The Disgusting Specter of Drug Testing for Welfare

First off, I don’t use drugs. They’re stupid and pointless, and I’ve seen many lives ruined. I don’t just mean the illegal ones. I also rarely drink. Occasionally, I’ll have a glass of wine or beer, but even that’s rare. I don’t care if anyone else takes anything, as long as they don’t endanger others in the process. If you want to sit in the privacy of your own home or a private club and get wasted, it’s up to you. Just don’t accost others or get behind the wheel if you’re impaired.

I also see the “drug war” as a complete waste that ruins more lives than drugs. Face it; we can’t protect people from themselves and it’s a waste of time, money and energy to try, especially when it comes to using law to do so. It’s time to legalize, regulate and tax most currently illegal drugs. In the meantime, however, we have to fight against some unconstitutional bullshit that’s going on in red states.

Every couple of years, some Republican idiot proposes that poor people who apply for welfare have to pass a drug test before they get their money.

Yeah, you read that right; it’s their money.

The fact is, everyone who works pays taxes, regardless of the impression given by the GOP. And 98% of welfare recipients receive welfare for one year or less. What that means is, the vast majority of welfare recipients will pay far more in taxes throughout their life than they will ever be paid in welfare. It’s their money, not yours. And think of the precedent that sets, anyway. If those receiving AFDC or SNAP (Food Stamps) have to drug test to get their money, what’s to prevent the government from drug testing everyone who receives a government check, even if it’s a tax refund or a Social Security check? Is this really something we want to start? If so, let’s start with Congress and the legislators who propose this shit.

It’s truly shocking how many “strict constitutionalists” and teabaggers think this is a peachy idea. The other day, someone even posited that it’s a great idea because people with jobs have to endure drug tests. Besides the fact that most shouldn’t unless their job could endanger public safety, it’s up to the employer, and not a government mandate. Note the difference. Theoretically, if an employer chooses to drug test applicants, you can choose to not apply, or find an employer who doesn’t test. It’s not a mandate from on high. A proposal to force a welfare recipient to drug test sets the constitution on its ass, because it essentially forces the recipient to prove they did not commit a crime.

That’s not how the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are supposed to work. Americans should never have to prove their innocence to government; the government is required to prove guilt. That’s what “due process” means. When a taxpayer comes into the welfare office under the influence, that’s probable cause and a drug test may be warranted. But to require an applicant to pass a drug test to get their money is unconstitutional. The simple fact that they’re poor and out of work and need money for their family does not qualify as “probable cause” to force them to prove they’re not violating drug laws. It’s also petty, stupid and cruel.

Besides being morally wrong, drug testing every welfare applicant is also impractical; it will cost a hell of a lot more than it would save. Given that the total AFDC and food stamp benefits to the average poor family total about $1000 each month in most of the states considering these stupid proposals, and each drug test is likely to cost $100 or more, who thinks they’ll save money? Do the math; 10% of welfare recipients would have to come up positive on the drug test AND that decision would have to be upheld by an appeals process. And since alcohol is legal, drunks would actually PASS a drug test. So, laws like this would essentially turn them into alcoholics. Is that really better for anyone? Does it seem fair and just that we give a chck to a roaring drunk, and deny money to a woman with a little marijuana in her system? This is the stupidity of the “drug war” writ large.

Like I said; it’s also cruel. The poor are under enough stress as it is. Welfare doesn’t cost taxpayers all that much, and it certainly doesn’t pay much. The vast majority of those on welfare are there because they’re single with multiple kids, and they receive no child support or alimony. Want them off welfare? Subsidize their child care and/or provide them with education and job training, so that they can compete in the job market? Pay for them to be able to go to court and get an alimony and/or child support order, and then make a greater effort to track down and collect from deadbeat parents. Doesn’t that make more sense?

Why do Republicans to pick on the poor, and then act as if their cruelty is something to be proud of? They brag about being “Christian.” but weren’t they taught that picking on the downtrodden is inhumane? Who thinks Jesus would approve of humiliating the poor before giving them their own money ? Who thinks the Jesus in the Bible would approve of a propoasal that would essentially deny children basic food and shelter because their parent sn’t perfect? Well, let’s ask him, shall we?

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” — Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:40 (NIV) )

You’d make Jesus Christ take a drug test in order to receive basic food and shelter? If not, then he doesn’t approve of your actions.

We should all be sick of this. This isn’t what America is about. The “drug war” needs to end, and we need to treat the poor with more dignity and respect. When do Republicans become ashamed of themselves? I don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out.

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