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Opening Arguments

Bad idea, round 2

Here we go again:

Lawmakers in Indiana are weighing a measure that would require some welfare recipients to undergo drug testing and risk losing their benefits if they failed.

[. . .]

The proposed change would require welfare recipients considered high-risk for drug abuse to be tested, as well as those who had previously been charged with a drug-related crime.

If recipients failed a drug test, they’d receive counseling that they would have to pay for themselves. If they repeatedly failed the tests, they’d be taken off welfare for at least three months. They would also be responsible for the cost of any positive drug tests.

Republicans tried to do the same thing last year, and it failed. Other states have tried it without much success -- they end up spending a whole lot of money to catch not very many drug users. Those who have previously been charged with a drug-related crime, fine. But otherwise, what determines who is considered "high-risk for druag abuse?" The mere fact that they're poor? There is no evidence, in fact, that poor people are more likely to be drug abusers than the well-off.

As a libertarian who doesn't want to see his money wasted, I can appreciate not making welfare too easy or attractive. But there's no good policy reason to go out of the way to stigmatize the needy if there's nothing to be gained from it.


Thu, 04/16/2015 - 10:05am

Agreed Leo, but I take issue with your last sentence. So it's OK to stigmatize needy people as long as there is personal gain to be had?

Leo Morris
Thu, 04/16/2015 - 10:28am

Not a "personal gain," but, as the policy wonks say, if there is a "compelling government interest,"

Frank Keller
Thu, 04/16/2015 - 3:08pm

But there should be some kind of random test. if they are on welfare and using, I can agree with losing the benifit. Sorry but no I don't want to pay for their drug usage. As far as those that have been previously been charged with drug related crimes they definitly should be tested. 

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 8:29pm

Understood. Thanks for the clarification