Drug Testing For Unemployment Benefits; Yet Another Republican Smokescreen

(The following is a cross-post from OneWhiteDuck.com)

With special thanks to nearly a decade’s worth of gross governmental negligence, a national economy-turned-roulette-table and the 50+ year dwindling of American industry, unemployment is still in the upper-single digits.

American workers, families, students, soldiers and seniors alike are facing the hardest economic times since the Great Depression – without a sign of respite or leveling-off of loss – while Republican leaders cry over taxing the 1% of Americans who can actually afford it.

And, since claiming a Congressional majority last November, the do-nothing House GOP has accomplished little more than propose a series of anti-progressive, social-engineering legislation aimed at distracting voters from real issues that have infected our economy, security and well-being; issues to which they offer no real, tangible remedies while hiding their willful associations with the root causes of nearly each and every one.

Last week, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives unveiled new legislation that would eliminate 40 weeks (10 months, or a reduction from 73 to 33 weeks) from the duration of currently-offered federal unemployment benefits while allowing states to mandate drug testing for recipients of said benefits as a means of eligibility screening.

Meaning – upon becoming jobless at the mercy of for-profit corporate America in a down-in-the-dumps economy – a skilled, hard-working, upstanding veteran of virtually any industry in the country who has suddenly lost their sole income with little-to-no chance of regaining what they potentially have lost will now have to add “peeing in a cup” to the long list of pitfalls surrounding the application process for unemployment benefits; a system of which when examined reveals far greater benefits as an economic catalyst for the nation than not.

Currently, it is illegal for any state to deny unemployment insurance for reasons other than on-the-job misconduct, fraud or earning too much money from part-time work. Past efforts to deem benefits as conditional upon drug testing have been deemed as unconstitutional by courts, and there is currently no factual data whatsoever that correlates drug use with joblessness.

American workers, families, students, soldiers and seniors alike are facing the hardest economic times since the Great Depression – without a sign of respite or leveling-off of loss – while Republican leaders cry over taxing the 1% of Americans who an actually afford it.

But as a show of hands of who thinks the government should take a back-seat in the financial security and independence of its citizens and instead focus on menial, trivial pursuits of ideological pandering (while empowering and rewarding the top 1% of income-earners in the country for being the ones who get to decide who has a job and who does not), the House GOP offered up this little gem – a proverbial “go f— yourself” to anyone who is unfortunate enough to find themselves unemployed and at the mercy of said upper-echelon of moneymakers.

The new legislation would expand the “reasons for denial of benefits” list to include failing a drug test as yet another provision of keeping would-be-working Americans at fault; using a “hot button issue” like drug use as the social catalyst for acceptability.

Because, of course, drugs are illegal – and we wouldn’t want anyone obtaining government funds to use their new-found “Benjamins” for anything “less than moral,” now would we?

But to that point – why stop there?

While we’re subjecting the nation’s unemployed to medical examinations (where is the anti-“Big Brother” Tea Party on this one?) as a means of determining whether or not they can benefit from tax-payer-funded programs, why not also sequester their (dwindling) bank accounts to decipher whether or not any funds have ever been allocated to illegal gambling? Or to support a mistress (yes, extramarital affairs are illegal in many states)?

Perhaps, while in the doctor’s office, applicants can also be forced to drop their drawers for a full STD exam to figure out just who might be soliciting sex from a prostitute (GOP leadership exempt, of course) – because we all know just how hedonistic the country’s working class can be, what with all its surplus money and all.

I am sure the list of illegalities can compound exponentially and, praise Reagan, government would never have to issue another unemployment check again.

Seriously, on what principle is this based? Is this really as simple and basic as it seems; a snark-fueled implication that the nation’s roughly 9% unemployed have found themselves jobless due to being drug-addicted slackers – and anyone against said legislation must be in league with some anti-capitalist, leftist agenda (go ahead, Obama, they are daring you to veto it)?

Perhaps it comes down to profit: as seen in Republican Governor Rick Scott’s state of Florida, where – in similar context – would-be welfare recipients as well as public employees (union members) are subjected to an executive order for compulsory drug testing (ironically testing at a mere 2% as compared to the 8% of the non-welfare general public) that not only excludes legislators, governors and judges but also pays a private medical company – Solantic – to perform said testing (Scott and his wife own controlling shares of Solantic).

Or is this new measure really about fiscal responsibility; some sort of pseudo-code of conduct that insists that anyone in receipt of government funds be vetted and regulated to the full extent of the (thus far non-existent) law?

If that is the case, so be it. But then, let’s not exclude politicians running for any office – local, state or federal – from having to partake in the festivities. Nor should we render exempt any company that receives local, state or federal funds.

By the House GOP’s own rationale, each should then be required to submit to drug testing – as well as a barrage of other methods of fiscal morality-monitoring – upon receipt of an offer letter or nomination.

Doesn’t that make sense? Wouldn’t that be fair? Sure, maybe – but “fairness” isn’t exactly the modern-day Republican Party’s forte.

While they are busy hammering away at granting big businesses “citizenship,” unborn embryos “personhood” and guaranteeing the richest-of-the-rich “free speech through dollars,” they are also working tirelessly to push “Voter Fraud Protection” laws with the underlying intent of denying more and more “undesirable” American citizens the right to vote (them out of office).

It is scary to consider what might come next from the “Party of ‘No’,” should their skewed assertions continue to go unchecked. Forced sterilization for welfare recipients? Heterosexual-awareness coursework for gay military? On-site confiscation of pregnant teens’ “Babies ‘R Us” discount cards?

This latest incarnation of the Republican agenda to undermine social, upward mobility is nothing more than yet the latest instance of corporate-driven politicos using the working class as pawns while safely nestled under the guise of so-called American “morality.”

– Joe Ascanio

Based out of Greater New York, Joe Ascanio is a full time web designer, developer and marketing guy working in the online technology marketplace. OneWhiteDuck.com is a semi-personal blog devoted to opinionated rantings over current events, politics and pop culture as they relate to our modern-day society.

Follow Joe on Twitter @onewhiteduck as well as his personal feed @joeascanio.