Should drug tests be required for welfare?

Miller Bowe and Ben Elia look at the merits and problems of making recipients of welfare get drug tested.

A commentary by Miller Bowe and Ben Elia

For; by Ben Elia

With about a third of Americans receiving some form of welfare, it brings up the question: Should welfare recipients be tested for drugs?

Welfare is funded by employed tax payers, who can be drug tested for their jobs. If the funders are drug tested for the employment, then the people receiving that money should be too.

Not all employees are subjected drug tests, but a large number are. It is only fair that people receiving aid should be drug tested.

Mark Besonen of the Concordian said, “If taxpayers are required to give part of their earnings to people who are in need, it would be reasonable to expect that the people receiving welfare assistance should be held to certain standards in order to ensure the temporary nature of the assistance and to lead to their quick re-entry into the workforce. Drug tests would ensure that this level of responsible behavior is upheld by those receiving assistance.”

There is a social contract between the funders and receivers, it would only be fair if they are held to similar rules and standards.

Welfare was created in 1935, for the unemployed, underemployed, and disabled. If a person fails a business’s drug test, they obviously do not get the job. Indirectly, it is their own choice to be unemployed.

If they are already spending the little money they have on drugs, wouldn’t you think they would spend money given to them on drugs as well?

Drug users are just abusing the welfare system. They are not disabled and their unemployment is their own fault. Why are they being rewarded with money that working people earned?

People who are against drug testing for welfare say it’s ridiculing to the poor. How is it ridiculing? They are asking for hard earned dollars because they do not have any. We should at least be assured they will be productive with the money and drug related.

This is really all a matter of making sure welfare recipients are showing the same behavior as employed people. If employed people are held to certain standards, then the people are taking their money should be held to the same.

Until they create a system to monitor how welfare recipients use their handed out money, they should not allow drug users to get any.

Against; by Miller Bowe

Drug testing for welfare recipients is a wonderful solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

The calls for such tests come from people who believe a significant portion of welfare recipients may be using taxpayer money to buy drugs. For all their worry about taxpayer money, they don’t seem to realize that drug tests are not free.

The state of Tennessee began testing welfare applicants in July. Of 812 people tested, exactly one was caught with drugs in their system. The state of Utah dedicated $31,000 dollars to catching 12 people out of 4,730 applicants.

In Florida, whose drug testing law was overturned by the Supreme Court last December, the law caught 2.6% of applicants, compared to the estimated 8.1% of all Floridians using illegal drugs. These numbers indicate that not only do welfare recipients not have a widespread drug problem, they use drugs less than the general population.

Florida’s law- which inspired similar laws in 25 other states- wound up costing the state more than $45,000 dollars, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Paranoia over misuse of taxpayer money is not a legitimate reason to misuse taxpayer money.

There is no legitimate reason to assume welfare recipients would be using drugs, especially considering the data. Mandatory drug tests with no basis are in direct opposition to the fourth amendment, which prevents unreasonable search and seizure.

The government cannot breach the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, and among these is the right to privacy given by the fourth; even those turning to the government for economic support keep their freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, just as they keep their freedom of speech and their right to trial by jury.

When an employer gives drug tests to its employees, it does not necessarily violate the constitution, as constitutional law applies specifically to the government. This is the same reason it is legal for a television station to fire an employee who makes homophobic remarks, or for a restaurant to forbid patrons from open-carrying, despite the freedom of speech and freedom to bear arms in the constitution.

Laws mandating drug tests for welfare applicants are expensive, unnecessary, and most of all, illegal. We don’t need to test welfare recipients; the evidence shows they aren’t using drugs, and drug tests with no probable cause infringes on the fourth amendment.


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