Sunday, July 27, 2014

I have the right to my own pee, thankyouverymuch

Downtown Grounds
12oz Soy Vanilla Latte
Coffeecake Muffin

If you're one of those people who say that people who receive food stamps or other public assistance should have to pee in cup first, you're wrong.  If you say, "Well, I had to pee in a cup for my job - why shouldn't they have to pee for their check?" I say, none of us should be peeing for a check.  This is an artificial problem with an unconstitutional solution.

In the Bill of Rights we are explicitly protected from unreasonable search and seizure, to be secure in our person and property.  I consider my pee to be both part of my "person" and, once expelled, still my "property."  That is why I believe it is explicitly forbidden for the government to demand the right to search it unreasonably.  So, the question then is, is it reasonable?


I have a right to be presumed innocent, not to be profiled.  The government needs to demonstrate a reasonable belief that I will fail that search, that I have used some kind of illegal drug.  There is no data that has ever been presented to demonstrate such a great overuse of drugs among people seeking government assistance that it is necessary to screen for it.  In fact, in places where this has been implemented, the statistics have shown dramatically less drug use of any kind compared to the greater population.  And that does not appear to be a deterrent effect as the numbers seeking assistance did not significantly drop.  The only thing it did produce was a net loss to the states due to the cost of the testing.

And what is the remedial solution for the people who fail the test?  Does the state then press charges, remove the children, force the person to enroll in a drug treatment course?  To my knowledge, none of that.  The sole purpose is to excuse the rest of us from having to give those morally inferior people any help.  This topic is not discussed with the tone of those concerned that just giving money to addicts is not really going to help them or the rest of us sacrificing our hard-earned money.  This topic is thrown around with hot-blooded contempt at this fictional class of degenerate moochers and scam-artists.

Even if you think that it's not that big of a deal to just pee in a cup and maybe cull a few scammers if we can, then you are not appreciating the real importance of this matter.  It is not just that complying with this mandatory drug-testing would be ceding another constitutional protection, it is also accepting as valid the irrational prejudice against people in financial distress.  It is shaming innocents.  It is another form, if not another facet, of racism.

I am not guilty, and I should not have to be treated as a lesser person, a lesser citizen, just because other people believe that I am.

The only time anyone could be reasonably compelled to pee in a cup to prove they are not under the influence of some intoxicant or other, is if the real concern for public safety is so great that it should outweigh the individual's right to their person and their privacy.  If there is a reasonable concern in your occupation that allowing anyone in that job to conduct their work while impaired would result in the harm of others, then yes, I think you could make case for testing as part of their job.  Some kind of test to reasonably assure the rest of us that the person is fit to perform their duties, even if that doesn't require a specimen - you can make a case for it.  But no citizen should be required to forgo their constitutional rights even in a private employment arrangement.  These rights are there for a reason, and that reason doesn't cease to exist when the people involved stop being members of governmental bodies.

Don't let anyone try to turn you against your fellow human beings to keep you distracted for their own purposes.  Creating this myth of the immoral poor keeps the slightly-better-offs busy condemning their neighbors, investing so much energy in self-righteous hostility, instead of scrutinizing the greater economic structure.  If the so-called middle class are feeling economic strain, it's not because there is a mass movement to exploit the social safety net.  Their financial strain stems from an economic structure that produces massive amounts of people in need of the safety net.

And the truth is that the net is so underfunded that it cannot adequately assist all the people who need it.  It is not really all that exploitable - I know.  I've been in the lines, I've filled out the forms - there is not enough help to go around.  We are grateful for all the help we've received - that's the only reason we dared to have two kids instead of just one.  But we are in a lot more debt this year than in previous years specifically due to the carried-over loss from sequester cuts to food stamp programs.  The money has since been restored, but the legacy of those cuts is carried over at a 20+% interest rate.  And really, why should a working family have to receive food stamps to get by, anyway?

Okay, coffee shop is closing.  Leaving it there.  No edits.  Peace and love, my friends.

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