Re: The OTHER Test

Subject: Re: The OTHER Test
From: Marilyn_Baldwin -at- capgroup -dot- com
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 16:40:18 -0700

I guess I'm puzzled by so much resistance to drug testing. There is a
REASON why companies have increasing concerns about who has access to
their equipment, accounts, and data (i.e., corporate assets). Legal/
liability issues are only a part of it.

Illegal drug use shows a willingness to flaunt the law (and, please,
let's don't go totally OT about THAT issue - my position is that it's
incumbent upon citizens who disagree with the law to work to change
it). And since the common drugs of choice in high-tech industries
these days are speed, cocaine, alcohol and heroin (pump me up, bring me
down), companies would surely be remiss to knowingly hire anyone so
stupid (or so addicted) as to show up for the pee test loaded.

Too bad there isn't a test for alcoholism, which accounts for so much
"sick" time, family problems, vehicular tragedies, etc. - but alcohol
was historically classifed a beverage and not a drug, and thus is legal
and fairly cheap. Companies can't do much to detect or defer that
potential problem. But the other drugs are generally expensive - more
so as use increases, of course - and anything that costs lots of money
COULD lead to potential problems for employees who might be short-
funded. For the same reason, companies where you might have access to
finances often run a credit check on you. If you owe big bucks on
student loans, have huge house payments, are stretched out to the edge
on your credit cards and sometimes miss making minimum payments - gee,
that can be a definite heads-up to a potential employer who is about to
place you in a department with access to corporate accounts. All of US
may have the highest of ethics and most scrupulous of morals - but SOME-
body is doing the internal thefts, selling critical data to competitors,

My former next-door neighbor was a PI specializing in corporate counter-
espionage. He often got called in on minor cases involving computer
thefts (e.g., many instances of momentarily-untended laptops walking
away) and major cases involving disappearing money. In the first
instance, based on prior experience, he always looked first at employees
attending college, but in the second instance he always looked for
possible drug abuse problems that were out of hand. He was a very
savvy, tough, ex-paratrooper, ex-police chief - he often said that
simple common sense (if only it were really common) should have indica-
ted to the company where suspicion should lie, but he was perfectly
happy to make very big bucks helping companies identify security risks,
potential problems, and likely solutions. One quick practice that can
be instituted is drug-testing. Those who have privacy issues may choose
to walk rather than submit - and a company may loose a terrific
potential resource - but probably so will users who can't sustain being
clean for even a few days. Poppyseed eaters and those on prescription
medication can explain their situation ahead of time.

Is it fair? Up for debate - and we're debating. But will it increase?
Very likely so. With more slavish adherence to the bottom line, and
more emphasis on ROI for shareholders, companies will continue to do
all they can to avoid potential problems up front rather than having to
address them down the road.

Jeez, I can't BELIEVE I am reminding you all of this. I was in
college during the 60s and 70s and am usually a card-carrying liberal.
But I have always understood the "alternative golden rule" - those who
have the gold make the rules. My right to do as I damn well please
ENDS when I am about to put my hands on YOUR, uh, assets.

My two cents for today.

- Marilyn Baldwin
(mlbb -at- capgroup -dot- com)

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