Drug Testing for Welfare Essay

Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

The question at hand is, should recipients of welfare undergo drug testing for use of illegal drugs in order to receive their welfare checks? This is one of the issues that the US Congress and the US citizens have been debating for years. Author, Arthur Delany explains the concern of both sides of this question in his article, “Welfare Drug Testing Bill Introduced In Congress”, published in The Huffington Post. Like many social issues, there are opposing view points on the idea. On this issue, many would argue that drug testing for welfare recipients is unconstitutional and ultraconservative, while on the complete opposite side the argument, it is believed that the US government should not give taxpayer’s money to people using and abusing illegal drugs. The problem is both arguments seem to have good reasoning behind their debates, which is why I decided to use this particular article by Arthur Delany, to make my point. I personally believe in drug testing for welfare recipients, and I believe it will be interesting to truly examine and to understand the reasoning of those who oppose it. In many pockets of the United States, there have been attempts to push drug testing for welfare recipients into legislation, but it has never passed into law.

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The problem with this issue, like many social and political issues, as noted earlier, is there are at least two opinions, with half the people trying to turn a matter into law, and the other half trying to stop it. For example, in Florida in 2011 the legislation to put drug testing in place when applying for welfare went into action. However, that order was very short lived. One reason was that the state of Florida was not able to prove, using research data, that there was a drug abuse problem in that state in general. The order was taken to court by the opposition and a three judge panel in charge of the case wrote “The State has presented no evidence, that simply because an applicant for TANF benefits is having financial problems, he is also drug addicted or prone to fraudulent neglectful behavior.” (Delany2). The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of Florida to stop the law using the Constitution’s ruling against search without reason, to show that the law goes against the principles of the constitution. Using those principles to make the point that if there is no connection between drugs and the welfare recipient prior to applying to welfare then it is unconstitutional to drug test the
applicant. (Delany2).

On the other hand, one of the more agreed on arguments to pass legislation for drug testing welfare recipients is the fact that the monies going to the welfare recipients comes directly from the taxpayers. The people arguing for drug tests for welfare recipients use the argument that if the government is going to help those who meet the requirements for welfare, and give them the tax payers money, then the tax payers should have a say on how that money is spent. After the state of Florida was sued for approving drug tests for welfare recipients in legislation, Florida Governor Rick Scott called the ruling “disturbing” and said the state would take it up with the U.S. Supreme Court. (Delany 1).

Governor Scott also stating “Welfare is taxpayer money to help people looking for jobs who have children, illegal drug use by anyone with children looking for a job is totally destructive. This is fundamentally about protecting the wellbeing of Florida families. We will protect children and families in our state, and this decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court.” (Delany 1). Many believe as well that drug testing for welfare recipients will actually be a deterrent for illegal drug use by those families who are counting on their welfare checks, giving them a better chance of getting off welfare in the long run and making a better life because of the absence of illegal drug use.

The issue of drug testing for welfare recipients is an issue that most likely will not be settled for quite some time. The debate regarding drug testing for welfare recipients is considered unconstitutional by some and is considered a tool that can be used to better manage tax payers dollars and protect welfare recipients by others. My personal belief is that drug testing for welfare recipients should be part of the process to receive welfare, as one day I will start paying taxes and I do not want my tax dollars being used to enable some ones drug habits. I also believe if the illegal drug users want to do drugs, they need to find other means to do so, and to leave the tax payers dollars for those that truly want to do the right thing and use the welfare dollars to support their families while looking for work or further educating themselves.

Work Cited
Delaney, Arthur. “Welfare Drug Testing Bill Introduced In Congress.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 04 Mar. 2013. Web. 03 Sept. 2013. Delaney, Arthur. “Florida Welfare Drug Testing Law Gets No Reprieve From Appeals Court.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 26 Feb. 2013. Web. 03 Sept. 2013.