Saturday, November 8, 2014

Drug Testing Food Stamp Recipients

    I don’t wish to offend anyone. But I see the Facebook postings and the commentaries elsewhere that say drug testing those seeking help is such a stellar idea. The combination of glee and anger they express in sharing that they think this is a good idea shows that they believe a great many people on welfare are drug addicts. That belief, and the jibes at Food Stamp recipients in general, are unkind and blatantly ignorant.  That so many citizens are convinced that those who take welfare are "lazy," "freeloaders," "don't want to work,"  and that they are drug addicts needs to be addressed with facts.

     Veterans (some with war wounds both mental and physical) and military families are on Food Stamps because they can’t make ends meet. Abused women with children, when they manage to escape abuse, may only survive thanks to Food Stamps. Many, many single parents are dependent on food stamps to feed their children. Many college students who are trying to better themselves while meeting the needs of their families are on Food Stamps. Many with medical problems are on Food Stamps.  And here's the kicker-- many who are working are on Food Stamps.

    The last thing any of these people need is one more thing to do. One more humiliation. One more area where the government can make a mistake that creates havoc in their life.  The argument is that workers must submit to drug testing when getting a job, so why shouldn't someone seeking help from the government ("one who doesn't want to work" is the way it is presented)?  Perhaps because most who are seeking help are already dealing with the shame and stigma that they can't provide enough to support their family. When you go for a job interview you are drug tested because the business wants to protect the customers.  Who is being protected when drug tests are forced on Food Stamp recipients?  The tax payer?

      What do you think drug testing is going to cost us—the American people?  Walgreens charges $36 for a 12-panel screen. Given what the government has paid for items like screws, it seems unlikely they will be cost effective when they do drug testing.  And pardon me while I note that these tests are not 100% accurate. Take a look at the costs and results of this drug testing plan in Florida and in Tennessee. Long story short-- the state loses more money and finds out that almost no one is testing positive.

       I hated paying high taxes when I made good money, especially when I thought that the government spending my hard earned money didn't know a thing about budgets.  I used to tell myself that when I paid my taxes they were going to NASA;  it made me feel better about it.  If you would like to know how it really breaks down, plug what you are paying in here:   Let me give you a further fact: about half of your tax money goes to national defense and health care. 

      For you who have managed to have things go well in your life and have not faced a challenge that threw you to the ground and stomped on you, please recall that not everyone has that joy.  Life can be hard on people even when they do it all "right."  Health issues, employment ending abruptly, lack of jobs that pay well, and many other reasons can take the life of someone-- like YOU-- and turn it upside down.  I don't wish it for you.  I just hope you'll realize that it happens, and people don't always have the energy or health to bounce back immediately.  And sometimes they need help. Don't discourage them from getting it with one more hoop to jump through. 

      As the ghost of Christmas present says to Scrooge, “Beware them both [ignorance and want], and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy [ignorance], for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” Perhaps we need to know who the “surplus population is” before we condemn them… and waste valuable resources to drug test them.

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