Professor Anne M. Meyer
Should Welfare Recipients Be Drug Tested
When one first hears about the idea of testing welfare recipients to make sure that they are not using drugs, the idea seems to be sound. Of course, we do not want welfare money going toward the purchase of drugs when it should be going only to necessary and useful things. As with almost any political idea, however, these policies need to be executed. Political intentions are not realized in an ideal world. With welfare testing, the cold reality is that the costs and barriers of following through on the policy trump the benefits. One of the main reasons for this is the sheer cost of it.
Requiring those with limited mobility to travel to an area that has a drug-testing site not to mention the nightmare that causes for individuals living in rural areas and take time out of their day is placing a burden on them that may help to keep them in the same impoverished situation. This is the absolute last thing any welfare policy should be doing. Many people may think that asking them to travel may not be a big burden but that is really a sign of the life situation you are in. Without a car, working a job which yes, many welfare recipients do have jobs, with kids, and all the other things that one often has to attend to, requiring drug testing is a burden that can further trap someone in a specific life situation. All of this is coupled with the finding that the rate of drug users among those who receive welfare is equal to or less than the rest of the adult population. In Minnesota, they’re attempting to institute such a policy, but they found that only 0.4 percent of welfare users were also drug users, as opposed to 1.2 percent of the adult population. This means that the state is spending large quantities of money searching for a problem that doesn’t actually exist. When it comes to drug testing welfare recipients, the cost is too high, and problem isn’t real, and the intentions are off. It may be good politics, but it’s bad policy. Welfare assistance should not be a one-way handout or open-ended privilege. We should provide assistance on the basis of a return obligation. It’s a real issue. Most related studies indicate that one third of people on welfare use illegal drug. As welfare approaches over a trillion a year, taxpayers have a right to insist that their money goes to those who truly need it and it’s not spent on frivolous activities like drug use. Evidence shows that drug testing can reduce unnecessary spending and misuse of money. The cost involved in drug testing would cost taxpayers even more money, including the employees to monitor the drug test and not to mention the cost of the drug test. If the drug testing is done it will save the taxpayers money who feel they are wasting money on drugs. Drug testing will require recipients to stay drug free. A few believe that it is purely discrimination against the poor, who most often receive these benefits. They argue that since some people have jobs where they are never dug tested that poor people should not have to undergo testing either. They also argue That they are basically telling poor people that they have no right to be happy, or experience the full spectrum of human experience, whereas those not on welfare who are not drug tested at their jobs can do this freely. The jobs that do not do drug testing are ones like 7-11 or certain gas stations, all other jobs you have to mandatory drug test and if you refuse a drug test you will not get the job and if they do a mandatory test at your current job they only give you so many hours to submit a drug test and if you do not you are automatically terminated. So, if you receive any kind of benefits from the state you should submit to a drug test, to some collecting a welfare check is just like a job they sit and wait until their money comes on their card and then go out and spend. If you can wait on your check you can wait in line for the drug test so the taxpayers will know where their money is going. A senator stated a proposal for drug testing fears it would allow the government to pick on poor people. The goal would be to keep the state from being an enabler by giving cash to people who are using it. It’s not to be punitive or anything other than giving people to get on the right path. Those who test positive for drugs would be ineligible for three years to receive temporary assistance benefits, which are given to individuals with children for basic needs such as: housing, utilities, and clothing. Children do not lose benefits if parents test positive, but credits for their needs would be redirected to grandparents, other appointed adults.