A Florida judge has issued a temporary injunction that will stop enforcement of a measure that requires welfare applicants to be tested for drugs before receiving benefits. Now, if only a judge could declare the myth of the drug-addled welfare queen "dead."
In June, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law that declared that all Floridians who wished to apply for welfare needed to submit to a drug screening before receiving government benefits. Critics said the law infringed on the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees Americans freedom from unnecessary search and seizure, and would be struck down as a similar law was in Michigan. Further, the law stunk more than the line outside of a South Beach club on a Saturday night from the start, since Scott owned and co-founded a chain of clinics that — you guessed it — provides drug testing services. In order to prevent a conflict of interest, Scott transferred the shares to his wife. There. Much better now.
So why test only welfare applicants for drugs? What's the difference between "welfare"— that is, food stamps and government assistance for household living expenses — and other government programs like Coverdell grants, Social Security, Medicare, and a Marital Tax Credit? Have you guessed?
Welfare recipients are poor, and they're usually women with children. If there's anything America loves besides halftime shows and Jesus, it's hating The Poors and single mothers. And when the ladies are poor? Finger wagging bonanza!
Contrary to the stereotype of the procreatively prolific urban teen mom, the majority of welfare recipients are non-black, non-urban adults who stay on government aid for less than two years. Not that it matters to convenient racial stereotype devotees.
Even recipients of the benefits themselves seemed to think that everyone else receiving benefits is just using the government money and heading straight to Ye Olde Urbanne Drug Emporium. CNN quoted one recipient of government aid,
I think it's good," said Lissie Bryant, who has an adult son who gets benefits. "There are so many people walking around here that are getting welfare that really don't deserve it and they're taking the money and buying drugs.
Reality contradicts this. The ACLU says that a discontinued Florida study found that welfare recipients have no higher incidence of drug use than non-welfare recipients. And Governor Scott's scheme itself was a dismal flop — of the 1,000 or so people who underwent drug tests during the first month of its implementation, only 2% tested positive for drugs. The government was on the hook for all of the negative test results, which meant the taxpayers will be on the hook for reimbursing the cost of the test, which runs about $30 a pop. Since the applicants had to pay for their tests at the clinic and then the government has to reimburse them for the test they took, it's almost like the state government of Florida was requiring its citizens to directly pay into the governor's personal coffers. Weird! Of course, it's impossible for the applicants to be reimbursed for the amount of time it took to get to one of the clinics that could provide the test, nor for any time off work they had to take or childcare they needed to arrange.
Because the public is so eager to hate poor people and women, Governor Scott was almost able to massively privately profit from a wasteful government program, in much the same way that the imaginary crackmothers and crackbabies do in the undying Myth of the Welfare Queen. It's really too bad irony isn't taught in our public schools.