The true welfare queen exposed!

Who should we really be drug testing?

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed a series of bills into law that will require some welfare recipients in Michigan to be drug-tested. Meanwhile, other states are considering following in Rick Snyder’s footsteps.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is on the record saying that he also wants to make drug testing welfare recipients and applicants a law. And, according to Think Progress, “In 2014, at least 18 states introduced proposals or addressed bills that would require some form of drug testing or screening for applicants for or recipients of public assistance.”

One of the main reasons why conservatives across America are trying to pass welfare drug-testing laws is to shame and punish poor people. It's really that simple. But they rationalize it by saying they need to "control government costs."

Welfare programs in America include programs like the Women, Infants, and Children program, or WIC, and food stamps. And, as Lou Colagiovanni over at points out, in 2012, a married person with one child making $50,000 per year paid just over $36 in taxes for “food and nutrition assistance” programs like food stamps and WIC. That’s just 10 cents per day!

While conservatives will never admit it, welfare is a mindbogglingly small expense and a very small piece of the pie. On the other hand, the nations biggest welfare recipients - rich people and big corporations - are making out like bandits, because the welfare they take isn't for food or housing - it's to increase their profits and wealth.

As Paul Bucheit points out over at Common Dreams, the average American family pays a staggering $6,000 each year in subsidies to big business. Think about that for a second.

Each year, you’re forking over around $6,000 of your hard-earned money to big banks, fossil fuel giants, and massive transnational corporations that already raking in billions and billions of dollars in profits. But you don’t see conservatives arguing against that. So, where is all of that money going?

Of that $6,000, $870 goes to direct subsidies for corporations, including the likes of Exxon, Shell, BP and other fossil fuel giants that are taking our money and destroying our environment at the same time. Meanwhile, hundreds more go to corporations as indirect subsidies.

Researchers at the University of Illinois and University of California-Berkeley found that American taxpayers pay a staggering $243 billion each year in indirect subsidies to the fast food industry alone.

That’s because the fast food industry pays its workers such low wages, and gives them such poor benefits, that We The People foot the bill for their healthcare, food and, in some cases, their housing and transportation.

And then there’s WalMart, America’s largest retailer. In 2013, WalMart brought in a staggering $476 billion in revenue, netting some $16 billion in profits. Every hour, that retailing giant takes in over $36 million, making just over $34,000 in profit every minute.

Yet, as Michael Snyder points out over at The Economic Collapse Blog, “Wal-Mart’s low wages have led to full-time employees seeking public assistance. These are not the 47 percent, lazy, unmotivated bums. Rather, these are people working physical, often difficult jobs. They receive $2.66 billion in government help each year (including $1 billion in healthcare assistance). That works out to about $5,815 per worker. And about $420,000 per store.”

So, a corporation that made $16 billion in net profits in 2013 is getting some $2.66 billion in government subsidies each year. That’s crazy.

If we’re serious about going after "welfare queens" in America, to use Ronald Reagan's phrase, then let's start by going after the corporations and industries that use the WalMart business model of paying such low wages that their employees qualify for welfare benefits.

It’s unconscionable and morally reprehensible that a worker working for the largest retailer in America, or for a fast food giant, isn’t making enough money to survive and provide for their family.

We need to stop rewarding businesses for screwing over their employees. That starts by raising the minimum wage to a point where giant corporations like WalMart can't run this scam of a business model on Americans any more.


Gator Girl 9 years 25 weeks ago

The first to be drug tested if this is in fact enacted into law are the governors and all staff and government officials, too.

If they cannot do so then it should be nullified and taken off of the records because, quite obviously, they are drug users and scared to submit to their own testing procedures

tatezi's picture
tatezi 9 years 25 weeks ago

If drug testing is going to become rule of thumb in these Republican states, I think there should be mandatory random drug testing laws for all government officials...state and federal...with mandatory loss of job if they come up positive.

Some time ago I read somewhere that the drug testing in FL only netted 2% positive results out of all the recipients of "welfare" and unemployment. (I'm beginning to hate the term welfare). I've forgotten the cost of testing all recipients of public aid in FL, but it sure wasn't worth the money these crackpots who hate the poor spent in tax dollars to test everyone. I'm old and my memory is a tad faulty so maybe someone has the actual numbers.

douglas m 9 years 25 weeks ago



Its sure as hell will not be big business that pulls us away from a fiscal edge.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 25 weeks ago

I haven’t been calling ‘em Billionaire Welfare Queens for nothing, Thom. What we need to do is seize these little labels and petty insults conservatives have been directing at poor people, and at those who actually work for a living, and turn their little word game around, and pin these labels right where they belong: on the real welfare queens and the real deadbeat parasites sucking the life’s blood out of our democracy… what’s left of it, that is.

Corporate subsidies… yep. We get to pay taxes not for schools, not for infrastructure or healthcare or anything we all need, but instead to privately owned, for-profit orporations whose employees “aren’t making” (translation: aren’t getting paid) enough to feed themselves and their families!

God bless America. - AIW

liz banker 9 years 25 weeks ago

Do hard-working taxpayers have a law that requires all elected officials and in particular, governors, to pass a LIE- DETECTOR test on the first try only, and to also pass a SMELL test whenever their gas-bag commentary stinks up the room.

Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 25 weeks ago

I don't have a problem with shaming someone who apparently can't take care of themselves so they ask hard working tax payers to take care of them and then slap them in the face by taking that help and blowing it on drugs.

Here all oilfield jobs require mandatory drug testing. No one has a problem with that it saves lives.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 9 years 25 weeks ago

Government social programs are not charity but part of the just compensation of workers that their employers renege on and government makes up for. What employers don't pay in wages they will pay in taxes. If they refuse to do either, as they are now, then you have what is happeing now, the destruction of the middle class and the pauperization of the working class.
The reason conservatives so like drug testing welfare recipients is because they have a need to believe that poverty is the fault of the poor. Thus they must adopt an accusatory tone. Otherwise they might have to admit there's something wrong with the system they have so much invested in, that is so good to them and which they rip off so profitably

ChicagoMatt 9 years 25 weeks ago

I think if you ask most Conservatives, they will tell you that they know someone who does drugs and gets welfare. I know that's true for me - one of my relatives even. She was on WIC, all while abandoning her child to be raised by my parents, while she went out and did meth.

Of course, if you took away the welfare, it wouldn't change the drug behavior. It would just make Conservatives feel better.

I am wondering if, when Thom says that corporations get Welfare, is he counting not taxing a company as the same thing as giving that company money. Like, here in IL, some companies have to get special lower tax rates as incentives to stay in this high-tax state. It a company like Walgreens has its tax burden reduced from $2 million to $1 million, does that count as "welfare" to a Progressive?

johnofpa's picture
johnofpa 9 years 25 weeks ago

Look at it on a weekly paycheck scale. $115.07 out of the taxes you pay go toward corporate welfare.

Loren Bliss's picture
Loren Bliss 9 years 25 weeks ago

Thank you, Mr. Hartmann, for using the somewhat more accurate term "conservatives" to replace the false Republican/Democrat duality that formerly characterized your reporting.

Nevertheless, "conservatives" also creates a false dichotomy. It implies the existence of a separate liberal or progressive wing within the USian Ruling Class.

But in fact no such wing exists. We are ruled by a single, utterly monolithic, capitalist party that hides its tryannical consensus behind the Big Lies of two deceptive names and a plethora of sham controversies.

Therefore a genuinely truthful statement apropos the issue at hand would be, "One of the main reasons the Ruling Class is imposing welfare drug-testing laws is to shame and punish poor people."

Actually -- though this is personal opinion based on the factual history of Nazi Germany -- all such efforts to demonize lower-income people are intended to better position us for extermination.

And now that death camps have become unfashionable, we're being murdered by "austerity" -- merely the most recent euphemism for genocide.

Loren Bliss's picture
Loren Bliss 9 years 25 weeks ago

My apology, Mr. Hartmann, for misspelling your name earlier.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 25 weeks ago
Quote johnofpa:Look at it on a weekly paycheck scale. $115.07 out of the taxes you pay go toward corporate welfare.

johnofpa ~ I know! You caught that too, didn't you. That is more than 1/5 of an average $500/week paycheck. Did you catch the cost for welfare. The way I calculate it for one week we're looking at about $.70. I don't know about you but I won't even miss $.70/week. I sure as hell will miss $115/week. We are all being played for fools.

RFord's picture
RFord 9 years 25 weeks ago

"Welfare" seems to be a bad word to some people although they may not know what they are talking about when they use the term "welfare" or "people on welfare". Some may only mean "black people on welfare". Welfare is a broad term for a lot of different social programs. Aid to dependant children usually for mothers who have children that they otherwise could not support is but one of these programs. Lets test the mother and if she has taken too many ibuprofen, or too much of a prescribed drug, or smoked part of a joint in the last week, let's label her a drug abuser and cut off the support for her children. Let them starve to death out on the street. Is that the right thing to do? Another form of welfare is Social Security disability. What about all those people who have phisical & mental disabilities? Let's test them too. If they test positive for any of the before mentioned transgressions lets cut them off too, and if they can't make it on their own without any help, too bad, at least we're not having to support them with our hard earned tax money. Is that the right thing to do? There are other forms of welfare too. There's unemployment compensation, Food stamps, Social Security retirement, housing programs, and many others. Do we want to test everyone who recieves money from our government? If so, let's test all government workers too, including elected officials, congressmen and senators both state and federal military personell, CIA employees, EPA employees, etc. etc. What about the people who work for contractors that have government contracts? They recieve our tax money too. Shouldn't they be regularly drug tested too? We should if we are sure that we do not want anyone recieving our tax money that would test positive for drug or alcohol abuse. Or is it just poor people that we don't want to recieve our hard earned tax money? Is that the right thing to do?

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 25 weeks ago
Quote Kend:I don't have a problem with shaming someone who apparently can't take care of themselves so they ask hard working tax payers to take care of them and then slap them in the face by taking that help and blowing it on drugs.

Kend ~ Arizona just drug tested 87,000 welfare applicants. They found one positive test. Therefore, what you are saying is that in order to shame one drug user you have no problem shaming 86,999 innocent poor people?

Furthermore, as Thom just stated, all our assistance and WIC programs are costing the average $50K/yr wage earning taxpayer is $36/year. A single drug test costs an average of $42 a pop. Bare in mind that you are also suggesting that spending $3,654,000.00 of taxpayers hard earned money is justified to shame one drug user.

Perhaps you might want to rethink your statement?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 25 weeks ago

Kend, you really outdid yourself with post #6. This goes beyond clueless. Had you watched either of those links I posted in my Tent City thread a couple weeks back, you would know that many homeless people actually have JOBS; some of them even full-time jobs! But the pay is so low that they still can’t afford housing.

Excuse me but your ignorance is showing. And it is substantial.

If you think poverty is such a piece of cake, maybe you oughta try it sometime. I guarantee, it would change your tune in a heartbeat. - AIW

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 25 weeks ago

Chicago Matt, I wouldn't ask "most conservatives" how to boil water, let alone how to deal with issues related to poverty and /or addiction.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 9 years 25 weeks ago

How shallow are the lives of "Conservatives" that they have to spend every waking moment fretting that some poor individual may get something for nothing? That our whole system of laws and justice and everything that government does has to be held prisoner by their obsessive paranoid fears, that some poor schmuck might get something for nothing. Never mind that the military industrial complex can waste trillions on needless, ineffective and defective armaments. Never mind that corporate billionaires can suck-up trillions of taxpayers dollars through taxpayer funded government subsidies. How dare anyone else think that they might get something for nothing, no matter how inconsequential.

Of course the obsession for "Conservatives" is based on bigotry, wether it be bigotry against the poor or minorities. Republicans have learned that bigotry sells as proven by the success of the "Southern Strategy", which again has won them both houses of Congress.

Forget about "Welfare Queens". The Republicans are the "Malware KIngs"!

bjorny818's picture
bjorny818 9 years 25 weeks ago


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 25 weeks ago

Reply to post #17: Not only that some poor schmuck might be getting something for free, but that some poor schmuck might also be having fun! Can't have that, now, can we...

upperrnaz12348's picture
upperrnaz12348 9 years 25 weeks ago

The trouble with all this issue is that the so-called Conservatives have forgotten the "elephant in the room", that source of all the "welfare programs" began with a "conservative", Otto von Bismarck at the turn of the twentieth century in Germany. Somehow, in Germany there wasn't the antipathy for the "poor" that American plutocrats seems the have developed, but systems of voluntary communal "taxation" in the various regions, all this in a Germany that comprised of different governments, some more prosperous than the other. After these governments joined and became "Germany", it was obvious that people from less prosperous regions would flood the more prosperous areas where the benefits were better, as, in the old days, people would leave for California where, the "life was better".

Being Conservative, he believed in stabilty, that meant the people required a standard of living where they had the basic services enshrined in a system that provided them, and, that would not encumber the more prosperous regions with "immigrants" from poorer places. So . . . he initiated a system of healthcare, pensions, workmens compensation, and all the other services the population, a safety net where the people could go about their business knowing "if" something happened, the taxes, and regular deductions from their salaries would cover it. Yeah, and the Conservatives in the States call it "welfare". Obviously it has to be adjustted from time to time, but the idea remains the same. A population that works for a living requires a sense that they can get on with thier lives without being afraid that an illness, or an accident will not throw them into poverty.

In fact, the Godfather of Capitalism, Adam Smith had a name for this thinking--Enlightened Self Interest. It's clear that business require profts to keep on going, but the its equally true that the people at the production end require a feeling that their day to day is secure. Please God the people that run the government know how to work out a balance between the them. When they don't, you get a dystopia, as we seem to be see now. Drug tests are just a symptom of the dysfunction.

The better part of the income of the "rich" at the top of the American food chain is "unearned", and in may cases "untaxed". In contrast the rest of the population, that earns their income ends up paying taxes, that often go to subsidize the "private sector". The absurd thing about that policy is that you would think that a capitalist would not go hat in hand to the government for a hand out, but do something "creative" and use their own profits to continue and prosper. Welfare queens?! Seems that the Corporate Socialists in United States have this cockeyed notion they can live off of tax revenues they don't pay, and goverment services they get for free.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 25 weeks ago

Because THEY (the rich) are the real welfare queens!!!

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee 9 years 25 weeks ago

Rick Scott, gov of FL was owner of the clinics that did the drug testing he required. No conflict of interest there. He shifted the clinics to his wife for appearances as he scrapped the 4th amendment for profit.

Take-the Rich-off Welfare-Mark-Zepezauer has details on rich welfare queens and a tool kit of websites. I have this book. Since corporations own congress and congress owns the keys to the cookie jar, corporations get the cookies, we get the crumbs. As Chris hedges states there is/was a class war and we lost. In the fiefdoms of Kochalot etal the serfs might survive, but the fight to change it is feudal.

BARBARA NECKER 9 years 25 weeks ago

Just want to add my voice to the call for drug-testing ALL elected officials. Look at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as an example of a totally out of control druggie who managed to get himself elected to head up one of the most important cities in that country.

No doubt there are many government officials right here in the USA doing the same thing. After all, they can afford the funny stuff, unlike the poor, most of whom need every penny they can get just to keep body & soul together.

Johnnie Dorman's picture
Johnnie Dorman 9 years 24 weeks ago

Scott Walker and all the rest like him will eventually pay for their crimes against the people. The people will eventually stop voting for the likes of them.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 9 years 24 weeks ago

They don't work harder than we do, quite the contrary. We just get paid less than they do.

geonomist's picture
geonomist 9 years 22 weeks ago

As you might expect, the wannabe do-gooders want to take from the rich, give to poor, instead of stop creating the rich in the first place, something we’re all responsible for, but the truth remains hidden beyond shallow analyses. See "7 Immense Transfers by Tax-Collectors that Create the Super Rich" at

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