Memo to John Benoit - RE: Dems Voting Down AB 2389
4-2-2008 9:07 am
Date: April 2, 2008
To: Assemblyman John Benoit
From: Jon Fleischman
RE: Understanding Liberals
I saw that yesterday, on a party-line vote, Assembly Democrats rejected your Assembly Bill 2389 which, put simply, would require that welfare recipients in California must submit to random drug tests, and if they they fail, be enrolled in mandatory treatment, or lose their right to welfare.
You are to be commended for bringing forward such a common-sense measure, but I think that we all knew, unfortunately, that it was destined for defeat.
It is not a coincidence that Democrats opposed this bill, while your Republican colleagues supported it. You see it goes to one of the basic core differences between the political philosophies of the two parties. Democrats believe in "collective responsibility" and Republicans support the idea of "individual responsibility" -- and there is a huge difference.
In the case of AB 2389, from the point of view of a Democrat, this bill is poor public policy because, first and foremost, it is not the fault of someone in need of public assistance that they are in that position. They are victims of societal influences that create an uneven playing field. They are very comfortable placing this person, generally, in a welfare category for life. Also, they largely believe that people who are addicted to drugs are actually victims as well. That through no or little fault of their own, they have had a rough go of it and who can blame these folks for turning to drugs?
From your point of view, and mine, while we certainly believe that there are some on welfare programs who truly had no other path to take. But we also see as the optimal goal to wean as many people as possible off of the need for public assistance. As Republicans, we believe that when government is forced to take from one person to give to another, it reduces the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second and the moral autonomy of both. As for those who take drugs -- well, we see that decision as the choice of an individual, they they make. And we believe that it is fair to hold people accountable for their decisions.
In the end, AB 2389 died in committee because, like with so many other pieces of common-sense legislation, Democrats oppose the notion that individuals, and not "society" at large, are responsible for their own behavior.
It is no wonder why year after year we see more instances of ballot-box legislating, such as Jessica's Law. ("Society" is responsible for criminal sexual deviancy, didn't your Democratic colleagues tell you?).
You and your GOP colleagues should continue to introduce these kinds of bills -- because it shows the start contrast between the philosophy of the two parties. And the Democrats who reject them will have to live with themselves.
"Society" isn't responsible for legislators with messed-up priorities. Each of them has to bear the burden of their bad votes -- like rejecting AB 2389.
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