Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Implications of Drug Testing on Welfare Recipients

So this is a continuation of a discussion I was having on FB with someone.

Basically, I addressed the debate on a financial level. There seems to be sentiment that welfare recipients are cretins who rape their children while high on crack that they bought with Uncle Sam's money. I showed this to be a myth- that welfare recipients have a rate of drug use that is consistent (if not a little teeny bit lower than) general population in the US.

I pointed out that it would be fucking ridiculous to drug test every welfare recipient when:

- Roughly 2% of people on welfare use drugs
- There is no infrastructure in place to do the amount of frequent testing required
-The fact that marijuana offenders are SOL when it comes to testing (its a harmless drug that stays in your system much longer than 'hard' drugs).

It would just be financially stupid to waste resources that could be allocated to helping those in need. In fact, Florida already tested those waters. And it didn't look good.

So why else would I object to drug testing for welfare recipients? Because of the ethics behind it.

You, right now, are living in an age of profound human capability- unseen before in history. We have more wealth and resources than ever before, but they are arranged in a manner that those who need it most have the hardest time accessing it. As a liberal secualar Humanist, I believe that there are man- made solutions to man- made problems. Welfare is one of those solutions (albeit it weak, at best) to the problem of poverty, which must be addressed. So let's get to the meat of it:
Let's pretend that I am a Federal or State entity with the purpose of serving a needy population. You come to me for help. Because of this social contract we have with you being a citizen that contributes to my existance, I, in turn, contribute to your well-being. I cannot deny your request for assistance based on your skin color, religion, sexual prefence, and *gasp* your decision to use drugs. You are a citizen and it is my duty to help you. It would be wrong to deny you because my only function is to recognize need and address it regardless of your disposition.
It is unethical to deny someone in need help on the basis that they have may have an illegal drug in their system. They have a need and that need is independent of whether they are brown, transgendered, Buddhist, or a user of drugs (note:I'm not saying equating drug use to these groups).

TL;DNR if my purpose is to help everyone who needs it, it is unethical to deny anyone who needs it.