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Fox News Fires Another Salvo In The War Against The Poor: Drug Test The Unemployed And Welfare Beneficiaries!

Reported by Guest Blogger - June 21, 2010 -

Guest blogged by Brian

Saturday’s (6/19/10) Bulls & Bears “covered” Congress’ possible extension of unemployment benefits by debating whether people collecting jobless benefits and welfare should be drug tested. Rather than explore the need for such a thing, how it would be handled and what the cost vs. benefits might be, the producers used the segment to suggest that taxpayer money is being used to help deadbeat stoners or addicts get high.

Not surprisingly, regular panelist Tobin Smith put forth the “undeserving slackers” meme right at the start. "If you're actually going to… get a job when you’re on unemployment, many companies already drug test… The biggest hire in the United States is the government. They all do drug tests. The idea that this is some type of vacation program, unemployment, we've got to end. And we know that when people start to look, they start getting jobs."

Talk show host Mark Levine was the sole liberal. "I'm OK with drug testing as long as we also drug test the BP execs who thought it was OK to keep the oil pressure down with sea water. (Host Brenda Buttner interrupted to say that BP execs are not being paid by the taxpayers) …The question is what happens if they don’t get unemployment? …The question is, what do we do? Jail is expensive, and so is drug treatment."

Regular Eric Bolling kept up the demonize-the-poor message. "This is just pure common sense. Why should we be paying people to not look for a job, and then do drugs? …Great idea to drug test them, pull the benefits if they come up positive."

Buttner, without citing any statistics, finally chimed in to say, "Not all the unemployed do drugs, very few do actually." So why, then, was this worthy of a discussion?

Regular Gary B. Smith is a libertarian who sided against the measure. But first, he also took a swipe at beneficiaries. "I'm no fan of unemployment benefits, but I'm sure they're using it for drugs. I'm also sure they're using it to buy junk food and get cable TV that they shouldn’t and comic books… But the last thing we want is the government intruding and inspecting and being this Nazi police state… Once you go there, though, then you can say, ‘Oh, and you also shouldn't be doing all these other unhealthy things. You shouldn't be drinking to excess, you shouldn't be smoking.’ It's a slippery slope."

Near the end, Buttner made a nod toward balance by saying, "Many unemployed people are not using it for comic books and all the rest, they’re using it to live." But there were no statistics or studies offered to the “we report, you decide” network’s audience to provide context for the issue.

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