In a March 31 Op Ed, Rep Reed wrote:
“Another principle involves removing obstacles that stand in the way of a recipient going to work. I hope to continue to encourage states to engage in simple, low-cost drug-screening methods which will identify applicants with substance abuse issues and help direct them toward the resources they need to get clean. Time and time again, I hear from employers who have to turn down job applicants because they cannot pass a drug test. By identifying abuse problems and helping to fix them early on, we can help low-income recipients satisfy employer qualifications so they can move into the workforce.”
This sounds good, but wait: there is more to know about this. For the rest of the story I refer to an article by Isabel Macdonald “The GOP’s Drug Test Dragnet” which appeared in the April 22 issue of “The Nation.” Macdonald is a freelance journalist and former communications director of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. This is a four page article well worth reading. Here are some subheads from the article:
- How the GOP and the drug-testing industry are targeting Americans seeking government help.
- By 2006, more than 80 percent of employers said they drug-tested workers. Today, drug testing is a $2-billion-a-year industry.
- Over the past decade, lobbyists have focused on what a DATIA newsletter recently dubbed ‘the next frontier’ — schoolchildren.
- Several Republican lawmakers have pushed hard for the mandatory drug testing of anyone, anywhere, applying for welfare.
While seemingly plausible reasons can be offered for widespread drug testing, the real reasons may be corporate profit and the desire for an excuse to deny people welfare and unemployment benefits. Already seven states require drug tests for welfare recipients and lobbyist are pressing for more. Especially shocking is that schools would divert education funds to drug testing; lobbyists are busy working to promote that.
This article makes clear that drug testing lobbyists haven’t neglected Congress. Abbott Laboratories reportedly spent $133,500 on donations to state politicians in Ohio and Texas in the 2012 election cycle. Rep. Reed wasn’t neglected: Abbott donated $1000 to his campaign according to “Open Secrets.” Reed’s colleague, Rep. Dave Camp, reportedly has invested $81,000 in drug testing companies and has received $5000 from LabCorp, a drug testing company in the last three years.