Finally -- a bill I can believe in!
In case you missed the hoopla, Gov. Nathan Deal affixed his signature Monday to House Bill 861 which requires applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to pass a drug test -- once -- before receiving benefits. We are fixing to drug test welfare recipients, in other words. It's about time.
But as Lee Corso would say--"Not so fast my friend."
As you might expect, this new Georgia law has not been universally applauded. Go ahead and round up the usual suspects -- the American Civil Liberties, for example, and the Southern Center for Human Rights -- because they are threatening to file lawsuits against the state of Georgia and the new law and tie things up in court for years.
Civil liberties? Human rights? Which right do you suppose these organizations are championing? The right to use illegal drugs or the right to live on the public dole? I don't think they will be able to make a case to convince me of either argument -- particularly on the day that I filed my most recent income tax return.
Know what the first law ever made in what would become the United States was? "Thou who dost not work dost not eat." Captain John Smith came up with that one and it was a humdinger. It saved the Jamestown colony from extinction. Somewhere along the line that law became "Thou who dost not work may sitteth on thy lazy arses while the rest of us feedeth thou."
Save your breath and your ink. I am not against helping people who need help. I support our local food banks and all sorts of charitable institutions that help people who have fallen on hard times. I am merely against the government taking money from hard working individuals and giving it to dead beats -- and anyone who has money to spend on illegal drugs doesn't need my money to feed their family.
According to research this bill will save the state of Georgia almost $2 million a year by reducing the number of applicants for the program. They won't even apply, understand, if they know they will have to take a drug test. The test costs $17, by the way, and the applicants are required to foot the bill themselves.
If you aren't doing drugs you have nothing to fear. If you are, clean your act up and then apply. Sounds reasonable to me. And you only have to pass the sucker once.
Apparently there is a great disparity between what I find reasonable and what the ACLU and SCHR find reasonable. They claim that this new law is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Really? This is what the Fourth Amendment says.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized."
These agencies are convinced they can find an activist judge who will declare that a drug test is a violation of the implied privacy of the Fourth Amendment. In the immortal words of former governor Lester Maddox, "Phooey."
I think the key word here is "unreasonable." This law does not profile or accuse or choose people at random. It is to be equally applied to all. If you want to ask the rest of the people to help you support your family I think it is perfectly reasonable for the rest of the people to ask you to prove that you are a law-abiding citizen who is not wasting the resources you have at your disposal on illicit drugs.
Goodness gracious, y'all. You can't even play football at Georgia if you use drugs -- at least not in the first couple of games. Why should you be able to eat at the public trough?
Our neighbors to the South passed a similar law last year. They were the first state to do so. It is currently under challenge in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A Florida judge suspended their law until the outcome of the appeals is determined. The opponents of the Georgia law claim that that is reason enough for the governor to have vetoed House Bill 861.
Our elected officials are charged with looking after the public trust. A part of the public trust is to spend the people's money wisely. I think this is a much needed step in the right direction. Maybe one day we will realize that "we the people" are not entitled to spend other folks' money and that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" doesn't include the right to toke up while living on the public dole.
I know. I know. But a guy can dream.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.