Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Drug-testing struggling Americans... while subsidizing heroin purchases by the rich. If you're a middle-class or poor person, you should be outraged.

Above: WPA workers in Tuskegee, Alabama, April 1936. During the New Deal, millions of unemployed Americans were given jobs to repair & modernize our infrastructure. We're still reaping the benefits of that work today, 80 years later. And if Republicans and their super-wealthy donors weren't so busy insulting and demonizing the unemployed today, we could create another WPA to help repair & modernize our crumbling infrastructure again. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Paul Ryan Targets Struggling Americans, Again

While everyone is mesmerized and distracted by the daily lunacy of Donald Trump's presidency--as well as the ties between his election campaign team and the Russian government--U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is pushing forward legislative changes to make it easier for states to drug-test unemployed Americans before they can receive unemployment insurance benefits.

Why is Ryan doing this? Well, beside the fact that he is one of the biggest assholes in Congress (see, e.g., my blog post, "Meet the Republican Flim-Flam Man..."), the rationale is obvious: Most Republican politicians, and their super-wealthy donors, believe (a) something must be wrong with you if you're unemployed or poor, most likely a character flaw or a moral deficiency, (b) there is a high probability that you're a drug addict, and (c) they don't want you to use public money to support that drug habit (unemployment insurance benefits are funded by unemployment taxes on employers).

Why Is Paul Ryan So Hell-Bent On Persecuting The Less Fortunate?

This isn't the first time that Ryan has thought about punishing those who are struggling to get by. He's pretty much dedicated his life to it. For example, it was recently revealed that Ryan has fantasized about kicking people off Medicaid ever since he was at a keg party in college. Plus, he's a big Ayn Rand fan; and we know that Ayn Rand fans get off on demonizing and persecuting the poor, whom they consider to be genetically inferior. For example, Charles Murray, one of the most prominent thought leaders of the political right, and a fan of Ayn Rand, wrote: "when we know the complete genetic story, it will turn out that the population below the poverty line in the United States has a configuration of the relevant genetic makeup that is significantly different from the configuration of the population above the poverty line."

Who Will Be Targeted For Testing? 

Interestingly, most people receiving unemployment insurance benefits were laid-off through no fault of their own. In other words, most chronically unemployed people aren't even eligible for benefits (see, e.g., "A Lot Fewer Americans Get Unemployment Benefits Than You Think," Huffington Post, March 13, 2015). This means that Americans with steady work-histories will be subjected to more drug-testing than those with less-steady work-histories.

For example, consider this scenario: You work for 20 years, and then get laid off because the company you worked for sent your job overseas (in order to increase bonuses for executives and profits for shareholders), an now you must submit to a drug test, thereby broadcasting your unemployed and criminally-suspect status to a receptionist at a medical clinic, or anyone within earshot of the receptionist, or a nurse. Perhaps one of these people is your neighbor. Isn't that lovely? "Hi Linda, I'm here to get tested for illegal drugs, because I'm jobless." And maybe Linda will say to her co-workers during lunch break, "Guess who I saw today." And this humiliating scenario will occur because super-wealthy executives and shareholders decided your job would profit them more if it were shipped to a foreign country, or eliminated altogether.

To add insult to injury, the right-wing millionaires & billionaires who are funding these cruel Republican policies will never have to face this shaming ritual themselves. Why? Because they're past the point of working for a living (if they were ever there in the first place). They "earn" their money through investments and interest. And, if that isn't bad enough, the U.S. government actually subsidizes illegal drug purchases by the rich.

How The U.S. Government Subsidizes Heroin Purchases For The Rich

Many rich people use illegal drugs, and heroin is one of their favorites (see, e.g., "Heroin use rising among women and wealthy," CBS News, July 7, 2015). The Michigan drug-treatment clinic Best Drug Rehabilitation, a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, informs us that "The most obvious reason wealthy people get involved with drugs and alcohol is the easy access to money. Drug addiction can be very expensive. Because money is not a problem for the wealthy, they are able to buy plenty." Other reasons for illegal drug use by the wealthy include guilt issues, a sense of entitlement, and feelings of being above the law.

The U.S. government subsidizes illegal drug purchases by super-wealthy Americans by, among other things, granting them a generous mortgage interest tax deduction. The deduction can be up to $1.1 million, and can include a second home. The extra after-tax income that the deduction facilitates can be used to purchase heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other black market drugs. But, amazingly, we don't drug-test wealthy people who take advantage of the mortgage interest tax deduction. Why not? Why are we bestowing on them a public benefit, in the form of a gargantuan tax deduction (which enables them to buy more illegal drugs), but not testing their urine to see if they're on anything?

Now, if you're thinking, "But not every rich person is on drugs!", fair enough, but then, neither is every unemployed person. So why should the latter have to produce bodily fluids for the state, but not the former, when both are receiving a public benefit?

You see, this is what happens in a plutocracy. The rich, through their campaign cash, can force YOU to be drug-tested and shamed, but THEY can avoid it. And frankly, you should be outraged.

If you have a Republican political representative, you should write to them and ask:  Why should working-class Americans be subject to drug-testing when they hit hard-times (hard-times that are, by the way, often caused by criminal activities on Wall Street) while heroin purchases by the rich are being subsidized by the federal government? There is no justice-based answer to that question and, if you're representative is honest with you, he or she will reply, "Because we live in a plutocracy, and I'm paid by the rich to give them special favors and privileges. I'm paid to protect them from the criminal justice system, and also to shield them from governmental intrusions into their privacy and habits."

No comments:

Post a Comment