Social chaos will only grow in this country if we continue to let a narrowly focused group of people continue to dwell on non-issues that do nothing to recover our jobs and rebuild the American middle-class.
Like so many myths about poor people, current drug tests on Florida’s welfare recipients have debunked the fearful notions of some that most welfare recipients are junkies. It is a mean-spirited argument that many conservatives and Libertarians make that people are on welfare because they’re addicted to drugs and cannot hold down a job.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Preliminary figures on a new Florida law requiring drug tests for welfare applicants show that they are less likely than other people to use drugs, not more. One famous Floridian suggests that it’s the people who came up with the law who should be submitting specimens.
Preliminary figures show that about 2.5 percent of up to 2,000 applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families have tested positive since the law went into effect in July. Another 2 percent declined to take the test, Department of Children and Families officials say. The Justice Department estimates that 6 percent of Americans 12 and older use illegal drugs.
Gov. Rick Scott and other supporters of the law – the only one of its kind currently on the books in the U.S. – say the tests will save the state cash by weeding out people who would use welfare money on drugs. Critics say that just a few months after it went into effect, the law has already refuted the idea that people receiving public assistance are more likely to use drugs. SOURCE
Tea Party Republican Rick Scott and his ilk are the forces behind government shut downs and eliminating state jobs and teacher positions in their campaign to “purge” state budgets of what they feel is unnecessary spending. They also go after programs that aid low-income people like the one above leaving many people without the resources to secure jobs and health care. The implementation of this drug testing appears to not only NOT be fulfilling Scott’s assumption that “the tests will save the state cash by weeding out people who would use welfare money on drugs” but may wound up costing the state more and eliminating badly needed revenues should these results hold up over the long haul.
This is a classic example of zealous Tea Party advocates implementing programs based on their false perceptions about those people who are not “part of my America”, such as low-income earners and immigrants. The money they have perhaps already wasted on this drug testing in Florida could have been used to do an objective scientific study to determine if their biased beliefs held any truth to them, justifying or negating the need to do such testing in the first place. But since these people are predominantly anti-science anyway, the thought to use tax payer money more prudently never occurs to them.
Even more harmful than money thrown down a rat hole is the increased tension that such fallacious views about so-called “undesirables” creates within our society and leads to further economic waste as law enforcement and social services have to deal with the effects of such mean-spirited policies. Local, state and federal legislatures get bogged down in dealing with such myths while the important issues of job creation and economic stimulus get set aside or not dealt with at all.
A most recent example of this is pro-life Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), House chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Stearns has been influenced by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life to investigate Planned Parenthood for specious charges that they are using federal funds to pay for abortions. Many conservatives wrongly feel that Planned Parenthood benefits only poor people.
After Republican lawmakers tried and failed to defund Planned Parenthood during federal budget negotiations in February, the anti-abortion activist group Americans United for Life released a 30-page report that accused the family planning provider of misusing federal funds, failing to report child sex abuse, assisting sex traffickers and a host of other illegal activities, though similar accusations were made against Planned Parenthood and debunked earlier this year. The purpose of AUL’s report was to convince Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood and revoke its taxpayer funds.
Planned Parenthood, which is regularly audited by the Department of Health and Human Services and found to be in compliance with federal law, contends that it only uses taxpayer money to help low-income patients afford preventative health care and family-planning services. Abortions account for only 3 percent of the health provider’s services, and they are paid for out of pocket by the patients.
Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) wrote a letter to Stearns on Tuesday expressing their opposition to the investigation, which they say is “unwarranted” and “designed to harass and shut down an organization simply because Republicans disagree with the work that it does.” Waxman told HuffPost in an email that he hopes Stearns will reconsider the investigation and find more productive ways to use the subcommittee’s resources, such as examining private health insurers who are under-reporting drug manufacturer rebates, or reexamining food safety. SOURCE
We can only hope that those voters who allowed their emotions to overtake their good judgment when they voted these extremists in during the 2010 mid-term elections will correct their views of these people and swing back to a more sensible approach in dealing with matters that deeply affect us. Focusing only on spending cuts for programs that keep many people productively healthy and avoid an increase in the poverty level satisfies only the greedy self-interests of people whose income level buffers them from the fate of another recession on a scale that could be even greater than one we have just come through.
The America that the extremist on the right claim they want to return to is one that has long past when most people were predominantly white, Western European, agrarian and orthodox christians. Most people grew their own food to sustain them and their close-knit community. There were few banks to borrow from and unless you lived in one of the bigger urban areas you would be lucky if there was a doctor within horse riding distance. Communities were small and materials were local, not requiring or depending on foreign sources to keep our families provided for in the essentials.
We all pine for those “good old days” that weren’t really all that good with infant mortality rates higher then and only white males enjoyed the privileges of property ownership and voting. The “I want my country back” crowd wants to evade the diversity that has developed in this country from immigration over the last century and dreams of recapturing systems that governed us and met our economic needs that were naturally less complex than they are now.
But this is the reality that people like Governor Scott cannot contend with. To believe as they do that we can turn back the hands of time and make everything “right” again is a fantasy that is hurting our ability to progress in the fashion we have been accustomed to. We are a vast and complex culture today that the simple means of another era can no longer address. Social and economic progress and innovation have elapsed our ability to absorb the changes that come with this change. We need people who can help us adapt to this change, not neanderthals who are confused by it. Our future depends on it.