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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.

Let's continue.

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 benefits
The 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 ...

Florida

“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

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?

One.

Another place where welfare recipients are being drug tested with less than stellar results ...

Utah

The 466 tests turned out 12 positive results, as the Associated Press first reported.

Final tally of these four states

83+108+1+12=204

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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's republican ideology. Nobody seems to notice (7+ / 0-)

    this.

    Repubs try to say it isn't but it clearly is a HUGE priority.

    Dems, of course, do exactly nothing about it.

  •  And lest we forget... (20+ / 0-)

    Rick Scott profited handsomely from the drug testing scheme in FL...

    Dig deep enough and I bet you find pee stains all over the dollar bills slipping into David Holt's pockets... I mourn the loss of investigative journalism in America

    Dudehisattva...

    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 04:12:02 AM PDT

  •  Bayseian Math Lesson (7+ / 0-)

    Given the small percentage of positive results, it is likely that a large proportion of them (probably more than half) are actually false positives.  Here is how the math works:  Out of 1000 recipients, suppose 2% (20) use drugs.  Also suppose the drug test is 95% accurate (meaning 5% of the tests will be errors). WebMD puts the false-positive rate at 5-10%  We would expect that 19 of the 20 drug users (95%) would test positive.  But we would also expect 5% of the 980 non-drug users (49) to also test positive.  So, only 19/68 positive tests are legitimate.

    Sucks to be one of those 49 false-positives who just lost their benefits

  •  Actually, it could cost more money (8+ / 0-)

    Because, in some states, the children of parents who test positive for marijuana are removed from their custody and placed in foster care and that REALLY costs some money.

  •  Similar to voter disenfranchisement schemes (6+ / 0-)

    There's very little actual provable voter fraud going on, but a whole lot of voter fraud hysteria in state houses.  As we all know, the whole end game of voter fraud hysteria is to keep people away from the polls (through intimidation / fear or lack of credentials).

    Same thing with the welfare drug testing schemes.  The money spent is waaaaaaaaay out of proportion with the cost of such programs.  

    The operative question, as always: Qui bono?

    UID: 14791 Join Date: 7/7/2004 Status: Lifetime member Mojo: nearly infinite Any questions?

    by Richard Cranium on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 05:10:00 AM PDT

    •  Instinct-driven people are prone to deception. (0+ / 0-)

      Deception is a very basic instinct. Even plants practice it. The killdeer is known for it.
      I expect that in humans deception is practiced by indirect action -- get someone else to do the dirty and take the fall. So, they count on the state to take revenge on their behalf. They don't like people. So, they rely on the state to "take care of their enemies." "Take care" is, for once, not a euphemism. It's a dysphemism, but, like the euphemism, designed to deceive.
      Why do the instinct-driven opt for deception? It may be because they are insecure (their senses provide bad information) and deception is more sure than telling the truth.
      The true may go wrong, but the false is most assuredly wrong. There is more certainty in the lie. The lie is self-protective, even when it damages, when considered from the present. And the present is the only perspective the instinct-driven have. They cannot look ahead. They are time-constrained as some people are color-blind.

  •  add North Carolina to the list (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spacecadet1, TracieLynn

    GOP legislature will override Gov. McCrory's veto on drug testing and illegal immigration laws.
    iow- Teapublicans rail against illegals, but when the farmers need illegals, Teapublican politicians roll over.

    FIREWALL --

    The state House on Tuesday took about half an hour to override the governor’s vetoes of two bills, on immigration and drug-testing welfare recipients.
    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/...

    "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

    by MartyM on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 05:27:14 AM PDT

  •  Is not this government regulation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Norm in Chicago
    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.
    government taking over people's lives, government taking away innocent civilians money?
  •  It's hardly even drug testing. (8+ / 0-)

    It's just pot testing.

    If you do crack, heroin, meth, the drugs are gone from your system in a few days. If you smoke pot, it takes a   month.

    GOP: Bankers, billionaires, suckers, and dupes.

    by gzodik on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:12:39 AM PDT

  •  Priceless... (0+ / 0-)
    And we have a large amount of bridges here.

    Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity -- George Carlin

    by ZedMont on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:20:13 AM PDT

  •  Yes, it's the testing companies, just as it is the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kristina40

    electronic camera manufacturing companies that benefit from the surveillance and monitoring activities, just as it was the contractors and scale system installers that benefitted from the "weigh stations" built all along interstate highways to discomfit truckers and prompt them to take alternate routes that may be longer, but don't waste their time.
    It was also the audio visual equipment manufacturers in the '70s that talked schools into making that a line item in the budget until they ran out of storage space and had to build new secure facilities and then, because keeping the inventory and keeping track required too many man hours, they were convinced to build new school buildings in which the electronic equipment was built in and the teachers just had to learn how to push buttona and integrate the audio-visual into their lesson plans -- if they had time in the reduced number of days in the school year.

    One good thing about using dollars is they can help keep track of the waste. Now, if we can just get out of the habit of using projected costs as a reason to buy something in the first place. And, if we could keep in mind that U.S. enterprise has always been focused on commerce, on moving things around, rather than on actually making things and insuring the land continues productive. Somehow that initial lesson about putting left over fish in the corn rows just didn't take. Expoiters just don't understand about INVESTING. Even our investors don't know the difference between putting something in and looking around.  Why is that?

    Our commercial class has always looked on our public corporations as cash cows. Why is that? Why are our "risk-takers" clinging to the public teat? When is the chamber of commerce going to be weaned?

  •  That would be a fun flight on that 747! Like that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kristina40, Hammerhand

    movie with Snoop (Lion) Dogg!

    Seriously, of course they only catch the pot smokers.  The heavy scary chemical users' bodies lose their drug traces within days or weeks at most.

    So the guy who gets to collect could easily be a heroin, crack, or cocaine addict; while the guy with the pot HABIT gets caught.

    Ayn sucks. Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer.

    by Floyd Blue on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:24:32 AM PDT

  •  I would assume (3+ / 0-)

    that the drug testing companies, the parties that stand to profit greatly from this use of public funds, are giving campaign donations to politicians. Or the politicians have their stocks in their "blind" portfolios, and of course the revolving door is always open to out of work politicians with the right connections... Go figure. We have the best government that $ can buy.

  •   a good friend and I have parted ways over this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spacecadet1

    He can't stand the thought of someone on welfare smoking pot and I think it should be supplied to those in need. When I explain the drop in the bucket compared to corporate welfare abusers it goes right over his head. He used to smoke pot but now that it affects him adversely he's not so hip on it, kinda like Obama.
    All politicians should be put in a smoke filled room till they're forced to say, "What's all the fuss"

    "HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE" , bumpersticker on a burning Subaru

    by tRueffert on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:19:39 AM PDT

  •  Actually: (0+ / 0-)
    And we have a large amount of bridges here.
    It wouldn't be safe to sell anything under Oklahoma bridges ... They are falling down.

    That money could have repaired some of them.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:31:11 AM PDT

  •  Disappointed the post didn't delve into whether or (0+ / 0-)

    not drug testing is really pot testing. Very curious to know what those people tested positive for. Dollars to the digitty dank that most of those were for cannabis. Why? It's simple and it needs to be repeated constantly: heroin and cocaine only stay in the system for about 48 hours while pot is detectable for at least TWO WEEKS for infrequent or rare users and for longer than a month on daily pot smokers.

  •  Poverty is an institution, NOT a ... (0+ / 0-)

    "choice" as if people "choose" to be low income. This is the problem, with any of these immoral idiots who want people to believe the illusion that low income families choose to be poor.  That they are on drugs, are lazy, are whatever they want to impose on the poor as being the reason that causes people to be in poverty. This way the accuser can pretend they have no part in the Institution of Poverty when in fact they cause it and even live off the backs of the poor.

    Here's the deal: an institution remains in place because no matter the terrible outcome it has for the many, this institution benefits a few. There are institutions in this country such as the institution of racism and the institution of slavery, which has benefited the elite for centuries. The Institution of Poverty benefits the upper classes as it is based on racism, sexism (including LGBTQ), ageism, and classism.  All of those "isms", many that are illegal to discriminate against, are then grouped into one pretty little package and tied up in a bow for the upper classes to use to their discretion.

    See, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against anybody who is poor, even though the real reason lies within those categories (isms) within the Poverty Institution.  They can deny housing, jobs, medical treatment, and even access to a public building simply because someone is poor. They can pretend poverty is the reason they denied that job to someone qualified when in fact they hate the person because they are a person of color, a woman, gay. a senior, or a disabled person, and say it is because they are poor while ignoring the real reasons the prejudiced person discriminated against someone who is poor.

    Meanwhile, while blaming people in poverty for "choosing" their situation, then they can use them as work horses and scape goats in order to make money. They do this in many ways. Here are a few, but there are more ways I could write about:

    * Mega-non-profits which in reality are the Cayman Islands for the upper class. There is a reason "charitable giving" is always 2nd on the list for any tea bagger who argues against raising taxes on the rich. This is because the $millions donated are not really donations at all but simply tax breaks that allow them to keep $millions more. As a matter of fact, according to Goldstar that tracks the incomes of non-profits, if you do the math you will discover that in reality these mega-nons bring in about $54,000-$67,000 per client but only give to a client about $2,000 in direct services. Plus these mega-nons employ the middle class as gate keepers to the poor's access to any resource. They employ rich donor's bored spouses, relatives and friends in 6 figure jobs in positions like "executive director" while paying their workers poverty wages (and sometimes no wages) who are doing the work on the ground. Most of these mega-nons bring in $millions in government subsidies a for contracted government work. They can then pat themselves on the back for "being so nice" while treating their clients like dirt for "choosing" to be poor. In fact they live off the backs of the poor with these mega-nons. But NOBODY wants to ask, "where does the other $52,000-$65,000 go?"

    Do not confuse mega-nons with small non-profits. They get little or nothing from the government and few donations but are the ones who are on the ground doing the real work. They often run their organizations on less than a DSHS manager or mega-non manager makes and do 10 X the work. Unlike mega-nons whose "missions" are eclipsed by their desire to keep those $millions coming in, small nons accomplish 100% of their mission. This is because small nons may not qualify for grants because their mission is in conflict with the grant source (ie, they are pro choice, they are advocates for their clients and therefore are "working against" the government's requirements, they believe in the more democratic "bottom up" structures for their members instead of the more common "chief and little people" structure, etc).

    *Taxes: In very single state the poor pay a higher rate of taxes out of their meager incomes than the upper classes ~ sometimes up to 20 X more.  Check out your state and who pays the highest rate of taxes by economic class here: http://www.itepnet.org/... If Bill Gates alone paid the same rate of taxes that a welfare mom in his state pays, the entire state would be out of the deficit they are in and he would still have 10s of $billions to "eke" out his own living. There would be enough to take care of other budget needs such as public schools, roads, etc. If ALL of Bill Gates' class paid the same as the welfare mother did, not only could the state pay for a college education for every adult, they could pay for all the parks, court upkeep, maintenance upkeep. Without raising a cent of taxes for the rest of their state the !%'s revenue, if it was the same rate as a welfare mom's, would pretty much  take care of anything the state needed for infrastructure costs.

    *Low wage jobs. This is already being looked at and it is about time. The poor were pretty much the 'canaries in the mine" when the poor was targeted by Welfare Reform (or as many poor call it; "Welfare DEFormed".  Welfare Reform in essence codified into law that the only thing that mattered as far as contributing to the community was to work for a wage.  Any wage. Even NO WAGE. As a matter of fact at this time the government is subsidizing for-profit companies and mega-nons to use unpaid labor (slave labor) while not having to observe labor laws such as breaks and fair treatment and these unpaid laborers are doing the same work alongside what paid laborers do. Why pay someone when not only can you get them for free, you can get subsidized by the government for "being so nice"? Not only does this slave labor undermine paid labor, this attitude is part of the "race to the bottom" for our economy.  NYC took welfare recipients and put them to work at less than $.50 cents an hour and undermined fairly paid city workers. They are doing this all around the country.  This was done under the watch of then Senator Hilary Clinton who went around the country with Joe Liebermann applauding wildly as to how "successful" Welfare DEFormed was.

    I could write all day about how the upper classes use the poor for profit. The Poverty Institution is Big Business for many and it is because it is viewed as a "choice" when in fact people in poverty are caught in the spider's web of low income lives that they can never escape.

    My 2 cents
    Cat in Seattle
    Board member of POWER
    http://www.mamapower.org

    First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

    by mntleo2 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:49:56 AM PDT

    •  Thanks ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mntleo2

      for all this. And the tax business is key. In Oklahoma, sales tax is assessed on food purchases, so when people complain that the poor don't pay taxes, I want to throw a laptop at them.

      •  Yeah the sad thing is ... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that the poor themselves believe they do not pay taxes. When they realize how much of their incomes they do pay and the sacrifice they are making, they are mad.  But it also empowers them to know it and this fact is an important water cooler argument to make.

        Often the ones who hate the poor will say, "How many jobs has a poor person ever generated?" The answer is, "Plenty. If you think that the medical fields, insurance companies, government agencies, the prison industry, and for profit corporations do not depend on the poor for their own profit you are WRONG. Do you really believe that those mega-non-profits are all made up of volunteers? Are all those jail keepers working for nothing? Do farms and grocery stores not need the food stamp recipient as much as the recipient needs them? Do hospitals all run on humanitarian good as a way to pay their workers for these low wage worker's care? No, even religious hospitals, employing hundreds, sometime thousands of workers get $Millions from guess where, hmmmm? Let me hear it...paid by many low income's contribution to whaaaat? TAXES!  

        You can point out that: "Poor people pay a larger part of their income in taxes so you don't have to ~ even though it literally comes out of the mouths of babes for YOUR benefit. In order to PAY people to maintain and built them, the poor pay more taxes for your roads yet use them far less than you do, which is why public transportation is so needed ~ and btw, who do you think is maintaining, managing and driving all those buses and trains? Volunteers?"

        The legal fields, the courts, judges, and all their personnel would be in a bad way without the poor who not only pay more of their income in taxes, but also make the same sacrifices for the high fees they have to pay for driver's licenses, car registration and other fees from road tolls to entry into a publicly funded zoo, the additional cost to board a publicly funded ferry, drive across a publicly built toll bridge, pay all the taxes for publicly funded utilities such as energy companies, water, sewers, garbage, and all fees and taxes paid in order to pay those workers by low income people who give a far greater chunk of their incomes than any other class. Half of a phone bill is in taxes ~ paid so that the companies who run these phone companies can get more funding from the government for being a "services" ~ funding that is paid by what and by whom? Tax dollars, much of them paid by the poor. So yes these are just a few ways that poor people create jobs ..."

        Just sayin' ...

        Cat

        First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

        by mntleo2 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 08:03:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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