Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has admitted to using illegal drugs but is still serving as an elected official, getting $175,000 a year.
But if Ford lived in Kansas or Missouri — and was on welfare — the states would throw the book at him. They’d cut off the few hundred dollars a month he was getting for his family and teach him a lesson.
AsThe Star reported today
, Kansas is getting ready to follow Missouri in testing suspected drug users who are on welfare.
The alleged goal is to coerce poor people into staying off drugs with the hammer of taking away their welfare payments.
The idea is extremely costly for taxpaying citizens. Not only are few welfare recipients on drugs — which reduces any savings from lower welfare payments — but the tests are expensive to administer.
Both states are going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on the tests, with the savings so far not adding up close to that amount.
Still, the conservative Republicans in charge of both state legislatures want to make it appear they are being hard on drug users. So they are picking on the easiest victims possible, poor people who can barely get by.
But here’s another idea: If the people getting some of the public money can be accused of being on drugs, what about the people passing out the money?
It would be a good idea to test the state legislators in Kansas and Missouri for drug use, too, and to suspend their publicly paid salaries if they are found to be on drugs.
Unfortunately, even though Kansas will test lawmakers,there won’t be any consequences
. How hypocritical of Kansas.
That would send a message to the elected officials: Don’t try to rip off taxpayers. It’s the same message the lawmakers think they are telegraphing to welfare recipients.
Indeed, based on some of the crazy bills passed in recent years in both states, it would be easy for much of the public to wonder whether their lawmakers are on drugs. Testing them could be a good way to find out.