MOVING GOALPOSTS

This news item is a bit outdated, originally appearing in April of 2012, but I came across it recently and it's full of quotes of the too-good-to-pass-up variety.

Recall last year when Florida Gov. Rick Scott – who totally doesn't own a chain of drug testing clinics, because he transferred his majority stake to his wife in the kind of "share shuffle" that is illegal in nearly every state outside of the former Confederacy – led the charge to drug-test all TANF ("welfare") recipients. Think of the money Florida will save when it can deny benefits to all Those People with their crack and their weed and their bath salts and whatnot!

Stunningly, the state did not end up saving any money. In its first four months the failure rate for benefit applicants was slightly over 2%. Since the state was obligated to reimburse the 98% who did not fail for the cost of their test, the cost to taxpayers far exceeded the amount that would have been paid in benefits to the drug using applicants. In four months, the program was almost $50,000 in the hole. In the grand scheme of a state budget this is not much money. The point, however, is that as a vehicle for fiscal responsibility this law is an abject failure. Few applicants failed the drug tests and the number of applicants was essentially unchanged.

The net savings of -$50k means that the law accomplished its real, which is to say unstated, purpose of funneling tax dollars to medical testing companies like the ones Rick Scott totally doesn't own. The problem for pro-testing lawmakers is to find a way to continue the policy now that its stated goal of saving money has been given the lie. Well that's not so hard; if you miss the goal, just move it to wherever the ball landed.

It turns out that they didn't write the law to save money. It was about morality and The Children all along!

Chris Cinquemani, the vice president of the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida-based public policy group that advocates drug testing and recently made a presentation in Georgia, said more than saving money was at stake.

"The drug testing law was really meant to make sure that kids were protected," he said, "that our money wasn't going to addicts, that taxpayer generosity was being used on diapers and Wheaties and food and clothing."

Florida's governor, Rick Scott, who supported the measure last year, agreed.

"Governor Scott maintains his position that TANF dollars must be spent on TANF's purposes — protecting children and getting people back to work," said Jackie Schutz, the governor's deputy press secretary.

Here is Ed's free lesson for the day: When an idea is pitched with "making sure that kids are protected" as a primary selling point, run. Run like your ass is on fire.

It's amazing how easy it is to turn a failed law into a success. Just redefine "success" on the fly and you can't go wrong. I can't see this type of argument without immediately having Iraq War flashbacks. Remember 2004? What a great year that was. It was the year in which we learned that we invaded Iraq because of al-Qaeda, and if not because of al-Qaeda then because of chemical/nuclear weapons, or human rights abuses, or Bringing the Fight to The Enemy, or establishing a foothold for democracy in the Middle East, or whatever other bullshit excuse seemed plausible at the time. Boy, moving those goalposts sounds exhausting sometimes.

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59 Responses to “MOVING GOALPOSTS”

  1. Bentpine Says:

    @E* I nearly choked when I read this:

    (as my HR department took the time to tell me in a clever powerpoint presentation involving the acronym SMART)

    I'll never forget being educated in the ways SMART as young 20-something at my first VERY IMPORTANT JOB. Good times.

  2. Elle Says:

    In other words is the guy a "good" (used broadly) man or is he being a drop kick?

    I think we can all agree that 'don't be a dick' is a useful motto to live by. I also agree that people who have children should spend some time and energy on caring for them. I just balk at seeing sex as some kind of reward for being a grown-up; doled out by women on the occasion of their partner filling up a row on his notional refrigerator chores star chart.

    Driscoll's advice to husbands in his congregation on being an Ephesians 5 husband is unobjectionable in some of the detail. If his congregation need reminders not to beat, rape, and torment their wives, then I am glad he is at hand to provide it. The problem is, as he acknowledges, that the complementarian model of relationship he suggests as optimal, contains an intrinsic power imbalance. He teaches that the Bible prescribes a specific type of marriage relationship, which evidence tells us is more likely to be abusive.

  3. Anonymouse Says:

    Xynzee, even the conservative-beloved 1950s were only that for a limited subset of people. Leave it to Beaver was a documentary only of a tiny minority of white people; other white people and many non-white people lived lives of both parents working and Kitten and Princess and Budd working just as soon as they hit their pre-teens. Anecdatally, my white first-generation parents (their parents immigrated) grew up working in the family store and family business practically from the time they could walk, and to hear them tell it, they weren't the only such families on their block.

  4. Bernard Says:

    BB, Christianity aint my choice for a religion, but it's the one used in the country i live in. i didn't choose for the laws to be written by Christians fundies. they seem to write them though. especially in the South, and now the Acitivist Judges in the Supreme Court, thanks to the Right.

    just pointing out the stupidity and bigotry inherent when some fundie uses their Christianity/lack thereof and forces their beliefs down my throat.

    and the way the Right uses their False Christianity on the rest of us is what the real problem is. being a minority just proves that. and if you are a white straight male, you are blessed, in America, by birth.

    just amazes me the way Religion damns people for just being people. and the only reason we are here on Earth is to beget, the next generation if we are lucky. and yes gays can beget children. kind of like loose women, lol, to use a familiar comparison. something which drives the Christian fundies up the wall, and unleashed their hate and envy filled sense of jealousy.

    to think God made us the same, if you believe in God, and lesser humans use Religion to divide us into sin and sinners. what a waste, what hatred and what a shame on those that feel so "less than" for shaming others, whether Muslim, Christian, Jew, or whatever Religion you use to hate those different.

    Can't we all get along? Obviously not, according the the Christian Fundies/Right Wingers. Either obey Christianity in America or you are a Liberal who hates America. lol, we have our own Christian Sharia law, we don't need no stinking Muslim Sharia law, thank you very much.

  5. Schrader Fan Says:

    I'm coming late to this and haven't read all previous comments, so my apologies to anyone I'm copying. I doubt that Governor Scott's income is the reason for this law. Does he really care that much about 50 thousand smackers? Isn't he rich? Another possible explanation for the law is to harass, humiliate, and frighten TANF recipients. If so it would be similar to the many laws intended to harass, humiliate, and frighten women who seek reproductive health care. The governor's profits would be a pleasant side effect, as educational testing companies' profits were a pleasant side effect of the "No Child Left Behind" law, which aimed to cripple public education and increase the advantages of those who could afford private schools. Given the central role that sadism plays in American reaction, I mean "conservatism", that seems like at least a plausible hypothesis.

  6. Bernard Says:

    i suppose i could revert to the Weimar Germany stereotypes and replace Jews with whatever the " bad" people are today and the stark similarities would shine for those who choose to "see."

    Problem is we are so divided into "us and them" nowadays, excuses are not even required/needed.

    getting back to a point of communication/conversation between all the various "people" in America today seems almost "stupid and a waste of time."

    we have devolved into a "my side or else" society to such a degree, i wonder what would or could take us back to a point of being able to talk to the "other."

    i know i don't trust the Right wing at all. their lies have permeated/perverted my country for the last 40 years/St. Ronnie's realm. the Propganda machine from the Right is so effective, especially with all the destruction of personal rights of the individual , the destruction of a civil, common society and the rise of the Corporate State. Taxes are a no no, Government is now completely owned by Business, and War is the only Game left for America/the only economy we have. Business sold us to the highest bidder/lowest wage slave.

    talk about terrified as the Right further encroaches upn the "Other". just read how we must believe this or that way, because the Bible says so! no choices but those already approved by the Powers that be.

    frightening and very effectively squashing dissent.
    1984 was just a pipedream. Minority Report and Kafka's The Trial are our reality today.

    Guns,"Their" God and the "Right" Way! it really is frightening to have the Thought Police also be the man with the AK 47!

    Weimar Germany led to WW2, what does Corporate/Fascist America lead to?

  7. grendelkhan Says:

    I'm surprised no one's mentioned the obvious success of the program–because the recipients knew they'd be tested, they all stopped using drugs! Clearly the program is a gigantic success, and a great victory in the War on Drugs. Someone send Rick Scott some more money.

  8. Xynzee Says:

    @elle: Ah! Gotcha. Sorry if I confused you when I tried to edit my post down. I was only addressing one side of the topic. As for sex leading to "spiritual" connection between two people, it's there in Christianity. Not so overtly in Calvinist theology — Calvin has a lot to answer for — but it's there. Most are appalling at explaining things in spiritual terms. It's because of that spiritual connection — becoming one flesh — that occurs with sex is why it's such a serious subject.

    I hear what you're saying about Eph 5. Sadly the historical record on how those verses have been interpreted and worked out in practice is far closer to the horror you describe. It certainly does lead to Krog the caveman behaviour — though I'm sure Krog treated his partner(s) better than Bubba does.