Florida to drug test welfare recipients -- good idea?
Last fall, when we discussed the idea of drug testing unemployment insurance recipients, reader feedback was splintered – but not 50/50.
After a South Carolina Republican suggested the crackdown, EverydayMoney readers seemed to side with the Yankee politician. For every “Hey hey, what about civil liberties here?” response (real quote from one MSN.ca commenter), there were four or five “Absolutely, they should be tested!!!” (quote from another) hollers of support.
Now, in an entirely different state, drug testing for social benefits is back in the news. But it’s not in South Carolina, and it’s not for unemployment insurance.
The big non-NBA Finals news out of Florida this week is Governor Rick Scott’s signing legislation that will mandate adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screenings. The radical, but widely applauded, measure will become state law on July 1.
“It’s not right for taxpayer money to be paying for somebody’s drug addiction,” Scott told CNN. “On top of that, this is going to increase personal responsibility, personal accountability. We shouldn’t be subsidizing people’s addiction.”
Many Canadians must be nodding right now. Amen, Ricky Boy, they’d say. Yet the governor’s new legislation is ruffling many of the same feathers that the drug-test-unemployment-recipients motion did last autumn.
Opponents to the Florida drug testing measure, as they did in South Carolina, have called it “downright unconstitutional.” Such an infringement, detractors argue, presumes all welfare recipients are drug users.
But contrary to the proposition to drug test benefactors of unemployment insurance, which is largely paid into by the worker prior to their termination, this is welfare we’re talking here. This is public money, through and through. It is, in many ways, free cash to the recipient.
So why people should be upset over drug testing welfare recipients, Scott and his supporters can’t comprehend. As an added feature of the new legislation, the cost of screening isn’t totally forced upon the taxpayer. Aid applicants are responsible for paying for their drug test – if they pass, they recoup their cash in their benefit cheque; if they fail, they pay for the screening. Simple as that. What could be wrong with this proposal, which aims to fix a system that is obviously ripe for exploitation in its current form?
Do you think welfare recipients should be subject to drug testing in order to receive taxpayer-funded benefits?
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money
*Follow Jason on Twitter here.
Posted by: BABINA ALVAREZ | Jun 7, 2021 2:33:50 AM
NO DRUG TESTING!!!!!!! THERE ARE PEOPLE WITH BRAIN INJURY AND ARE NOT ABLE TO STAY AWAY FROM DRUGS ALCAHOL OR WHAT HAVE YOU. SOOOO, DO YOU THINK BECAUSE OF OTHER HEALTH ISSUES THEY SHOULD NOT GET WELFARE?
HERE IS ANOTHER ISSUE ABOUT OLD PEOPLE, WHAT IF THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY FOR RENT OR MEDS. OR THEY ARE ON DRUGS LEGAL OR OTHERWISE BE KEPT FOR FREE IN A OLD FOLKS HOME. THEY NO LONGER CONTRIBUTE AND ARE USING UP ALOT OF TAX PAYERS MONEY BECAUSE THEY FAILED TO SAVE FOR THEIR OLD AGE. MAYBE THE DRUG ADDICTS AND ALCAHOLICS AND OLD PEOPLE OR ANYONE FOR THAT MATTER THAT IS A HUGH DRAIN ON THE SISTEM SHOULD BE KINDLY PUT TO SLEEP BY AN INJECTION.
Posted by: kitty | Jun 7, 2021 6:33:23 AM
Yes people on welfare should take a drug test.There is people out there that have kids and do drugs and they cant feed the kids cause the money goes to the drugs.If someone on welfare needs medication then they should proof from a doctor that they need this and be excempt from it.But other peolpe should have it done.Not just for the tax payers but for the children these children suffer the most from this when they have parents that do drugs and the kids dont get food or clothing where is that right to the children.
Posted by: Concerned | Jun 7, 2021 7:20:23 AM
This is outrageous, if look deeper into this, it is the people who are not on welfare, who have real nice lives and money is probably not an issue for them who are saying yes to this. In my opinion this is the worst type of degradation and stereotyping towards a certain demographic of people, maybe we should test all the people who have jobs and houses and "wonderful" lives before they recieve their next pay...oh wait...whats that? now half the population is on welfare!? hmmm, saw that coming lol
Posted by: Fortunate | Jun 7, 2021 7:22:12 AM
This is a tough call. I will take the side of mandatory screening for welfare. When I say that, I don't think that we should stop with drug testing. I think there should also be a psychiatric evaluation done on welfare recipients also. And I think that if the psychiatric test shows that the person has no untreatable mental/social/physical condition and is mentally and physically able to work, we should provide resources to help them find a job. There should also be some rules around how often a person can apply for welfare. Maybe once every so many years. It would probably be a lot of money up front, but it would force the people who are abusing the system to get to work. In cutting down on the number of people abusing the system, it would allow us more money for those who really need it. That way everyone is doing a heck of a lot better. The people who are using drugs are working, so they don't have time to go on a bender, and the people who really need assistance (single parents, people with serious mental disabilities) can afford a better life that they would not be able to provide on their own.
But maybe I'm idealizing a bad situation. . .
Posted by: MARYMAY | Jun 7, 2021 7:37:59 AM
I think drug testing for ppl on welfair is fair, with keepng in mind (one reader pointed out) there are ppl with medical problems that need certain drugs and that should be over looked with a doctors note for sure, however there are ppl out there that use the welfair system to stay home and do drugs and nothing more, thats there lives, and if they have children they will be the ones to suffer. (im sure not all cases tho).
There are ppl out there that have been on welfair pretty much all there lives and do drugs and they are very capable of working but chose not to.
Keep in mind that the ppl who do **USE** the system WE are paying for to stay home watch t.v and do there drugs..**A DOGS LIFE** but dogs dont do drugs..
I think there should be a crack down on all welfair cases, get them out there and get them working.
**Of course with exceptions** ie health age and case,
EVERYONE can flip a burger.
****BRING THE DRUG TESTING TO CANADA****
have a wonderful day all
Posted by: donald mckenney | Jun 7, 2021 7:48:12 AM
well the drug test is good idea but what we need to is take the COMPUTERS out and start all over aging there would not be so many people on welfare, there are so many job out there and COMPUTERS have all the jobs that people can have. computer sould only be use on jobs that are to dangers for people to do
Posted by: Steve | Jun 7, 2021 7:49:11 AM
Welfare recipients should without a doubt, no questions asked be drug tested. Anyone who claims this is infringment on someone civil liberties or privacy are the same people who like to challenge authority over everything. The fact of the matter it is FREE money. Well free for the recipient, very costly for those of us who pay taxes. I personally know 6 welfare recipients, and all of them are illegal drug users. Not all are habitual, but quite frankly I don't want to pay for them to get high even if it is only once a month. While they are at it they should also implement alcohol and tobacoo screenings as well. I worked in a grocery store for many years making only slightly above minimum wage (2 cents actually). A VAST majority of welfare recipients would come into the store, buy minimal groceries then take the remainder of the money and go buy cartons of cigarettes, then go over to the attached liquor store and stock up on whatever for the month, while their kids stand there with tattered clothes. The whole idea of welfare is to help those who cannot help themselves, and while I'm all for this money to pay for food, clothing and shelter, I do not want my tax money going to support peoples drug, alcohol or tobaco habits. What used to really irk me was that the majority of welfare recipients were and are perfectly capable of working a regular job and choose not to work (single mom argument aside), and they used to take home roughly 95% of what I would make after working 40 hours a week. The system is broken. Put in whatever checks are necessary to weed out abusers.
Posted by: MARYMAY | Jun 7, 2021 8:17:48 AM
I totaly agree with you there Steve!!!!
I work hard for my money..40+ hours a week
What kills me is the ones on welfair that use and SELL drugs...
I kow one kid who has been on the welfair system since he was 16 he is now 34...he makes more money then i do by collecting his cheque and selling dope on the side. probably 1000.00 more then me a month
Then when you talk to him he call's the working a losser that we have to work for nothing while he makes more money at tax time then i would dream of..so not only does he reap it in every month but also at the end of the year...
It pisses me off, and really nothing we can do...
But not all cases are like that one for sure,,,there are people who really do need it.
GO FOR THE DRUG TESTING
have a great day all
Posted by: DoIsoundFedUp2U? | Jun 7, 2021 8:33:14 AM
The biggest problem is that they are given cash - drugs are not the only inappropriate thing that welfare money is spent on. It wouldn't be difficult in this day in age to create a 'rechargeable' card (think Starbucks) that can only be used at stores for grocery, clothing or gas (you would need to present ID to avoid people 'selling' their cards) - rent is direct deposited into landlords account (which makes their income traceable)....etc..etc.. sure an investment to set up but the long term savings against fraud and just a plain deterent for abuse where there is NONE right now.
Posted by: MARYMAY | Jun 7, 2021 8:42:54 AM
SEND YOUR IDEA TO THE GOVERMENT.:)
Posted by: deblynn | Jun 7, 2021 9:06:23 AM
the only problem with drug testing is that people who are denied benefits will end up on the street (children included) and the there will be a massive homeless population...
Posted by: MARYMAY | Jun 7, 2021 9:17:14 AM
Well for that then Still bring in drug testing , however a plan should be set up for those single Mom/Dads that are on drugs and admit it before testing..not sure how that would work, so that takes care of the ones with children,,What about the single ones who all they do is watch tv smoke or drink all day??
NO single person on welfair shold go without being tested, I dont want to pay for them being at home..DO YOU??
Posted by: 10Cents | Jun 7, 2021 9:57:06 AM
I too know of people who have "worked the system to the limit" from all available social nets ... and live a middle class life - have nice homes, cars, annual vacations while I scrimp and save and work and pay taxes to get by. Other than valuing my own integrity ... sometimes I wonder if it's worth it all! So ... to the point - YES - all of them should be tested - and yes - there should be a "human component" for extenuating circumstances, not just a computerized system - and yes - there should be a debit or gift card type situation where no cash can be drawn.
Sure - there will still be those who can still wangle around the system - but surely it would catch more of the abusers of the system. There isn't a fool proof way to deal with it all - but this is certainly a step in the right direction. It's better than doing nothing.
Posted by: Lorilee | Jun 7, 2021 12:17:02 PM
I can't believe some of the comments above. I thought we had come further as a society that what some of the comments above seem to portray. REALLY we should give them "rechargeable cards"?? May as well put them back on food stamps.
I do agree, there are some who take advantage of the system, but there are many, who really need this temporary assistance. Why should we degrade them any further? Do you think it is easy for a person to apply for welfare???
My sister had to very quickly leave an abusive spouse and take her two young children to another city. The only way they could survive was to apply for Welfare. This was not something she was proud of or enjoyed doing. Why would we subject these people to more abuse by implying they are drug users or putting it out there for the whole world to see by enforcing "rechargeable Welfare cards"??
I think if they are going to start drug testing those who are on Welfare, those who receive "public money" then they should start testing EVERY politician and government worker. Let's see how many of those pass the test.
Posted by: barry k | Jun 7, 2021 1:02:41 PM
Really? I think you should without a doubt make anyone who is getting welfare, food stamps and other help get drug tested. my wife owns a drug testing company & we inform all the labs if the person is taking anything that would cause a positive result or a false positive. It is time to stop wasting money on people who dont need it and are just getting a buzz for free. Test them all & let the truth set them free.
Posted by: MARYMAY | Jun 7, 2021 1:36:47 PM
i think yes it should be manditory to get welfair is to have drug tests and on a regular basis..
Remember now there are the medical exceptions as stated, this is to keep ppl who **LIVE** off the system at bay.
Also if your sister needs it , i only can wish her the best at getting her life back in order,,but if she is not a drug user then she should have no problem...Keeping in mind there are parents who perfer to buy drugs or alcohol and neglect the kids and what they need, so they suffer while the parent is getting high or loaded, if yu think about it hard, the thought should be ***BRING IN THE TESTING RIGHT AWAY***
If your sister is on Drugs well there there is a worry now isnt there...
Posted by: Steve | Jun 7, 2021 1:50:42 PM
Lorilee: You are missing the point of the argument. The fact of the matter is, by making things more politically correct so that Joe Blow on welfare doesn't get their feelings hurt by giving them no questions asked cash instead of food stamps is where the problem worsens. For free money, the only task or labor of any sort that a person must perform is to submit to a drug test so that you can ensure to some degree that your FREE money is not being used for drugs is a pretty sweet deal. It has nothing to do with believing every person who would aply for welfare is a drug user (in the case of your sister), that's a very narrow minded view of what amounts to a system check to ensure that the money is used at least somewhat properly instead of tax payer dollars being blown on drugs as it currently is by a large percentage of welfare recipients (which is not to say it wouldn't be blown on other useless items as I know someone on welfare who has a stereo system that would make audiophiles drool, but at least it's a start). The argument you use about testing politicians or public service employees (which i also think should be tested) is that they actually WORK ( and I use that term loosely) for their taxpayer paid salaries.
Posted by: MARYMAY | Jun 7, 2021 2:13:38 PM
THATS WAS A FUNNY ENDING STEVE...BUT YOUR RIGHT...LOL
Posted by: Sara | Jun 7, 2021 3:00:41 PM
I agree with drug testing for illicit drugs. If you are on social assistance and are not a druggie, you will have no problem agreeing to this. The bigger concern I can see however is the mutliple children chronic/cyclical users of welfare have. If you are on welfare and have yet ANOTHER child, you should be cut off. Simple as that.
Posted by: Lorilee | Jun 7, 2021 3:37:19 PM
Steve, I agree I would use the term WORK loosely in regards to politicians and public service workers. The fact of the matter is, if we were to follow most of the above advice, politicians and government workers get paid by us and therefore, like welfare recipients, should become accountable to us. But how far are we willing to go to invade their human rights?
I do get the "point" of the argument. I definitely do agree that some people abuse the system. No doubt about it! Some people on welfare do use drugs and alcohol. Is it right? NO. Yes, our system is broken and needs to be fixed. Do more accountability need to be in place? Yes. Do we need to degrade others to achieve this? No.
I don't agree with grouping and painting all welfare recipients with the same brush. Not all are abusing the system. The six people you know who are on welfare are not the norm. They are the exception.
As for welfare being FREE money, try going to apply for it. I have worked all my life and I have never personally been on welfare, but I have gone to support others who have been in the situation where they have needed it and even as it is now, it's a very humbling experience. I don't think we need to add insult to injury or kick a person when they're down. In Ontario the living allowance on welfare is 201.00 per month. If rent is over a certain amount, the remainder comes out of that amount. Try living on 50.00 per week or less. You're not living high on the hog.
All people have rights including the right to not be judged because they are down on their luck? Since when does being poor mean you give up all your rights? I pay my taxes and I know others will abuse the system, but at the end of the day I sleep well knowing I at least helped someone who has needed it. The one's who abuse the system will have a higher power than me to answer to.
For anyone who sits and judges others, I hope their lives are just as squeaky clean as they expect others to be.