Criminalizing the Poor Is Good Politics

Uh, hello, even Fox News can tell this is a bad idea:

Nearly two dozen states are considering plans this session that would make drug testing mandatory for welfare recipients, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And Wyoming lawmakers advanced such a proposal this week.

Driving the measures is a perception that people on public assistance are misusing the funds and that cutting off their benefits would save money for tight state budgets — even as statistics have largely proved both notions untrue.

…The issue has come up in the Republican presidential campaign, with front-runner Mitt Romney saying it’s an “excellent idea.”

Of course the millionaire thinks it’s okay to invade the privacy of people in desperate situations and treat them like criminals for being poor.

There’s a word for that: classism.

Statistics indicate that people who receive public assistance are no more likely to use drugs than the general population. Budget analysis shows that testing is so expensive, and so few people actually fail the test and get kicked off assistance, that it costs much more than it saves. Additionally, there is a trend of these laws getting ruled unconstitutional in court.

So why would Republicans still support bills that discriminate pointlessly, add cost to state budgets, and will probably get declared unconstitutional?

Because they are counting on the existence of stereotypes about the poor, and that this discrimination will win them short-term political points.

Huzzah!

Some state politicians have tried to add in drug testing for state legislators, who receive even more money from the government than recipients of public assistance. None of these measure have been adopted or seen the same kind of vigorous support as drug testing for the poor. Huh.

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