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,...