Florida will begin requiring drug testing for individuals receiving welfare on July 1. I find reasonable and otherwise compassionate people who profess religious beliefs endorsing this measure. Perhaps they just don’t understand the impact of their short-sighted belief in this measure.

Why should you care about adults who test positive for illegal drugs and no longer qualify for welfare? Governments tout the budget savings which prevent supporting drug addicts. Consider the money paid out to individuals in welfare compared to what will be paid as a result of this new mandate. I will not argue religion. Budget arguments should be enough.

Economic reasons.

Oftentimes, drug addicts are actually self-medicating mental health issues ranging from depression to schizophrenia. The mental health system in this country is so barebones that low income people who acknowledge their mental health issues have a great deal of difficultly obtaining help. Those who don’t understand their mental health problems but somehow get pointed in the direction will overwhelm the system.

When these individuals lose their primary financial support, their children will be further deprived and end up in government foster care. People who cannot provide food, shelter and clothing for their children will flood the juvenile court system. This flood triggers a number of fiscal problems. First, children must be housed either in foster homes or groups homes. The State will pay a higher rate to support these children than the initial welfare being saved. Second, the medicaid for children in foster care provides a much higher level of services and costs tax payers more than the medicaid the children qualified for medicaid because their parents were on welfare. Third, the government MUST provide “reasonable efforts” to reunify the family. “Reasonable efforts” means that parents should be provided services like psychological evaluations, drug rehabilitation, parenting classes, family therapy, transportation to visits with their children, and the list goes on. These services, too, cost money. An entire industry exists to support these services. Even at the reduced rate that States negotiate, we, taxpayers, foot the bill. Finally, if the parents don’t get their act together, the children remain in foster care with a need for therapy because of their separation from their parents. The parents are entitled to attorneys in these matters. Attorneys are often appointed at set rate but court is expensive.

Drug testing costs money, too. Guess what folks, the tests cost money. Repeatedly testing folks will create yet another industry that we the taxpayer fund.

Crime will no doubt increase as people attempt to feed themselves, and perhaps their habits. More burdens on the taxpayer resulting from increased jail populations, people who can’t make bond, or increases in sending people to prison. 2 to 3 square meals a day, clothing them, upkeep on aging facilities, paying people to watch the inmates, medical services for folks who usually don’t have medical care. This might actually be a step up for some folks.

How about some education. Provide some services to these people before they end up in the system. The more cost effective plan would be to require drug evaluations and treatment for people before cutting off their aid. “Give a man a fish he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime.” ~ Chinese Proverb.

Why don’t we try some compassion? Compassion doesn’t make headlines or get people elected. Understanding doesn’t make a splashy headline.

For those of you who justify support of this measure with Christian belief, I leave you with this quote. You should be familiar with the source:

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40.



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2 responses to “Short-sighted

  1. Karen Ferrell-White

    Good thinking, Nancee–as I’ve said, it’s very easy to get behind a slogan, and politicians are the past masters at miniaturizing huge, complex issues into brief, high-emotion slogans. Unfortunately, unless something changes significantly, this is a done deal in Florida. I hate to wish ill on the state, but I do hope they very publicly reap what they’ve sown here. Perhaps they’ll be an object lesson for other states before similar legislation passes.

  2. salmonandgrits

    My hope is to dissuade others who may be scheming to follow Florida’s ideas.

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