Just let the unemployed get wasted if they want

September 13, 2019
If anyone deserves to get stoned it's those who have to deal with the cruel dystopian Centrelink system.

Of all the points raised by the federal government in its latest bid to drug test welfare recipients, no one seems willing to say the obvious: just let the unemployed get wasted if they want.

Honestly, if you’re not going to provide any jobs (there was one job for every 15 jobseekers in December last year according to ABS figures) and you’re also going to subject the unemployed to well-below poverty line incomes and a cruel bureaucracy that cuts off their dole if they breathe irregularly, then — at the very fucking least — let the poor bastards pull a few cones to cope.

If anyone deserves to get wasted, it is the unemployed, who are forced to deal with a cruel dystopian system.

Plus, who are they hurting if somehow, out of their poverty pay, they actually manage to score a pinga or two? Yet no one, even opponents of drug testing welfare recipients, seems willing to raise this point.

The focus is entirely on "people who are addicted need help, not punishment". And yes, the resources for people who need treatment for problematic drug use are severely lacking. This is a scandal and an example of the government’s hypocrisy.

But there is another fact no one wants to talk about: most people who use drugs — legal or illicit — do not have a “problem” that needs treating. They just like to escape reality from time to time, and why not, seeing as we are rapidly heading towards an ecoholocaust?

Anyone who doesn’t need to escape this reality in some way is probably a psychopath directly profiting from the destruction — and they surely have access to some pure, high quality narcotics to abuse to their shrivelled, black hearts’ content.

The proposed drug testing regimen for those on Newstart and Youth Allowance will not just pick up those in need of treatment, but anyone who uses illicit substances.

Under the proposal, to be rolled out in three trial areas, if you fail a first test, you’ll be tested again within 25 days, and if you fail that test, you’ll not just have to undergo mandatory treatment, you’ll even have to pay for the cost of the tests. You know, out of all your taxpayer-funded riches.

Yet cannabis, for instance, stays in the system for as long as two months. Failing two tests doesn’t even prove ongoing use, even leaving aside the fact that forcing anyone who has smoked a couple of joints to undergo mandatory treatment is neither fair nor a wise use of resources.

The poor, it seems, are not allowed to have fun, or escape the nightmare other, more powerful people, have built for them. The best they get is to be “victims”, poor “addicts” who need saving.

Underpinning this entire discussion is a rarely raised hypocrisy: Whether your poison is a legal and socially acceptable drug or not. My personal preference is to soak my liver in non-medically recommended ways. But alcohol is hardly a “better” drug, it is just socially acceptable and legal as a result of pure historical chance.

I work in the area of harm reduction for people who use drugs, not in the sense of “poor souls to be saved”, but rather with colleagues who are often frequent users, occasional users or former users of drugs such as ice or heroin. And the difference I’ve found between this and working with people who frequently or occasionally drink too much is ... nothing.

Our society is riddled with unthinking hypocrisy about intoxicants.

In the end, if you are unemployed, you are demonised. If you use the “wrong” drugs, you are demonised and face potential legal consequences. And if you do both, you are pretty much screwed.

For fuck’s sake, just let the poor get wasted. If only because, whatever else, without this coping mechanism, they will probably get quite angry. And, frankly, so they should.

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