FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Florida, the Cruelest State

by LAURA FINLEY

In case you’ve been in a cave or on Mars, here’s the update: In response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, The Daily Show host John Oliver dubbed Florida “the worst state,” citing the state’s broken laws. As a Floridian for eight years, I say Oliver couldn’t be more right. Much attention has been paid to the state’s asinine Stand Your Ground law, which Oliver described as cut and pasted from 1880s Tombstone. That is just the start of it, however.  Below is a small snippet of some of the backwards laws or policies that have been passed, largely under uber-Conservative Governor Rick Scott.

Almost immediately upon taking office, Governor Scott passed a law requiring recipients of welfare benefits to pass a drug test.  A federal court overturned the law, noting that the state had not proven that those receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) were any more likely to use drugs than the general population. In fact, before the courts shut down this large-scale gathering of Floridian’s urine, only 108 people had negative tests. This was only 2.6% of the persons who were tested. The state had to pay more than $100,000 to persons who passed the pee tests. Clearly the program was not cost-effective.

Equally problematic is the fact that the law targeted the poor, not the many corporations like Wal-Mart or Kel Tec CNC, which manufactures the gun used to kill Trayvon Martin. Kel Tec CNC receives millions in tax incentives to locate in the state.  This corporate welfare is widespread in Florida, a state that in 2012 had to cut $1.8 million for school safety initiatives and $5.7 million for mental health programs, a state that has the highest long-term unemployment and foreclosure rates in the nation.

Another Rick Scott loser is the law that has come to be known as “Docs v. Glocks.” This gem prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns in their homes. While clearly it is essential that gun owners store their weapons safely, the NRA-backed legislation would make asking this standard risk-assessment question a misdemeanor, subject to a $10,000 fine and even potentially the loss of medical licensure. A U.S. District Court ruled that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on doctor’s right to free speech.

In both cases, Governor Scott vowed to fight the court decisions, at taxpayer expense, of course. By August 2012, the governor reportedly had spent more than $880,000 to fight for Docs v. Glocks. He reportedly spent more than $190,000 to fight for the drug testing program. In December 2012, the Miami New Times reported that Scott had spent more than $1 million on lawsuits related to his controversial laws.

And, while Governor Scott was a Tea Party darling for his repeated pronouncements about “limited government,” it is clear that these two laws are anything but that. Instead, Scott seems to feel that it is all fine and dandy if the government gets into our bodily fluids or our medical consultations.

The list of Governor Scott-isms could go on and on. Suffice it to say that John Oliver has it right: “Just because you’re shaped like some combination of a gun and a dick doesn’t mean you have to act that way.” Indeed.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

 

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinness: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail