Welfare recepients should be drug tested.

January 18, 2016, 5:48 pm

Agree23 Disagree12

66%
34%

The debate "Welfare recepients should be drug tested." was started by duelist1 on January 18, 2016, 5:48 pm. 23 people are on the agree side of this discussion, while 12 people are on the disagree side. That might be enough to see the common perception. It looks like most of the people in this community are on the agreeing side of this statement.

reece posted 6 arguments, Alex posted 11 arguments to the agreers part.
Sosocratese posted 13 arguments to the disagreers part.

reece, wmd, Alex, jayhard, rob5998, YouThinkYoureBetterThanMe, starsnclovers, aftermath, duelist1, mandala and 13 visitors agree.
Sosocratese, nbgblue, Jctrkstr, progressive, ReadyToBegin and 7 visitors disagree.

I can't agree to a mandatory drug testing program for welfare, but I can agree to a job interview/application follow up to increase likelihood of getting a job. I can agree that if you've failed a pre-employment drug test while on TANF, you should have to go to rehab meetings.

The main reason for this is that a lot of parents are already employed when they go on welfare, they meet the full time employment requirement, but they are underemployed and need some assistance. Requiring these people to take a drug test and then denying them the assistance only serves to punish the children. Since things like SNAP and section 8 can't be used to buy drugs and are the most common types of welfare assistance, I can't see why we should tie them to drug testing where we really only target the children of such parents.

3 years, 5 months ago

my plan has them going into rehab, not laying them on streets and jails. if they don't want rehab, that's their choice.

3 years, 6 months ago
reece
replied to...

i agree with alex ..that plan sounds more effective

3 years, 6 months ago
Sosocratese
replied to...

Then I think we can't agree Alex. I can't see the benefits of driving people into crime and homelessness and placing children into the foster care system. Statistics show that it just adds cost. I'd rather spend my tax money on programs that work than trying to punish victims of addiction.

The studies show us that people with addiction will not quit due to financial hardship, they will commit crimes instead. By denying welfare to addicts, you are not only creating more crimes, but also more victims of crimes.

For me to accept drug testing as a way to get welfare, I would have to accept a higher cost of the program, the fact that only a very small fraction of actual addicts will be caught by that system, that the most common and costly addictions (alcohol and prescription drugs) can't be screened for, that crime rates will go up, that cost of incarceration is more than welfare, that medical costs will increase, that children will be disproportionately punished for their parents actions, that I will have to pay for these children, and for there to be no real social value added by such a program. None of that makes sense to me.

We can cut costs by simply identifying addicts through failed pre-employment drug tests, offer counseling, and if after 2 years they still haven't found a job, TANF will expire regardless. It's not that I believe that we should be on the hook for them for their entire lives. However, targeting them to be austrucised doesn't seem like a good plan. Why not just treat them like any other welfare recipient?


Addiction is tough, for the people who suffer from it and their families. I don't understand why we should add to the burden of being poor and addicted, by abandoning these people and relegating them to a life on the street and jails.

3 years, 6 months ago

anyone may be on drugs. welfare isn't about a person's vices. marijuana is no worse than alcohol. are you also going to insist that people on welfare can't drink?

3 years, 6 months ago

we are close to an agreement here, but I can't agree with some plan that gives money to people that may be on drugs. I think welfare needs to require a drug test, and give peoe who failed a choice. rehab, or no money.

3 years, 6 months ago
Sosocratese
replied to...

I don't agree with failed drug tests being a stipulation of obtaining welfare, unless treatment programs are part of the process. I just can't see the benefit of forcing people into homelessness and crime due to addiction. I can't see the benefits of placing children into the foster care system due to their parent's disease. The only rational way to use drug testing is to use it as a way to identify individuals in need of treatment. Using it as a punitive measure simply adds cost, both in the social sense and in the monetary sense.

If jobs don't require pre-employment drug tests, then of course it can't be part of their welfare requirements. So I would argue that using it as an identifier, not a qualifier is the only morally, socially, and fiscally responsible method of using drug tests in the welfare system.

3 years, 6 months ago

So you want the employers taking the drug tests? and the goverment, seeing a fail, makes the person take rehab, or they don't get money?
that would be better then giving drug users drug money.

3 years, 6 months ago

Can't test for high levels of alcohol since alcohol levels can't be measured unless the person is actively intoxicated at the time of testing.

I think the best option would be to have drug counseling tied to failure of pre-employment drug tests. So have the welfare office expand their job placement programs to include follow ups. If a person is denied employment for a failed drug test then you can implement a stipulation to require drug treatment.

The problem with having the government conduct the drug tests is that government has too much red tape that makes a cheap procedure like drug testing relatively expensive. Furthermore, having the government conduct such tests and attach stipulations to it opens up lawsuits and litigation. Since employment is already part of the welfare requirements, and a lot of employers already have drug testing programs, you can save money and piggy back off of their testing absolving the government of litigation costs and responsibilities for the accuracy of those tests.

3 years, 6 months ago

how about this plan
1. put people on welfare on drug tests
2. if they pass, aply regular rules
3. if they fail give them choice
a. they can receive money, but MUST go to rehab.
b. they get no money.
4. after rehab aply regular rules

is that a fair plan?

3 years, 6 months ago

can we not test for high levels of alchol?

3 years, 6 months ago

If you really want to affect the impacts of drug use, you have to spend the money on rehab programs. Treatment programs have been shown to have the greatest return on investment. For ever $1 spent on treatment programs, you save $5.60 in terms of fewer arrests, food stamps use, welfare, child welfare, and medical costs.

3 years, 6 months ago

Alex,
You yourself said you want a system that "rewards the good people, and punishes the bad". By that you are saying you would like the welfare system to act in the same way the justice system does.

You have yet to address the fact that drug screening for welfare doesn't work and doesn't catch enough offenders to actually justify the spending. You have provided 0 evidence that such measures would have any beneficial impact on society. You have not addressed the harm it does either.

Keeping people off welfare due to addiction only serves to punish the children the addicts are responsible for, increases crime, costs the tax payers more money, decreases the quality of life for children of drug addicts, and increases the homeless population which in turn will increase health care cost and place additional strain on the justice system. You have to address these concerns or at least make an argument as to why those are acceptable costs to incur in order to implement such a system.

Furthermore, drug screening doesn't address the most common addictions in America, alcohol and prescription drugs. So you're targeting the least common addictions, and targeting the highest functioning addicts in marijuana users rather than targeting the addicts who do the most societal harm. As alcohol is the number one drug associated with crime, it is associated with over 40% of all violent crime. How does drug screening for welfare address any real socially harmful behavior in any significant way?

3 years, 6 months ago
Sosocratese
replied to...

Reece,
The data says that drug screening doesn't work. It's the law in several states and none of them have produced the kinds of results that would constitute a success. So you're argument about "it could work" is proven false by empirical data. You need to provide a better argument.

3 years, 6 months ago

there is no good reason for marijuana to be illegal. the law makes no sense. if they passed a law saying wearing pants is illegal does that make you a bad person for wearing them? just because something is illegal does not automatically make it bad, nor does it automatically make a person bad.

so why would you want to spend lots of money on testing that doesn't really work, to try to stop people from doing something that doesn't really do much harm? it's a stupid idea.

3 years, 6 months ago

you sir, need to read before sending. I said "saying drug screening doesn't work is not logical"

3 years, 6 months ago
reece
replied to...

Drug screening could indeed work if enforced by law.. similar to being drug tested for a job ..people quit doing drugs just so their pee could come back clean just to get hirer for a job ....so why wouldn't drug screening for welfare work????

3 years, 6 months ago
reece
replied to...

...'drug screening is not logical'????..sir please read before sending

3 years, 6 months ago

Science has found ways to test for drugs. saying that drug screening doesn't work is not logical.

3 years, 6 months ago
reece
replied to...

How would you know if drug screening works or not??..

3 years, 6 months ago

if it is illegal and someone takes it they are a crimminal. I think crimminal acts are bad. and people who do crimminal acts often, like Marijuana addicts are bad.

3 years, 6 months ago

you aren't encouraging them to get off drugs. you are encouraging them to find another way to finance it, ie crime. you are encouraging more crime. if you want them off drugs then you need to deal with the addiction, not put them on the street.

also marijuana is not some evil thing. it is legal in several states. it will soon be legal in all of Canada. it is proven to be less harmful and have more benefits than alcohol. claiming everyone taking it is bad is just naive.

3 years, 6 months ago

of you want people on drugs, continue giving them money. if you want them off drugs don't give them money. it's not punishment, it's more like nothing. we arnt arresting them, we are doing nothing. encouraging them to get off drugs so they get something.

3 years, 6 months ago

Why is it the welfare systems job to punish anyone? We have a legal system for that. Using the welfare system as a way to punish people has a disproportionate effect on innocent children. Less than 0.1% of the applicants for welfare tested positive for illicit drugs in states that implemented such testing, mandatory drug testing. Such programs are nothing more than a waste of resources on a multitude of fronts. They not only cost more on the front end, but are ultimately much more expensive on the back end....Not to mention unconstitutional.
If you really wanted people off drugs, then the welfare program would offer drug counseling and rehab, not encourage the user to resort to crime for their next fix or simply for 3 hots and a cot when they become homeless.

3 years, 6 months ago

see what your doing is looking for the easy way out, the quick fix, the cheap fix. I and many others want a program that gets people of drugs, rewards the good people, and punishes the bad.

3 years, 6 months ago

@Alex
Come on, let's not devolve into this silly strawman nonsense of liberals Vs cons. It's just sad.

Under TANF you must become employed within 2 years, so no matter what, a drug addict who can't keep clean for pre-employment tests will lose their eligibility for TANF. However, they will have access to job counseling during that time at least.

Now, let's talk about the kids. The government is on the hook for them no matter what happens. If the child is under 18 and the parent becomes homeless or goes to jail, the kid will go into the foster care or juvenile group home system. Either way, we're paying for it. It's actually way more expensive to have them in the system than to have their parents take care of them.

Any way you slice it, drug testing for welfare is fiscally more expensive than not doing it.

Aside from the fiscal arguments, federal courts have ruled Florida's program unconstitutional (violating the 4th amendment).

3 years, 6 months ago

the drug testing "loses money" so why don't liberals like it? liberals love to lose money.
it's not a lot of money either. only a couple thousand dollors. these 48 people on drugs will either. 1. go to rehab. or 2. steal
if they are on welfare they will 1. fail a job interview drug test, leaving them on welfare forever, causing a greater loss of money.

if someone is a kid of a patent who made a bad choice and took drugs, that sucks. the parent made a bad choice and left that person in poverty. there are millions of children living in poverty, should the goverment pay for all of them. (socialism)

the drug testing plan putts people on drugs either in rehab, or in jail. your plan leaves them taking my money, and buying drugs. I simply, besides a short term loss, can't find a way drug testing is worse then buying drug addicts drugs.

3 years, 6 months ago
Sosocratese
replied to...

@Alex
I think you're assumption that financial struggle will somehow lead people to quit drugs is false. Addiction comes before everything. People struggling with addiction will turn to crime before they quit for financial struggle. The NCADD found that 17% of all state prisoners and 18% of all federal prisoners are incarcerated for crimes they committed in order to fund their habit. Users who can control their habit can simply quit long enough to pass any mandatory drug test and thus evade the system. Look at Missouri; in 2014 the had 38,970 applicants and only 48 tested positive. All the while they spent over $336,000 on drug testing. This program thus has lost money rather than save money for the state. Florida's program was deemed illegal by federal courts and also lost money (and then lost more due to litigation).

The majority of welfare recipients are on welfare for less than 2 years (just over 53%), a further 27% are on welfare for less than 5 years. So we have about 19% of welfare recipients in the system for 5 years or more. Those 19% are really what we're talking about in terms of where our welfare system is failing. In those 19% we have the elderly with little to no retirement funds, the chronically unemployed, the underemployed, and families. I'm assuming that the only programs you take issue with are those providing cash directly rather than things like food stamps or section 8. So really we're talking about TANF.

TANF requires that all recipients be employed within 2 years of being in the program (hence the large % of people getting off it within 2 years). This means that many, if not most of the recipients are getting frequent pre-employment drug tests anyway. Since they must have jobs in order to stay on the program, they are already under pressure to be clean without the state or the feds spending a dime on drug tests. Since the majority of single individuals will be barred by income level to receive TANF once they are employed full time, you mostly have single parents, the elderly, or chronically underemployed individuals with families on TANF for a prolonged period. Drug testing as part of TANF is thus repetitive, not cost effective, and it's consequences would cause disproportionate harm to the children of the recipients rather than the recipients themselves.

3 years, 6 months ago
Sosocratese
replied to...

@reece
What I'm saying is that drug screening doesn't work and is a waste of money. It's more cost effective to keep the welfare system the way it is. That's it.

3 years, 6 months ago

these people on drugs are more likely to want to check themselves into a rehab program (which they can afford, as you said finances arnt a problem) if
1. they are getting free money from the goverment
2. they realize that if they don't stop drugs, they will get no money, and they will have financial problems.
you go about saving money while my plan actually helps the people in need and rewards those who are good, hardworking people trying to follow the American dream.

3 years, 6 months ago

similar consent to letting 1 or 2 terrists in the us along with 100 good people.

3 years, 6 months ago
reece
replied to...

@Sosocrates,

so basically you're agreeing with historybluff..give drug users free money ..

3 years, 6 months ago
Sosocratese
replied to...

Alex,
Finances are not the drug users main problem. If you want people to stop using drugs, then you have to treat it like the disease it is. You must provide them with rehab clinics, you must provide inpatient services, and you must provide outpatient counseling. We know that true addiction is not an easy thing to beat and is much more likely to be overcome with the use of drug treatment programs.

Now, when we're talking drug testing, we're predominantly testing for 1 drug; we're testing for cannabis. It's the only drug that stays in your system for a prolonged period of time. The "hard" drugs have a tendency to leave a user's system within about 72 hours. With almost 80% of recreational drug users being classified as "functional users", you can easily see how "hard" drugs (the ones I'm guessing you're really worried about) can easily be used while using the system.

On to the spending money on stupid things. If you look into Florida, Missouri, etc... who have implemented such programs, you will see that they actually spent more money on drug tests than in savings. The only study I could find about drug use in people on welfare stated that 9.6% of them used drugs more than 100 times in the previous year, about 2% of those used cocaine, with less than 1% citing other hard drugs, the remainder citing cannabis use. Cannabis users are by large functional and even high functional users and thus can often quit for 30 days to pass their drug test fairly easily. Hard drug users only have to be clean for a few days. This means, even if you spend the money on these drug tests, you will likely miss the majority of the users. We can clearly see that if you look at the statistics I provided in my first post on this issue.

Implementing drug testing programs for welfare recipients is a waste of money, it impacts children disproportionately as parents with drug problems will rarely be able to quit, and isn't an effective way to discourage drug use as most users are able to game the system.

3 years, 6 months ago

or any level of an illegal drug.

3 years, 6 months ago

historybuff, a person does not fail a drug test if they had a cup of coffee that morning. or a can of light beer last night. they only fail if there are high levels of drugs.

3 years, 6 months ago

ok if you want to have goverment money funding drugs... stupid

if someone does drugs, the consequence of them having a small amount of money for their family is what should happen. then people will say "if I do drugs, I will not be able to support my family, so I won't do drugs" we don't want people saying "I'll do drugs, and the goverment will pay for my drugs"

apparently crimminals and people doing drugs are not bad people. this app is the only place I've heard that.

the American dream is rewarding the good; not giving the bad the same as the good. the American dream is believing if you work hard you will be successful. doing drugs is not working hard, so why should the goverment hand them out money? telling people that they get welfare if the quit drugs is good cause people want money. they will quit drugs so they can get money, turn their life around and be successfull.

3 years, 6 months ago

that whole thing was rediculous Alex. first off I'm Canadian, I'm not voting in your election. but if I were, Sanders is so far the best candidate.

second you are saying doing drugs is a simple issue. addictions are not a simple thing. if you take away an addicts money without doing anything about the underlying addiction they will do anything to get another fix, often they turn to crime to fund it. so cutting their money doesn't help.

thirdly you ignored our points. what about their children? are you going to condemn children to starve because their parents are doing something wrong?

fourthly you are painting drug users as bad people and non users as good people. that is a rediculous over simplification. caffeine, alcohol, nicotine are all drugs that are virtually universally used. these people are just using different drugs then the drugs you are using. drug addicts aren't all bad people and trying to describe them as such doesn't help the debate.

finally, if kicking poor people with problems when they are down in your version of the American dream, then you have gotten it very wrong.

3 years, 6 months ago

historybuff I'm guessing your voting for sanders. we ain't socialists here. doing drugs is bad. not doing drugs is good. but we should give the drug people the same as the good law obeying citizens? What do you think people who do drugs are going to spend money on? more drugs. I think actions cone with consequences, and the consequence of doing drugs should be less money. this way people who do drugs might learn a lesson, become clean, and then get money. the good people will get more money then the bad people. this is the American dream. don't ruin it by giving people drug money.

3 years, 6 months ago

so you want to push people to starvation on a hypothetical?

3 years, 6 months ago
reece
replied to...

No the children shouldn't starve to death but then again you have to look at the circumstances and possibilities of the situation, they fail a drug test but they are still able to get a welfare check ..how do we even know the parents are going to spend their welfare check on food..they may possibly throw it away on drugs or etc. :/

3 years, 6 months ago

In 2014 missouri spent over $336,000 on testing it's welfare applicants. In that time they had 38,970 welfare applicants. Out of those 38,970, 48 tested positive.

Other states have found that screening welfare recipients has yielded far less positive results that they expected and the savings they claimed such programs would yield were far overestimated. To add to the cost of such programs, numerous lawsuits have been filed against states with such programs which they have to then spend money to litigate. Florida lost its case in federal court where the judge ruled such testing a violation of the 4th amendment.

So what exactly do you think such a program will actually do except, as psychdave has stated, push children off of food stamps and out of section 8, etc...

3 years, 6 months ago

So if the parents fail a drug test, should the children starve to death?

3 years, 6 months ago
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