be "safe" if everyone is subjected to a constant surveillance police state.
At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.
Ebenezer: Are there no prisons?
First Collector: Plenty of prisons.
Ebenezer: And the union workhouses - are they still in operation?
First Collector: They are. I wish I could say they were not.
Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I'm very glad to hear it.
First Collector: I don't think you quite understand us, sir. A few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth.
Ebenezer: Why?

Sounds familiar doesn't it? I don't see much difference in forcing someone who has given no reason to be suspect an invasive procedure at their own expense in order to get help. Every instance of prior drug testing is unconstitutional in the first place. With nothing to indicate drug use besides an individuals perception or suspicion there is no lawful grounds to test anyone. This shit reeks of poll taxes to me, the poor are unlikely to be faithful to the conservative cause so let them starve.
I share the same sentiments, L. I've witnessed far too many deaths due to legal drugs [alcohol and tobacco] and the deaths due to illegal drugs I'd guesstimate are less than those who've died from complications derived from alcoholism/smoking/prescription drug addictions.
porsadgai: Thank you! I am convinced the spirit behind this law is mean-spirited, race-based and short-sighted. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we seniors were their next targets.

bobbot: How cool! Old Ebenezer was clearly a Republican, huh?
Legal or not.. it is nobodies goddamn business what an adult does in the privacy of their home. not the gov, not the employer.. nobody.
8 to the gate is what its called. Sober at work is all you need to be.
If they want to swap food stamps for drug money that's Ok too.
High time drugs were legal no matter what that asshole George Will says.
As I review the comments, I seem to have neglected to respond to a few:
imkarn23: I love a woman who gets herself in a snit over injustice!

Manhattan WhiteGirl: The more I learn about this testing business, the less I get it.

perdidochas: I agree it is a waste of money. And I don’t think it is right that you had to be tested for employment, either. But that’s where we are in this charming society of ours.
davyboy: You tell 'em, man!
L, thanks for responding. The comment system is unhelpful.

I'm sure there are bigger fish to fry, there always are, but that doesn't mean nothing can be reformed until the "big stuff" gets handled.

While I don't mean to sound cruel, if you're an addict do it on your dime not mine. Paying for someone on welfare who uses drugs doesn't help anybody.

Like I said... If you take money from Uncle Sam he gets to set the rules. It really is that simple. If you don't like it then get off welfare!
Uncle fucking Sam takes 35 % of my money and I aint got shit to say about what he does with it. Take our Wars for example.
Given that urine based drug tests (the cheapest kind) are about 98% accurate, 2% is the expected fail rate of a completely clean population.
Oh, as for business, unless you have an operation where large numbers of people can be killed by drug users (ie airline pilots), no business should do it.

Because if you can't tell the difference between the performance of a competent employee and that of a drug addled employee, you have a serious management problem that is not going to be resolved with a drug test.
Amen, davyboy.

Malusinka: Right on all counts!
L,

Us conservative sure can be surprising some days. Also if we were better at expressing our points of view, reasons and thoughts there wouldn't be any liberals left.

There are lots of government money collectors who are tested. When I was in the USAF I would have to do "golden flow" duty where I would show up at a formation in the morning before they begin work and witness hundreds of test. Greatest duty in the world first thing in the morning. Watching hundreds of men whip it out in front of you.

What I was trying to say is that a drug addict will get the money for drugs number one and everything else is down the list. Including feeding the children. If they can't scam enough off their benefits they will hook or steal or anything else to get it. So the children are always (exception to every rule) going to do without. Even if you gave them boxes of food, they would convert it into drugs. The nature of addiction.

In one of your replies you said it was race based. How do you figure? Most people who are collecting government support are white. Do they hate white people? I have to say, seeing hookers all over the country it's rare to see one that isn't white. Not exactly a scientific survey, just based on who asks me if I "want company" for the evening.
As bobbot says, such drug tests are unconstitutional, plain and simple. Where there is no proof of probable cause, there can be no constitutionally protected invasion of someone's "person".
Catnlion: I failed to be clear on my response to paragraph 2. What I meant was you don't offer any suggestions as to how to get the children of drug addicted people cared for and fed. I could be wrong (we are surprising each other today) but I assume you are among those who are pro-life but anti-planned parenthood or pro-life and anti-abortion. If your preferences in these two issues prevail, what happens to the children who are born to a drug-addicted or otherwise unfit mother? Yes, I would prefer that everybody behaved responsibly on an individual basis, but...I'd also like to be 35 again!

When I made the comment about suspecting it is race-based, I was thinking specifically about Georgia. We have the unique situation of having our capitol in the same city that has the biggest concentration of problem-plagued constituents, many of whom are African American. Everything that happens in this city has racial undertones lurking somewhere. It is very difficult to decipher the coded language used by conservatives (Read: whites, with the notable exception of Herman Cain and a handful of other black Republicans) when it comes to sensitive issues like this one. Ican't prove it, but I suspect it.
Jeanette: We see eye-to-eye on this. Thanks.
"UncleChri: I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question. Would you be more specific? Is it my math you are doubting or the results of the TV station’s investigation?"

L, it's your math, yes -- although I am not sure that I am overcome by doubt. . . .
UncChri: There's no need to be snide. If the results are 1 out of 40, that's 2.5%. If the results are 2 out of 40, that's 5%. Okay?
L,

We are having a good night. Let's try the second part first. I miss understood what you were trying to make as a point. I don't believe there is any code. My wife says I have "selective hearing" and I think you are seeing what you are looking for.

I am pro-life and pro-choice and if you would like to hear how that is possible drop me a note.

My problem is not what to do, it's how to write it into law. Laws are black and white and drug abuse is a gray issue and the state tends to be heavy handed in the way they do things. One of the problems is the state has a financial stake in what it does thanks to the federal government passing out cash for doing what it wants.

For what I believe. First if you are a drug family and the kids are not getting fed, the state, if you don't have family who can and will, needs to assume care of them until you can. In theory, I don't have a problem with orders to go get snipped if you can't keep it in your pants and you keep fathering children or getting you tubes tied if you breed like a bunny rabbit.

The problem is the gray areas. You are addicted by not so bad that you can't function. At some point a problem is not so bad that it can't be stopped because you haven't fallen off the cliff.

IMHO, this is the area where the problem really is and where most people really are. How do you get people to make the decision to change before they are totally lost?

I wish I had an answer. I know is not government is the answer. I think they are the answer to very little because most issues you can't write into a set of rules that fit everybody. There is an exception to every rule, and problem and you can't write "maybe" into law.
Why should anyone *not* game a system that attempts to strip them of their last shred of dignity. I would game the hell out of it, if only to feel myself not a victim.
L,

I wasn’t being snide. However, allow me to point out that mathematical errors of this magnitude would allow us to contemplate the existence of a world with far less severe problems than exist in reality.

Our $15 trillion national debt would only be 20% of our GDP instead of 100% of our GDP. Instead of spending nearly two-thirds of our national budget on social welfare entitlement programs, we would be spending less than a quarter of our budget on them. Instead of the 94% probability that a black victim was the object of a black perpetrator, only 37.6% of black victims would be victims of perpetrators of their own race.

Let me leave you with one last mathematical example, which is closer to the premise of your post.

In 2009, $56.8 billion in medical billings for healthcare services rendered was unpaid. There is no doubt that this is a lot of money. In fact, unpaid healthcare services are used by those who support the ACA as a significant part of their reasoning to force all of us to purchase health insurance. Yet, in the context of the $2.2 trillion total that was billed for healthcare in 2009, $56.8 billion is only 2.58%.

Here you claim, in part, that it is not worth testing all potential welfare beneficiaries for drugs because this problem is, at its worst, only one in which government would give money to drug users in 5% of the cases.

Do you see the problem?