Drug Tests for Electeds
My Rockaway apartment sits along one of JFK’s runway paths, so when the wind is right I hear the whine of airliners departing and arriving cruise just a few hundred feet overhead. It’s not loud enough to bother me, but sometimes it sounds like one might slam into the roof or plow up a street, or maybe end up in the surf. And who knows what would happen if a wing or the tail falls off. Luckily for Rockaway residents the Department of Transportation requires commercial pilots to pee in a cup (that’s what pilots call drug testing), and if they don’t pass they’re suspended until they can, or they may even lose their jobs. Same goes with anyone involved in commercial transportation like trucking, railroads, shipping, even pipelines. In fact, most government employees. I have a friend who’s a lawyer for the EPA, and she had to pass one. That’s the breaks.
In fact, a lot of private industries test potential employees. One friend in the jewelry industry had to take the test, and so did another friend who buys computer software and hardware for his company. Pretty much everyone employed by the government has to do it. A Florida representative thinks it’s only fair that welfare recipients pee in the cup before they collect their monthly check.
Everyone has to do it except elected federal officials. The people who write our national laws can be thoroughly wasted when they vote to go to war or cut unemployment insurance or welfare or the federal budget or shut down the government or build a fence across the entire southern border that abrogates the national debt that conservatives are trying so hard to eliminate. A couple of elected drug abusers come to mind: In 2006 Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island (son of the late Senator Teddy Kennedy, himself a drinking man) crashed his car in Washington, D.C., and avoided jail time by pleading guilty of abusing prescription drugs. He got off with time in rehab. In 2013 Florida Republican Representative Trey Radel, who voted for drug tests for food stamp recipients, was busted for cocaine possession. He resigned this year.
And although he’s not a U.S. citizen but entertaining as hell, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack “probably in one of my drunken stupors.” Despite losing all electorate respect, he still clings to office. It doesn’t always end badly. In 1990 D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was arrested in a hotel room smoking crack, was arrested, and served six months in the slammer. Damned if he wasn’t reelected mayor in 1994.
Considering all the mandatory drug testing, it only makes sense that every elected federal official be given periodic drug tests, beginning on the day when they take the oath of office. Make it part of the swearing-in ceremony. See, while we fork over a modest monthly check to welfare recipients, we pay Congress members a much healthier $174,000 a year. We have the right to know.
No ramifications for politicians failing the test, mind you; after all they won the majority of the vote. Still, the test results should be published in some national media like a newspaper or a website. I've posted it on the White House website. Here's the URL: wh.gov/lp0XF.