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Opening Arguments

Compelling need

The Journal Gazette doesn't like the proposed drug tests the General Assembly is talking about for some welfare recipients, citing court decisions on a similar Florida requirement to the effect that the state showed no "compelling need" for the tests:


Only 2 percent of the people tested before the court injunction showed a positive result for illegal drugs, lower than the general population. And the testing costs taxpayers more than they save by cutting drug users off from welfare.

The drug-testing proposals come across as attacks on welfare recipients reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s description of “welfare queens.” Florida’s history shows the implication that welfare recipients are prone to use drugs simply isn’t true.

Couldn't the same lack of "compelling need" be cited for prospective employees required to pee into a cup to get a job? From what I've been able to find out, the number of people flunking such tests dropped from a high of 13.6 percent in 1988 to 4.1 percent in 2005. Maybe that shows the tests are a waste of time and money, but there is one other possibility:

Drug testing "is an effective deterrent," said Dr. Barry Sample, director of science and technology for the employers solutions division of Quest. It "absolutely" works, he emphatically stated.

Don't know if I buy that or not, but if it's true for workers, it probably is for welfare recipients, too.

And if you think about workplace drug testing and welfare recipient drug testing together, it's easy to see them as part of the larger disturbing trend of intruding into people's lives without any proof they deserve it. How can we keep the "innocent until proven guilty" concept in the criminal justice system if we let it disappear in the larger society?

One last point: All the money spent in the welfare system is my (as a taxpayer) money -- it's my money spent on the benefits and my money that would be spent on the drug testing. The most important thing I'm looking for this is that I get the most value for my money, whether that means drug testing or not. 


Harl Delos
Tue, 03/12/2013 - 4:28pm

I don't like idea of raising taxes to institute drug testing, just yo satisfy the Miss Grundy wannabees, afraid that someone might be having a good time.  If they don't use drugs, they're likely to turn their interests to sex - and then the tax bill REALLY jumps.

My other objection is that kids suffer if parents use dope, and this will make it worse.  Maybe instead of giving out cash, we should set up dorms and guve them ht meals, so they can't use their benefits for drugs,  Hiring cooks would be no more expensive than the paperwork currently being done. Just think of it as jail wihout the bars.