I’ll dive right in. Today on Twitter, I became rather angered by the some narrow minded views toward drug testing as a prerequisite for public assistance. There was quite a bit of, “I had to take a drug test to get my job, they should have one to receive public funds.” Bologna. Not all jobs test for drugs (I keep a “good” job, and I haven’t taken a drug test since 1997). Additionally, all public monies require some sort of re-certification process. This could open individuals up to the bureaucracy of being tested on a regular basis. Only a small percentage of jobs effect random and regular drug tests.
Additionally, the sentiment that angered me was of people receiving public assistance being “lazy.” I have a sister in nursing school, working two jobs simply so that she can meet the hourly requirement to receive food stamps. When I lived in New Orleans, I worked full time for two high volume attorneys, carried a nine hour course load, and received WIC and Medicaid for my children. Assistance doesn’t equate unemployed.
And on the topic of income, I had a “good” job (well above minimum wage) and still qualified for these assistance programs. Minimum wage is $7.25. Having spent the first 28 years of my life in a city built on the backs of service industry workers, I know people who have held down a full time job, and still couldn’t make ends meet without assistance. Many will retort, “Well, don’t have children you can’t afford.” You can’t tell me that a man or woman breaking their back to earn a meager living somehow has less of a right or desire to procreate. So on top of being paid insufficient wages, they have to hear, “Yeah well, sucks for you, pee in this cup because your kind likes to do drugs.” How people believe this is a more palatable option than paying hard working people a living wage boggles the mind. How much are YOU willing to pay your janitor? Could you live on such wages yourself?
The reason companies don’t test you for drugs unless you are a shoe in for the job is because it is an expensive and involved process. But rather than take those funds and use them toward urban improvement initiatives, let’s take one more dig in. In addition to that, denying aid to those with positive tests prohibits those individuals from receiving the aid they need. This ham-fisted, short-sighted approach is not one that I can support, nor will I. Spout all the rhetoric you want, this is just another tactic to make scapegoats of the poor.
Sell crazy elsewhere. We’re all stocked up here.