Drug testing individuals that apply for welfare in three counties in Michigan have turned up zero results, as in, no individual tested positive. None. Zero. Nada. And of course, all the other words that can be used for meaning absolutely no one.
The outcry about drug testing comes from many groups. The liberals, the anti-discrimination crowd and other left leaning government watch dog groups. Opinions from the groups that I have read about claim that it is unfair to test people who are in desperate need for assistance for their own health and wellbeing as well as their families.
I say bunk. That’s right, bunk.
Bunk, as in, it may be unfair, but that should not be the reason welfare applicants should not be tested for illegal drug use. Being unfair is not a good enough reason to stop anything. Life is unfair, as the expression goes, so live with it.
It is wrong on three different levels. First, there is no evidence that the applicant has done anything wrong. That means that the government can’t search a person’s body or belongings unless there is both real evidence that illegal drugs are being used and that the evidence has been presented in open court, where, the court rules that the evidence is worthy of a search warrant.
Then, and only then, can the individual be tested. By the way, if the test comes back positive, the individual should be prosecuted for possession. But, not deny benefits to any related individuals that are dependent.
The second level is that all individuals living in the country are to be treated as equals. If the state thinks that individuals that are appling for welfare should be drug tested, then everyone who receives any type of assistance from the state should be tested. People that live in a community where police and fire protection are provided should be drug tested. The owners and executives from companies that receive tax breaks or other types of assistances from local and state agencies should be tested. Otherwise we could select any socially hated class of people and start asking them to get drug tested. Or, why stop there? Let’s started walking into their home and check to see if anything is illegally going on. It could be any immigrant that is living in the country, legal or not. After all, an invasion of privacy in one area can be used to justify the invasion of privacy in other areas.
Of course, we could not do any of that because of the first level.
On the third level, the recipient of the benefits provided by the state, whether it is welfare or any other program, is that people have a right to it. “Right?” you say, “where does it say they have rights in this area.” Maybe not in the Constitution but certainly the law. If a benefit program is created by an act of congress, at any level, and the guidelines of eligibility are outline, anyone who fits those guidelines has a right to the benefits if they so choose to apply for them. Denying that right based on illegal search by the governing body is unconstitutional.
Whatever the rights or responsibilities are for the individual, others related and depended on the individual should not be punished. Any individual that does anything wrong from murder to the use of illegal drugs should be treated as an individual not as a group. The individual should be prosecuted, not the family. Because a dad may use drugs illegally, does it mean that the mother and children are to be denied benefits? The thinking, or so those that pushed for this legislation want us to believe, is that if the individual is doing something illegal, he or she will refrain from doing it so that his or her family can receive benefits. As a side bar, that just might be the case here. But, that individual should be denied, and not others related to him or her.
The reality here isn’t trying to weed out drug users in the system (no pun intended), it is to reduce the cost of welfare in the state budget to enable dollars to go elsewhere, like welfare for big business. It is also to make good political public relations with the supporting constituents of the law makers that back the program.
The better effort by the state would be to increase the benefits paid to individuals so they can make time for educational programs, to provided educational opportunities, to provide real job training in fields that really matter to an economy that attract business, to ask the recipients to take responsibility for their success, to provide health care and ask for accountability from the recipients.
Where are we going to find money for that you say?
While it is a matter for another post, the money that was spent for this program would be the first place to start.