What Real Class Warfare Looks Like

So it looks as though Republicans are going to cave on the extension of the payroll tax cut, pretty much the only tax cut they don't like, seeing as it doesn't do much for the wealthy. But on their way to that capitulation, they made sure they could exact a price: drug testing of people applying for unemployment compensation! After all, we need to send these people a message.

The bill, which looks like it will pass soon, now includes a provision that allows states to drug test anyone applying for unemployment compensation if they're looking for a job in an industry where testing occurs, which is pretty much any industry there is. So it isn't enough that you might get tested before you can get a job, you'll now have to get tested before you even start looking. The rationale Republicans offer isn't that there's some kind of epidemic of drug abuse among the unemployed. It's just if you're going to get a government benefit, paid for by the taxpayers, then you should have to prove you haven't taken a puff on a joint in the last month. If there's some humiliation involved, so much the better. The lucky duckies who have chosen to lose their jobs need to understand that the rest of us hold them in contempt, in the hopes that they'll get off their lazy duffs and start contributing again.

But why stop at people on unemployment? After all, I don't want my tax dollars going to anyone who might possibly be on drugs. So let's make the board of directors and senior executives of every company that has a government contract pee into a cup (those folks at Lockheed Martin get an awful lot of our money, after all). And how about hedge fund managers—they benefit from the preferential "carried interest" loophole, meaning they pay Romneyesque low tax rates on their income. Unzip and give us a sample before you head to the Hamptons for the weekend, buddy. I'm sure we won't find any cocaine use among that crowd! And what about the mortgage interest deduction? We the taxpayers pay a portion of tens of millions of people's mortgages. I can't stand the idea that some of those people might be on drugs, so they better get tested, too. As Mitt Romney says, "People who are receiving ... government benefits, we should make sure they’re not using those benefits to pay for drugs."

Demanding drug tests from government contractors or people who take advantage of tax deductions would be crazy, of course. On the other hand, testing people on welfare or people who are unemployed makes perfect sense. Why? Because they're poor.

Republicans get dreadfully offended if anyone proposes increasing taxes on the wealthy. The very suggestion is ghastly "class warfare," and it tears the nation apart. But this is what real class warfare looks like. This is how people with power tell people without power that they're nothing, that in order to access even the most modest help they'll have to submit to a ritual of abasement, treated like criminals and forced to hand over their bodily fluids.

And let's be clear—drug testing people on unemployment doesn't save any money, or reduce drug use, or solve any practical problem. But it does what it's intended to do: Put those people in their place. So Republicans may not have gotten everything they wanted out of this bill, but at least they got the chance to stick it to some of the people they hate.

Comments

And how about drug testing before you can collect your tax refund if it's less than $100,000?

Why stop at contractors? Drug test Congress!

I've often said that if they drug tested all licensed drivers, like they do the commercial drivers, there would be no drug testing because it would get challenged in court over and over again. The reason being that it would now affect the 1% and their children!

They forgot to mention that a single urine drug test is charged out at $650 here in CA. This is a boon for drug testing companies, not all of which are ethical, and a boondoggle for states. Who's going to pay for all these drug tests? And do you have to get tested every time you pick up your check? I would imagine that a good civil liberties lawyer could make hash out of this requirement.

" And let's be clear—drug testing people on unemployment doesn't save any money, or reduce drug use, or solve any practical problem. "

Really? Wouldn't a drug user on unemployment with a positive test result be refused benefits, which are paid for by Americans? Doesn't that save real money?

Doesn't it tend to reduce drug use by people on the dole? Doesn't it teach people the way forward - and show them that drug use is not rewarded in our society, that it fact it hurts your chances of getting a job - or free government handouts? Huge disconnect with reality here. Doesn't fly.

That's nice in theory but it just doesn't work out. A perfect example is a Florida law that passed a year or two ago that forced people to pass a drug test to get benefits like Welfare or food stamps. The bill was sold as an effort to save money by not paying benefits to people on drugs. It made people seeking benefits pay for their own drug test and if they passed the state would reimburse them.

According to this article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/us/no-savings-found-in-florida-welfare-drug-tests.html
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.

As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780, he said.

In other words, the state spent more on drug testing than they saved in unpaid benefits.

I look forward to the day when people are judged by the content of their character rather than the content of their urine. I also hold great hope that there will come a time when it is not considered "progressive" to use the force (violence) of the state to extract property of one individual so that it may be given to another.

A component in this class warfare is the Workforce Investment Act - which actually creates and funds a subordinate class of citizen (the worker).

People who are poor have little or no choice as the where they live, who they work for. Indeed because of the WIA and other such laws people have to work for poverty wages and abusive employers.

By the US Constitution preclusion of involuntary servitude should prevent this but politician put their party loyalties above the Constitution and citizenship - remember that employment is servitude.

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