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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Among the Righteous

Well, it's official. If you are a drug user in Oklahoma, you won't get welfare.

On the face of it, this is a commonsense way to guard the coffers of our nation, and to encourage good behavior. Dig a little deeper, and it's a rather cynical attempt to implement a 'feel righteous' policy without having to solve the problem.

The rise in illegal drug use, starting in the 60s, has been a disaster for the United States. The amount of human potential, minds that could have made a difference, has gone up in smoke. An effective treatment for breast cancer, perhaps...or a way to prevent Alzheimers. We'll never know.

And so, we attack the symptoms. Keep welfare money out of the hands of drug users. That'll show them.

I wonder, though, what does it show them? These drugs are addictive. Celebrities and politicians spend a lot of money going to the Betty Ford Center to try to break their habits. Are we expecting those on welfare to have the strength to do it on their own? Does giving them the choice of starvation - literally - hold the promise of making them superhuman? Or is it a convenient way of telling them to go die, while feeling very judicial about the whole thing?

And at the same time, we protect the drug culture. We love the television shows and movies with winking references to drug use, and we make sure that our best and brightest make enough money to be able to cycle through detox facilities. We don't want to lose a Britney Spears, for heaven's sake! And we can't face a world without Lindsay Lohan's acting talents!

We elect presidents who've admitted to using drugs. Bill Clinton, who didn't inhale. George Bush Jr., who used cocaine before becoming a born-again Christian. Barack Obama, whose use of marijuana (inhaling, apparently) is well-known. That's three out of the last three, if anyone's counting.

We don't want to sacrifice the politicians and singers and actors and athletes on the altar of law. So we're apparently going to take the less-important members of our society, and sacrifice them instead.

While we laugh at the funny things people do when they use drugs, every evening, gathered around the television, the modern family hearth.

Have we lost our minds?


  1. The drug-test bureaucracy will probably eat up all the money "saved" by refusing welfare to drug users.
    And if some money is saved, will they use it to benefit the children of the users who are disqualified from welfare? Or to put the users into rehab.? I doubt it. But the users need help, and the children are innocent victims.
    I agree with you. This is all just blaming the victim. Telling the weak and powerless that they are worse than the rest of us.

    1. I think you're right. The money saved will be used to justify tax breaks for the rich, on the assumption that their innately better hearts will cause them to invest in the economy and thereby create more jobs, which will in turn lower the element of desperation among the poor and thus eliminate drug use.

      You would be justified in asking what I have been smoking, being able to write that...

      The thing about victims - and they ARE victims, created by a society that decided that drugs are fashionable for the rich - is that they're an easy target. They also won't fight back.