Drug Testing Welfare Recipients: Scandal or Solution
Welfare programs as we know today were created in the 1930’s during the great depression to aid unemployed and under employed people in supporting their families. (“The”) It was not intended to be a government funded crutch for substance abusers. Often tax payers complain about tax monies being spent to support the habits of drug users who receive welfare. The fix to this problem is simple, drug testing. Drug test everyone on welfare and when the welfare recipient tests positive, take away the benefit. Problem solved. But is it?
The consideration of testing welfare recipients for drug use has been debated since welfare reform in 1996. ...view middle of the document...
18). That is slightly more than 2.5%. But wait it gets better. Utah ran a drug testing program for about a year. In the data it collected, almost 4500 people were tested, 9 tested positive for drug use (McKitrick, par. 1, 2). In which case both Florida and Utah have proved there is not a catastrophic amount of drug fiends snorting government monies through a straw.
The general census around drug testing welfare recipients is to save money; Florida and Utah proved that drug testing wastes more money than it saves. Why? Both states used urine tests to test for drugs. A typical cost of a urine drug test is around $40 and that’s just the test (Poole, par. 12). That $40 does not include the nurse or medical assistant needed to administer the test or whatever else is needed to ensure the test is done properly and safely (Poole, par. 12). Most drugs will not be detected in urine after 4 days; whereas marijuana and PCP stays in urine up to 30 days (“Drug Use”). Anyone who is going to apply for assistance where there is a drug test involved plans accordingly.
Enough about drug tests, what about other costs. Kansas believes it will require the employment of at least four more people to handle drug testing with its newly past law not to mention the rehabilitation program is expected to cost one million dollars (Flatow, par. 5). Florida has already paid out over $45,000 more drug testing than it would have if it would have just paid out the welfare (Alvarez, par. 5). Governor Rick Scott of Florida has racked up a hefty $900,000 in lawyer fees in his quest to drug test the poor (Ossowski, par. 6). And let us not forget the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida’s request for a refund of their legal fees in defending the poor; $313,000 was asked for after the injunction in 2011 was ordered (Ossowski, par. 6).
Those who support the drug testing of welfare recipients would argue that it is the governments’ responsibility to ensure tax monies given to needy families as aid not a crutch for a drug user. As I absolutely agree with this argument but drug tests are not the answer. Oklahoma found that a simple questionnaire could detect drug abusers as well as alcoholics with an accuracy rate of 94% (“Drug”, par. 14). That’s better than most urine tests, as a urine test will not detect alcohol or drug abusers. Alabama found that concentrating on programs that taught employment skills was more effective in removing people from the welfare payroll than drug testing (“Drug”, par. 20). Helping families obtain knowledge for employment and saving money, sounds like a healthier alternative to drug testing.
Last but to least, drug testing violates personal rights. According to the Bill of Rights fourth amendment “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and...