Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Drug Tests

Luna County, where I live, has hit 20% unemployment. The chairman of the County Commission has responded by complaining that unemployed people are on drugs.

No, really. New Mexico has taken up this idea with a vengeance. There is a bill making its way through the legislature to require anyone receiving unemployment assistance -- an insurance program that working people pay into while they are working, let us remember -- to pass a drug test.

Chairman Javier Diaz put this at the top of his list of impediments to employment. Not economic activity, but drug use. It must be their fault. To support his attack on the unemployed, he offered one anecdotal bit of evidence. Apparently, somebody at the Chino Mine south of Silver City told him they have trouble hiring enough people to expose themselves to the poisons they use in the mines because so many people allegedly can't pass a drug test. Beyond this, we see no figures to substantiate the allegation that the unemployed are addicted to narcotics en masse.

It is no surprise that drug use, to whatever extent this complaint has merit, is spoken of as a moral issue and not a medical one. Conclusion: if you smoke pot, you're a bad person and not good enough to risk arsenic poisoning in a copper mine.

Drawing economic activity to this area is clearly a long-term challenge, and for this the county leadership has my sympathy. On the other hand, slapping working people when they are already down, besmirching the character of the unemployed as a class, not treating them with human respect and concern, is a repugnant fashion of our times.

Forgive me for smelling the rhetoric of social control, directing public anger away from the economic conditions and the system that creates these conditions, and turning them against the unemployed instead. They're on drugs! They are parasites! Reagan's welfare queens walk among us!

So now we make them pee in a cup before they get assistance that working people themselves have helped to pay for? What next, making them pay for the drug tests themselves? God bless America. Fa schifo.

1 comment:

quid said...