Monday, November 10, 2014

Wisconsin's inconsistent, hypocritical approach to drug abuse

[Updated] Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have announced that Wisconsinites receiving public assistance will have to pass a drug test to obtain their benefits, including food stamps.

Before you say, 'thank you, Doctor Walker and Social Work case manager Vos,' consider:

This fiscally-ludicrous, data-free dog-whistle to some conservative voters assumes, as Walker said during the campaign, that public assistance recipients are sitting on their couches playing video games - - in other words, hanging out and getting high and ripping off hard-working people - - you know who you are - - in Wisconsin to whom Walker and Vos and the GOP aimed their campaign.

Yet Walker and Vos have steadfastly refused to lift a finger to substantively and honestly deal with well-known, data-proven facts about drug use in Wisconsin - - including impaired driving - - and other harmful, nationally-leading abusive practices and events in Wisconsin.

And have blocked many serious attempts at minimal reform by refusing to join the other 49 states, and the District of Columbia, and making a first-time caught drunk driving a misdemeanor rather than the mere ticket is is now.

In fact, legislators from both parties over the years have been cited for driving under the influence, or committing other alcohol-related offenses and you don't see legislators citing the behavior of their colleagues as proof the state has problems it is ignoring, or failing to address effectively.

Republicans claim they have made progress by treating some repeated offenses more seriously, but a recent study shows judges have joined legislators and Walker in looking the other way, so repeat-offender targeting is a myth while the lack of a common-sense approach with a first offense makes it more likely that repeat offenders will be enabled.

The strength of insiders and lobbies representing taverns and breweries and beer-trucking and the state's alcohol-enabling cultural traditions is so strong that GOP leaders will not even champion modest reforms proposed by members of their own caucuses whose districts have been devastated by high-profile DUI homicides.

Repeat efforts to deal with repeat problems run into repeat denial and obstruction by influential and entrenched lobbies and more senior politicians under the lobbies' sway.

The Walkerites' debt to these interests is so strong that professionals with credentials and experience in the field recently resigned from a state task force over the special-interests damaging, co-opting control.

Poor people who need food stamps to survive in a state where Walker's job-creation promises and policies are ineffectual and broken, and his opposition to any increase in the poverty-enforcing $7.25/hour rate, cannot fight back with the same level of political clout the drinking lobbies exercise.

If the state were really serious about dealing with its various drug issues, it would expand its current focus on heroin addition to include stronger anti-drinking education and treatment programs and a similar positive promise to help poor people with true addiction who may get snagged in the Walker/Vos  'pee-in-a cup' dragnet.

But I doubt that's the Walker/Vos goal - - which is another tightening of the screw in their Leave Wisconsin program.


JoAnn said...

I think the people should start a petition to demand all elected officials pee in a cup. They too are being paid by us and we have a right to make sure that when they are voting for these invasive and pushy laws they are sober and clean. They are not above the people even though they think they are.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for it. If you're collecting money from the state, you should be tested.

But then let's be fair about it.

That means that every family that gets a school voucher also needs to be tested.

Every company that gets a state-sponsored tax break needs to have their entire board of directors and upper management tested.

And, of course, everybody in the legislative branches needs to be tested as well.

JoAnn said...

Exactly...where to draw the line? It is a dumb thing to do and adds nothing to the problems we in this state are facing.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree with both of these proposals. Don't demand that someone do something that you aren't willing to do. Lets get all over this and push it though the media. The poor soul whose company went in the tank and left him unemployed did nothing to deserve to have to pee in a cup to get his legally sanctioned benefits. It is time that we stand up to these absurd proposals and insist that they be applied to all persons that meet the criteria not just those that Walker and Vos select!

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should all be pro-active and leave our samples at the Governor's reception desk on the first floor at the Capitol.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe we should all be pro-active and leave our samples ..."

Oh, that is such a beautiful idea! And it would certainly garner the attention of the nation's news media, which in turn would aptly illustrate the extreme nature of presidential wannabe Scott Walker. But let's not use real urine.

Anonymous said...

Article completley irrelevant to the problem. Inner city is HQ of the drug trade.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should ask Representative Nygren about the inner city drug trade. His poor daughter never lived in the inner city and yet she is an addict.

Anonymous said...

If there is one thing that unites Wisconsinites, is its visceral hatred of the poor and minorities. This state will never climb out of the right wing cesspool. It revels in it. All the useless blather about Wisconsin being good neighbors is bullshit. Always was.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 6:05
There's an inner city drug trade because "upper" class suburbanites buy the drugs. But you already knew that right? Take your racist dog whistle and shove it.