Facts be Damned, Governor Corbett’s Apologists Come to Defend the Governor’s “Drug Epidemic” Statement

After Governor Corbett’s drug use statement that scapegoats the unemployed in our Commonwealth, the governor’s henchmen are coming out in full force to back up this misinformed claim.  As you already know, Governor Corbett went on the PAMatters.com radio program earlier this week and said:

The other area is, there are many employers that say we’re looking for people but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test, a lot of them. And that’s a concern for me because we’re having a serious problem with that.

And now, Corbett’s campaign donors apologists are coming out of the woodwork to support these factually incorrect claims.  First up on the list is an editorial, “Guilty of Honesty”  from PhillyBurbs.com who agrees with Governor Corbett.  In the article, they quote Gene Barr, President of Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, who said:

“The substance abuse issues are definitely a problem in Pennsylvania,” Barr said. “It’s especially an issue when you have (employers with) zero tolerance on drug and alcohol use, like the natural gas industry.”

Then the article goes on to quote a Huffington Post article from March 7, 2003.  In the article, the editorials noted that “pre-employment urine screening has increased by 5.7% since 2011,” and quote a statement made by Quest Diagnostics Barry Sample; “employers are having some difficulty finding employees who can pass their drug tests.”  What these lackey’s fail to mention is that the pre-employment screening has decreased in the United States since 2007. (This will be explained later on in the article.)

The next apologist quoted is from a PennLive.com article “PA business leaders back Corbett drug-using job seekers claim.”  In this article David Patti, President of the Pennsylvania Business Council, stated that he was shocked by the reaction to the governor’s statement, and made it look like the governor wants to solve the problem – most likely through “compassionate conservatism.”  In the article he said:

“If you don’t do it and someone gets hurt, you could get sued,” Patti said. “And then there’s probably an equity issue with only screening people for certain types of jobs. It’s probably spread to the whole workforce so that there’s no discrimination based on job class, or educational background.”

“I understand why his opponents would want to seize on it,” Patti said. “But I didn’t take it as he was blaming those who are unemployed for being unemployed. His answer to those who have a drug problem is ‘Let’s get that fixed,’ and get them some help.”

And the last apologist on the list is a trash industry mogul who was so compelled he had to take out a full page letter in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Scott R Wagner from Penn Waste Inc took the time to defend the governor AND go after social safety nets that help the unemployed.  He wrote:

Governor Corbett is already feeling the backlash from this honest statement, but the reality is that many business owners struggle with this problem daily. There is an epidemic in the United States now, and it is the drug epidemic.

This epidemic is fueled by the Workers Compensation system, which over-prescribes prescription drugs, which then may be abused by the person receiving the prescription or may be sold if there are leftovers from the prescription. This system has affected many of the businesses in our country.

I would go on to say that 25% of the unemployed in this country are unemployable.

Even if someone does pass a drug test and we offer them a job, a common answer is “I make more on unemployment.” We even had one person make the statement that he was just going to live off of his unemployment until after hunting season and then he would come back and interview for the position again if it was still open.

But facts be damned for the Corbett apologists who had to take the time to defend their lonely “dear leader.”  Robert Vickers of Pennlive.com showed that since 2007, positive drug tests for job applicants have gone down, and the data was provided by Quest Diagnostics, which completely contradicts the cherry picking done by the PhillyBurbs editorialists.   The chart, shown above, he provided showed that 3.8% of all applicants failed a drug test in 2007 and in 2012 that number has decreased to 3.5%.  I rest my case.

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About Sean Kitchen 681 Articles
Contributor and Assistant Editor for the Raging Chicken Press. Stationed in Harrisburg covering politics in the capitol. You can send tips to sean@rcpress.org or reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
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