Over at the Washington Monthly, Ed Kilgore absolutely nails American conservatives over something I've talked about in general terms before. In brief, Florida decided it would be hilarious wheeze to force benefits claimants to pass a drugs test before getting their money. Their justification at the time was to save money, since less benefits would be given out.
What actually happened was that the number of claimants refused hardly went down at all, and the costs of the drug trials meant the whole program was actually costing a good deal more than before. Like I've said more than once: if you want to reduce the amount of money hoovered up by the welfare state, you need to find a policing method that costs less than the money you save by wheedling out false claims and criminals. I continue to be baffled by those people who obsess about this sort of thing, but it would help if someone could come up with a proposal that's even remotely ergonomic.
Anyway, when presented with the fact that their little scheme was actually costing the taxpayer more than it would to just let these people (who, it turned out, actually use illegal drugs less often than the rest of the population) collect their cheques, the politicians who supported the idea then changed their tune. It isn't the money, it's the principle. Taxpayers money shouldn't go to drug addicts.
Well, yeah. Fine. Except, as Kilgore points out, this law is checking that police officers don't have a skinful of skag, or that state tax collectors aren't taking bribes via brown envelopes stashed with unmarked E tablets. Or, for that matter, that these worthless spine-deficient politicians aren't dosed to the eyeballs when they decide who they're going to screw over yet.
Welcome to Florida, folks! Where you can't get welfare until we're sure you're not shooting up, but shooting up a black teenager gets you face time with Sean Hannity. Kilgore even points out that Indiana tried to pass a similar law that was then pushed to one side after Democrats added an amendment saying that state politicians would have to take whizz tests as well. Gods, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that discussion. "Shit, lads, we're screwed! We can't piss all over the poor without us having to let Senator Cokemonster piss into a cup too!"
This isn't about saving money, and it isn't about any principle either, unless we've changed the definition of that word to mean spending one's life identifying those people who have life the toughest, and dedicating ourselves to making it a little tougher still.