Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Welfare drug tests

I see pictures like this passed all over Facebook:

I didn't create this image, but I won't link to the page where it was found.
I searched Google Images.

I get it. People have to pass drug tests to qualify for certain jobs. Then they pay into a system that supports people who get money without having to jump through a similar hoop. Annoying, yes.

But I'm not sure mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients is the answer.

First of all, there's a big difference between a test required by the government to collect money to which a person is entitled, and one required by a private company to get a job to which that person is not entitled. Allowing the government that much control over our private lives is a little scary, I think.

Maybe this seems like the sort of intrusion that should be allowed - after all, you only have to take the test if you want the money. What scares me is the doors it opens to more intrusions, and how much of our privacy we surrender before it finally stops.

Welfare is a huge term that refers to a lot of programs. There are programs that are easily manipulated and taken advantage by a lot people. There are also people who have truly earned and need the entitlements. I'm not aware of a solution that can successfully distinguish between the two groups, and make sure the benefits are distributed fairly.

I don't condone taking advantage of the system. I believe that people should work, and take care of themselves, as long as they are able. However - I also believe that those who are able have some obligation to help those who are not. Some choose to give time and/or money to certain organizations, which is great. But at the very least, we all need to pay into some sort of system that helps everyone in need.

Speaking of those in need...when a mom or dad fails one of these mandatory welfare drug tests, what will happen to their children? That money was supposed to help feed and clothe and shelter them, too - and now it's gone.

Is the answer to take the children away from their home and parents? Won't making a child a ward of the state ultimately cost more than the welfare benefit would have in the first place? Won't threatening the breakup of the family discourage moms and dads from applying for much-needed assistance?

The system is most certainly broken. But we need a system to help those who need help - without discrimination - until they can help themselves. We may need to fix the system - but I'm not sure this is the fix we need.


  1. In addition to this, requiring a drug test for low income assistance attaches a stigma to being poor that unwarranted. Do students have to pass a drug test in order to receive federal grants? Do other tax payers need to pass a drug test to receive tax credits? All citizens receive federal benefits in one way or another, but only low income recipients (Welfare)are being asked to complete drug tests as if it has anything to do with anything.

    In a time where soft drug use is increasingly socially accepted, calls for laws like this are nothing more than cloaked racism.

  2. I'm torn on this issue. I think there should be drug testing for people receiving tax payer money welfare recipients, politicians, civil service employees, armed forces (already do), teachers (many already do), etc. but I also see the encroachment of the civil rights side of it and the kids side of it. There isn't an easy answer.

    The answer is to fix the system, but how? I think I'd rather see a stop to the abuse of the system. It should be a temporary help not a generational support system.

    And to sort of answer a question, students with certain convictions, drug charges being one of them I believe are not able to receive certain fundings...

  3. Whether drug testing is the answer or not, I don't know. But I do believe that there needs to be Welfare reform. In mine line of work, I see people who have settled themselves into the system & made a way of life and it's generational. One test isn't the answer. Have a physical, psych evaluation, IQ test, & drug test to determine the need to stay on public assistance. My views maybe radical, but that is mainly because I deal with these individuals sense of entitlement on a daily basis.