Ah, Christmas! The time Tennessee Republicans decide to start hating on the poor:
Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, said he plans to push three bills calling for drug testing in the 2012 legislative session – one dealing with persons on welfare, one for those drawing unemployment compensation and one for those receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Shadow Governor Ron Ramsey is already on record saying he thinks drug-testing the poor and unemployed is a great idea. Campfield and Ramsey need to explain how getting injured on the job is “a lifestyle,” though. That one really confuses me. Also, how do you drug test those folks? I’m thinking some of them might be on medication because, y’know, injured on the job? Hello? But I’m sure they’ll figure it all out.
True to form, Gov. Haslam has said he wants us to think very carefully about such an idea. Oh, indeed. Yes, we’ll think very carefully and then we’ll go ahead and do it anyway. I think I’ve seen this movie before. Gov. Goofball will wait an appropriate amount of time, during which he will supposedly consider all of the who’s, what’s and where’s, after which he will fold like a lawnchair and announce with that shit-eating grin of his that all of the due process has been done and yes we will treat people suffering under Republican policies of tax cuts for millionaires and outsourcing jobs to China as criminals. Just you wait.
If you hadn’t noticed, this is one of those ALEC-crafted ideas working its way through legislatures in all of the red states. Why? Because forensic drug companies want to feed at the taxpayer trough, that’s why.
I find it very strange that Republicans don’t believe government can do anything right … except decide who can marry, who can raise children, what you can watch on TV, what books you can read, which religion is the right one, when life begins, how much compensation is enough if you are injured by corporate negligence, and if your pee is pure enough to collect your unemployment which, by the way, is a benefit you paid for. Government is great at all of that stuff.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a similar measure earlier this year and is now embroiled in a string of lawsuits. After he signed the bill into law it was revealed that Scott had transferred his ownership of Solantic, a chain of walk-in clinics that performs drug screenings, into his wife’s name days before his inauguration. Isn’t that convenient! Then he went on to claim he had “no interest” in the company.
So who stands to gain in Tennessee? Look no further than Tennessee Republican Congress Critter Diane Black, whose husband is CEO of Aegis Sciences, a company which does drug testing. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is on Aegis’ board of directors — presumably advising the company on how to screen for drugs via videotape. /snark
It’s all so very cozy, isn’t it? Speaking of cozy, let’s remember that Rick Scott used to be in charge of the Frist family’s hospital corporation, before getting ousted by the board when the company pled guilty to massively defrauding the government. You’d think a guilty plea and $1.7 billion fraud settlement would ensure this asshole never shows his face around Republican Party circles again, but sadly no: Republicans always fall upwards. Scott somehow became governor of Florida. Go figure.
Anyway, Florida’s pee-in-a-cup law has been temporarily suspended. Now there’s even a class action lawsuit. Way to go, governor! Maybe we should wait and see how these cases shake out before Tennessee signs on the bottom line, ya think?
And by all means, let’s also look at how much this has cost the State of Florida, not even including the state’s legal defense. In its first six weeks, only two people tested positive for drugs, and one of those cases was appealed. It’s cost more to screen for drugs than they saved by denying two people benefits. Woopsies.
So it appears the poor and unemployed of Florida are not, in fact, all drug using welfare queens. Hmm. What about Tennessee, though? Surely our poor are all dopeheads and burnouts, right? Surely they must be because Tennessee Republicans can’t imagine why anyone would be suffering in this glorious economy they created. I mean think about it: they spent two years doing nothing but making sure women’s access to abortion is nearly impossible, access to guns is nearly ubiquitous, President Obama’s birth certificate is questioned, so-called “Obamacare” is declared unconstitutional, teachers’ unions lose their collective bargaining rights, and so-called “tort reform.”
Amazingly, after all of this hard work and effort, the free market ponies have failed to appear. Tennessee’s jobless rate continues to exceed the national average. Clearly the fault must be with the unemployed!
Here’s what I wish. I really don’t expect Republicans to stop hating on the poor, but I do wish our media would stop acting like the poor don’t exist. Next time a conservative clown like Newt Gingrich, Ron Ramsey, or Herman Cain says some incomprehensibly stupid thing about poor people being lazy drug users, please, I beg of you: go find a poor person and ask them about their life. I mean, it really can’t be that hard, can it?
Because all I hear from the media is a long, string of right-wing fairy tales about poor people taking Hawaiian vacations with their food stamps. Please do not repeat such nonsense without also talking to a poor person and asking them if that’s even feasible (it’s not).
I think the rich Republican assholes have had the mic long enough. If Ron Ramsey and Stacy Campfield want to demand unemployed people pee in a cup before collecting their benefits, I want to hear from the people actually affected by such a policy.
Please tell us these peoples’ stories. I want to know why they are on welfare, how many jobs they work, how many kids they’re feeding, what they spend their money on. If they are unemployed, why. If they got injured on the job, what happened.
I’m thinking we need to shed a little reality on this fiction the Republicans are spreading.