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Observers of Florida's law requiring welfare seekers to take and pass a drug test, which Mitt Romney called "an excellent idea," have for some time been sure that the law costs the state money. But now Florida has released numbers that prove it, and assess the total (financial) damage:
From July through October in Florida — the four months when testing took place before Judge Scriven’s order — 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was marijuana use. An additional 40 people canceled the tests without taking them.

Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.

In fact, it's more than $45,000 more than would be been paid in benefits. But, though the law was blocked by a judge as an "unreasonable search" by the government—and here you'll want to remember that the Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches, making every Florida legislator who both voted for this bill and likes to talk about his allegiance to the Constitution the rankest kind of hypocrite—and though it did cost the state money, the law's backers are saying it was well worth it. Because 108 people who had at some point in recent weeks used marijuana are not receiving state aid, the unreasonable search of 4,086 others is just peachy.

According to an official at a pro-drug testing policy organization:

“The drug testing law was really meant to make sure that kids were protected,” he said, “that our money wasn’t going to addicts, that taxpayer generosity was being used on diapers and Wheaties and food and clothing.”
Whereas now the people who failed the test have no money for diapers or Wheaties or food or clothing for their kids, so the kids are protected. Or, y'know, the real reason for the law was never about protecting kids, but about making aid to needy families as punitive as possible while building an association in the public mind between welfare and drug use, counting on Floridians to hear more about how the state government thought drug testing was necessary than about how few people failed the tests. And that's why so many other Republican-controlled states have followed Florida's lead, pushing drug testing not just for welfare but for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and more.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 07:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hey Conservatives, (17+ / 0-)

    Please quit pretending the things you do are for the reasons you say they are, lying motherfuckers.

    Let's go back to E Pluribus Unum

    by hazzcon on Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 07:03:06 AM PDT

  •  Georgia just signed the same dumbass thing (18+ / 0-)

    into law.

    Conservatives love to flaunt thier pervasive meanspirited stupidity and this drug testing shit is one of their favorites.

    THEIR war on drugs is an unmitigated disaster, will always be, and wont ever work. And it is the essence of the intrusive Big Government they profess to hate.

    Daily Kos needs to frontpage more of this stuff.

    #occupywallstreet: Although I know the rhythm you'd prefer me dancing to, I'll turn my revolt into style.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 07:08:13 AM PDT

  •  I thought Scott came up with this great idea (11+ / 0-)

    because his wife has a drug testing business. Why would the other states follow suit? Follow the money.

    Your left is my right---Mort Sahl

    by HappyinNM on Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 07:09:19 AM PDT

  •  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! (6+ / 0-)


    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 07:12:14 AM PDT

  •  Given the Supreme Court's ruling on strip searches (8+ / 0-)

    though, the Florida Legislature may require that the 4,086 should be cavity searched prior to receiving benefits and being released into the general population.

    /I hope this is snark

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 07:14:19 AM PDT

  •  but the $$$ went to the governor's drug testing co (5+ / 0-)

    The "lost" money is now in the pocket of their governor.  What a scam.  He has a vested interest in the companies conducting these unnecessary drug tests.

    don't the Floridians realize that he is lining his pocket with his governorship?  His company committed Medicaid fraud and he was still elected?  Now he is using the governorship to line his pockets further?  So much for the "small government" crooks who live off of our taxes!

  •  It's really POT testing and not drug testing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, GeorgeXVIII, Lujane, spacecadet1

    This is a point that bears repeating. Most standard methods of drug can miss detecting the use of cocaine and heroin but are particularly good at detecting cannabis or false positives for cannabis.

    Why? The standard Urinalysis can detect cannabis use around two weeks prior. OTOH, the same test will miss cocaine and heroin use that occurred 2-3 days prior to the testing. The reason is that cannabis has a normal half life of about two weeks in your system while cocaine and heroin have a much shorter half life.

    So, much like the bogus Arizona law that makes it possible to be pregnant during your period, the drug testing regime used in Florida can deny you benefits for drug use prior to being eligible for welfare, unemployment or whatever.

    And the half life is much longer if you are a regular cannabis smoker. Moreover, alternative methods of drug testing like taking hair samples are biased against people with long hair. My wife, for example, has hair down to her waist. She could test positive for cannabis for something she did 6 months to a year ago.

    And let's keep this in perspective that pot is the least dangerous of any drug or psychoactive substance available.

    •  People who smoke pot don't eat, nor do their kids, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      or if they do eat, we shouldn't feed them, because well ya know, they're druggies.

      If you choose pot, then you shouldn't be allowed food, very simple.

      This is what Jesus said, "No food for down and out drug addicts",I forget the chapter and verse, but, it's in the bible, look it up.

      You may think your wife is different, but she sounds like a dangerous criminal to the great state of Florida!

      My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me. Benjamin Disraeli

      by pvmuse on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 06:52:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our pushback (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Should end the war on drugs in a comprehensive fashion:

    1. Decriminalization of most otherwise illegal drugs.  
    2. Treatment over prison for users.  Uncertain but draconian punishment is no deterrent.
    3. A blanket ban on drug testing as precondition, not just for government benefits, but also for any employment except where sobriety is required for safety.  Business owners can suck it up: Risk is part of entrepreneurship.
    4. Forbid schools from enforcing "zero tolerance" policies, and force them to enforce "common sense" policies.

    Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

    by nominalize on Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 08:24:17 AM PDT

  •  In the long run... (0+ / 0-)

    ...these drug testing laws are a good idea.

    Once it becomes impossible to collect welfare and do drugs, it will go a long way towards changing the public perception of welfare recipients. Even if this perception is false, it still hurts us. We need to change it.

    The hard-right wingnuts will always hate the poor. They will never change. But it will be easier to get support for better benefits among moderate voters if it is known that no recipients are using drugs.

    I am willing to cut off one pot smoker if it saves benefits for 99 needy families.

    (I realize that this may be a false choice. It may be politically possible to save both the "99" and the "1". But it might not be).

    We should also fight welfare fraud. All welfare recipients should be required show valid picture ID to get benefits. The deadline for having this ID should be the first week in November, of course. This should go for anyone getting student aid or unemployment insurance, too.

    I realize that this may be an unpopular sentiment, but the poor need to help us out. I can vote, donate, and work for progressive politics, but if people on welfare are doing drugs and if poor people won't vote, then that just makes the job harder.

    •  You do understand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, sethtriggs

      That even if it (drug abuse, fraud) is rooted out of public assistance, the Republicans will find another boogeyman to screech about...BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY DO

    •  I disagree, I think it is important to fight fraud (3+ / 0-)

      and believe in the valid I.D. But, punishing people by with holding food, many who suffer from medical or mental problems, and are thus self medicating, seems very draconian to me.

      My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me. Benjamin Disraeli

      by pvmuse on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 06:54:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But is this Fraud? (3+ / 0-)

        They arent taking the money under false pretenses as far as we know.  We only know that at sometime they were exposed to POT smoke.  We dont know that tax money was used to buy it, or that it was given to their children etc.  Unless they are all eating poppyseed bagels on the taxpayers dime, we really know nothing about any pretense that was made do we?  If I burn my house down and collect insurance, then I have defrauded.  But if I take money to feed my kids... and I feed them are we to allow the government to investigate other aspects of our lives... hold us to a higher standard because we utilize a social safety net?  Does a speeding ticket disqualify them?  There are those that say "yes."  But this wasnt the point of the program.  And to its point... helping those in need, as long as those priorities are met I am not sure they have defrauded anything.

  •  Wait-- only 4086 people (0+ / 0-)

    are on cash assistance in Florida?? With a population of over 19 million and a 9.4% unemployment rate?? Really?

  •  Financial Damage is the point (4+ / 0-)

    The entire point of GOP politics is to bankrupt governments. If telling people that these things "save money" gets them through, then so much the better.

    "just give me some truth" --John Lennon

    by vernon nackulus on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 06:34:11 PM PDT

    •  Yes, the huge fiscal savings to be realized once (0+ / 0-)

      drug addicts are taken off food. Florida will be able to use this a "budget balancer".

      My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me. Benjamin Disraeli

      by pvmuse on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 07:01:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We should have drug tested the banksters, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    before we put them on welfare. That would’ve saved taxpayers money (i.e. fewer Wall-Street bailouts).

  •  2.5% (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, Mistral Wind

    Isnt 2.5% lower than the rate of use among the general population?  It is kind of like the Irish Comedian's joke that 25% of all traffic fatalities are caused by drunk drivers.  Which means all the sober people who cause 75% of the problem, should get off the roads and let the drunks drive safely.  Maybe we should drug test ALL tax payers and leave the poor alone.

  •  Another GOP brainwave. I wonder how the (0+ / 0-)

    MSM will spin this to save Republicans from themselves.

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.
    Um - not so fast, people.

    The $118,140 was a fixed cost and would not change.

    But the amount paid out in benefits was only for the SAME 4 MONTHS.

    I assume said benefits would continue to be paid out beyond 4 months -thereby rendering this comparison pointless.

    When was the last time someone oly required food stamps or day care of cash assistance for 4 months?

    I'm not sure this calculation proves anything about such a program NOT encumbered by such a short test period, What we need is the AVERAGE amount paid out to the typical recipient over the course of their need - and to compare THAT total to the baseline amouint spent on the testing.

    Sadly, everything Communism said about itself was a lie. Even more sadly,, everything Communism said about Capitalism was the truth.

    by GayIthacan on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 06:57:35 PM PDT

  •  Someone really needs to send gallons of this (0+ / 0-)

    "Rick Scott Apple Juice" to the governor's mansion. Heaps of golden bottles.

    God be with you, Occupiers. God IS with you.

    by Hohenzollern on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 07:00:20 PM PDT

  •  So, when do we start (0+ / 0-)

    testing CEO's and other upper management of corporate firms who get federal tax money?  When does the CEO of Exxon have to pee in a cup?

  •  It would help if everyone could acknowledge that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    there is a huge difference between drug use and drug abuse.

    It's absolutely ridiculous that we can differentiate between someone who drinks occasionally, or even daily, and someone who is an alcoholic, but ANY use of any prohibited substance is immediately considered drug abuse.

    I've seen the effects of many drugs, some of them first hand, and although my evidence is anecdotal, I have gathered enough to determine that in most instances getting caught with the drugs is far worse than the effects of the drugs themselves.  I find this to be especially true for the casual user, but certainly to the exclusion of the 'in need of medical help' hardcore abuser.  I've seen how an encounter with the criminal justice system over drugs can destroy a life, even though the drugs the government is trying to save you from weren't near as damaging as the effects of a conviction, especially for simple possession of marijuana.

    One of the greatest obstacles to making any changes to our failed drug policies is the inability to even have a fact based adult conversation on the subject.  It's as if you grow a horn out of the middle of your forehead if you even suggest that drug prohibition is the problem, even though their is an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting that assertion.

    Sorry for the rant, I confess it's a bit off the topic of the blatant disregard for The Constitution with this blanket, baseless, and warrant-less program to judge people on the quality of their excrement, but I was on a roll so I went with it.

    A persons word used to be their contract, now people use contracts to get out of keeping their word.

    by bitpyr8 on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 08:39:25 PM PDT

  •  I think it's about pushing people into (0+ / 0-)

    Drinking alcohol and using drugs produced by the pharmaceutical companies, because all of those either make a bunch of money or impair your thinking enough that you can be conned by the right wingers, and you won't be as mellow as people are on cannabis.

    Cannabis tends to open up creativity, and to help you see the big picture, making it harder to manipulate people with money and power.

    Please sign the White House petition to Flush Rush from AFN (Armed Forces Network).

    by splashy on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 12:10:47 AM PDT

  •  This is really about Rick Scott's company Solantic (0+ / 0-)

    Solantic just happens to be the one getting the $30 per test.  Scott told all his Teabaggers that since he transferred all his shares of Solantic to his wife - there was absolutely no conflict of interest.

    And the Teabagger believe it!

  •  drug tests for State employees (0+ / 0-)

    Meanwhile, I just got a new job with the State of Florida. Guess who did not have to have a pre-employment drug screening?

    In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. José Narosky

    by FLArmyMom on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 05:34:02 AM PDT

  •  rick scott's interest (0+ / 0-)

    I understand that Rick Scott has a financial interest in the drug testing company.  That's a Republican win-win: stigmatize and punish the poor while making a tidy profit.

    Just because you're self-righteous doesn't mean you're not a hypocrite.

    by AMcG826 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 06:00:36 AM PDT

  •  But they are happy because (0+ / 0-)

    someone who owns or has stock in the company that does the testing is making money hand over fist.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 08:38:55 AM PDT

  •  So---the state of Florida (0+ / 0-)

    is not turning out to be some big---great---conservative experiment that all republicans can be proud of---after all?

    Like everything else that's conservative; it's just more bullshit.

    And their bullshit always seems to end up costing the taxpayers more than what they were initially handed.

    "Power is a fleeting thing. One day your souls will be required of you." Bishop Peter Storey---Central Methodist Mission, Johannesburg, June 1981

    by lyvwyr101 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 10:42:27 AM PDT

  •  Who knows the details of the test????? (0+ / 0-)

    Just wondering because while it takes 10 days for a heavy user to become clean, a single use could clear the body in 48 hours or so.  

    I had a friend who was thinking about taking a job where he would have to be drug tested.

    He quit and in 10 days he was negative. By the way he tested himself.

    Anyway after he was clean he could usually smoke on a Friday or Sat before noon and be negative by Monday as long as he didn't test the first pee of the day Monday and drank enough water before the test.

    I'm assuming in Florida they actually made an appt for taking the test and the clients had some lead time to get clean first?

    If not they could just say they didn't have a ride to the exam and have it rescheduled and probably be clean for it.

    That is another reason why it's a joke. I mean it would catch people with zero self control but that's all.

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