November 23, 2011State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, has filed a bill called the Social Responsibility and Accountability Act, which would require drug testing of all recipients of Medicaid and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Act.
Albers points out it is no more invasive than the drug screenings required by private sector employers.
"And whether you work to receive compensation, or collect government assistance, the same standards should apply," he said.
After all, taxpayers have a right to know whether their money is being spent as intended, i.e., to help adults or their children faced with abject, dire need for basic food and shelter. Public assistance should not go to drug users.
Of course that means a lot of children go hungry and homeless. According to the Ga. Department of Human services 16,266 clients in the nearly 20,000 cases (as of February 2011) are children. I suppose these parents will be asked to cough up the $42 (average) for the drug test. The bill calls for the client to pay for the test.
But the state will refund the cost to those who pass.
That's not a lot of money unless you're destitute – or administering 20,000 tests – which is $840,000 just to test those who are in the system today. So we cull out the ones who can't even fork up $42 right away. I suppose we can safely assume all of those who don't take the test will be drug addicts.
So who will get stuck with the bill of all of those who do pass a drug test? Because anybody can pass a drug test once by hook or crook. Most drug testing done in the private sector is random and ongoing. One test to qualify is hardly a net to weed out all drug users, is it?
And the test itself is just the beginning of the costs. Somebody has to administer these tests, the results must be tabulated and then evaluated. Somebody is going to say they were denied due process, and so an appeal infrastructure will be fabricated.
Yes, there are a host of unintended consequences out there, but those drug addicts will have to think hard about becoming socially responsible and accountable.
Well, it's a start. But why are we starting at the bottom of those sucking from the public weal. After all, if we are going to ask those who must take the taxpayer's dollar to buy their bread, then shouldn't those who demand this of the bottom of the social register out of fairness demand the same from the top?
Let's have all elected officials drug tested too. The same logic applies. There are in any stratum of society a certain percentage who will be ingesting or inhaling something they know they shouldn't. But if you take a government paycheck, do the socially responsible thing. Stand up and be accountable. Roll up that shirtsleeve or pee in the cup for America. Show that there is no loss of personal dignity, no affront to one's sense of honor to submit to the minor indignities of a drug test.
Then we can next start in on the teachers. They take a lot of money from taxpayers, and what's more they have charge of our children day after day. Shouldn't we safeguard the public treasury from all assaults by drug addiction?
Postal workers, firefighters and police all drive on our roads where we the public are most vulnerable. Should they not prove their sobriety, their public accountability, their social responsibility when they take the taxpayer's dollar?
Of course what makes it so difficult is that it is hard to pick out the average assistance taker. Yes we have the picture of a 17-year-old single mom, a live-in boyfriend and a 42-year-old grandmother who really does the child-rearing.
But a lot of times you can't tell. It could be that soccer mom who had to move out of the family home when her sick child's insurance ran out. It can be the abused wife who just grabbed the kids and left when she could take no more.
It might be that golf buddy who "downsized" then had a heart attack. Now he can't get a job or insurance. But a drug test will not diminish him or add to his shame and humiliation of asking for the government's assistance.
Of course there is always the option proposed by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) when he wrote in "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and Making Them Beneficial to the Public."
In the treatise, he neatly outlined the problem of these indigent Irish women, forced into beggary because they had too many children to find honest work. After studying the case quite thoroughly, he came to the conclusion that the best remedy was to simply eat them.
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Managing Editor, Appen Newspapers Inc.