There has been quite a bit of discussion on the State of Florida’s decision to administer drug testing for welfare recipients.
First, I disagree with any federal or state sponsored welfare. There is no constitutional right that allows for money from one person to be seized to be given to another person. Taxes are collected for city/state/federal programs and should be used for the benefit of the collective. This is not an income redistribution program. On a state level I have the same opinion although states have more discretion based on their state constitutions as long as they do not violate the federal laws. So for anyone who screams the drug testing is unconstitutional, there is no constitutional basis for that accusation. It is not illegal search and seizure as the recipient is not forced to test. They, just as others who apply for jobs, oblige such testing in exchange for the opportunity of economic advancement. You have the freedom to decline the testing and inturn, the funds attached with said opportunity.
So the next part of the issue is how will this drug testing be implemented and what do we do with those that fail. I am of the thinking that drug use is not a crime. I do not agree with it morally, but legally I have no issue. They can be mildly regulated with laws to protect us as we do with alcohol. But for now drug use is a crime. Will those that fail be prosecuted for violating drug laws? Will they send them off for drug treatment? Or will they just stamp “failed” on their papers and send them on their way like the education system does with our children. I am curious how will the state handle these matters?
We also have a third issue. Cost of welfare fraud. That was the reason cited in the story of why this drug testing program was signed into law. So we have people who use drugs getting welfare money. And we all know that is not fair and it cost taxpayers a lot of money. So how will drug testing solve this? Who knows. I mean really how many will fail a drug test. Is drug use really the biggest cost factor when calculating welfare fraud?
What types of fraud can you think of off the top of your head, before the drugs come to mind? People who work under the table, who sell or trade food stamps, who have more people supporting them than they report. How about those that refuse to work period. How about how food stamps are spent. Does the recipient smoke or drink? Do they have money for luxuries like cable? How frugal are they? Do they spend their money wisely at the store? Do they eat right? Do they take care of their health to avoid further use of medical care? Do they conserve utilities? There are so many issues with the distribution of public funds to private citizens. Some may argue that its not our business how they spend it. But do they feel the same way when a congressmen spends $500 of taxpayer allowance at a strip club? To me it’s the same. Both are being paid for by a government program. This is not a salary. It’s a program.
So maybe Florida is stepping in the right direction. I do not know how much money the drug testing program will cost vs how much money is saved. My solution would be to put forth the effort to transition these people into a life of independence and self-reliance. It will be interesting to see where this is a year from now.