To amend title III of the Social Security act to require a substance abuse risk assessment and targeted drug testing as a condition for the receipt of unemployment benefits, and for other purposes.
This was introduced by Jack Kingston, a Republican (obvi) from Georgia. There are a myriad of problems with this bill. One, we’ve already seen (thanks to Florida) that drug testing welfare recipients doesn’t work.
So why are we still so intent on treating the poor and the down-and-out like criminals? Kingston himself has made claims that companies want to hire people but “half” their options are on drugs. But that seems highly unlikely.
And why would we opt for a system that looses money on drug testing people, instead of using this money to help people get back to work?
The other thing that worries me about this bill is the wording that would allow it to randomly test people who are more “at risk” for drug use. And who would that be? People with prior drug charges? It doesn’t seem to specify, and so I feel like it wouldn’t be too bold of me to say this would likely effect minorities and people with a lower income. Right?
I know it’s actually a popular public sentiment to test recipients of government resources. But we need to think about what this would actually accomplish and how problematic this is. But those ideas are based off stereotypes and ignorance. People receiving unemployment generally already have guidelines they are following - applying for a certain number of jobs a week, etc.
Feel free to inbox me any comments/ideas, and I would encourage writing to your representative to oppose this bill.
Where interesting may be starting
I’d been avoiding making this blog personal, mostly. Because I have enough of myself all out on the internet that I’m comfortable with, and I wanted to have more conversations about important things, and because I was really convinced that no on would want to read a personal blog about me. Those are all still true.
However. I was laid off a couple of weeks ago. It hasn’t been easy, as I’m really not the type to enjoy not having lots of things to do. But I’ve been trying to make the best of it. Along with this, is the thought that maybe I should chronicle my experience a little more. In part because the timing (as you may have noticed) intersects with the Occupy movement, where I’ve been spending some time, but also just for myself. I also have high (unrealistic) hopes that one day I might have an interesting enough life to write a memoir. And maybe that won’t happen, but I’d to get to that point and not be able to go back to where interesting started. So if you bear with me, I’ll continue with my regular posts, but also about what’s going in my life and what I’m doing with my unemployed time.
Yesterday I attended a City Council meeting. It was a wildly interesting experience. They hold them weekly at 2 PM on Tuesdays, which of course is not a good time for the general working public, but was great for me. The crowd was a diverse bunch in age, gender and race. And the people spoke on all sorts of topics - water access, fair trade, police brutality, homelessness. And I was also pleasantly surprised at how much the council seemed to be actually listening. I also stopped by the library and left with three books. One about prisons, one about poverty, and one about polygamy.
Today I thought I’d try crafting, but it turns out buying a candle seems about cheaper than making one. So nevermind.
If you have any thoughts, or would like to hear about anything in particular, let me know.
Some thoughts from Occupy
Since losing my job I’ve been spending some time with the Occupy Houston movement. No doubt, I love it, and I love what the movement stands for. And yesterday was the best yet in terms of support. We shared our space with a local Farmers Market, and I actually had people come and thank me. Of course, it didn’t go without a single “get a job” retort, but it was way more positive.
This morning I went on a walk, to get a little exercise. And I realized, nobody yells “get a job” at me while I’m walking down the street during what is obvious “working” hours. Nobody at the grocery store tells me I’m too lazy to work while I’m shopping at 11 AM on a Tuesday. Only when I’m standing with a sign, pointing out that our system is broken, do people feel like they need to confront it. What is it about the truth that makes us so uncomfortable?