Verging on madness

It may not have escaped the notice of the more eagle eyed reader that, in general, I’m not in favour of agents of the state receiving preferential treatment to the rest of us. Why should , for example, an MP be paid out of all proportion to the work that they do? Why should a top flight civil servant be given a knighthood purely for taking a salary for thirty years? Why should, why should, why should…

In fact, in some things I think that some public sector employees should be held to a higher standard than normal folk; if they’re using a position to preach and enforce that preaching, then maybe they should be checked up on to make sure that they’re doing as they say we should.

However, that could be taken too far.

Most Britons want teachers, police officers and nurses to undergo regular drug tests, a new survey has suggested.

Researchers found the number of people who believed key workers should face testing had grown in recent years.

More than 80% said police officers should undergo routine testing to see if they were using illegal substances, compared with 61% six years ago.

Now, I could go off on a libertarian bent, and say that what these people do in their spare time is none of our business; as long as it doesn’t interfere in their work why bother? I could question the sense in having so many drugs classified as illegal in the first place. But I won’t, because I think that most readers would assume that I hold those sorts of views.

What I will do, however, is mention a few numbers.

In England and Wales in 2006 there were apparently 141,354 police officers, not counting PCSOs and support staff.

In the UK as a whole in 2005, there were some 441,000 teachers.

In England in 2002, there were 346,537 nurses.

Now, that comes to around 900,000 people. Add numbers of nurses and cops not in England, and you probably beat the million mark easily. So call it one in every sixty people in the country.

How big a bureaucracy would you need to run a regular set of drug tests on each of them? How much would a million drug tests a year cost? How many of those million folk have done a trivial amount of drug taking that’s hurt nobody, and would then be turfed out?

So not only do I think that sort of programme would be wrong, but it would be prohibitively expensive, massively wasteful and bloody harmful.

I am, in short, not a fan of the idea…

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