Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Those "Repost This" Postings on Facebook

If you have a Facebook page, you know what I'm talking about. Everyone gets know the "If you ever had someone you love die of Cancer, you must repost this as your status, etc." Some are cute, some are funny, some tug at the heartstrings and some just make you wince. I usually try to ignore them, but one recently crossed my Facebook page that I just could not ignore, and I most certainly don't agree with. I received it for the first time yesterday and again from a completely different person today. Before I go into any more detail, here is the posting:

Here... let me piss some people off... Did you get drug tested today? Thank you Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri, which are the first states that will require drug testing when applying for welfare. Some people are crying and calling this unconstitutional. How is this unconstitutional? It's ok to drug test people who work for their money, but not those who don't?... Re-post this if you'd like to see this done in all 50 states. I just did.

This was today's version. The only difference of this one from yesterday's version is that yesterday had the added comment of wishing this could happen in Canada too.
Both people who posted this are my friends (otherwise they would not be on my Facebook list of friends) and I don't want to hurt their feelings with this post, but I have some major problems with the sentiment and the meaning behind this posting. The post is supposed to make the reader mad about all the people who abuse the welfare system (in Ontario the equivalent is the Ontario Works Program) and tells the reader they should want to add another hurdle that welfare applicants must go through to receive help from the government. The post also mentions that three states in the U.S. have added laws that would require this drug test be added to the rules for applying for welfare, and at least one of the states actually was enforcing the rule until a Federal judge issued a ruling on Oct. 24, 2011 stopping its enforcement until the courts rule on its constitutionality. Judge Mary Scriven had this to say in her ruling:

If invoking an interest in preventing public funds from potentially being used to fund drug use were the only requirement to establish a special need, the state could impose drug testing as an eligibility requirement for every beneficiary of every government program. Such blanket intrusions cannot be countenanced under the Fourth Amendment.
 Michigan tried to enact a similar law requiring random drug tests for welfare recipients in 1999 which was also litigated and resulted in the law being declared unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, the same amendment that will probably be used to declare these laws unconstitutional. Kentucky actually has not passed or tried to enforce a drug law yet. A bill similar to Florida's drug law was introduced in one house of the state legislature, but it has not been brought to a vote yet. They may try again this year but most observers think the Kentucky bill has some high hurdles to jump over before it has a chance of becoming law or enforced.
Missouri's law was also signed and put into effect in July of 2011. The main difference in this law is that drug tests are done only when officials have reasonable cause to believe that an applicant or recipient is using illegal drugs. That means, unlike the other laws, this is Not a blanket "you must take a drug test to receive benefits" law like Florida.

These are Tea Party endorsed laws. They are laws that several Tea Party/Conservative Republican politicians used as wedge issues to help get themselves elected. Florida's governor Rick Scott used this law among others to get himself elected as governor of Florida. Then he rammed the bill through the statehouse with the promise that it would save Florida taxpayers millions each year and get the "lowlife drug users" off the welfare rolls. It was signed into law in June, 2011 and enforced starting July 1, 2011 until Oct. 24, 2011 when Judge Scriven halted the enforcement of the law.
Now remember, Rick Scott  said that this law would find all the many drug users and abusers of welfare, get them off the welfare lists and save millions of Florida taxpayer money. However, using the information of what actually occurred from July 1 to Oct. 24, one Tampa newspaper did some simple math and came up with some startling numbers. It seems that 96% of the welfare applicants who were tested passed the drug test and went on to collect welfare. Of the remaining 4%, two percent simply didn't finish the application for reasons unspecified. The remaining 2% did fail the test. All of those who passed the test had to be reimbursed for the cost of the testing by the state. The newspaper figured that would cost taxpayers around $178,000,000 a year. That is 178 MILLION DOLLARS folks! The savings the taxpayers will receive for the estimated 2% of drug failures will amount to between $40,000 to $60,000 a year in taxpayer savings. Let me repeat this one more time. The taxpayers of Florida will spend 178 million dollars a year to save 60 thousand a year. Yeah, it doesn't make much sense to me either.
Meanwhile every welfare applicant will be treated by the state with suspicion; they will be treated as guilty of drug abuse until they can prove to the state that they are innocent. The laid off factory worker who has used up his unemployment insurance but still can't find steady work with a family and mortgage to pay will be treated like that. The mother whose abusive husband left her with an empty food cupboard and a pile of overdue bills will be treated like that. The grandmother who is having to raise her grandkids because of family troubles or a death in the family will be treated like that. They will all be treated as guilty until they can prove they are innocent. Does that sound right to you? It does NOT to me.
No citizen of the United States, or Canada, or any other country should be treated like that, and I will always speak up for them if I can. That is why I will answer the repost statement above whenever I see it posted to my Facebook. That is why I will admit to all that, yes, you did piss me off, and here are the reasons why. I love you all, but before you repost statements like the one above, think for a moment and ask yourself if you truly wish to be treated like that...if you truly wish to lose your right to privacy, your right not to have to endure an unreasonable search of your body without cause. Don't let gut feelings that such posts try to elicit blind you to the freedoms you might lose. Once lost, our freedoms and rights are extremely hard to regain, and we have lost too many freedoms in the last few years. Enough is enough!

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