An Epitaph for the American Dream
by Rusty Shackleford. For Bill.
"PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!" -Oz, the Great and Terrible.
"99% of magic is misdirection." - Common knowledge.
(Edit: Since writing this entry, I recently discovered a Mother Jones article informing me that the Republican/Tea Party Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, founded a company called SOLANTIC that specializes in drug testing, among other "public services"... Could it be that this legislation stands to benefit the people who are passing it financially? Hrmm... Jigsaw falling into place.)
Recently, as many of you may have heard, Florida senators successfully passed a bill requiring welfare recipients to receive mandatory drug screenings. It is doubtful the legislation will stop there. In what seems to me to be an instance of VERY OBVIOUSLY blatant racial discrimination and discrimination of the haves towards the have-nots, they are now finding another way to invade all of our lives and rob us of more of our privacy. One gradual erosion of civil liberties at a time. The cruel and hilarious irony of the situation is that although at the moment these measures are now only being taken against those who have already slipped through the cracks, it is only a matter of time before all of our privacy and civil liberties will be up for grabs.
Think of it like this: What if your healthcare provider (if you even have one, and you probably don't) suddenly decided to take it upon themselves to barge into your house and force you to piss in a cup, clip your hair, ransack your apartment or home and search for anything mildly incriminating. Any evidence that you had engaged in anything mildly incriminating (and most of you have, or know someone who has) would then be immediate grounds for them to discontinue your healthcare. Alternately, say you yourself or someone you knew suffered from some sort of drug related addiction or health problems. Ironically, many of the same persons I have heard complaining about people on welfare using drugs have had similar issues themselves. Imagine, then, you yourself or someone you love ODs and they are dying. They are now in a position of life or death. Now imagine the doctor in charge tells you, "Sorry, new ER policy: We are no longer allowed to treat this person because they have a history of drug use and their healthcare won't allow it." What if a doctor in an ER refused someone a life saving preventative measure to keep them from dying because of drug use? What if your healthcare provider suddenly decided that it didn't have to insure you if you had a history of drug use?
Sound extreme? It is.
This is the same logic behind depriving low income individuals or families of their means of survival, regardless as to whether or not any one member of the family uses drugs. This is not about drug use. It is about the wool being pulled over our eyes. It is about the people in power continuing to get away with robbing us blind, slashing taxes for the top 1-2% of the wealthiest, robbing us of the commons while manipulating the economy and stacking the decks against us- All of us. Sure, we take pleasure in our petty consolation: "Well, at least those LAZY NO GOOD WELFARE NIGGERS and single moms are getting drug tested now!" And the only reason our leaders continue to be able to get away with stripping us of more and more of our human dignity and civil liberties is the type of attitude that allows this to flourish: "Well, if I HAVE TO GO THROUGH IT, IF I HAVE TO BE TESTED, SPIED ON, HAVE MY CIVIL LIBERTIES AND MY PRIVACY VIOLATED THROUGH AND THOUGH, THEN WHY SHOULDN'T THEY?!" Such petty self-justified bigotry. Here's a better question, and one that isn't a straw man: Why should ANYONE? Why should anyone in a supposedly free society have to deal with this in order to make end's meat?
Statistical data supporting the evidence that welfare recipients are no more or no less likely to use illegal drugs than anyone else is strategically ignored. Make no mistake, this isn't even about drug use. It's about finding excuses for cutting the few remaining safety nets we have left in our country which is now rapidly becoming a third world apartheid based on the segregation of the top 2% of the wealthiest from the rest of us. Look for red zones and green zones reminiscent of war torn Iraq within our own borders in the next decade or so. Take that to the bank.
The whole of this movement tends towards drug testing everyone, and through starting out by imposing on a state or a federal level this violation of civil rights on those who are already largely powerless and marginalized, it seems our leaders are attempting to bring this movement full circle. And this will not stop with illicit drug use as a justification of further systematic oppression of the marginalized, your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . It will end with total criminalization of every citizen on moral and religious grounds. Invasion of privacy, roving wiretaps, and the "conspiracy theories" of yesteryear are already the bread and butter of today's major news. Do you really trust these people to monitor your telephone conversations, your e-mails, your Facebook communication, and now your urine? How far do these people's dicks have to be up your ass before you realize you are being fucked?
I fully realize how unpopular this is going to make me, but every time I turn around, and probably because I spend a good deal of time on "social networks", I see someone reposting something about why it is so fantastic they are "finally drug testing for people on welfare." Hooray, that's just great. Sour grapes because your shitty job drug tests you while you work like a slave making 8 dollars an hour? They say "it's about time, WE working stiffs have to get drug tested, why shouldn't everyone else?" Better question, and one that isn't a straw man: Why should the contents of your piss have anything to do with your overall worth to humanity in the first place? How about you take that MISDIRECTED energy and use it to boycott the Koch Brothers, who want to do away with worker's unions and fuck you even more than you've already been fucked?
Hear me out: Take a dollar, hold it in your hand. Look at it closely. That is ONE DOLLAR MORE than Bank of America paid in taxes, period, for the entire fiscal year. Does that not offend your self-righteous sensibilities? This is called "corporate welfare," and it is a hell of a lot more damaging to our economical situation than Joe Blow smoking a joint down the street with his government check that pays him less than minimum wage would. YOU, if you are an American and you are reading this, are being misdirected. Your attention is being directed towards non-issues and the men behind the curtain are getting off on how easily manipulated you are.
"PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!"
In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. I am sickened and disgusted at all the hypocrisy I see when I look around at people spouting this kind of rhetoric. Such thinly sublimated classism, racism, bigotry and hatred towards those who have less than we do. Don't worry, and you can mark my words: Soon enough, you will have your wish and we will all be poked, prodded, and raped by the totalitarian corporate police state we have created for ourselves until the cows come home.
Many people I have heard make this argument about THEIR hard earned tax dollars going to fund those no-good lazy fuckers on Welfare who just blow it on booze and drugs, are making the same old tired arguments propagated by the Reagan administration when they used these ideas as a methodical SMEAR CAMPAIGN way back in the 1980s. Let me ask you something: Have you forgotten about the people at the top of the shitheap who get away with crimes against humanity that are much more universally atrocious than a welfare mom smoking a joint? Why aren't you so eager to smear them?
Another rhetorical question: Where was the mandatory drug testing for the people on Wall Street who caused this financial meltdown in the first place? Do you realize that these fuckers demolish massive quantities of blow for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and that they are the most powerful and sociopathic criminals in the world? Why aren't any of you reposting about this? Here, try this one on for size:
"If I receive welfare, or I work, or make money any other way and I am going to be forced to submit to random urinalysis and other invasions of my privacy, why won't the people on Wall Street, at Goldman Sachs, and GE and Bank Of America who both paid certifiably ZERO DOLLARS AND ZERO CENTS IN TAXES FOR THE ENTIRETY OF THE FISCAL YEAR OF 2010 AGREE TO THE SAME STIPULATIONS? Repost this, or I will execute a baby seal."
The very same type of politicians who are puppets of the modern day "Moral Majority" and are passing these pieces of legislation are also trying to slash funding towards public services such as Planned Parenthood. Many of the same people I hear championing drug testing for people on welfare using the faulty Eurocentric "If THESE people want to use drugs, that is fine, but not on my tax dollar!" are mortified at the thought of funding for Planned Parenthood being cut. Here, let's take the same apologetic logic (or lack thereof) and apply it to this situation:
"If people want to have unprotected sex, that is fine! But I have a problem when MY TAX DOLLARS go to fund their irresponsible lifestyle, providing them with birth control, testing for STDs, and low cost abortions."
See how easy that is? Yes, it is easy to prey upon the weak and the marginalized. Too easy. It is a little more difficult to hold those that represent the pinnacle of human wealth, greed and privilege up to the same standards of accountability, is it not? But maybe it is about time that we do.
Here's an idea: If we are worried about Big Government Spending, why not hack the surplus military budget into a fraction of what it is, lower the amount of money we pay our politicians, regulate the practices of banks and of Wall Street executives who are directly responsible for economic hardships, and stop spending our tax dollars bailing out sociopaths?
This is emphatically not about drug use, it is about personal freedom, protection from the invasion of privacy, and equality among the rich and the poor. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and where are the crusaders against injustice when it comes to indictment of white collar criminals? When you cut through the rhetoric and the thinly disguised resentment towards people who receive benefits regardless of their drug use or legal status, you have an issue of government services being slashed across the board for various reasons while our tax dollars are being siphoned from us to support an increasingly intrusive Federal government.
"Shut up and smoke that... It's the LAW! That would be a nice world, wouldn't it? Mellow, fucked up hungry people everywhere?"
Since when did the legality of something make it good or bad, or right or wrong? Think for yourself. Cigarettes and alcohol are legal and the government would have no problem with people on Welfare using these drugs. Do you honestly think that a person who is a drunk or an alcoholic is less of a company risk or a health risk or a societal risk than someone who smokes pot or drops acid? How much money do alcohol and tobacco cost in healthcare a year as opposed to a drug like marijuana, which is still illegal? What are the known medicinal benefits of alcohol or tobacco? There are none. The psychological and physical medicinal qualities of a drug like marijuana are relatively well known. How many arrests are there for violent incidents provoked by marijuana use as opposed to alcohol? (Please factor out gang crime related to illicit black market drug trafficking, as this is not a result of the drug itself but rather the prohibition on it that creates a need for a deregulated black market much like alcohol did during the time of its prohibition.)
Bottom line: It is unconstitutional, ipso facto, for the Federal Government to dictate to me or anyone else what I can and cannot do with my own body. Therefore, any piece of legislation passed by the Federal Government concerning what I should or should not do with my own body is in and of itself a human rights violation and anathema to everything this country once stood for. Since the Reagan years, both the issue of "welfare" and "the war on drugs" have been hot button issues used to generate propaganda. This propaganda enabled far right conservative lawmakers to shaft the working class and methodically strip our civil liberties from us one by one. I am sorry if any of you personally do not object to this, but I do, and I will continue to vocally object to it in any way I see fit.
IF you are concerned about how your tax dollars are spent, perhaps you would do better to picket a McDonald's because more money is being used for healthcare expenses related to the shitty dietary habits of Americans than the cost of drug related illness and supposedly government subsidized drug habits, put together. Beyond this, McDonald's as a corporate entity does much more damage to the planet and its environment than welfare moms on drugs. Think about it.