This new social and political movement to try to get the government to drug test all welfare recipients baffles me in so many ways.

Firstly, most of the people who are the biggest proponents of these arguments likely get back most, if not all, of the taxes they pay.  It’s called a TAX REFUND!!  So that means, their money actually isn’t paying for ANYBODY’S welfare check.  It means they don’t even make enough money to contribute much of anything to the government, let alone support another family.  They also get deductions for all sorts of things: being married, monetary or non-cash donations (and here we all thought you did that just to be a good person…), losses or theft not covered by insurance, etc., etc.,  and most people STILL complain about taxes.  *In a slow speaking tone*: the government is letting you get more money back just because you are married, so calm down for a second.  Based on their deductions and the already unsubstantial amount of money they were making in the first place, they get a check for what was overpaid in taxes.  The government decided that THEY actually need that money more than the government does.  So, in a weird way of thinking about it, when they get those refund checks, the government is doing them a solid.  And, remember those stimulus checks we all got back in the day….just another way, a fancy way, of saying they were giving welfare out to taxpayers, and I bet these same people took it without question.  (Oh, don’t you worry, I’m going to get to the “working” part of in a bit).

Secondly, and most importantly, I was NEVER drug tested for my job. In fact, I interned at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the government!!!) for nearly two months.  I went through an extensive background check, to the point where I had a month of non-employment between undergrad and graduate school, and they called my mom to verify the explanation I put on the form.  When it came to drugs, they only asked one question: “Have you ever used drugs or are you currently using drugs?” (Me: So ya’ll are just going to trust me on that one?).  Not a single drug test.  And there was not even so much as a question when I applied for my current job…a university professor…working for the state of New York.  Nobody is making a big fuss about the fact that state professors, agents of the state, having sworn to not overthrow the government and honor the constitutions of New York and the U.S…are not drug tested.  Like I told my students “I COULD BE CRACKED OUT RIGHT NOW AS FAR AS ANYBODY KNOWS!!!” and apparently, nobody cares.  Also, my partner, Beth, worked for AmeriCorps (at a high school) and is currently working for a state-funded after-school program for K-6th grade; she was never drug tested in either of these positions.  If the government isn’t going to drug test it’s own workers….why would/should they drug test the other people they are giving money to?

p.s. The government is not drug-testing you when you apply for work at a private company; that private company is drug-testing you.

p.s.s. If the military is making you do a drug test…you can try to compare it if you want, but that is also not the same thing.  The military has all sorts of rules and regulations that do not apply to citizens.   Adultery is considered “conduct which is of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, or conduct which is prejudicial to good order and discipline”.  Up until recently, it was legal to discriminate against those who engaged in “homosexual conduct” while in the military, essentially resulting in discharge (or being fired); we saw what happened when Arizona tried to legally discriminate against homosexuals (most importantly, they had to come up with it first, send it to vote, etc., etc…not at all the case for the military to have a discrimination policy in the first place).

To top this entire argument off…almost HALF of my annual salary goes towards taxes.  I am “single”, I do not have any dependents, and I am in a certain tax bracket that essentially means, at least they think it means, I can afford to pay taxes.  I have not received a federal refund in 4 years!! Yes, FOUR YEARS!  In fact, I’m preeetttttty sure that I still OWE the IRS. So, let’s get this straight. I, unlike many other people, do not get my money back in April; they are ACTUALLY using what they take from me to fund school, pave the roads I drive on, provide services for those in need, and to fund disability benefits (God forbid I end up needing disability one day because nobody really knows when a car is going to run up on the sidewalk here in New York!).

Let’s get real here. The reason people want welfare recipients to be drug tested is because of the assumptions they have about people who are receiving it.   These people don’t care about me; someone who is also getting money from the government, because, for all intents and purposes, I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.   These same people don’t care if I’m on drugs…even if it is just as illegal for me as it is for the mother who is trying to raise her children only making $7.25/hour (or $13, 920 a year if she works 40 hours a week…which is unlikely if she’s only being paid minimum wage.  p.s. That is less than I made as a graduate student with no children…and even for me, the struggle was real!).  They do not care because I am considered a “contributing” member of society.  I am able-bodied and working…good…and if I am using illegal drugs…it clearly isn’t getting in the way of that. (Of course, I could crash into someone all jacked up on cocaine or easily get a large group of university students to create utter chaos because I was on shrooms…but hey, at least I’m working).  So, is it that these people don’t like the fact that individuals who are getting money from the government might be using it to buy illegal drugs?  Possibly…but logic would say that that they would also be after people like me to be drug tested.  No, there’s more to it.  These proponents of drug testing welfare recipients feel as though people who are on welfare are simply lazy, feel entitled, and that ALL of their hard-earned cash that was taken in taxes (not that much) is going toward supporting lazy bums.  What they clearly don’t know is that, “more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement, and other mandatory programs, spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households — not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work”.   What this is saying is that, just like in the example I gave, more people who are receiving aid from the government are working people who are not being paid enough (18% actually), and it has been this way for years.  Only 9% of benefits actually go to people who are not elderly nor disabled and are living in a nonworking household.

So let’s do some math here.  Let’s say that the government keeps $1,000 from someone who is complaining about their money going toward drug-using welfare recipients.  Only $90 is even going toward the people you are pissed off about.  If they have a reason to be mad, it should be that they’re not testing the elderly and/or disabled people who are smoking crack and using 900 of their hard-earned dollars to do it!!! (<—that’s sarcasm).   In other words, if people are going to be mad about all their money going toward something, they should technically be complaining about our social policy programs that are helping those who we generally deem need the most help.  If people are going to be mad about something, they should be mad that corporations are making millions, or billions ,of dollars in profits because they don’t even pay their workers enough money for the government to consider them above the poverty line (again, this is 18% of the recipients).

If legislators ever decided to go ahead with drug-testing for welfare recipients in any state that I live in, they better be ready for me to drop off a cup of my own piss at each of their offices with a note that reads “test this too”.  #justkiddingnotreally