Anyone other than my doctor who asks me to pee in a cup isn’t just out of line. He’d be out of his mind. And yet an entire industry has grown around such cup-holders, and millions of Americans are complying with the frightening docility of circus animals.
So it’s heartening to see that Florida’s goose-step toward a police state isn’t undisputed. A few months ago a federal judge declared Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to drug-test welfare recipients unconstitutional. Last week, another federal judge declared his plan to drug-test state employees unconstitutional. These aren’t your so-called liberal, activist judges. The first was appointed by the senior George Bush, the second by the junior one, although it shouldn’t have taken a pair of judges to help our rights-challenged governor become acquainted with the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.
Scott thinks drug testing ensures an “efficient and productive work force.” He points to the private sector, where drug testing is routine. But the private sector is no authority on individual rights. Quite the contrary. Its unspoken welcome to employees recalls Dante’s phrase, “abandon all rights, all ye who enter here.”
In the public sphere, there ought to be more lament about people’s increasing submissiveness to government authority.
Scott points to public opinion, which supports drug testing by large margins, often on the premise that if you have nothing to hide, you have no reason to object to peeing in a cup. Such reasoning, of course, turns individual rights on their head. It allows the government to define your privacy and dignity. That’s the very opposite purpose of the 4th amendment, which gives an individual the right to tell government: I don’t have to justify anything to you. Unless you have a warrant.
That’s the legal argument. There’s also the common sense argument. Whether an employee is on drugs is not the issue. The issue is whether that employee is doing the job. I frankly don’t care if my daughter’s teachers hit the reefers in the morning before facing battalions of teenagers. Like cancer patients who need a hit of marijuana to put up with the nausea, it’s probably one of the best ways to get through the day in school these days. The more pertinent question is: Are they competent teachers? And soberness is not a definition of competence.
There are exceptions: train conductors, truck drivers, pilots, surgeons. There’s a compelling public interest for them to be sober when they’re on the clock. But those jobs are the exception, not the rule.
As for the drug-testing of welfare recipients, that’s just state-sponsored vindictiveness. Gov. Scott sold the idea as a way to save taxpayers money and make recipients of government dole more accountable. By that reasoning, recipients of the mortgage-interest tax deduction, child tax credits and homestead and business tax exemptions should be drug-tested. Plus, the Miami Herald reported earlier this month that it cost more to administer welfare recipients’ drug tests, at $35 a pop, than it saved. So much for accountability.
Drug-testing companies must be high as a kite on the profits. Scott should be sobering up. Instead, he’s appealing both rulings. Talk about an addiction to foolishness. Unfortunately, there’s no test for that before qualifying for office.
Pierre Tristam is editor and publisher of FlaglerLive.com, a non-profit news service based in Palm Coast, Fl.
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