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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Opinion

Drug testing those on welfare opens door for helping needy


Around the country, the government is finding a new way to make sure welfare money is being spent properly. Many states have decided to drug test those on welfare to make sure money is not being spent on drugs, instead being used properly.

According to The Huffington Post, the National Conference of State Legislatures said legislatures are looking at proposals to drug test welfare applicants in Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. This bill was advanced in the state Senate by lawmakers in February.

Supply chain and logistics sophomore Lacenia Calloway said she agrees with the idea of drug testing those on welfare.

“It is just fine to drug test people, because if they’re buying drugs then they don’t need to be on welfare,” Calloway said. “There has probably been so much reckless spending done by those on welfare. The way people spend welfare money should be watched, because you should not be allowed to just do anything with the money the program gives.”

The idea seems good and is a great way to make sure people are using funds the right way, but the results aren’t exactly what people may think. The Huffington Post reported that only 37 people out of more than 16,000 welfare applicants failed drug tests during six months of testing in Tennessee.

That is only a small percentage, but it is important to know how those on welfare are spending their money. The state should not being paying to keep up people’s drug habits.

Pre-business sophomore Miles Coleman weighed in on the pros and cons of testing those on welfare, saying that he believes drug testing welfare participants is a good and bad thing.

“On the good side, it’s making sure that welfare is not going towards people that will just abuse it, but on the downside, it is somewhat profiling to a certain degree,” Coleman said. “It’s like accusing that under-privileged people tend to use substance abuse, which welfare doesn’t technically pertain to substance abuse, so I’m thinking it is a way to keep people who need it from necessarily getting it just because of their habits.”

Like any new regulation, there are many pros and cons in the situation. Many families may suffer because of the new bill. Many kids will be left still in need and have to suffer due to their parents’ substance abuse.

The drug testing will be a way for the state to possibly cut back funding for the welfare program. The extra money could go to other programs that have been closed because of budget cuts.

According to Conservative Tribune, welfare payouts can take up about one-quarter to one-third of each state’s individual budget.

Welfare should be used for those who need desperately need help and not those who are looking for a way to keep up a deadly habit. There should be more restrictions on the welfare program, because people should not be dependent on welfare and do anything with that money.

Testing those on welfare could also be a way to save states’ money and allow money to be used for other useful projects.

According to SV Herald, when the law passed through the legislature, lawmakers estimated that it would save the state up to $1.7 million a year by taking people off welfare.

Of course, this will allow others waiting on the welfare list to have an opportunity to receive assistance. This is a chance for states to enforce rules that could really make a difference.

States have a responsibility to know who the people are that are using welfare and to know in what ways those people are using the assistance.

Drug testing is a start on making stricter rules for those on welfare. The welfare program has been abused by many people, and there should be more rules in place to make sure the funding is being used for those really in need.

Opinion columnist Faith Alford is a journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected] 

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  • Jake Drake

    The argument can be made that such laws are unconstitutional. The fifth amendment ensures the right to due process, and this is where we get the idea of “innocent until proven guilty”, a cornerstone of American civil liberties. Any law like this presumes an individual as guilty, subjecting all who want the welfare to a drug test to PROVE their innocence.

    While I don’t doubt this would save some money by taking people off welfare, there are still many problems to the law. Firstly, you’re taking away necessary assistance from those who need it, only because draconian drug laws that cost the government WAY MORE than welfare does. Second, drug testing is expensive, so either you’re diminishing your cost saving effects or, thirdly, using subpar drug tests to reduce cost. The issue with this, of course, is that a simple urine test can be fooled with a lot of water and vitamins/creatine, or use of synthetic or other’s urine.

    In reality, these laws infringe upon the constitutional rights of Americans. I would sincerely hope that if these laws were passed they would be brought before the Supreme Court. I hope that no justice in their right mind could deny the constitution’s own words; “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury…” Basically, for the government to require a drug test of you, unless its militarily related, they have to have indictment from a grand jury.

    ^Straight up unconstitutional, yo.

    • AJcoog

      Yet companies require them routinely as part of their pre-screening application process. The issue is not drug-test vs. no drug-test on welfare recipients. The issue is why? If, as the Huff Post, found so few said recipients are actually guilty of this alleged issue why make it an issue. IOW why invent a problem where none exists? This is not about drugs vs non-drugs among the working poor; this is about more disenfranchisement. Who will be paying for these drug tests? Not taxpayers. Who will be administrating them — they will be outsourced to clinics where false positives are routine. Who will suffer? Those who innocently fall through the cracks because of the war against the poor.

      • Jake Drake

        I agree on a war on the poor. Be sure to check out my next article on the Patriot Act when it’s published! I don’t talk so much about this issue but I try to address the stratification and widening class gaps in America.

        The issue I find with this is that it’s inherently unconstitutional. Most in our generation don’t really see the issue with that, but the social contract is a honed idea that relies on good precedent. If we allow the federal government enact discriminatory or unconstitutional legislation, we set a precedent that we can’t easily come back from!

        • AJcoog

          Jake: Constitutional scholars may not agree with your assessment, however, liberation theologians may call it “structural sin,” a concept anthropologists are increasingly intrigued with. My area of academic interest are American history and anthropology. Medical anthropologist, Paul Farmer, for example, would certainly recognize in the laws a quantifiable patterning of the state’s heavy hand in targeting a specific segments of society — those least able to defend themselves — in a repressive way.

        • Randy

          What may likely be unconstitutional is in doling out welfare at all. The Founders were quite explicit, consistent with their Biblical understanding, that if a person will not work, they will not eat. Harsh, yes. But it is not an enumerated function of the federal government. States are free to do so, but ultimately, it is each individuals decision as to who they wish to give support.

          The Founders rightly recognized that this creates a dependency upon the government which is inconsistent with a Republic, educated people taking responsibility for their own actions and support.

          • Jake Drake

            I don’t think anyone here wants to say the government should support those who don’t have the drive to support themselves. In my opinion, just as the Federal Reserve can raise or lower interest rates or issue bonds to adjust the economy, the Federal Government can cushion the blow from recessions and depressions on laid-off workers. By providing assistance to those who lost their jobs, they’re able to find another without having to scramble to provide for themselves or their families.

            Straight up welfare is a harder issue to address, but I’m not convinced that trickle-down generosity alone can provide everyone in America an equal playing field. To me, one of the greatest injustices within America is our inability to overcome class divides that hold such a large part of our society down while the middle class has the means to become wealthy and the super wealthy have it made for life and their children’s lives.

            Look at the Trump family. Trump’s kids had no expense spared on their education, that they’d be ready to accept their father’s fortune and business when he passes it to them. Then you have people who receive financial aid here at UH yet still struggle to attend with the reduced cost. These kids get loans that can cripple them (it’s the new age indentured servitude). The student loan bubble is going to pop because America is more focused on wars abroad and on their own citizens than investing in the future. Yet we want to complain that the government has overstepped its bounds by helping it’s constituents?

            The Government is here to protect the life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness. In the present day, that sometimes can mean assistance from the government. If that rumpled your feathers, then you should think twice about social security, exorbitant military spending, and the brutally oppressive police state we live in. The government wouldn’t have to support the lower class if it stopped practices that continue to disenfranchise and subjugate poor Americans…

        • Randy

          I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. Benjamin Franklin

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