Friday, December 23, 2011

Campfield wants the unemployed tested for "hardcore illegal drugs," like marijuana

Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, has said he plans to push three bills calling for drug testing in the 2012 legislative session.  One bill would address people on welfare, another for those drawing unemployment compensation, and another for those receiving workers' compensation benefits.

While Governor Haslum and House Speaker Beth Harwell are having reservations about the bill, Lt. Governor Ramsey has endorsed this effort saying, "I'm in favor of drug testing for people who are on any kind of benefits, whether it's unemployment compensation or worker's compensation, whatever it is, because I don't think we need to be supporting that lifestyle with government money," Ramsey said.(link)

I understand the concern. There are too many people for whom government handouts become a way of life and it becomes easier to lay around in a drug and alcohol induced stupor all day rather than get their act together.

Nevertheless, I am not on board.  If you start with welfare, unemployment benefits and workman's comp, what is next?  Food Stamps? TnCare? Hope Scholarships? Government guaranteed student loans? Small Business loans?  Crop price support payments? People who take the mortgage interest deduction on their income tax?

I don't want a government big enough to make me pee in a cup unless government has a warrant issued for probable cause. There is something about people being "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" that kind of resonates with me. I don't think you give up your forth amendment protections when you receive unemployment insurance.

My other concern is that it is simply not going to be cost effective and will catch very few drug users. Drug users know how to get clean for a drug test. To be effective at all, drug test have to be a surprise and random. The Florida experiment has caught very few users and has been expensive for the state. Campfield has said under his plan, the applicant would be required to cover the cost without state reimbursement. He estimated the costs could be kept to "only $4 or $5" by limiting the tests to "hardcore illegal drugs," such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

In recognition of Campfield's declaration that marijuana is a hardcore illegal drug, here is a little "Reefer Madness."

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  1. Rod, I must disagree with one (and really, only one) part of your assessment. The 4th Amendment states that; “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…”

    We must first establish this: the purpose of the government is to defend the law: the purpose of the law is to defend our individual rights; most notably, our property rights. As Bastiat stated about the law;

    “It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense…Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two.”

    And also that; “The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.”

    And furthermore, that; “But how is it [wealth redistribution] to be distinguished? Very easily. See whether the law takes from some persons that which belongs to them, to give to others what does not belong to them. See whether the law performs, for the profit of one citizen, and, to the injury of others, an act that this citizen cannot perform without committing a crime. Abolish this law without delay; it is not merely an iniquity—it is a fertile source of iniquities..."

    So, clearly, ANY form of welfare is already an injustice. It is violation of my property rights, because it has taken from me, and given to another, without my consent, that which was mine, in a matter that would be a crime if it were done by a private citizen.

    So, if this is established as a FACT – which is incontrovertible to me – then ANY further restrictions that are levied in order to get my money, which I DID NOT freely give, cannot POSSIBLY be unconstitutional. The only thing that is unconstitutional is TAKING MY MONEY, to give to people I WOULD NOT have given to. Making sure that they’re not engaging in a lifestyle contrary to my moral belief system before they’re given MY MONEY is not a violation of anyone’s “rights.”

    You are right on many topics, Rod – including your understanding of the stupidity, recklessness, and harmful nature of the city council interfering with the free market in regard to limos. But you are simply dead wrong on the presumed violation of a constitutionally protected right on this matter.

    NOW, THAT SAID…I don’t mind the drug testing, and I’m not necessarily for it. There are many logical arguments to be made in both directions. Does it cost more than it saves? Is it worth the hassle? Do you use existing departments or must you create new ones? If you have to create new ones, is it REALLY worth it? And once again…the cost; ESPECIALLY if you have to create new departments…is it really saving anything?? Those are questions that would need to be studied and answered, because I DO NOT want my money wasted on something that “looks good,” but costs much more than it saves.

    What I’m saying is, please don’t misread my intent. I’m NOT saying you don’t have a right to question the logic and necessity of the newly proposed law. There is A LOT to question about the necessity and cost/benefit analysis – and I’d like to personally wait and see how it works out for Florida. (The beauty of the 50 free states as opposed to federal-government run system – allowing each state to try programs, and other states to learn from and follow or not follow as they deem necessary.) But it IS NOT a violation of the 4th Amendment.

  2. You may be right that requiring people who receive government benefits to be drug tested is not technically a violation of the 4th Amendment, but it seems to violate the spirit of the right of privacy. Part of the problem with an expanding government is that when we get a government benefit we give to the government the right to determine our eligibility for that benefit, which may be financial disclosures, credit checks, income verification, marital and living arrangements and household size determination, and being tested for drugs. We surrender freedom for the benefit. Some of that is reasonable. If one is to get unemployment benefits it needs to be confirmed they are unemployed, as an example. However government tends to make us all recipients of benefits whether student loans, Social Security or mortgage interest deductions. I don't want everyone receiving social security to be drug tested and if we accept drug testing for those receiving unemployment benefits it is not a leap to requiring drug testing for social security. With ObamaCare, after it succeeds in destroying the private health care system, we will all be receiving government handouts. I see drug testing as creeping expansive, intrusive, all powerful "big brother" government and we all become subjects.

  3. Rod,
    You know I’m with you 100% on limiting the scope and power of government. And I absolutely understand your concerns about creeping invasion of privacy. In far too many instances, it isn’t even “creeping,” it BLATANT!! But I will add this; as far as drug screening for Social Security, that will never happen. Social Security is not a benefit, it’s a return of one’s investment. We pay in, the government holds it, they then give it back – in theory.

    As for the rest of your fears…while I don’t see them ever going so drastic, I guess we can't rule it out. I don’t discredit ANYONE for fearing their government!! I do as well: I fear their logic, their decisions, their misunderstanding as to what their proper role is – ESPECIALLY the federal government. But I do see drug testing in order to receive benefits as possibly being a good thing, but only if properly used.

    For example, I’m not sure I’d like it to be simply random, nor required for everyone; but rather an option for the state to use for verification of eligibility if one is suspected of drug use – after being arrested and paraphernalia found, arrested for dealing/using, reported as a possible drug user by another person, etc. Again, it comes down to maximizing the utility and value of my dollar that was taken from me; NOT doing something that “looks good” or “feels good”, like drug testing EVERYONE who receives benefits (which I believe would cost WAY more than it would save).

    When you start talking about FEDERAL drug testing…that’s another discussion altogether. However on the state level, it is something (in my humble opinion) worth exploring.

    But again…many good points, Rod!! Keep up the good work!

  4. Thank you Tracy, I do see your point. I think this is one of those issues about which reasonable people can disagree. However, my concern over an intrusive government outweighs by concern over welfare cheats. If people become accustomed to being drug tested to get unemployment benefits, they will accept being drug tested to get other benefits such as those I have listed.

    I must disagree with you when you say, "Social Security is not a benefit, it’s a return of one’s investment." No. Social Security is a transfer payment. The people paying in today are paying for today's retirees. You do not own your "investment" in social security. It was sold as a retirement plan but is basically no different than welfare except it is not means tested- everyone is entitled to it. If one can be required to be drug tested to get unemployment, there is nothing that would prohibit a similar requirement for social security recipients.

  5. Tracy C. Tarum commented on your activity.
    Tracy wrote: "You are correct, reasonable people can disagree...and this honestly isn't a major issue for me. I guess my main point it that when you trace government to its origins, and look study the Natural rights Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence, which were secured and protected by the U.S. Constitution – written 11, and ratified 13, years later – it is evident what the rights to be protected were primarily property, to include privacy and personal liberty. And the 4th Amendments added two years later did specifically protect against unwarranted search and seizure, etc. However, ANY means testing to redistribute wealth taken from people against their will is not a violation of that Amendment; rather the taking of wealth against one’s will in order to redistribute is in fact unconstitutional. That was my main point. The main argument against this law is usually “violation of the 4th Amendment.” I don’t like that argument, because it’s a distortion of the Constitution.

    I do want to clarify one thing, however: you ARE correct that Social Security IS a payment transfer, which is why I said what I said with the disclaimer “… – in theory.” In practice, it is how you say: in theory, it is how I say. What I was trying to say is that there is NO WAY they will ever try to drug test Social Security, because if they did, they would have to admit that it IS NOT a “forced savings account,” but rather that it is, in fact, a welfare scam…and a payment transfer system. They would have to admit that it’s not one investing in their retirement…but rather, as Rick Perry says, it’s a ponzi scheme. That’s all I was getting at with that point."