Paul Waldman analyzes the let's-drug-test-the-unemployed mania, as embodied in Mitt Romney's assertion that "People who are receiving ... government benefits, we should make sure they're not using those benefits to pay for drugs." Waldman takes a page from Jonathan Swift, asking "why stop at people on unemployment?"
After all, I don't want my tax dollars going to anyone who might possibly be on drugs. So let's make the board of directors and senior executives of every company that has a government contract pee into a cup (those folks at Lockheed Martin get an awful lot of our money, after all). And how about hedge fund managers--they benefit from the preferential "carried interest" loophole, meaning they pay Romneyesque low tax rates on their income. Unzip and give us a sample before you head to the Hamptons for the weekend, buddy. I'm sure we won't find any cocaine use among that crowd! And what about the mortgage interest deduction? We the taxpayers pay a portion of tens of millions of people's mortgages. I can't stand the idea that some of those people might be on drugs, so they better get tested, too. [...]
Demanding drug tests from government contractors or people who take advantage of tax deductions would be crazy, of course. On the other hand, testing people on welfare or people who are unemployed makes perfect sense. Why? Because they're poor.
Waldman notes that "this is what real class warfare looks like:"
This is how people with power tell people without power that they're nothing, that in order to access even the most modest help they'll have to submit to a ritual of abasement, treated like criminals and forced to hand over their bodily fluids.