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.)