Paul Grad for Oregon Governor: Drug Testing Oregon Welfare and OHP Recipients

Do Libertarians believe in drug testing? Obviously, there’s no way to know for sure, but in general I think Libertarians would vehemently oppose such testing as “invasion” or aggression, unless an Individual willingly agreed to, or even requested, such testing. Perhaps such testing could be argued as an invasion of privacy too.

But what if the State is providing welfare, by forceably taking the fruits of the labor of one man, and transferring it to another, at gunpoint? This is the coercion, the aggression of the State against the Individual, which is the very thing we Minarchists say should be prevented by the State, and one of the few valid reasons for its existence, we argue. Since we are being aggressed against to provide this welfare and these medical procedures, is it a crime for us Libertarians to advocate aggression against the Individuals who use these services by drug testing them?

I feel it is outrageous that people receiving welfare benefits, — food stamps, housing allowances, Oregon Health Plan, cash allowances — should be permitted to use what are loosely termed “drugs”, from the least addictive to the most, and continue to receive these benefits.  If someone is on welfare, the entire point of the program should be: to move them off welfare as quickly as possible. (This used to be the attitude of welfare workers up to the late 1950s. With the coming of Liberalism, there came a move to sign-up and keep as many welfare recipients as possible, as this meant constant salaries for the social workers, and a big increase in their departmental budgets.)

Of course, a large part of the welfare problem comes from the racist minimum wage laws, which financially disenfranchise tens of millions of young Americans, and especially hit Black youth. Much of the welfare problem would disappear if the restrictionist minimum wage laws were abolished. Also, the vast unConstitutional communist redtape of America, from business licenses, to keeping business records and filing taxes, keeps many teenage would-be entrepreneurs from even dreaming of starting a business, as they are dragooned into government schools, and then brainwashed into thinking they are nothing if they don’t get a college degree, usually selling themselves into debt slavery to do so. In the old days, a peddler started out with a backpack — no license needed — plowed his profits into getting a pushcart, and he was off. No such luck for today’s tied-down youths. They can no longer get a job at the local grocery store, while anyone hiring them legally for any protracted length would soon have to start worrying about the nanny-tax.

So let’s not blame many of the homeless, and street gang youth, for their positions, and some of their black market operations that would not be legal crimes in a Libertarian society, though they might be moral crimes or vices (for example, trafficking in tobacco). What moral crime could be greater than a working man telling a penniless man that it is a crime for him to work.

Libertarianism is a political ethic based on Natural Law Rights, and non-aggression, those Natural Law Rights being derived from man’s Reasoning mind, and not through some vague, mystical feeling, or religous dogma. Our Intelligence recognizes a malum in se, a crime in itself, when it sees one, which is why almost all societies have condemned crimes like murder, theft, rapine, and contractual fraud. Nature has so constructed our minds, that our Intelligence naturally recognizes these things as crimes, while the cat, slowly torturing the mouse or lizard to death, feels no remorse whatsoever. Nature has blinded the cat’s conscience to the misery it is causing, for without that blindness, it could not survive. (Fortunately, Providence gave us a hinged thumb, so we could develop agriculture, and not have to kill the animals, but the cat was not so fortunate, so it must kill or starve.) 

 Libertarianism can say what is politically ethical as far as property rights and aggressions against those rights, but it can make no moral or ethical judgements as to what Individuals do with those rights.

But as far as drug testing, while I don’t like the idea of some drug-company getting a huge profit at the public’s expense for drug testing all these people, it would save the public far more in taxes and provide better health for welfare recipients, or have them removed from the program if they couldn’t abandon their drug of choice. However, this drug testing must not involve the taking of blood, or the invasion of the body with a needle, or even possibly the cutting of hair. All these are violent aggressions against the body by the State, and should not be permitted. Breathalyzers, urine analysis,, possibly hair analysis and cheek scrapings, should be the first choices.

But, where would I place the cut-off, if any, for drug use? Would it be caffeine or what?

As Governor, I would use the Benowitz scale of addiction, developed by Dr. Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco. Benowitz was recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on drug addiction, especially nicotine, and he developed a scale of addiction for all the major psychoactive drugs currently being used to blast open the doors of perception. Using caffeine as the cut-off point, I would remove from the welfare rolls anyone using any drug more addictive than caffeine on Dr. Benowitz’s scale. These would include the opiates, opium, morphine, and heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, any of the various amphetamines, ecstasy, barbituates, tobacco, and alcohol. Since so many individuals use these drugs and continue to receive welfare, it would either force them to terminate their use, or save the taxpayer a large fortune. No working person who doesn’t use drugs, or who pays for his own, should be forced to subsidize the drug habits of welfare recipients. That is unconscionable.

There are problems when it comes to cannabis and caffeine. Many individuals now have medical-cannabis cards for the wide array of conditions in which this herb is medically useful, so they should not be denied solely on this ground. Also, someone could easily breathe in second-hand cannabis smoke if they socialized with any smokers between visits to their social worker or doctor, and they should not be penalized just for that.

Caffeine usage should also be theoretically banned, but here again, the caffeine may be the result of a free-will gift, not a purchase, and a person should not be penalized for accepting a free-will offering. Also, there is debate as to whether caffeine is a truly addictive substance. (I believe it is, but just barely so.) Moreover, the practical cost of one cup of homemade coffee or tea is so minimal, that objecting to a welfare recipient using it before a job interview would seem picayune. However, this is a utilitarian cop-out, for the principle should be that not one cent of the taxpayer’s money should be wasted on drugs-for-pleasure. Let’s let the public debate that one.

The Oregon Health Plan should also adopt a standard that no one using it could use any drug more addictive than caffeine, but unfortunately, now that so many have been stampeded into it against their will, due to Obamacare, they should not be penalized for complying with an unjust Federal law, instead of paying the outrageous tax penalty to the Federal Government for not complying. If Obamacare is ever repealed, then those using the OHP should be forbidden to use any drug more addictive than caffeine, or be put into treatment if they can’t stop using it, and removed from the program if they continue to use. Those concerned with this problem of hopeless addiction are free to set up private charities to take care of these persons after they are removed from the Oregon Health Plan.

It’s time to stop mollycoddling those addicted to drugs like tobacco and alcohol, who also mulct the taxpayer of the hard-earned fruits of his labor, and who receive welfare and Oregon Health Plan services. They should be given a chance to stop using, but if they can’t, they should no longer be allowed to aggress against the taxpayers.

Paul Grad,



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