Welfare benefits shouldn’t be decided through drug testing
A few months ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott passed a bill that requires that all welfare applicants be drug-tested. This drastic measure seems like a good way to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are not being used to buy drugs, but it is pointless and serves only to discriminate against the poor.
Why is it that only those on welfare are being tested?
For this to be a fair policy, all residents who receive government aid should be included in the bill.
They should be testing recipients of financial aid, loans, and grants in addition to those on welfare.
According to the bill, if the applicants test negative, the state will pay for the test.
If the applicant tests positive, then he or she will have to obtain proof of self-funded drug treatment and reapply in six months or wait a year before reapplying.
That kind of wait could be a lifetime for someone who relies on government aid to survive.
Drug tests prove to be effective and reasonable, especially in the workforce, so there are a lot of positives that come from them.
But the negatives can be found with the initiation of Governor Scott’s bill. It is not the drug testing requirement that is a problem, but the discrimination toward the downtrodden that is unjust.
No other state currently requires drug testing for welfare benefits, because it is difficult to avoid the debate that the drug tests violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches.
There is no reason to administer these tests to welfare recipients, since it does not change the fact that they truly are in need of government aid.
If recipients are using drugs, it is probably because they are trying to cope with the difficulties in their lives, which further proves how much they need government help.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) made a valid point to the Huffington Post that, not only is it unconstitutional, “but it is a policy that rests on ugly stereotypes.”
The bill assumes that someone who needs government help is a drug user. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the bill after its implementation in July.
If the government really cared about the poor, then it would be enforcing laws in their favor, not just laws that will save a bit of money for the state.
Drug tests are not cheap, and can cost anywhere from $15 to $35 for each test; so how much money are they really expecting to save? If states are seeking a way to diminish drug use, then they should pass a law to better enforce drug laws, not threaten welfare for the impoverished.
There aren’t many applicants under the influence of drugs to begin with, so this law seems pointless and degrading.
A recent report done by the Department of Children and Families showed that since July 1, 2011, when the law was enforced, only 2.5 percent of the welfare applicants tested positive for drugs.
The number is extremely low, and it seems as though there was no need to administer this policy in the first place, which further proves how the government does not carry the best interests of the impoverished.
I can only hope that this law does not expand to other states.
If California passes this law as well, it would only make matters worse.
According to the most recent Los Angeles Almanac, about 42 to 77 percent of individuals do not receive the public benefits to which they are entitled to receive.
If California administers drug tests as well, this number would only increase, with more people ending up on the streets.
The Almanac also states that 33 to 66 percent of single-individuals have substance abuse issues, and it can be assumed that not all of them are seeking government aid.
Florida’s government should really reconsider this bill because it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference in regards to saving money or reducing drug usage.
Michigan has attempted to create a drug testing program back in 1999 for welfare recipients, but it only lasted about five weeks before it was appealed and ruled unconstitutional.
This suggests that, hopefully, the new Florida law won’t last long, welfare recipients can get their aid with less hassle, and that other states will scrap their plans to implement similar laws as well.