It is not well-publicized to the general public that individuals who receive any type of public aid, from food stamps to unemployment assistance, must first submit a urine sample for drug-test, at least in the states of Missouri, Arizona, Indiana, and Florida, with many other states considering such legislation. Jonathan Miller of the St. Louis Today extends this scenario – technically, aren’t home-mortgage interest deductions a form of subsidies for the middle class? What about tax subsidies taken advantage of by tax lawyers for corporations? Eventually, does the money not come from the same pool, the U.S. Treasury? If so, then why are these groups not subject to such a qualifying test?
Miller’s main point, however, is that such a test serves to evaluate both physiological as well as moral capacity. The end argument is that someone who tests positive for drugs would probably squander their welfare check. Taking such an argument all the way to the top, why do we not test for moral responsibility from the lawmakers on down? The responsibilities of government arguably holds more consequences than the decisions of a person with a food stamp. With the housing bubble burst not so long ago in mind, it seems odd that corporations have and still receive aid without the need of putting up explicit codes of conduct they need to go by, or even if there are minimum qualifications of responsibility corporations would need to fulfill to even qualify for government aid.
However, in today’s world power is indirectly associated with responsibility, and ultimately morality. Despite recent exposures in subprime lending and credit scams, consumers still inherently believe that experts are inherently trustworthy and more knowledgeable (the latter is likely true). We know that this can be a very naive assumption. So should some form of moral testing bring us some good? Miller argues that, whatever the action, the current system does not work – by subjecting only the lower class to any form of standards testing, it alienates and imposes a sense of self-inferiority upon that group, which is unfair and psychologically unhealthy. Creating new moral standards for common folks and lawmakers alike, then, could even out the playing field.