Drug-Screen the Corporate-Welfare Queens!
by Tony Pivetta: Freedom
Versus Order? Since When?!
Get this. States
across the country are instituting drug screening as a condition
for welfare benefits. You read that right. You want goodies
at taxpayer expense? You have to prove you havenít injected, ingested
or inhaled any of the government-demonized plant products of the
day. Private employers check for illicit drug use before hiring.
Ought we not to demand the same of those feeding at the public trough?
great state of Michigan. Not so great lately: with unemployment
hovering around 14 percent, plenty of Michiganders find themselves
so feeding. To wit, 20 percent of residents are on food stamps,
cash assistance or disability. The straining safety net and declining
tax base have catapulted public debt. In
2010 dollars, the level of State debt per capita jumped from $724
in 1979 to $2,430 in 2010. Money set aside for unforeseen emergencies,
which came to $1.2 billion in 2000, stands well-nigh depleted. According
to the 2011
Citizenís Guide to Michiganís Financial Health, "At
$2.2 million, the balance in the ĎRainy
Day Fundí is not enough to cover government operations for 30
Snyder and the State Legislature have responded by implementing
a number of austerity measures, including changes in the tax treatment
of pension and retirement benefits. (Unlike the federal government,
the State of Michigan has no Federal Reserve to monetize its debts;
it has no choice but to decrease spending or increase taxes.) Effective
January 1, 2012, Michigan law requires pension trusts to withhold
income tax on payments to all pension and annuity recipients born
on or after January 1, 1946. These payments had been exempt. For
those failing to file a Form MI W-4P, the Withholding Certificate
for Michigan Pension or Annuity Payments, a default tax rate of
4.35 percent applies.
call for tough measures. For fixed-income residents of Michigan,
the new tax law surely qualifies.
To be sure,
austerity has not affected all Michigan residents equally. Take
superstar first baseman Prince Fielder, who signed a contract with
the Detroit Tigers in January mere days after the new tax law took
effect for the princely sum of $214 million. Heíll not be collecting
public assistance anytime soon! This is not to begrudge him the
lucrative terms and conditions of his employment. Fielder brings
scarce and much sought-after skills to the marketplace; professional
baseball generates ample revenue to reward him for them.
that, nobody put a gun to Tigersí owner Mike Ilitchís head. He freely
entered into his contract with the slugger.
Well, no, the same canít be said about Michiganís taxpayers, and
yes, it so happens the State did put a gun to their heads, at Ilitchís
behest, to fund a capital development project for his enterprise
some years earlier. You see, the Tigersí owner collected a princely
sum all his own, in 2000: a
$189 million public subsidy to build a new ballpark for the Tigers.
Money being fungible, the sweetheart deal freed up resources he
could then apply toward payroll and other expenses. For all intents
and purposes, the State extorted ("taxed") funds from
its beleaguered wage earners washed-up pension analysts, beaten-down
autoworkers, single moms waiting on tables and transferred them
to him, one of the richest men in the state.
He had those
funds at his disposal when he negotiated the terms of Prince Fielderís
contract. In a very real sense, both of these fabulously wealthy
men are beneficiaries of public largesse.
Now you might
find this kind of Robin-Hood-in-reverse arrangement morally and
fiscally troubling. You might discern better uses for $189 million
in "public" expenditures. You might even deem sweetheart
deals like this an egregious abuse of the public trust. But this
only goes to show your woeful lack of imagination. For how can anyone
put a price tag on the overriding public interest advanced by a
new playground for millionaire baseball players and their billionaire
that Detroit had a classic, cozy, historic, venerable and architecturally
sound venue in Tiger
Stadium. Never mind that its successor, Comerica
Park, is a tacky and soulless monstrosity. Never mind that Mike
Ilitch never had to pass a drug test to collect his $189 million
proposed law to drug-screen aid applicants can make quick work of
all that. For the Tigersí owner is now poised to send an edifying
message to drug abusers and the growing legions of welfare recipients
It can all
start with a reenactment of Comerica Parkís 2000 groundbreaking
ceremony. Governor Snyder can pass the ceremonial shovel to Ilitch,
who can proceed to turn over the ceremonial first shovel-full of
dirt. Then, amidst fanfare and ribbon-shearing, as the citizens
of Michigan sing hosannas to the commissarsí boondoggle and the
jobs created in its wake, a DEA agent can hand Ilitch a urine-specimen
bottle and march him to a nearby port-a-johnnie. To add a salutary
war-on-terrorism flavor to the extravaganza, a TSA officer can subject
him to a freedom-fondle before he enters the commode.
all over the taxpayers of Michigan, Ilitch can then proceed to pee
in the bottle. His 83 years notwithstanding, a clean drug screen
is far from a foregone conclusion. By all accounts, the public teat
imparts a heady nectar all its own.
Pivetta [send him mail] lives
in Royal Oak, Michigan, where he pines for a bygone era in which
baseball actively strove to maintain its continuity with its past.
He draws dark parallels between the rise of publicly financed stadiums
and the demise of both the Grand Old Game and the cause of American
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.