Over the ages, classical liberal thinkers have produced a lot of dense prose attempting to explain that socialism is incompatible with freedom. In order to truly appreciate the point, however, most people require vivid examples. To that end, consider the proposal of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to force a wide range of recipients of government assistance to submit to drug tests.
Under the proposal, the state’s Medicaid program, called BadgerCare, would require beneficiaries to be assessed for substance abuse and undergo a drug test “if indicated.” People would not become ineligible for Medicaid if they tested positive for drugs, but would be referred to a treatment program or otherwise have benefits delayed for six months. Anyone who refuses testing or assessment would not be eligible to receive Medicaid.
A drug test is a pretty intrusive invasion of personal privacy, but this is the sort of rollback of freedom that normies and standard-issue conservatives love because it applies only to welfare recipients, people whom conservatives resent. A true lover of freedom, however, cares about everyone’s freedom, not just the freedom of those of whom we approve.
Furthermore, if drug testing Medicaid recipients becomes the norm, a lot of people outside the stereotypical welfare class are going to end up getting tested. That’s because most states (though not Wisconsin) under Obamacare have expanded Medicaid to include many people in the working class and lower middle-class.
Governor Walker has also proposed testing people other than those receiving Medicaid.
Walker recently has also proposed drug testing able-bodied adults who are on food assistance and people who receive unemployment benefits.
Unemployment compensation is not even a welfare program. What’s next, testing student loan recipients? Oh wait, that was already proposed at least as far back as the Clinton Administration.
So, everybody on Medicaid, expanded Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment compensation, student loans…that’s a helluva lot of people potentially getting drug tested.
You may not think drug testing is intrusive, but if the government tried to mandate it for everyone, the courts would almost certainly strike down the policy. But if the government limits the testing to recipients of government benefits, then it’s considered acceptable because government can set conditions on giving out money. He who pays the piper, calls the tune.
But what happens when the government is paying for nearly everybody? A lot of people believe that ‘single-payer’ or ‘Medicare for all’ health insurance is inevitable in America. Once the government is paying for nearly everybody, will everybody have to take a drug test?
That’s something people who love liberty should be worried about, but sad to say, it won’t worry too many suburban normies. Governor Walker is already a hero to many conservatives and libertarians for taking on the labor unions, and his drug policies, unfortunately, won’t cost him much support.