BEWARE: I’m talking politics!

(FYI: I never talk about politics online, honestly, but this topic has been under my skin for a while. So, this started out as a tweet and it quickly expanded into a Facebook update, then into a note and is now a full-blown rant. You’ve been warned.)

Florida has passed a law that welfare applicants will no longer get welfare unless and until they pass a drug test.  I have a TON of problems with such a law.

First of all, let me give you some highlights of this genius law:

“Applicants for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program who test positive for illicit substances won’t be eligible for the funds for a year, or until they undergo treatment.”

Who wants to bet that they have to pay for their own treatment to become eligible again? What happens to all the drug addicts already on welfare? They’re grandfathered in and never have to take the test? How does that do anything for the people who voted for this?

“If welfare candidates pass the drug screening, they’ll be reimbursed for the test.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? How does that conversation go?  “Hi, yeah, I know you have no money.  But before we can give you money, can you please give US money to test your pee?  IF it comes back clean, we’ll pay you back…eventually…once you’ve filled out the proper forms.”

While I could go on and on about all the problems I have with this law, I’ll put it down to a few basic questions:

How do the children of drug addicts (and you KNOW they have kids) eat, survive, stay warm, get school supplies, get birthday presents, have a childhood of ANY kind when they have no money because mommy flunked the drug test? You explain that satisfactorily and I’ll vote for your “no money w/o a drug test” law.

Can you also explain how this is not unlawful search and seizure .  While you’re at it, please explain how a request for money from the government allows anyone access to someone’s bodily fluids especially when that may force them to incriminate themselves (a violation of the 5th Amendment).

They’re poor, but last I checked, that’s not a crime. You have to have probable cause to pull someone over for DUI, you have to have probable cause to accuse someone of a crime, you have to have a REASON to make someone pee in a cup other than “you’re poor, we assume you take drugs, take time out of your day to have someone watch you pee in this cup or you won’t be able to feed your children.”

Who is going to pay for the testing reimbursements? Drug kits at WalGreens are about $35.00 each (we could say the government would get a discount, but who are we kidding? Our government will pay $4000 for a toilet seat).  According to one Wall Street Journal article, there are approximately 520,000 welfare recipients in California alone.  So that’s $35 x 520,000 which equals $18,200,000. Let’s figure 1/2 of the tests come back negative and are to be reimbursed by the government.  That’s $9,100,000. Can any state really afford that extra $9.1 million? And if you’re thinking we’ll just pay for that with all that welfare money we save by not paying all these supposed druggies: remember that those druggies’ kids will now be in foster care, they’ll all need medical care (for malnourishment if nothing else) that they won’t be able to pay for (because they don’t have medical benefits OR welfare) and the state will have to cover that instead.

So much for the savings!

While we’re checking to make sure dad didn’t smoke a joint last weekend (or eat a poppy seed muffin on the way to the drug test), what rape kit is going to sit on a shelf for another year because there are all these urine tests that need to go through?  What drug test that will get someone off welfare and into a new job will have to wait? Even if private clinics take on the biggest amount of applicants, how many will go to a low cost or free clinic run/funded by the state or the county because they can’t pay for the test anywhere else?

How long is the backup in the lab going to be when they are flooded (pardon the term) with urinalyses that they have to run BEFORE the lights get shut off, BEFORE they run out of food, BEFORE they’re evicted because they can’t pay rent.

And before you think I’m some sap who thinks welfare is only given to the truly deserving Cinderella types, oh please.  I’m not an idiot.  There is rampant corruption and dysfunction within the welfare system.  Too many people abuse the system, take advantage of the processes and bureaucracy to get money and benefits they don’t deserve. But believe me when I say: for every mom with brand name clothes and a food stamps card, there is a newly divorced mom doing the best she can to support herself and her family while she gets an education and a job so she can pay taxes to pay it forward. Making both of those women take a drug test won’t stop those abuses from happening. Just because she has nice clothes doesn’t mean she’s using drugs that would prevent her from receiving welfare. So now what?

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