Thursday, September 08, 2005

Is This the Face of a Drug User? (Skip if You Don't Like Self-Righteous Rants)

I was told today by my temp agency that because our assignment was now long term, the job site would be requiring drug testing for all the temp workers. Of my group of 11, I am one white man amoungst 10 black women. We are not well-educated. We are not very skilled laborers. We are a dime a dozen. We do not draw a lot of water. If we did, no one would have told us we had to piss in a cup at a medical facility so some drug testing company employee could sniff around in it and see if any of us had smoked dope. But because we are poor and we are not well-educated, it is required of us.

I find the practice of drug testing in the work place to be morally repugnant, but I am aware that my position at the very bottom rung of the career ladder (the ladder to any career, just to be clear), allows me to be both idealistic about such matters, and completely unemployed because of it. It's bad enough that employers can and often do check a prospective employee's financial history to see if there are any bankruptcies (as though this is a worthy indicator to anything but how bad you are with your own personal money), or if you were ever late on your electric bill, but now they want you to be complicit in an unconstitutional invasion of your privacy. Now is the wrong word. Apparently, they HAVE wanted, and HAVE already been invading it for years. When did this become okay in our country? Was it with the advent of the War on Drugs? I guess the fiction that drug testing is a deterrent or is catching drug users before they can get into a job (or while they're in it) goes very well with the fiction that the War on Drugs is actually of any use whatsoever except as a jobs program and a prison-filler. in 1990 the federal government spent $11.7 million bucks testing its employees. %0.5 tested positive. That works out to $77,ooo per identified drug user. Money well-spent. I'm sure that's just the government though. I'm sure the rate would be much higher in the private sector, what with all those drug addicts out there, looking for good-paying jobs. Here's something else that's illuminating. Did you know that urinalysis drug tests are really only capable of effectively detecting marijuana usage? Everything else passes out of the system inside of 48 hours, and we all know how dangerous and debilitating marijuana is. Didn't we all see that PSA where the guy ran over the girl on her tricycle because he was all hopped up on weed? That's real, man! Or how about your buying marijuana directly funds terrorists? That's a good one. Can you imagine that at some high-schools, random drug-testing is mandatory? What happened to our right to be left the hell alone?

Anyway. Part of my point in bringing this up, is to refute those that say (said in a cynical, drugged-out, hippie, Naderite voice) "It doesn't matter who you vote for, man! They're all the same! A vote for Kerry is the same as a vote for Bush! They're part of the same SYSTEM!"

That's when I say a bad word you can't say on TV that means I disagree with that statement.

Had we actually been voting our own interests these past two elections, (and every other election where the Republican won), we would not be heading down this particularly boggy road. Democrats are not, by and large, FOR taking away Americans civil liberties. You might not be surprised to know most of the people who are members of the ACLU, are not Republicans. They are Democrats. Were the Democrats in power, they would appoint judges who are also not FOR taking away our civil liberties; liberties like the right of a driver who's been pulled over to say to the cop, "No, thanks. There's no reason for you to open my trunk." Or a pedestrian to say to a cop who randomly approaches you, "No, you may not see my ID, it's none of your business what my name is because I've done nothing wrong." Or the right of the worker to say "No, thanks, what's in my liquid waste is my own business". Right now it's illegal for an employer to ask you stuff like "Are you married?" or "What religion do you practice?" Because those questions are not germane to the subject of getting a job. Neither is whether or not you smoked marijuana in the last 3 months. Neither is whether or not you declared bankruptcy in the last 7 years. Or whether you were late on that electric bill, or that rent payment. It's none of their goddamn business and I think it's terrible that we've somehow allowed it to be their business in the last 15-20 years while we were all cowering in our dens and living rooms, huddled around the TV, listening to the Nightly News spin yarns about "crack babies", and a crack "epidemic" on our city streets, and how giving the Columbian government military helicopters and American "advisers", the US was really smashing up the source of all that awful, ubiquitous crack flowing up into North America. Now the yarns are being spun about a little ole drug called crystal meth. Whatever works. We seem to need an ongoing drug storyline.

Anyway, thank you, you super Republicans, for giving the wealthy in our country (the real "ownership class") just one more tool to "stick it" to the poor and the minorites, and thank you everyone else in America for letting this one slide.

(I promise to be less pissed for my next posting.)


blankfist said...

You're welcome.

Nice pic too... can I use that on Shawn's blog, aka my blog?

Fried Pepperoni said...

On a similar note, I've never understood why credit checks are needed to rent an apartment or house. If you can pay the deposit, can pay the first month's rent, then what's the hold up? The owner already has the legal right to evict a tenant for non-payment. And any tenant old enough to rent an apartment understands that if they don't pay rent, they may find themselves on the curb. It's not like the owner won't still own the property. It's not like they can't sue the tenant for damages to the property. By all accounts, the owner is completely and entirely covered by the law when tenants go bad. What possibly is gained from learning that a person once paid their rent on time? Doesn't mean they won't stop paying on time once they rent from you, Mr. Property Owner. And maybe just out of spite. So, yeah.

By the way, you're very sexy when you're militant.

Shannon said...

Why don't you just stop smoking weed, and switch to LSD. Stop being angry. Open your curtains, and look at God's beautiful world.

blankfist said...

Yeah, Shawn! Come on! Stop being so negative, dude!

BOC said...


Technically, Shawn in LA, (big major city that it is) there are several laws that DO NOT protect the landlord. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, the law is set in a way that the moment a renter puts ONE box into the apartment it is his legal residence and that for the landlord to evict them he/she must jump through all sorts of legal hoops to justify the shit.

I have quite a few building managers and landlords as regulars in my bar and they have told me numerous horror stories about tenants they've been trying to get rid of for YEARS.

One old woman had gone an entire year without paying her rent (or you know, cleaning the place) in a dispute and when he finally got to evict her the owner of the building had to give her 2 grand in relocation costs out of his own pocket.

Most of the laws are good ones that protect people from undeserved eviction due to things like race, sexual preference and what have you, but some are set in a way that really screw over the guy running the place.

Technically, I moved into my current apartment with out signing a lease because my roommate has the apartment under his name and I paid him the security deposit, not the landlord. Now, If my roommate chooses to leave when the lease expires, I could live here rent-free for 3-4 months while the landlord tries to track down a paper trail to prove when I got here and then go thru the proper legal channels, hearings, court costs, etc. And he would have to serve all papers to me directly and not thru the mail. Then prove that he put said papers in my hand (i.e. a photo (with date and time) or thumbprint or my signature). In actuality, I don't even exist because I pay the rent to my roommate in cash, he deposits it and then writes one check to the landlord.

Funny how my cable bill can establish legal residence to get a driver's liscense in this town but it does not establish my residence here for other purposes because it doesn't matter if I pay for the cable coming into this building, I can live anywhere and pay for it (as if my roommate was my girlfriend and I was her sugar daddy) and the checks are old checks with me and Heath's 919 address on it. Who says I don't still live there? My current landlord would have to track down my old landlord to prove that I don't. Who's going to tell him Blair's name? Me? No. Heath? Who's heath to my current landlord? The cable company? Giving them a copy of my check with my checking account and personal information would expose them to a lawsuit for violating my privacy and exposing me to identity theft (which several companies are facing class action suits for now). I don't think so.

Isn't beauracracy fun? Which party does common sense belong to? The jackass or the elephant? Oh, right: neither.

Another reason LA sucks copious amounts of rape dollars.

And yes I read this blog. I am a loser.

In all seriousness, I would like to see more of your artwork, Crane.

And eat more at Bojangle's. That's what I like.

BOC out.