RSS
Drug tests for the unemployed?
Sen. Orrin Hatch doesn't want jobless benefits to go to drug users. But is testing everyone who's out of work in a major recession a good policy?
 
Should people seeking unemployment benefits be forced to take a urine test?
Should people seeking unemployment benefits be forced to take a urine test?
Corbis

Setting up a potential clash between privacy advocates and budget hawks, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is proposing that people applying for welfare or unemployment benefits be tested for drugs before they can collect any cash. Those who fail would be enrolled in state or federal drug rehabilitation programs, creating what Hatch calls "a way to help people get off of drugs to become productive and healthy members of society, while ensuring that valuable taxpayer dollars aren't wasted." Is this a good idea? (Watch a local report about Orrin Hatch's drug-testing proposal)

It's hateful. Hatch should be ashamed: There are so many things wrong with this "offensive" and "ridiculous idea," says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly, but let's focus on the most odious: There's zero connection between drug use and losing your job in a brutal recession, outside of Hatch's "twisted worldview." This takes the GOP's "revulsion of the jobless to new depths."
"Republicans just don't like the unemployed, cont'd"

How is this controversial? The "screams of injustice" are what don't make sense, says Meredith Jessup in Townhall. Hatch's proposal is "such a basic, commonsense notion" — addicts of both drugs and government largesse get much-needed "rehab," and taxpayers stop supporting their habit at a time when the federal government "can't afford to waste a dime."
"Orrin Hatch introduces drug tests for welfare recipients"

You don't shrink government by expanding its powers: If part of the intent here is to rein in Big Government, says Matt Welch at Reason, having the state force people to "urinate on command" is an odd way to do it. People in need have privacy rights like everyone else. Unless politicians are willing to submit to the same indignities themselves, they should stop flippantly trampling the privacy of others.
"Orrin Hatch: Drug-test welfare recipients"

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week