12 August 2014

Drug Testing Confirms that Welfare Recipients are a Bunch of Drug-Addicted Slackers Looking for a Handout


1 out of 812 applicants tested positive for drugs in Tennessee.


After instituting dehumanizing drug-testing requirements to welfare recipients on July 1, just one person tested positive. That means that just 0.12% of all people applying for cash assistance in Tennessee have tested positive for drugs, compared to the 8% who have reported using drugs in the past month among the state's general population.

Now, Tennessee, go test your state legislators and mayors and city councilmen and judges and see how those numbers stack up.

In Tennessee and other states, suspicions that welfare recipients are a bunch of drug-addicted slackers were proven dead wrong.

(a nice graphic to put things in perspective)

In Utah, just 12 of 4,730 (0.25%) welfare applicants tested positive for drugs over the course of a year. 

In Florida, just 2.6% of applicants tested positive, costing the state much more than it saved. The program was thrown out in court last December as a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

In Virginia, a similar drug testing program was scrapped after analysts found it would cost $1.5 million to implement and save just $229,000 from un-disbursed benefits.

Maine’s governor set out to prove welfare recipients in his state were using their benefits to buy booze and cigarettes at bars and strip clubs, but turned up nothing.

Requiring people to pee in a cup for no reason other than being poor and in need of assistance is demoralizing and won’t pass constitutional muster.

And test results thus far only confirm what researchers already knew: Welfare recipients are not rampant drug users, and most of those who do take drugs are not addicts. Those who do have substance abuse problems mostly drink alcohol. It's a tired stereotype perpetuated by those who wish to further drive a wedge between the haves and the have-nots and is rooted in racism.

But even if the tests were finding many more drug addicts, denying them benefits would still be a cruel, stupid policy. It's the children of poor drug users who stand to lose the most if the food stamps get cut.

Nevertheless, last year, House Republicans voted to require states to drug test food stamp applicants (in the same bill that also cut benefits by $40 billion, by the way).

I’ve always thought it made a lot more sense to test members of Congress than Welfare applicants. The taxpayer funded checks they cash are much bigger.