Drug testing the poor. Still stupid after all these years.
2% of Oklahoma’s state senators are sexual deviants
Back in 2012, the Oklahoma legislature passed and Governor Mary Fallin signed into law House Bill 2388, which requires all adults applying for or receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) to be tested for drugs. If positive, the applicant/recipient could lose assistance for up to one year. A companion bill was also signed into law which required all those receiving government benefits to wear a large embroidered P (Poor) on their lapels.
I may have made up that last part.
Over the past five years, Oklahoma has spent a whopping $2.2 million on these mandatory drug tests. The results are in and, statistically speaking, the percentage of poor people on assistance who tested positive for drugs is roughly equivalent to the percentage of GOP state senators who meet underage male prostitutes in shitty motels off of I-35.
The results of that testing — 557 individuals between 2012 and 2016 tested positive for drug use, or about 2.8 percent of the 19,878 adult applicants who underwent screening during that time, according to data from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
(For those scoring at home, Oklahoma has 48 state senators; 1 went to meet the 17-year-old at the Super 8 in Moore. Percentage: 2.08 percent.)
As Oklahoma goes, so goes the nation.
All told, these 13 states tested 2,826 people out of about 250,000 applicants and recipients in 2016. Of those tested, just 369 came back positive. In four states, drug testing uncovered exactly zero positive tests for the whole year. The positive drug test rate out of all applicants, in states where people tested positive, ranged from 0.07 percent in Arkansas to 2.14 percent in Utah; none of them came anywhere close to the national drug use rate of 9.4 percent for the general population.
Wait, there’s more.
The most colossal failure of this policy was in Arizona, which passed a drug-testing law in 2009. In 2012, an evaluation of the program had startling results: After three years and 87,000 screenings, only one person had failed the drug test, with huge costs for the state, which saved a few hundred dollars by denying benefits, compared to the hundreds of thousands spent to conduct the tests.
If we’re going to make receiving government aid/assistance contingent on being drug free, why not test those who receive home interest deductions, subsidized student loans, government pensions, VA benefits, social security benefits, and Medicare to name just six examples?
Forget that drug testing the poor doesn’t work, is expensive, probably violates the constitution (there’s no reasonable suspicion), prone to error, and fails to distinguish between use and abuse — it’s also heartless and stigmatizes those for whom misery is a constant companion.
And the worst kind of selective dickitude.
After the 2008 financial meltdown, the federal government disbursed more than $625 Billion to executives of American corporations.
Not one had to pee in a cup before cashing the taxpayers’ check.