In a rare show of bipartisanship, Congress passed a measure extending unemployment benefits through the end of 2012 — but the two parties made compromises to get the legislation through. Controversially, for instance, the bill allows states to subject certain applicants to drug testing: Namely, those who were laid off for flunking an employer's drug test, and those seeking jobs that require such tests. An earlier version passed by the GOP-controlled House would have allowed states to drug-test all applicants. Should Republicans have stuck to their guns?
Yes. Businesses shouldn't have to subsidize illegal activity: Employers pay taxes to maintain the insurance fund, and they can't be asked to prop up "someone's drug habit," says Bill Hammond at The Dallas Morning News. Furthermore, if workers can prove that they are drug-free, it will "greatly increase the chance that they will be hired." In fact, drug-testing would "eliminate the people who aren't ready and available for work," and strengthen the job market.
"Why drug-testing job seekers matters"
Drug-testing is costly — and it just stigmatizes the jobless: A drug-testing regimen only "perpetuates myths and scapegoats the unemployed," says Christine L. Owens at U.S. News & World Report. These proposals "stem from false assumptions that the unemployed are lazy drug users who prefer unemployment checks to paychecks." And drug-testing is expensive at $25-$75 a pop: "Cash-strapped" states would have to put up millions to administer the program. "Is there a more frivolous or unnecessary way to spend taxpayer money?"
"Say no to drug testing the unemployed"
And blanket drug-testing would be unconstitutional: Remember, the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, writes Andrew Rosenthal at The New York Times. A blanket drug-testing requirement "falls clearly" into the category of an unreasonable search, since the government has no "probable cause" to suspect all unemployment benefit applicants of abusing illegal drugs.
"Drug-testing and probable cause, a response to readers"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Secret Service stretched mission to protect employee, report finds
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- 10 things you need to know today: October 22, 2014
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to make corn dogs
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Will Kobani be ISIS's Waterloo?
Subscribe to the Week