Florida and Welfare

Recently our new Scary Governor Rick Scott, signed a bill that would require recipients of Welfare to submit to a drug test.    Immediately Florida Democrats and the ACLU got up in arms….

I am a Democrat.  And I will say, I really really dislike having Rick Scott at Governor.  I will never ever vote for him, no matter what he does.  Why?  Because he is an actual criminal.  In my opinion, he is definitely guilty of health care fraud, and while he somehow escaped corrective actions, it does not mean that he did not participate in criminal activity.

BUT and it is a big but.  I really think it is FINE to test those who want to receive benefits from my tax dollars for drugs.   I have always been drug tested for jobs, and as a condition of my employment, I pretty much have to submit to a test any time there is something that warrants it. (like say lots of narcotics go missing during a shift.)  If such a person fails, and the benefits were for children, the person can then designate someone else to receive benefits for the children.

I really do not think that it violates any 4th amendment rights, as people in general do not have a right to have public assistance without having to qualify.  It is not like the Food Stamp or TANF people come banging down your door and catheterize everyone for urine.  Now that would be a real invasion of privacy.

It has also been argued that this is some subtle form of class-ism.  Perhaps so.  Many people say that this law assumes drug use among welfare recipients.  I wholly believe the majority of recipients are not drug users, but as noted in this article apparently 10-20% of welfare recipients were discovered to have drug and alcohol problems, while the general population stood at 6%.  So…while the difference is not statistically that huge, it would appear that possibly use of drugs and alcohol are one factor for SOME people to be needing welfare.

So, oddly, as a liberal person I applaud this decision.  I am also biased because I see tons and tons of recipients in the Emergency Department.  On a daily basis I meet women with 40 dollar manicures, I-Phones, packs of cigarettes, who state that they are unable to “get tylenol for my baby”.  It is one of the most irritating things I deal with.  And I get that this has to do with a culture of materialism, and people making poor judgements, becoming parents too early etc. It is a complex world.

Sometimes I think we get really bogged down in the reasons why people are the way they are.  When in fact, at some point, we all have to accept that we have all experienced flawed childhoods, tragic sad experiences and huge disappointments in life, and thus even with all that, it is still not acceptable to just do whatever you feel and expect the rest of the world to take care of you.

Now…that said.

I’m unsure this will actually work.  There is such a thing as getting clean, taking a test and going right back to drug use.  Recipients are not going to be doing monthly samples, so it’s sort of more of a statement that a total prevention of the behavior.  It may make it essentially a bit more difficult to obtain assistance, if one uses illicit drugs, but otherwise, I don’t think it will really reduce the need for welfare, or reduce drug use.  And there is the sticky wicket.   Will this actually help do either of these things?  I really doubt it.  I think people will still need TANF and I think that they will find ways to beat the test fairy easily.

There is a ton of welfare fraud that occurs that really has nothing to do with drug use.  The Guvner’s owning of Solantic, a walk-in clinic that does indeed offer drug testing, makes me feel uncomfortable, as this looks a bit like some of his old actions.

Because right now, even though I think drug testing is a good idea, the only winner in this it would seem is the companies that make the testing kits…..

A lot to think on.   And maybe not the clearest post I have ever written.  Blame it on recent surgery!





5 thoughts on “Florida and Welfare

  1. I also think this is a great idea, however, like you stated here, there are always ways around it. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

  2. On the one hand, I understand the logic of having welfare recipients tested for drugs. On the other hand, I was once the victim of a wildly inaccurate drug test result—this was back when drug testing in the workplace was still a novelty and the science wasn’t very good—and I had to fight with my employer for my reputation. I had to pay for a test with an independent lab and hire an attorney, which put me several thousand dollars in the hole. I was eventually given a “clean” record and my employer was forced to pay for my expenses, but by then I was so upset I ended up quitting anyway. Maybe the tests are more accurate now, but what if they aren’t? Can the testee protest the results? I don’t see someone who needs to apply for welfare hiring a lawyer or going to another lab for a second test.

    I’ve also seen what you’ve seen—people buying cigarettes while paying for infant formula with food stamps, or chatting away on an iPhone while waiting in a public clinic for their child’s vaccinations and checkup. It doesn’t seem right, but I don’t think drug testing will stop it. People raised in poverty often do not know how to manage money: I used to work in a program that addressed that problem (among others), but sadly many of my clients couldn’t even do basic math. I don’t know how they managed to get their high school diplomas—though many of them didn’t have one—but it made me realize how deep their problems were, and how no one can fix them with a quick solution like drug testing or taking their children or benefits away.

  3. Why are people on welfare being punished for being on welfare? Surely recent times have shown how easily one can fall into need assistance. Not all the unemployed are unemployed due to their own fault – what about all those CEOs who made the decisions that put them in that situation? Discrimination, utterly and completely. Most people are about two pays away from being homeless.

  4. Would agree too about the drug testing; if you get something it comes with conditions. Like a worksite, you are given a PC and office (if you are lucky) and furniture with the understanding these are tools provided by the employer for you to do what you are hired to do, and that in no way is it ‘your’ office, etc.

    As to those with low incomes not being able to handle money, I would submit that they don’t because many have been weaned on decades of entitlements and dependence. Not entirely their fault either.

    • It’s such a complex mess, I think perhaps a class on budgeting with child care provided would help, but to be honest, Everyone makes bad financial decisions here and there…I know I certainly have…(A Bright red Jeep was one really horrible choice on my part.). One would hope I would never make so many bad choices that I could not afford basic care items. But still. When my dog got neutered I had budgeted 200.00. he had complications and the bill became about 600.00 I surely was not entirely prepared for that and it took me a while to pay it off.

      I dont really see a drug screen as punishment at all. I mean, I take them periodically, and most of these people if they become employed will have to as well. Drugs that are screened for are illegal, and people are not supposed to be using them. It is not like we are screening for cigarette use and saying, No handout if you smoke legal cigarettes.

      I think it’s not a bad idea, but I still dislike the Governor and feel he wants it for reasons that are not in the best interest of the people…

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