Drug testing welfare recipients

7 July 2016

“With 4, 300,000 people, roughly 4. 1% of the American population on welfare, the government annually spends about 132 billion dollars on welfare, which does not include either food stamps or unemployment insurance. ”. Since the 1930s, many forms of welfare have been assisting the needy families and less fortunate of the society. However, within the past few years or so, there have been actions made to start drug testing recipients of welfare, potentially altering the whole concept of welfare.

Although, only 3 states, as of now, have actually made it a law, “getting welfare and food stamps may become tougher as twenty three states around the country seek to adopt stricter laws that would require public aid recipients to take drug tests. ” (Alcindor, 2012). The act of drug testing welfare recipients would be just that, drug testing recipients. Many of the states considering this have different plans to go about it, but all would have the same general idea.

Drug testing welfare recipients Essay Example

For example, states like Florida are requiring that all people receiving any form of aid get tested while other states such as Missouri are requiring testing for anyone they “reasonably” suspect of drug use. Then there are some other states that are not necessarily considering drug testing, but rather creating more steps in order to receive aid. Regardless of the method used, the whole point is to attempt to keep tax dollars out of the hands of drug sellers and users and keep the system from being abused.

One of the main thoughts behind it is that if a person has the means to be able to buy drugs, then there is no reason that he or she should be on any sort of public assistance. Drug testing in today’s society is by no means a new concept. Almost all applications for any level of job require that an applicant at least be willing to submit a drug test if not actually required to take one. In order to be considered for employment, companies appreciate knowing that they are paying someone to not only work hard for them, but also that he or she is not using illicit or illegal drugs.

It is a simple way for companies to be reassured that their employees have the best interests in mind for said company, not to mention it is against the law and would reflect negatively on the company. It would only make sense that if a person is required to drug test for employment in which to earn money that those earning money via public assistance are also held to that same standard. While there are those that consider it a fair and an obvious decision, there are also those who view it as unethical, unnecessary and a waste of money.

While the idea of drug testing recipients seems like an easy and obvious solution to keep the welfare program from being abused, the facts behind this sort of process are not so compelling. For example, Florida is one of the few states that very recently passed a law that would require testing and it “turned out to be so expensive that it ultimately cost the state an additional $45,780–even after savings from benefits that were denied to applicants who failed the tests.

The measure failed to move forward in part because only 6% of applicants did not pass the test–a rate three times lower than the percentage of estimated of illegal drug users in Florida. ” (Whitaker, 2012). With numbers like that, the act of drug testing definitely carries pros and cons with it that not only affect those on welfare but society and the government as a whole. Just the mere discussion of drug testing recipients has managed to spring up quite a controversy throughout the country recently and has citizens and government officials alike questioning whether or not this is the right direction to go to save on tax dollars.

The popular opinion with this particular subject is one of saving money and also cutting back on the drug use in today’s society. “Many people agree that it is not fair that taxpayers should have to pay for the addiction of those receiving public assistance and if drug testing were to be implemented, that would cause people to either stop using or seek help in order to gain assistance back after a failed test. ” (Candisky, 2012).

While these are very true and very legitimate reasons in the direction for drug testing, there are still those lingering cons of the process as well. “There has always been a negative stigma associated with those receiving welfare and to add a drug test on top of that would only seem to make matters worse. ” (Barrett, 2011). Similarly to that statement, citizens receiving welfare are no more likely to have problems with drugs than anyone else in society, so why is the target recently been falling on welfare recipients?

However, one of the main concerns is the price tag that a law like this carries. As mentioned earlier with Florida, it actually ended up costing the state a lot more money than it saved and “over the past few years, some two dozen states either have passed or considered laws requiring testing. Many of the testing bills proposed in other states went nowhere or were defeated once it became clear there was little likelihood of saving money. ” (Editorial Board, 2012).

With the economy still in a vulnerable condition, the idea of spending a lot of money on new controversial legislation like this is something that a lot of states are having a hard time 5 with. Not to mention the consideration of a law like this has the Fourth Amendment to consider as well. It could be seen as unconstitutional to “reasonably” drug test someone because they are on welfare, giving a whole new different negative stigma to an already difficult topic and potentially driving some people away from applying for welfare.

There are definitely at least two very clear, very opposite sides to a topic like this and with it only being in question for just a few years now, there is still a lot more that can be done to not only attempt to solve the issue of wasted tax dollars, but to make something like this fair to all people of the society as opposed to targeting those on welfare. With so many different angles and arguments underlying the main issue, it is not something that can be solved in a short amount of time, but rather, needs to be worked and looked at over years to find one or more possible solutions to such a pressing and important issue.

The spending and saving of tax dollars affects almost everyone in society and the government and any effort to save that money is an important issue. As previously mentioned, this is still a new and ongoing issue to be discussed and solved, along with it will come the social workers’ role in it. Social workers play a key role in society, especially with welfare related issues. If down the line, a law similar to this does become widely passed, the role of social workers will become a little more important.

As a social worker, he or she is to advocate for his or her clients and hypothetically speaking, his or her client tests positive for drug use, the social worker then becomes more involved. He or she would have to then work with the client to receive proper rehab or help to get him or her back on track to receive benefits again. As mentioned, this is all a very hypothetical situation because drug testing recipients is such a new concept and no one can predict what direction this legislation could end up taking.

Whatever the case may be in the future, the role of the social worker will be a very involved and important one, as it is today with any welfare related issue. The question of whether or not to drug test recipients then brings up a big question, among many others. If a law like that were to get passed, what sort of punishment would there be for those who failed the test? Would he or she be banned for the program for a certain amount of time? For good? Or would he or she just get help then re – test?

If so, after how much allotted time? With so many questions to answer and many potential directions it could go, it is definitely another underlying problem that will need to be addressed if this progresses. Too many people rely on welfare to survive and it would be inhumane to deny anyone that right for an extensive period of time. Obviously, one of the main ideas propelling this topic is that of fairness, however, it needs to be done in a cheaper way.

Trying to save tax payer money doesn’t make sense at all if it only costs a lot of money to do so in the long run. With anything anymore, there is not clear cut “right or wrong” answer just like there isn’t a “one side versus another side. ” Drug testing welfare recipients carries with it a number of opinions and a number of different angles to approach it with. How deep should this topic go? Where does the line get drawn? There is no clear cut answer to it just like there is no line that can be drawn at any point.

No matter the outcome, people’s lives are affected and not everyone will be content with how things go so really, there never will be a definite law or legislation for such a controversial topic such as this. The rich are getting richer and the poor are dramatically getting poorer, making welfare a necessity for a larger number of people every year. Drug testing those recipients could very easily just be the tip of the iceberg for what lies ahead for the welfare state.

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