Some lawmakers at the federal and state levels are pushing to set up drug testing for anyone getting food stamps.
I fully understand the impulse behind this notion. It offends many hard-working, law-abiding citizens to see their tax dollars go to people who harm themselves and others while breaking the law.
What I don’t understand is why this impulse is not more widely applied.
Food stamps are hardly the only broad, costly benefit the federal government offers.
What’s more, unlike food stamps, some of this government largesse is so loosely administered that beneficiaries could use the dough to buy marijuana, Oxycontin or heroin. Food stamps, by contrast, are set up so they can’t even be used to buy tobacco or alcohol.
Take the tax deduction for employer-provided health benefits. This is one of the nation’s biggest tax breaks. A health plan is clearly a form of income, but hardly anyone pays taxes on it. This subsidy is worth $300 billion annually. Food stamps, by comparison, max out at $80 billion.
And, hey, the connection couldn’t be closer: Why should we subsidize the health care of someone who abuses his body through drugs? So, everyone who gets Blue Cross through their jobs, get ready to pee in that cup. Only logical, right?
And, here’s another big subsidy; the mortgage interest tax deduction. Why should we help some drug abuser buy a McMansion? So, all of you out there living on cul-de-sacs in Fox Knoll Hunt Chase Estates, get ready to make tinkle.
And, wow, this one’s so obvious. Think of all the money governments spend on roads and bridges. Modern America was built on lavish subsidies to people who drive cars. If people are on drugs while driving, they could kill somebody.
So, absolutely, you there in the SUV, get ready to spend a little extra time in those lovely bathrooms at the DMV. A small price to pay to make sure no precious tax dollars are wasted on anyone who fires up a doobie.
Right? Right? Say amen somebody. Wait, are you saying we should NOT put the same limits on subsidies for buying houses, driving cars or getting free MRIs that we do on the one for avoiding starvation?
It couldn’t be because this frenzy for drug testing isn’t really about fairness and fiscal discipline, but about race and class. That couldn’t happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Could it?