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How many urine samples can a small government process?

A while back, Matt Yglesias wrote an insightful piece arguing that "ideas about freedom and small government are totally irrelevant to the actual political agenda [of the Republican Party]." I was reminded of it by the news that small-government advocate Orrin Hatch wants the state to perform mandatory drug tests on every one of the 15 million people receiving unemployment insurance or welfare benefits.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 16, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
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Sometimes all you can do is laugh. Then you remember that these idiots are perfectly capable of passing this crap.

Posted by: ostrogoth | June 16, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

the logic behind this, i assume, is that since they're receiving taxpayer money, hatch wants to make sure their not using it to buy drugs. but by that same logic, senators and congressmen receive taxpayer dollars too. so here's my compromise. i'll support hatch's plan if he adds mandatory drug testing for senators and representatives too...

Posted by: freaktown | June 16, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

How many citizenship papers can a small government check? How many pregnancies can a small government investigate? How phones and email accounts can a small government tap? How many people can a small government conceal and torture?

These are the truly pressing questions for today's Republican Party (and for some members of today's Democratic Party, for that matter).

Posted by: slag | June 16, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this is intended as a jobs bill for the urine analysis industry, and Hatch is actually a closet progressive.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 16, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention- how much would that cost? And to add to @freaktown's comment, if you're doing to make people receiving unemployment benefits do it, better add Wall Street bailout recipients to the list...

Posted by: lisaann11 | June 16, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"Sometimes all you can do is laugh. Then you remember that these idiots are perfectly capable of passing this crap."

He wants a stool culture, too?

Posted by: hackett1 | June 16, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

He wants to test 15 MILLION people? the only remotely reliable urinalysis is gas chromatography, at something like $1000 per test. Fifteen BILLION dollars.

Has Orin decided where that money is coming from?

Posted by: ceflynline | June 16, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

BY the way, there is no provision in the Unemployment law toat says you can deny unemployment benefits to a qualified unemployed worker for any reason except for refusing work in his trade or fro being fired for cause. So he is going to have to change the Employment Insurance legislation to make use of the results of the tests, and he will immediately run into constitutional issues, already settled, that make mandatory urinalysis subject to probable cause, and then make the results inadmissible in punitive actions, unless the person is being tested because of a record of previous drug use.

Then again, Orin regularly decides that some unlikely segment of the population ought to be subject to mandatory drug testing, just because.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 16, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Well obviously it needs to come out of wasteful government spending programs on things like Medicare, Social Security, and the many obviously-overzealous environmental enforcement agencies...

Posted by: NS12345 | June 16, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

yup. almost as hypocritical as a liberal money manager that was responsible for "Black Wednesday" in the early 90's.

It must be nice to be the one mainly responsible for that crash. Maybe Lloyd Blankfein will be back in 20 years as the new liberal. I doubt it though.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 16, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

How does Orrin Hatch's stupidity excuse that of the Democrats?

Posted by: msoja | June 16, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The problem is having 15 million on the dole in the first place

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | June 16, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Sad to say, but if there are 15 million people on the dole and drug testing becomes mandatory, the number on the dole is likely to drop... do the same for welfare recipients and our deficit might magically disappear. 'Taint going to happen, though, because too many entities gain by the drug use and debauchery of the entitlement class.

Most lottery and liquor retailers in seedy areas cash government benefit checks at a low rate for a reason -- with willing participation from state governments eager for their share of the pie. Andrew Carnegie had the right idea: give out food and entertainment, not cash.

Posted by: rmgregory | June 16, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe this is intended as a jobs bill for the urine analysis industry, and Hatch is actually a closet progressive."

Mr. Klein, can you ask Dylan how the urine analysis industry has weathered the recession?

Posted by: aarhead | June 16, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse


since you asked Quest Diagnostics who does drug testing is doing just fine. In fact I've done some work with them and more and more large companies are requiring it before employees start there and especially contracted employees.

Here's some data although its admittedly a little old.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 16, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Orrin Hatch also thinks you should go to jail if you burn a flag. He's a moron who should be thrown out on his ass.

Posted by: boringmike | June 16, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

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