Posts Tagged Unemployment Benefit
When Limited Government Becomes Government Intrusion
BY ANNABEL LEE
There have been a number of initiatives and statements over the past two years to begin forcing people applying for unemployment benefits to subject themselves to drug testing as a condition of their receiving the benefits they paid into. This has created an outrage amongst liberals and conservatives alike, making it one issue in America where the people are in agreement and the politicians are completely clueless as to what they’re talking about.
Looking at states such as Florida and South Carolina, run by Tea Party backed Republican governors, that have introduced these bills and laws into their states, we can start seeing a few signs that show that these are just ways to attempt to deny or prevent people from claiming their benefits. When looking at the stats coming out from these drug testing programs, we see that the percentage of people testing positive in states with the laws enacted is roughly 2 percent of applications. The national average for drug use is estimated closer to 8 percent of adults, with 12 to 15 percent believed to be in positions of power and security. The stories of hedge fund managers and day traders using drugs and prostitutes in New York City have become legendary outside of “The Street”. This thinking that more people are on drugs because they are unemployed ignores many key facts about drug use and addiction, but let’s leave that aside for the moment.
Only 2 percent of applicants for unemployment benefits (which are insurance, not benefits) are being denied because they are testing positive. For a nation with millions of people on unemployment, that works out to maybe 20,000 persons out of 1 million. That might seem like a lot, but many of these tests can be failed for eating a poor diet or using a type of medication for a health problem. The idea that one is using unemployment insurance to buy alcohol and drugs is not a new one, but it is the first time these laws have been passed at the harm of the unemployed during this class crusade, not a war but a crusade, against the poor and unemployed.
Newt Gingrich talked about the nanny state during his time as Speaker of the House. Apparently, it’s a nanny state to provide workers with insurance payouts that have been paid for by the worker during their employment. I guess it’s a nanny state to have annuity premium payout when someone reaches age 55 and a half, or to have a home owners policy pay out when a home is damaged in a storm or fire. That the GOP holds a view so baffling and wrong is not unusual. Instead, the problem is that these laws are on the books, though the ACLU has fought to stop them at every turn, even suing in state court to put the programs on hold pending State Supreme Court review.
With the amount of money being saved by not paying out these few benefits to those most in need, how much are these states saving? Absolutely nothing. They are spending more money to try to save money, than they would have spent just paying the benefits to workers that paid for them. The costs of these drug screening programs is enormous given the magnitude of people applying and receiving benefits. That only 2 percent of applicants are being denied means that the program is costing almost 30 times more per person denied than it would have if the benefits were paid. This is insane, and a complete violation of civil liberties and freedom.
Now, even candidates such as Rick Perry are jumping on the bandwagon to deny benefits, pushing for a federal law to require drug testing. Sure sounds like limited government to me. Why not place another law limiting our rights and freedoms by the party claiming to want to reduce government in our lives. A quick snapshot at laws passed and on the books, each limiting our civil liberties:
· Gay marriage and homosexual sex act laws, coming into people’s lives and bedrooms, telling them who and how they can love and engage in consensual adult sex.
· Federal laws that ban the use, sale and possession of marijuana, even after states and citizens have voted to legalize it in their states. Even with the intense regulations put in place by the states to ensure compliance with the state laws and guidelines, the federal government still says that an adult can drink a beer and smoke a cigarette, but cannot enjoy a joint.
· Reproductive rights for women. Hot button issue for sure, but to have the government control what goes into and comes out of a woman’s reproductive organs is a huge violation of civil liberties. Understanding the life issue, it is still about the government controlling a woman’s body, which goes against the idea of limited government.
· Seat belt laws that require you to wear a seat belt. Even as an adult and a liberal, I think that seat belts are important, but if someone who is an adult decides to drive without wearing their seat belt, that is their right as an American. To have a law stating they must wear it as a safety issue, is foolish. If an adult is driving without their seat belt, the only person they will hurt is themselves.
That the drug testing issue now makes this list, from the GOP and Democrats, is frustrating. Now, not every one of those invasions of civil liberties is a GOP or a Democrat issue. They are both culpable in many instances. The drug testing issue seems to be a GOP led and organized event, one that is costing far more than it is saving.
With all the money being spend, who is profiting? In many cases, it is senior officials inside the administrations who end up working as lobbyists or who own stock in the companies that are handling the drug testing. This is just another way that people are being victimized for corporate profits, with no justifiable cause.
For the people who are dependent on their unemployment insurance benefits to make it between jobs, this is a humiliation, one that many will not subject to. Perhaps that is the plan, to keep people from even applying for their benefits at all. This is akin to requiring a person to do 50 push ups before they can collect their car insurance payout, or a homeowners policy benefit. This is just not a situation that America should be facing.
One can only hope that the courts agree with the ACLU that these laws are unfair and unjust and Unconstitutional. There is no reason to subject people who are hurting for money to these types of tests. Besides, you’d think that state legislators and governors would be able to realize that the people who have serious drug problems are not going to be applying for unemployment anyway, as they probably haven’t worked for a long time. People who are applying for unemployment don’t have the money to buy drugs, and unemployment is not going to provide enough income to pay rent, food, bills and expenses for the family and have leftovers for drugs.
These laws are ridiculous, pointless and harmful to the American society. That they ever became law is baffling, and hopefully they will be overturned, as there is no reason to put more shame to people who have to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. They’ve already enough to worry about than whether or not the antidepressant they’re taking will cause a false positive and deny their family needed income during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
- Bethany St. James: Is Peeing in a Little Plastic Cup Violating Your Constitutional Rights? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits Allowed in Payroll Tax Cut Bill (ibtimes.com)
- Perry Joins Gingrich In Desire To Drug-Test Federal Aid Recipients: ‘I Don’t Have A Problem In The World With That’ (thinkprogress.org)
- GOP Wants Mandatory Drug Testing For Unemployed (inquisitr.com)
- Mandatory Drug Testing Demonizes and Demoralizes (usnews.com)
- Participation in Welfare Is Not Voluntary (usnews.com)
- Should Welfare Recipients Be Tested for Drugs? (usnews.com)
- Unemployment Benefits Extension: Some Would Lose Aid Under Senate’s Payroll Tax Deal (skillsinfo.wordpress.com)
- Rick Perry: Drug Test All Welfare Recipients (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Only Winners Are Companies Making the Drug Tests (usnews.com)
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