Monday, August 31, 2009

Paying the cost to be the boss!

I was relaxing in front of the TV last night watching "Newline" as it was better than sitting there drinking beer in the dark while the wife wrote emails to the kids overseas. I really have to hope that the people who appear on that show are only ones with nothing better to do rather than the brightest and best that Hong Kong has to offer. Geezes Cheeses, what a bunch of dolts!

Last night they were talking about drug testing in schools. They had a Catholic priest who in effect said: "There are better ways to solve this problem" and some guy from Poly-U who is also the head of some sort of citizens concern group that advocates drug testing.

The priest was cogent, well spoken and had his position pretty well thought out. The only problem was, he was wrong. The guy supposedly advocating drug testing was, despite his PHD and head of what ever division at Poli-U a bumbling train wreck. That is a shame because he supports the better position.

The gist of the Catholic argument was essentially two pronged.

First, schools are for education. Education is easier in an environment of trust. Introducing random drug testing reduces trust. If students trust their schools and teachers they will receive a better education and won't be as tempted to use drugs. Therefore, drug testing is a bad idea.

Second, schools are for education. We should not introduce elements into the curriculum that do not further education. Drug testing does not further education. Therefore, drug testing is a bad idea.

The priest also took a couple of swipes at privacy issues but his basic argument was as presented above.

I am not sure what the other guy's argument was except: "We have this HUGE problem that is getting even more huge and so we have to do something."

I would have presented a better argument. Maybe Michael Chugani should have me on as a guest sometimes.

The arguments for random drug test in schools is simple.

1st. Argument
You cannot speed on a public road in a private car because even though you own the car you don't own the road. This is true even if speeding in a car did not endanger other drivers. If it is moral for the state to set and enforce speed limits then it is moral for the state to demand a drug free school and setup the enforcement procedure to ensure it. There is no difference between the two. If you hold that the state can do one then must be able to do the other.

2nd Argument
The state has a vested interest in seeing that school children grow up to become tax payers not welfare receivers and that is why the state funds schools, to create tax payers. This is a win win situation because through education the state gets more tax revenue and the student gets a higher standard of living. But, since drug users are prime candidates for welfare rolls and need more medical and social services than otherwise healthy people then there is a good chance that the state is wasting its money trying to educate them. Since students are taking money for their education from the state then the state has the RIGHT to demand they are drug free to ensure that the money spent on them by the state is not wasted.

3rd Argument
Schools, especially government supported schools are not private places. They are supported with public money which makes them public places. If you want to protect your privacy then stay at home. Don't go to school you are, by definition, not in a private place at school but a public one. If the state can stop motorist randomly and test them for blood alcohol to try and reduce drunks behind the wheel then it can force 15 year-olds to pee into a cup to reduce the number dopers in the algebra class.

As to someone getting a hold of the record 30 years later and trying to use a failed drug test in high school to keep Wolfgang Wong from becoming the Assistant-Permanent-Secretary-to-the-Second-Temporary-Vice-Secretary-of-the-Public-Hand-Sanitation-department-who-is-Seconded-to-the-Greater-Over-administrative-Secretary-for-Development-in-the-West-Kowloon-Cultural-District (Which still will not have been built),well, if smoking one reefer in high school ruins a civil servant career in Hong Kong then I'm all for it. But, I think that most people would be more tolerant than I on this issue and realize that youth sometimes do stupid things. That's what youth is for to some extent. I can't see that it would have that deleterious of an effect.

However, if that one failed drug test was the warning that allowed his school to do some caring intervention on little Wolfgang and start him on the path to an illustrious career as a nameless, faceless, but obscenely over paid civil servant then he should be grateful it happened.

Now to the refute the Catholic father's position.
Schools are for education. But a large part of that educational process is actually learning what the rules are for living in society. One of the rules of society is trust. But trust is earned. Does this priest advocate that schools stop having teachers check for students cheating on test? Doesn't looking for cheaters reduce trust? As Ronald Regan so famously said: "Trust but verify" Actual trust between students and teachers is not reduced by a drug testing program provided that testing is truly random, fair and honest. Most youth benefit from having parameters in place that help them know the limits of proper behavior in society. Drug use is, I believe one of those areas.

His second objection is refuted simply by asking if he knows that most schools in Hong Kong require uniforms? Are uniforms part of the curriculum? How exactly do they further the curriculum? Schools do lots of things that do not directly relate to the curriculum. They do these things to make the administration of the school easier. Yet many of these things are not directly related to education or curriculum. Why should drug testing be a special case?

So come on kiddies, line up and here is your cup. Fill it at least 1/2 way up.

Please note. I am not advocating either position Merely knocking holes in both

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who is smarter than the guest on Newsline

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