Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients...

I'm not sure what to make of the bill that the Indiana House passed requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug testing. Given the climate, it's easy to think this is motivated by the desire to punish moochers.  Is the goal rather to help people get off welfare?  I'm skeptical.  That's just not the vibe I get these days.

Will this hurt the children of parents who decide not to go because they're not clean?  What will they eat while the parents are going through some sort of training?  Will this bill result in the crime rate going up?

I have no doubt that the welfare system needs reformed to where it moves people toward becoming profitable members of society.  I'm just not sure that this bill will do anything but make the most desperate even more desperate.  It feels like the less mature, "stick it to them," rather than the moral high ground, "rescue the perishing."


John C. Gardner said...

There is a temporary order by the federal appeals court in Atlanta which prevents Florida from implementing drug testing of welfare recipients. A lower federal court temporarily haltedthe drug testing program because the state of Florida failed to show a "substantial special need for the testing. I wonder if this decision if finalized could be cited in Indiana if the law you describe which is under consideration was implemented.

Scott F said...

I suspect that this comes out the urge to punish sinners - in particular those who commit the sins that I don't commit!

::athada:: said...

The Daily Show covered this in Florida (w/ humor, but also with some biting truth). The self-righteousness/bitterness/hypocrisy of these people get my blood boiling.


James E. Snapp, Jr. said...

A person can be a moocher and not be an abuser of illegal drugs. So I don't think this can punish mooching, per se.

Illegal drugs are a luxury item. The state's welfare program is intended to provide *for the needy,* and if a person has enough money for illegal drugs, then that person is thus disqualified from welfare. Unless the state's budget for welfare exceeds the demand for welfare, to continue to give welfare-payments to people who have enough money for luxuries such as illegal drugs is tantamount to taking welfare-payments away from the people who genuinely need them (and who are not breaking laws against illegal drug-use).

I don't give money to the state of Indiana so that the state of Indiana can give money to someone who is going to use that money to buy illegal drugs to hurt himself and perhaps others. If the statesmen believe that the state should take the step of testing people for illegal drug-use before giving them money, in order to reduce the chance that the state will contribute to illegal drug-use and all the harm that accompanies it, I am all for that. But I suppose there are bound to be some who will insist that the far more compassionate thing to do would be to give fresh, clean needles along with the welfare-checks.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

Ken Schenck said...

The big concern I have about what you're saying James is that drug dependency is not entirely different from welfare dependency. The person in this situation is not making an unimpaired moral decision. It's going to be very hard, perhaps impossible for them to make the right choices in their own power.

I'm not talking about the person who is in a bad financial place and trying to find a job. Most of the legislation we're seeing pretty much just wants to help those in this situation. The problem is that these are not the individuals that need the most help and I don't merely mean financially.

Both approaches fail. The "we'll just give you money" approach simply makes people dependent on those who work. But the "we'll punish you if you don't do better" approach is just as ineffective. The "welfare addicted" person doesn't have the power to get a job (or stay off drugs). They need someone to come alongside them.

If the goal of the legislation was to get intensive help for the people who need the most hope (both drug addicted and on welfare), that would be noble and helpful to society at large in the long run. But I doubt that's the intention. I suspect the intention is the morally immature and developmentally ignorant sentiment I mentioned above.

::athada:: said...

If the aim is some sort of moral purity, it is going to be very expensive moral purity indeed. The results from Florida:

"Over 12 months, the money saved on all rejected applicants would add up to $40,800-$98,400 for the cash assistance program that state analysts have predicted will cost $178 million this fiscal year."

Call me loco, but I would rather spend the $177,901,600 on educating our kids than drug-testing welfare recipients.

Source: http://www2.tbo.com/news/politics/2011/aug/24/3/welfare-drug-testing-yields-2-percent-positive-res-ar-252458/