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Rick Scott’s Obsession With Other People’s Urine

| May 3, 2012

gov. rick scott pee urine test drug tests

Your pee, please. (© FlaglerLive)

Anyone other than my doctor who’d ask me to pee in a cup isn’t just out of line. He’d be out of his mind. Yet an entire industry thrives on such cup-holders, and millions of Americans are not only complying with the docility of circus animals. They’re encouraging the indignity and asking for more.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive So it’s occasionally heartening to see that Florida’s goose-step toward a police state isn’t undisputed. A few months ago a federal judge declared Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to drug-test welfare recipients unconstitutional. Last week, another federal judge declared his plan to drug-test state employees unconstitutional. Those aren’t your so-called liberal, activist judges. The first was appointed by the senior George Bush, the second by the junior one, although it shouldn’t have taken a pair of judges to let our rights-challenged governor become acquainted with the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

Without a shred of evidence, Scott thinks drug testing ensures an “efficient and productive work force.” He points to the private sector, his Eden, where drug testing is routine. But the private sector is no authority on individual rights. Quite the contrary. “Abandon all rights, all ye who enter here” is the private employer’s unspoken welcome to employees who cross onto company property, where Dante surely would have drawn one of his circles of hell if he were writing today. Aside from the worshipful hold the business sector maintains on the public imagination, there ought to be more lament than celebration in that black hole of individual rights, particularly as it infects people’s submissiveness to government authority in the public sphere.

Scott is well aware of that infection when he points to public opinion, which supports drug testing by large margins, often on the premise that if you have nothing to hide, you have no reason to object to peeing in a cup. If you have nothing to hide, then you have no need for curtains, passwords, even clothe, for that matter: you have no privacy to speak of. Your privacy stops where your employer and your government say it stops. That’s absurd, of course—until you realize that it’s more the case than not, and it’s just what gives Scott’s obsession with pee its illusion of authority. The illusion works only as long as the public willingly suspends its belief in its constitutional rights.

Suspend it does. Just as employers are using the same nothing-to-hide argument to pry into job applicants’ Facebook pages or dig into employees’ credit reports and driving records, police now routinely use the nothing-to-hide argument to stop, frisk, search cars under the bogus but wonderfully Soviet presumption of “implied consent,” and end-run due process in the name of preventive security. Peeing in a cup in comparison doesn’t seem to amount to much, though it’s a violation of one’s person no less fundamental than an intrusion into one’s home, one’s papers, one’s medical history.

Consenting to such violations turns individual rights on their head. It places the government in a position to define your privacy and dignity. That’s the very opposite purpose of the 4th amendment, which gives an individual the right to tell government: I don’t have to justify anything to you. Unless you have a warrant. (Imagine if the Second Amendment was turned on its head that way. Every gun nut would go postal, though the same Second Amendment fanatics have no problem seeing the state demolish the Fourth, especially when government workers, the poor and minorities are the targets.)

That’s the legal argument. There’s also the common sense argument. Whether an employee is on drugs or not is not the issue. The issue is whether that employee is doing the job. I frankly don’t care if my daughter’s teachers hit the reefers in the morning before facing battalions of teenagers. Like cancer patients who need a hit of marijuana to put up with the nausea, it’s probably one of the best ways to get through the day in school these days. The more pertinent question is: Are they competent teachers? Soberness is not a definition of competence.

There are exceptions: train conductors, truck drivers, pilots, surgeons. There’s a compelling public interest for them to be sober when they’re on the clock. But those jobs are the exception, not the rule.

As for the drug-testing of welfare recipients, that’s just state-sponsored vindictiveness, not to mention stupidity. Gov. Scott sold the idea as a way to save taxpayers money and make recipients of government dole more accountable. By that reasoning, recipients of the mortgage-interest tax deduction, of child tax credits, of homestead and business tax exemptions should all be drug-tested, their claim on the public dime overwhelming any such claim by welfare recipients. On top of that, the Miami Herald reported earlier this month that it cost the state more money to administer welfare recipients’ drug tests, at $35 a pop, than it saved. So much for accountability.

Drug-testing companies must be high as a kite on the profits. Scott should be sobering up. Instead, he’s appealing both rulings. Talk about an addiction to foolishness. Unfortunately, there’s no test for that before qualifying for office.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here.

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32 Responses for “Rick Scott’s Obsession With Other People’s Urine”

  1. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    I was with the author 100% until he took a sharp left at the end.

    “recipients of the mortgage-interest tax deduction, of child tax credits, of homestead and business tax exemptions should all be drug-tested, their claim on the public dime overwhelming any such claim by welfare recipients”

    With the exception of child tax credits, which because they are refundable, are exactly how the author describes, “Claims on the public dime”, because someone with 2 kids and no federal income tax liability will still get a $2,000 “refund” or more accurately, welfare check which gets paid for by someone else. Tax deductions on the other hand most certainly are NOT claims on the public dime. If you claim they are, you’re essentially agreeing to the premise that every dollar you earn first belongs to the Government, and then they will decide how much you get to keep.

  2. B.Claire says:

    Rick Scott’s Obsession
    With Other People’s Urine.

    If only…

    FL voters would have had an obsession
    to not elect the unindicted ex-CEO of $1.7 BILLION Dollar
    Medicare Fraud company HCA [with urine testing company IN THE FAMILY]

    we may be in a tad better shape than we are now.

    What is wrong with Florida…too much heat & sun to the brain…what ? !

    • C. Blair says:

      “What is wrong with Florida…too much heat & sun to the brain…what ? !”……Answer….YOU !!!!!

  3. Jessie Christ says:

    Excellent column Pierre! I couldn’t agree any more.

    It amazes me that people think that drug testing is the answer. The answer is legalization and education. All drugs should be provided by prescription under the direction of medical PROFESSIONAL. They should not be controlled by a bunch of corporate sponsored politicians.

    I also still find humor in the results of Satan’s, oops I meant Rick Scott’s, welfare recipients drug testing failure. Less than 2% failed the tests, greatly disproving Rick Scott’s elitist opinion that a majority of welfare recipients are on drugs.

    And of course, our glorious state legislators bowed out on including themselves in the government employee testing. What could they possibly have to hide (he said sarcastically)?

    Keep up the good work Pierre!

    • Liana G says:

      Actually many are on drugs, prescription drugs, which is showing up at increasing rates in pregnant women. Drug addicts will tell you that they would rather forgo food and all else just to feed their habit. Not only are these babies expensive to care for, they are also very expensive to educate as children – twice as much as a gen. ed. student. These are the same kids that fall through the cracks and are failed by the system. The majority end up dropping out of school becomming even a bigger burden to society. In addition, these kids become prime targets of victimization and exploitation. Is that what we want to continue? At what point are we going to stop enabling these self-destructive behaviors and do something. Even if it means being cruel to be kind. So yes! Let them piss in the damn cup!

      • tim says:

        when are we going to stop asking to live in a nanny state. we are against welfare taking care of people but we expect the government to protect us? as for the drug baby comment. alcohol is available and just as bad if not worse but we tolerate it.
        First, they ask you to pee in a cup… then they give you a number, then they tattoo the number on your arm… next thing you know they are hurding you into a box car with machine guns. We are trading our personal freedom for protection and are getting neither.
        plus this is surely linning the pockets of Scotts cronies in the medical fraud business and he will be looking to them for a job after he finnishes ruining this state.

      • elaygee says:

        You’re the same one who was against contraception, sex ed and anything else that would help prevent unwanted children

  4. palmcoaster says:

    Great editorial making us aware of the goof ups at the ballot box do to ignorance or hard heads, also making us aware of the more and more intrusion on our privacy, while denying our rights and in this case done by a conservative administration pardoned felon.

  5. ric says:

    I wish we had the Wiscosin governer.. He could organize this state..

  6. knowa says:

    If some one is intoxicated and his action effects his job or the public safety is at risk, I have no problem with him being tested how ever Scotts pee test is mainly for marijuana detection and one could test positive for smoking a joint 3 weeks before it does not tell whether some one is intoxicated at the present time which is unfair and it un American and unconstitutional maybe DNA swab might be better at determining intoxication at the moment Scott Family is still quite vested in the testing business lot money there.

  7. B.Claire says:

    Not sure if you are a yea or nay on this soon to be recalled Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker…
    Sure in close running to FL Gov’s 26% approval rating.

    Wish ‘recall fever’ would also spread to the about 25 all Tea Party run states who are flat out ruining,r:1,s:0,i:71 these United States.

    “A year after a coterie of new Republican governors swept into the statehouses and put in place aggressive agendas to cut spending and curb union powers, sparking strong backlashes in many places, many of them are adopting decidedly more moderate tones as they begin their sophomore year in office. ”

  8. Neil Mariotti says:

    As a state worker, thank you.

  9. PalmCoast says:

    Great article! Drugs are a sky rocketing business here in the U.S. I personally don’t want a teacher that teachers a child totting a joint prior to class….not a good example for children….BESIDES it is illegal (to do drugs) BUT I don’t think testing all the time is the answer….if there is suspicion…then yes drug testing should be done again since “drugs” are illegal!

  10. Binkey says:

    That title and picture go together perfectly.

    Pierre great article.
    I never understood drug testing welfare recipients. Why do republicans think that if you are on welfare you must be on drugs?
    For state workers, is there widespread drug abuse amongst our state workers?

  11. DILLIGAF says:

    They need to drug test this crazy ass govenor look at him he has a few screws lose!!!!!

  12. Maryjoe says:

    “I frankly don’t care if my daughter’s teachers hit the reefers in the morning before facing battalions of teenagers. Like cancer patients who need a hit of marijuana to put up with the nausea, it’s probably one of the best ways to get through the day in school these days. The more pertinent question is: Are they competent teachers? Soberness is not a definition of competence.” Oh boy, are we way on different sides of the spectrum. Wow. Comparing cancer patients using pot to assist with their handling of the necessary drug reaction (which is legal) to ‘getting through a day in school’? What the heck is that?? You’d like for those teachers to be an example of how to handle life? Wow.

  13. GK says:

    I was tested for drugs by peeing in a bottle randomly for close to 30 yrs, first as a member of the armed forces and then in one of the ‘critical job’s’. I never considered it an invasion of my privacy or nor did I equate it to invasion of my medical records–which by the way I also had to disclose for the same reason. When you pee into that cup they test for certain items they don’t check on any health issues they check for illegal drugs, let me say that again, illegal drugs.

    Yes companies do have a right to worry because someone who breaks the law already by using an illegal drug could be prone to steal from that company to feed their drug habit. Not to mention one getting behind the wheel of a car and driving to and from work. So sorry, I don’t see a problem with testing a workforce and I also don’t see a problem with testing those who receive welfare.

  14. fedup says:

    hey Binky….. you’ve never UNDERSTOOD testing welfare recipients???? Why should my HARD EARNED MONEY SUPPORT THEIR DRUG HABIT???? In today’s time I understand people needing assistance but I’ll be damned if they aren’t doing ANYTHING to find a job or going to school to better themselves and just choose to hangout and use and deal drugs!!!

  15. Bob Z. says:

    It has been proven via the statistics and metrics that very few people on welfare as well as State employees are doing drugs so let it be already and save the taxpayers money but not conducting useless testing. In response to GK: the UCMJ dictates what the military can dom, which does not apply to civilians, and workers in critical and/or safety positions are already randomly tested….again, no need to test everyone since if someone is suspected of doing drugs they can be tested. And in response to fedup: your hard earned money is being wasted by testing all welfare recipents since again, the statistics and metrics show that very few are using drugs, which is contrary to what you (and many others) think.

    Some people just don’t get the big picture.

  16. "My Daily Rant" says:

    If I have to be drug tested in the private sector to obtain employment, Why shouldnt the people living off the money I make have to do the same.Goverment employees,Welfare YOU live off the money I and other tax payers make.If there are no drugs whats the problem.

  17. Jessie Christ says:

    “My Daily Rant” and “Fedup”, you’ve missed the point. The government testing you for drugs as a welfare recipient or employee is the same as them arresting you for breaking any law with no proof. The fourth amendment is there to protect us all from unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. In America, you are INNOCENT until proven guilty. Forcing someone to pee in a cup is presuming that they are guilty until they prove themselves innocent. GET IT?

    The real problem is that all of the small steps toward proving innocence first are leading to a very fowl scenario:

    Step 1, the government starts testing welfare recipients. Step 2, the government starts testing a selective group of it’s employees (not including the lawmakers and elected officials of course) Step 3, the government demands testing to receive your tax returns Step 4, the government takes control of all social media and monitors it for anti-government propaganda Step 5, the government arrests homegrown terrorist cells without proof of any terrorist activity and holds them indefinitely! Oops, our Republican Congress & Senate and President Obama have already approved step 4 and 5 so we’re all screwed anyway. Might as well piss test us all and invade all our privacy as they can grab you in the middle of the night and hold you indefinitely.

    Goodbye 4th amendment, you will be greatly missed!

  18. Rick G says:

    Lately there have been a number of Constitutional issues mentioned in the local newspaper both on the editorial page and the letters to the editor section. Some of the issues discussed are whether or not health care is constitutional or how we need to protect the Second Amendment from those who would control the number of firearms one should have. One of the glaring misrepresentations occurs when the Fourth Amendment is discussed in connection with unwarranted drug testing.
    The Fourth Amendment clearly says:
    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
    The Fourth Amendment protects us from unwarranted and unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause. The indiscriminate testing for drugs without cause is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Unlike the Second Amendment the Fourth doesn’t seem to conjure up the emotional outrage when it is attacked.
    Those who believe that “if you have nothing to hide what’s the big deal” should think about that statement. What if the authorities decided to knock on your door at any time just to come in and look? What if they decided they wanted to search your car or other personal property without cause? What if in the name of safety they wanted to find out how many firearms you have in the house? These are all violations just as much as indiscriminate drug testing without cause and for that matter so is the unwarranted invasion of a woman’s right to privacy.
    One letter writer felt that drug testing was common sense and that he felt safer knowing his co-workers were drug tested; how many of those co-workers may have had an alcohol problem or prescription drugs issues. Most drug tests don’t select these items as red flags. Some may feel that some type of firearm control makes sense as well but I bet that wouldn’t get too far now would it?
    When we start protecting the 1st and 4th Amendments the way we do the 2nd, this country will start back onto the right path again.

  19. meh says:

    Rick Scott, urine trouble if you think this is gonna fly.

  20. C. Blair says:

    What difference does it make ? The whole American society is addicted to something…Drugs, Alcohol, Prescription Meds, Bath Salts, Food, Gambling, Sex, Torture, Beastiality, Tanning Booths, Foot Fetish, Coca-Cola, etc………Lets make everyone pee in a cup , recorded and video taped, Psychological examinations, followed by FBI, watched by a GPS tracking device, Spyed on by their neighbors…I am so sick of government, liberals, conservatives, freaks, illegals, blacks,browns, yellows, white,…Society !!!!
    I’m just sick of SOCIETY !!!!!!!!

  21. Binkey says:


    Do you believe that there are a large number of welfare recipients on drugs? I don’t. Throwing money at a problem that doesn’t exist doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  22. ric says:

    What are public workers afraid of?? Do they have something ti hide?? It’s done in the private sector every day.

    • Jennifer S. says:


      your position that if one has nothing to hide then they should have no problem submitting to what i consider an extremely invasive & degrading (not to mention gross) practice. …. why don’t you back up your statement by placing your medical history & fiscal summary of your earnings from the past 4 years as well as your expenditures as a post on this site. i just want to make sure you are legitimately paying the appropriate amount of taxes & are a fiscally responsible adult. after all if you are cheating your taxes you are cheating us all. based on your logic, it shouldn’t pose any problem to prove your legitimacy in this arena. as a responsible adult who pays my taxes, i need to make sure you are following all of the rules too. if you have nothing to hide there is no issue, right?

      if you don’t do this may i also then conclude you are afraid & are hiding something?

      & simply because it is done in the private sector does not compel me to agree with your point of view. i don’t want to be exposed inside & out to a private company either.

  23. Spike says:

    Amazing how some people have no understanding of private vs public here. The government drug testing people is NOT the same as a private company doing it. Read the Constitution.

  24. Jennifer S. says:

    (Imagine if the Second Amendment was turned on its head that way. Every gun nut would go postal, though the same Second Amendment fanatics have no problem seeing the state demolish the Fourth, especially when government workers, the poor and minorities are the targets.)

    Can someone explain to me how people who vigorously defend the 2nd amendment right & but froth at the mouth to violate the 4th amendment? in my experience this group also seems to scream they want less government interference or smaller governmental control. i believe this is one of the more compelling aspects to this article. it would seem to me these should be the very people fighting against these invasions.

  25. John Boy says:

    Can I suggest that our Fraudster with such a low approval rating could probably attract at least 75% of the people who would be happy to piss on him rather than in a sample jar.

  26. JP says:

    The military has been doing it for years. If you are a federal, state, county, or city employee….I think you should always be screen for drugs, especially cops and fire fighters! As far as welfare recipients? well you recieve state money….you are employed by the state…..

  27. Diego Miller says:

    Ur ine trouble. Thanks for putting it so eloquently. Its amazing people getting so upset over the 2nd Amendment while we have lost the fourth. Along with habeus corpus and electronic surveilance.

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