Yesterday evening I caught part of a statement made by a member of the House of Representatives to an audience of what appeared to be his constituents. The Congressman spoke of how people stay on unemployment benefits by choice. He then referred to comments several employers had made to him about people who would come to that employer, apply for a job, leave after the prospective employee learned the employer required employees to submit to urine screens, then have the audacity to include that employer as one of the places of employment at which the person had attempted to obtain work that week.
The United States has five percent (5%) of the World's population, but twenty-five percent (25%) of its prison inmates. Per capita we beat out such havens for human rights as North Korea and our favored trading partner, China. With the dawn of privatization of prison services, we have seen contracts from corporations like GEO and CCA to states that require 90 percent occupancy rates in facilities run by those corporations.
Marijuana once was the devil's weed. Now, two States (Washington and Colorado) have legalized pot---as anyone who watches TV, the internet, etc., already knew. (There is a little-known corollary to that: the pizza delivery businesses in those States have skyrocketed. Just kidding.) Marijuana still is illegal in the other 48 states. In some of those states, it might as well be legal as enforcement is lax. Still, because it is illegal, one can get busted and become a part of the criminal justice system.
There are some professions and occupations in which people should not be intoxicated while on the job. A lawyer in court or a surgeon in mid-operation should not be high. A school bus driver should not burn one before that driver chauffeurs children from home to school or back. Marijuana is fat-soluble, however, and so a urine screen is not very effective as a way to determine if a person is high. The test only can screen for whether the person has ingested cannabis sativa in the past two weeks to 30 days. As for other occupations, the right to privacy of the individual is greater than the need for the employer to know what the individual does in the individual's spare time. I shelved books in university libraries in the early 1980s. I do not believe such jobs involve employee life style such as to warrant intrusion into one's urine stream.
Once the results of the screen are taken, then what? Are other aspects of the person's blood digitized and sent to the Central Repository of Information? Will the NSA have a hand in it?
As for people who want simply to live on unemployment, those people have to be rare. I briefly was on unemployment in early 1979. As I recall, I received $78 per week. I lived in a slum. My one "luxury" item was cable. I had HBO on it---when HBO only aired from 7 pm to midnight with two yet-to-be-released movies (usually not very good ones) and TBS was a UHF channel broadcast for reasons one could not surmise to cable outlets in Indiana. That was $16 per month. I really did not like being on unemployment and would have taken a job happily. Eventually I moved from Kokomo to Laughalot, Indiana, where I obtained employment at Purdue University.
Drugs should be legalized, as even a right-wing nut like my friend Paul Ogden realizes. We should leave people alone on the urine screens and tell them to piss off. And we should bring back the cheap cable. I really liked the show about the Indian chief that came on after two a.m. on most stations. The chief, in full headdress, was featured in profile against some sort of cross and some numbers. The sound was one, constant note, perhaps a metaphor of the "om" of the Earth and Universe. That show would play for about six hours, until the first show of the morning schedule.