Welcome to Retroman40's World!

Drug Tests and Welfare

Should people. or should I say citizens, receiving any kind of public benefit be tested for use of illegal drugs?  It can sure sound like a good idea when some politician is spewing it out while pandering for votes.  I know a lot of my friends think it's a good idea.  As for me, I'm not so convinced.

During my nearly 26 year Coast Guard career I was tested for illegal drug use probably close to 50 times.  I actually thought it was a complete waste of resources but I understood the background and intent.  Let's face it; if you're in a safety or security sensitive position you sure as hell want to have complete confidence in your team.  Of course, the big problem with drug testing is that in most cases it doesn't really say you are currently under the influence of the drug, only that you've used it sometime in the past.  Of course how long drug use can be detected depends on a lot of things; particularly the drug.

Before going any further, let me get on record that people receiving public aid should definitely NOT be spending the money on illegal drugs.  Besides being against the law, if you have money to buy drugs you sure as hell don't need public assistance. I'd like to go a step or two further here though.  If we are going to require drug testing as a condition of receiving any public assistance, I propose that we test for/monitor the following also:

Tobacco use.  I don't smoke but I see that at least here in Florida a pack of cigarettes is going for between five and six bucks a pack.  A pack a day smoker is spending at least 150 bucks a month.  Personally I don't care if anyone smokes, that's their business.  Of course, I don't want to be financing their habit either.  It might be legal, but if you can't afford food, you sure as hell shouldn't be spending any money on smokes.

Tattoos and Piercings
.  If you need public assistance, you certainly shouldn't be spending a dime on new ink or any other "body art".  I would propose that before you receive that first dime that your body be mapped and all existing tattoos and piercings be recorded.  At some specified interval the process will be repeated.  If any new ink or otherwise appears then you are out.

Booze.  Hey, if you can't afford food or shelter you can't afford booze.  I say that anyone receiving any public assistance that is caught purchasing or consuming any alcoholic beverages will immediately forfeit their ability to receive any government assistance.  I don't care if you drink, I just don't want to buy your booze for you.

Gambling.  If you have money to buy a lottery ticket you have money to buy food.  

I considered adding having a mobile device, however for many (most?) of us now our mobile device is our primary communication tool.  If you're looking for a job you need a phone.

At this point you may not be sure if I am serious or just kidding.  In a lot of ways I am dead serious but I know that if we are going to give public assistance that there are some people who will game the system and cheat.  To execute everything I listed above would take an army of agents and the cost would far exceed any "return".  That's kind of how I feel about doing drug testing.

What this really is an example of is pandering for votes by politicians who like to divert the attention of the electorate for important issues - like why people actually need to be on public assistance.  For some reason, a fair number of people believe that everyone receiving public assistance likes it and they are just a bunch of lazy drug users.  Believe it or not, bad things really do happen to good people.  I know many people who at various times in their lives received various forms of assistance.  None of them were lazy drug users.  Most people in this type of situation do not feel good about it and would love nothing more than to get away from it.  Unfortunately, they lack the tools necessary in many cases to do just that.  In some ways I feel that "the system" actually is rigged to keep them in it. 

If the plan is to actually help treat someone who has an addiction problem maybe we'd have a place to start a dialog, but if the only goal is to punish someone forget about it.

The common argument of "I have to be drug tested at work so they should too" holds no water at all.  You choose to work for someone who generally performs some sort of drug testing for no particular reason since most jobs don't involve safety or security.  They are doing it just to make sure you know who the boss is.

People need to keep in mind that it isn't exactly free to do this and in fact many of the ardent supporters of this type of regime rail against more government but in reality are talking out of both sides of their collective mouth here.  They want less government involvement in people's lives yet are proposing a plan that puts the government in even deeper.

My bottom line is that this is no more than a form of punishment and pandering - two things that we seem to be good at.  It's a lot easier than actually solving any problems.  

Reviewed: June 27, 2017

Website Builder