The Double Standard
11 October 2011 |
The New York Times reports this morning that three dozen states have proposed mandatory drug testing for recipients of welfare, housing assistance, job training, and food stamps. Arizona, Indiana, and Missouri have passed such laws; in Florida, welfare applicants have to pay for their own drug test—a requirement that implies guilt and must assuredly be unconstitutional.
What frustrates me about all this is the response: that such requirements reinforce stereotypes about the poor. Well, forget that. The real issue is the galling double standard. No drug test is required for recipients of federal-backed school loans, mortgage tax credits, corporate bailouts, Medicare, Social Security, investment tax credits, tuition tax credits, what Suzanne Mettler of Cornell University calls the “submerged state,” invisible public benefits provided by tax dollars. In other words the bulk of taxpayer money goes to these invisible services—and no one, yet, has to piss in a cup to qualify.
No, only the visible state—in GOP-land, handouts for the poor—counts.
And here’s the justification: “Working people today work very hard to make ends meet, and it just doesn’t seem fair to them that their tax dollars go to support illegal things,” said Ellen Brandom, a Republican state representative in Missouri, in the Times article.
Ah, it must be Irony Day at the GOP.