South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley To Have Angry Conversation With Her Proctologist

Politics & Current Events

Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina asserted that half the job applicants at the Savannah River Site, a nuclear energy facility operated by the government, had failed drug tests. This, she repeatedly asserted, justified widespread drug testing as a condition of jobless benefits.

It turns out that less than 1% of applicants at Savannah River have flunked the drug test.

Confronted with this fact, Governor Haley is angry at Dame Rumor, gossip, telephones, and the ass from whence she plucked the fact.

"I've never felt like I had to back up what people tell me. You assume that you're given good information," Haley told Jim Davenport of the Associated Press. "And now I'm learning through you guys that I have to be careful before I say something."

What kind of world is it when you can't just go around accusing 50% of aspiring nuclear workers of being druggies? What kind of world is it when you have to check facts, instead of just passively listening to what people tell you? What kind of world is it when the question is not whether a statistic or anecdote feels true, but whether it is true? President Obama should go spend $200 million a day to find out.

At least this was only a one-time gaffe, right? Because surely an important leader wouldn't repeatedly such a shocking statistic to support intrusive testing of masses of citizens without facts.

Haley told AP she'd used the anecdote "a million times" to promote drug-testing for the jobless. "It is the reason you're hearing me look into whether we can do drug testing," she said.

How bad is your job today? Not as bad as this guy's job:

A Haley spokesman told HuffPost Tuesday he'd let the governor's words speak for themselves.

And so they do.

Meanwhile, please do not let this diminish even a tiny bit your faith in the government's representations about the critical nature of the War on Drugs.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

20 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 20, 2011 @5:31 pm

    Though honestly, if you're getting such government assistance, you obviously shouldn't be spending money on drugs, and if you have so much extra money that you can afford to buy drugs, then maybe you don't need the government's money…

  2. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 20, 2011 @5:32 pm

    That is to say, I don't care if you are doing drugs, but if you can spare the money for drugs, clearly you don't need the extra money from the government.

    There are other people who are NOT spending money on drugs who could use the help, and I would rather that THEY get it.

  3. Ken  •  Sep 20, 2011 @5:33 pm

    Maybe they aren't buying the drugs, Scott. Maybe they are bumming them off of nuclear plant workers.

  4. Ken  •  Sep 20, 2011 @5:35 pm

    More seriously, in a world where Drug Warriors want to test all community college students as a condition of attending, I'm not sure about the utility of the small amount of money saved vs. the further entrenchment of testing and the drug war.

  5. Pierce Nichols  •  Sep 20, 2011 @5:40 pm

    Scott,

    Do you have any evidence that this absurd program would be cost effective? Or is hating people who do dope (or love them some poppy seed bagels) enough to justify it in your view?

  6. Old Geezer  •  Sep 20, 2011 @6:30 pm

    "What kind of world is it when you can’t just go around accusing 50% of aspiring nuclear workers of being druggies?" Answer: Tea Party Truths.

  7. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 20, 2011 @7:08 pm

    @Pierce –

    I'm glad that you can understand when I say "I don't care if you do drugs". I'm not kidding, I really do not care. Even mild dislike would require more emotional involvement than I can muster.

    Hell, I don't even give a damn about you, even though you're mildly retarded.

  8. Ken  •  Sep 20, 2011 @7:13 pm

    Scott: a question. Is the problem that drugs are illegal, or that they are an indulgence not necessary to living, or both?

    To the extent it is about indulgence, do they police for any other wasteful spending? Alcohol? Tobacco?

  9. TJIC  •  Sep 20, 2011 @8:04 pm

    > A Haley spokesman told HuffPost Tuesday he’d let the governor’s words speak for themselves

    This part is sheer genius.

    He couldn't have said "That bitch is stone cold crazy, but I need this paycheck" more clearly.

    …even if he'd said "That bitch is stone cold crazy, but I need this paycheck".

  10. Scott Jacobs  •  Sep 20, 2011 @8:06 pm

    It is absolutely the latter, and I would have no trouble cutting people off spending money on smokes of booze (and I say that as a smoker).

  11. Bruce  •  Sep 20, 2011 @8:17 pm

    Colbert learned something from the mice. You can say just about anything that sounds good and, even if presented with mountains of evidence to the contrary, you are highly likely to get away with it.

    When Gov. Haley is next up for re-election they could list this and every other lie, faleshood or misinformation there on the ballot paper and it will not make any difference at all. She has been able to get away with it for so long she is amazed that she might have to check details before adding her opinion on it to the public record.

    There have been a couple of attempts to setup fact checking websites locally that have failed for lack of interest.

  12. Marc  •  Sep 20, 2011 @8:20 pm

    "What kind of world is it when the question is not whether a statistic or anecdote feels true, but whether it is true?"

    Hence the utter perfection of "truthiness".

  13. Bruce  •  Sep 20, 2011 @8:22 pm

    I can't tell from here, but how many Bachman supporters will change their opinions and/or votes based on $200 million a day claim or her vaccination story of this week or any other such pieces of outright bullshit she is prepared to stand up before the entire nation and just dump out there?

    She's not alone. The most recent freakonomics podcast discusses bad predictions, but the principle is easily translated to these issues. The cost of being called on a crank theory is negligible compared to the benefits of idiots picking up the story and believing it to be true.

  14. ruralcounsel  •  Sep 21, 2011 @5:35 am

    Aren't jobless benefits partially paid for during the prior working period (in essence a payroll deduction, even if not attributed to the individual worker's income)? Aren't employers held liable for paying the unemployment insurance premiums, and so it arguably is an alternative to wages, like health insurance? A legally mandated alternative, true, so more like social security or medicare payroll taxes.

    If so, why should current drug use, alcohol, tobacco, or other admittedly unnecessary evil "luxuries" invalidate receiving the benefits previously paid for? Seems to me that a worker whose employer paid in to the unemployment insurance fund has earned the benefits, regardless of what they do later after becoming unemployed.

    That said, totally gratuitous government payment programs like welfare and food stamps most certainly should be contingent on being able to pass drug tests. Food stamps already have limits placed upon what they can be used for (even if frequently observed in the breach) because the public policy goal is to prevent people from starving, not to subsidize their bad habits.

  15. Skip Intro  •  Sep 21, 2011 @5:41 am

    It's actually even less than this…the facility only tests applicants they've accepted, and only about 1% of those fail the test.

    "Department of Energy spokesmen Jim Giusti said less than 1 percent of the workers hired by the Savannah River Site's primary contactor, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, failed pre-employment screening tests. "We only screen people that have accepted a postion at the Savannah River Site," Giusti said."

    http://www.chron.com/news/article/APNewsBreak-SC-Gov-can-t-back-drug-test-claim-2177956.php

  16. Matt  •  Sep 21, 2011 @6:34 am

    "Skip Intro" FTW.

    I was going to post along the same lines…every pre-employment drug test I've ever taken has been assigned with a provisional offer of employment in hand. I don't know about federal employers, but private businesses generally don't shell out for a drug test to be done unless they're already pretty sure they want to hire you.

    It's possible that the percentage of _applicants_ who are on drugs is higher than 1%. But presumably most of those flunk the interview…if they even get an interview. Which means we have no way to know.

    As for Ms Haley…well, most people learn that there's a difference between chatting with your friends at a bar (where you're not likely to be fact-checked) and making government policy statements to the media (where, in any sane world, you'll be fact-checked to within an inch of your life) _before_ they get elected Governor.

  17. tomd  •  Sep 21, 2011 @10:36 am

    Pardon my cynicism, but I've had a toe or two in the waters with the political class, and here's what I thought when I read the above:

    So, when someone told the Governor that a full 50% of applicants to work in a nuclear power plant had tested positive for (presumably) illegal drugs, why was her reaction not, "WTF?!?! 50%!?!! That's nuts – that can't be right – please go check that, even among the general population, that's way high (so to speak) and among people who are applying for a job where they know there will be high scrutiny, that seems completely absurd."

    But that clearly wasn't her reaction. Why? Could it be that as a powerful conservative she exists in a cultural environment with other powerful, conservative politicians and the wealthy people who finance them? Could it be that within that elite environment, that being told that 50% of some set of people use illegal drugs sounds reasonable because a large part of the conservative elite she personally knows use illegal drugs and/or abuse nominally legal drugs? That drug laws are there to keep the poor scum in line, and scare the vast middle as part of the re-worked "Southern Strategy", but that among we elite, we are just fine smoking pot, doing lines and abusing prescription drugs. We are above the law on drugs, just as we are on financial laws, campaign finance ethics and so many other issues….

    Could it be that the hypocrisy among America's right-wing on drugs, like so many other issues, is so endemic that it's transparent to those within that culture?

    No, no – couldn't be – must be my irrational cynicism…

    (One small sliver of positive here – unlike many in the Tea Party sub-brand of the Republican party (e.g. Bachmann on the Constitution, Perry on Science, and many others) that Governor Haley is responding to this by appearing to care what is true or not. So many of her colleagues clearly are going to say what they want to say, facts and reality be damned. If anything, they double down on falsehoods when they are confronted with their inaccuracies. If she really does start fact-checking her statements, she might be part of the solution (or at least not an impediment) of getting the Republican party back here in reality, as opposed to the wing-nut death-spiral they're currently in (and taking the rest of us down with them on the economy, national debt, global warming, international relations, gun policy, etc.))

  18. tomd  •  Sep 21, 2011 @10:46 am

    Oh, the other part of this situation: Who would get the contracts to actually do this mass-scale "drug testing"? Florida under Governor Rick Scott has been pushing mass-scale drug testing. I'm sure it's a complete coincidence that Gov. Scott's wife's company would be available to take on some of the work load of doing all that testing. Pure chance, I'm sure.

    Just like how the Arizona SB 1070 just by chance happened to funnel detained immigrants not to the non-profit state prison system, but instead into the for-profit prison corporation's custody…

    Could it be that right-wing politics in America (and to some degree right-wing religion) is primarily a money-making scam on the part of those involved in running it? No, surely not…

    (I put the scare quotes around "drug testing" because, like polygraphs, I've got a high degree of skepticism about whether it's application in most real-world situations is terribly rigorous or accurate. In the same way that the police paying for the polygraph of the suspect want to find positives, and the money making person administering the polygraph knows it, if you gave thousands of drug tests to poor people, and turned up very few positives, do you think you would be keeping that contract for long? Of course not. Plus, the quicker and sloppier you are, the more money you make.)

  19. Jason  •  Sep 21, 2011 @12:59 pm

    The results of the drug tests don't matter. The accusation has already been put forward in the right's collective consciousness. She's tainted the jury pool. Rightist constituents will go to their graves swearing that the 50 percent allegations were accurate. They won't care about the subsequent research. In fact, they'll make up justifications in their minds as to how those druggies managed to fool the system.

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