Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Re: Welfare and Drug Testing

To assume that people who receive government aid are on drugs is a mistake. That is extremely judgmental and hurts a great deal of good, hardworking people.  Most people receiving government aid are required to have a job or be looking for one; With the exception of pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of five. People who are receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) must start the Choices program provided by the Texas Workforce Commission as soon as they are able. According to the US Welfare Information website, “the TANF grant requires that all recipients of welfare aid must find work within two years of receiving aid, including single parents who are required to work at least 30 hours per week opposed to 35 or 55 required by two parent families. Failure to comply with work requirements could result in loss of benefits.”

There are a lot of people who do work and still qualify for welfare because of low wages and various other hardships. To say that people receiving government aid are unemployed is simply untrue. With the economy the way that it is right now it’s shocking to me that people are actually criticizing someone who can’t find a job in the first place.

A colleague of mine, Seth Arteage, recently posted a blog titled, Welfare and Drug Testing, which supports the concept that recipients of government aid should be drug tested before receiving benefits. I happen to disagree with this idea. In his commentary Arteage quotes U.S. Representative, Jack Kingston, who states, “The screening would not increase federal spending. The estimated cost is $12 per person.” Arteage states that there are “around 333,435 people on welfare in Texas.” So I did the math and found that these drug tests would cost citizens of Texas…$4,001,220!!! Let’s note that, that is just for initial testing. How often would these tests be required? What happens if the individual fails the test? Would they then be required to admit themselves into some state funded drug rehabilitation program? How much would that cost? Would their children be taken away? This brings up a whole lot of other questions and issues that would need to be addressed.

I can guarantee that the majority of people who do have to accept services from the government are not proud of it. To demean them to the level of making them get drug tested is despicable. Furthermore, would requiring drug testing of welfare recipients be unconstitutional? According to the Fourth Amendement of the Constitution:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

If deemed constitutional, then should recipients of Financial Aid be drug tested as well? What about government employees? The taxpayers are, after all, paying for those services as well.

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