News from the Plains: All this RED can make you BLUE
Drug testing that's going to pot
by Barry Friedman
Here's the problem with testing welfare recipients for drugs.
It's expensive, inefficient, heartless, and probably unconstitutional.
It also doesn't work.
Otherwise, it's all good.
This from Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, who authored Oklahoma's welfare drug testing bill.
“I've never promised people that thousands and thousands of people are going to get kicked off the rolls. I always knew it was a relatively small amount.”Hold on a second, Ebenezer.
"A relative small amount"? I know to many in the GOP, the poor ARE a thing, a dead weight on America, but when counting people, senator, we don't use amount, we use numbers because, you know, they're human beings--not cole slaw.
To add insult to injury, Holt’s action also stripped the bill of language that would have required the state to reimburse citizens whose drug tests come back negative, meaning citizens now bear the full brunt of the costs of their own drug tests and will not be paid back by the state for the inconvenience.Nice, huh? But of course the bill passed, because in Oklahoma, laws that promote God and guns always pass, as do laws that fight imaginary foes--like those aimed at stopping hordes of able-bodied black males and welfare queens (in Cadillacs) from buying Colt 45 Malt Liquor with their SNAP payments.
Here is what Holt's bill has achieved so far in Oklahoma.
About 4.4 percent of those applying - were denied benefitsThe program cost the state nearly $83-thousand in the first seven months.
What are the results?
Eight-three tested positive for drug use and were temporarily removed from the rolls.
"Euclid, line one."
That's $1,000 per recipient, meaning the only way the program can ever be cost-effective is
a) If Oklahoma officials make sure welfare recipients on drugs stay on drugs, and/or
b) Officials can persuade those about to be tested to roll a big fat one immediately before peeing in the cup.
If recipients aren't doing drugs, the state isn't saving money.
Oklahoma ain't right sometimes.
Let's head now to the mother of these bills ...
“Many are considering following Florida’s example, and the new data from the state shows they shouldn’t,” said Derek Newton, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which sued the state last year to stop the testing and recently obtained the documents. “Not only is it unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy, but it doesn’t save money, as was proposed.”Oh, this too: 2.6% or 108 of Florida applicants failed the test.
... and the father
Arizona was the first state to impose a testing program. In 2009, it began testing new welfare recipients when there was a "reasonable cause" to suspect illicit drug use. So how many of the 87,000 people subjected to the program have tested positive since then?Another place where welfare recipients are being drug tested with less than stellar results ...
The 466 tests turned out 12 positive results, as the Associated Press first reported.
Final tally of these four states
To put this another way, you could put everyone disqualified from these four states because of positive drug tests on a 747 and you'd still have nobody in the middle seats.
How much did it cost to find those 204? Approximately $3.7-million dollars (with Arizona picking up the lion share of that and where, again, one person was disqualified).
Specifically, in Arizona: $3.4-million spent; $560 saved.
"Euclid, hate to bother you again, but WTF?"
(Click here for other states)
And it still costs states money, even if they toss stoned adults from the program. In Oklahoma, for instance, the children of the parents who test positive for marijuana, the overwhelming drug of choice, are not denied aid (because even in Oklahoma that would be considered cruel), but the money has to be administered by a third party, which means the third party has to be vetted, too, which means the state has to pay for that.
These laws punch down by selling the notion to middle class Oklahomans that they and the state are suffering not, for example, from the millions in tax breaks funneled to oil and gas producers, but because 83 pot-smoking Oklahomans receive about $97 in assistance every month.
Why is the state so anxious to humiliate those who have lost their jobs, especially first-time applicants, by forcing them to take drug tests, anyway? They're not criminals; they're poor. Oklahoma officials are simply not going to be happy until welfare recipients are selling rosary beads and Chiclets under a bridge.
And we have a large amount of bridges here.