Thursday, July 5, 2012

Welfare for Drug Testers

Someone recently asked me about drug testing welfare recipients.  I've had this conversation a few times, but here's my response.  I thought it was pretty good.
I wish we'd have drug tested the Fisker executives before we paid out their welfare.

Joking aside, I completely understand where you're coming from. As a Libertarian, we take it as an article of faith that private organizations can more effectively, accountably, and efficiently provide welfare services through charitable contributions than the government can through tax revenues anyway. Welfare should not be a lifestyle and we should not be paying it out to drug addicts. I totally agree with you there. My concern, as it was last week, is with how we get there. The states where this has been tried already have not realized a net savings.

I am also concerned about the effectiveness of drug testing as a mechanism for screening drug users. The science is such that only marijuana users can be caught after up to a month of not using. Heroin and cocaine users can test negative after a few days. Unless the program includes even more funding for supervised tests, it is also possible to mislead a drug test by using someone else's...sample. I think this will amount to a big giveaway to drug testing companies and little to nothing in the way of savings or improved work ethic.

I am concerned about abuse of social welfare programs though, and I think there are steps that can be taken to address a lot of it. I think Delaware primarily needs to consider its eligibility criteria, such as assets instead of just income and more stringent requirements for maintaining benefits. Better accountability and identity verification for use of the EBT cards may also stop some of the abuse. We also, as you said, need to facilitate people getting actual work by removing the regulatory barriers to their doing so.

I hope you can understand where I'm coming from on this issue. My position is unlikely to change.
I completely empathize with the people going to work every day, knowing that their taxes are being withheld to fund the drug habits of those too lazy to earn an honest living.  It's one of the reasons I got into this messy "politics" business to start with.  Drug testing companies, though, would just be another welfare recipient adding to the cost of government without solving the problems of abuse in corporate and social welfare programs.  We must effectively solve the problems facing our state and our country.  Not emotionally attack them.

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