December 17, 2012

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The PostScript bunker has turned out to be a remarkably good investment. PostScript is adding molybdenum armor plating to the bunker, as you would do, in anticipation of hosting a few civil disagreements about assault weapons bans and trigger locks. But in the meantime, she hopes to test out the current paranoid security measures (attack wildebeest, buckets full of sauerkraut balanced on slightly open doors, atomizers filled with iocane powder) on another up-riling issue. Luckily, the Editorial Board obliged by coming out against a proposed Virginia measure to drug-test welfare recipients, because it’s pointlessly cruel and not cost-effective. And luckier still, the Commentariat has had more than 900 things to say in response, nigh unheard of for an editorial. Let’s all crouch under some molybdenum plating and discuss.  

For some commenters, the cruelty and cost-inefficiency are justified by the feeling of social responsibility one gets when holding welfare recipients to a higher standard, since the government is giving them money, after all. This is the central point presented by RemarkablyGoodLooking, a position PostScript for some reason finds slightly less odious than if it had been submitted by someone named, say, KindaHideous:

Taking taxpayer money ought to have some responsibilities.  If you are on drugs, it ought to be to get clean.

ODKoik, picking up the same thread, confuses PostScript a bit:  

Get clean, and stop making more dependents.

So you’ll be dropped from welfare if you procreate?  Would this measure be accompanied by a boost in funding for Planned Parenthood?   

RichardCollins says that while demonization of welfare recipients is a problem, drug addiction generally requires money for treatment. If this program would identify drug users anyway, couldn’t it go the extra step of hooking them up with medical help?  

Another issue that isn’t black and white. While the Post correctly raises the question of the goal, asking whether it is to save money or help people, the Post fails to suggest how to help those who are on drugs. The health of those people is jeopardized. Some on drugs commit crimes to support their habit. Easier to criticize a proposal than to put forth a solution. Yes, there would be an expense if the proposed testing included a program to assist those on drugs. How about reprogramming funds from government programs that don’t work? Last year the Post ran a series about mismanagement at HUD. Cut some HUD funding and use it to help the drug addicts.

reussere agrees. Taking drug-addicted parents off welfare leaves a significant problem:

If we test people to get benefits, and those that fail are required to get state or federally funded treatment (once only), I think that is really good for society as a whole, and the children of the mothers involved. If the response is to simply throw them out in the street, the ramifications on social policy and homeless children are horrendous.

OhMy says hey, let’s follow the money:

I’m sure some lab owner is trying to convince our legislators of this. Of course they will be paid very well for doing these tests.  Hey maybe the legislators can get a piece of the action. After all, it’s only taxpayer money. Meanwhile the same funds could be spent on preventative care programs or medical treatment.

HGF78 followed the money! At least as far as the similar law in Florida:

I would suggest the Post dig a little deeper. Rick Scott’s wife has an interest in the company doing the drug testing and thus all did was create a revenue stream. Below is a link to the article from the Palm Beach Post detailing the scam:
 
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/business/gov-rick-scotts-drug-testing-policy-stirs-suspicio/nLq8f/

jeffdc1 thinks it could be used as an incentive to get people off drugs:

If it convinces some people who are currently using illicit drugs to stop in order to qualify for federal assistance, then it seems like a good program.

jfv123 proposes solving the problem of singling out welfare recipients by not singling them out. Start drug testing a lot more:

I agree that limiting drug testing to traditional welfare is too little.  Drug test anyone who gets money or free services from the government because they aren’t working or are not earning enough from work.  Using drugs limits our ability to work and your motivation to seek work.
People work to relieve their suffering.

[That used to be an excellent typo before PostScript got out her red pen:  People work to relive their suffering.]

psychomagician runs with the idea, possibly facetiously:

Drug test every senior citizen getting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid…

JWMc sprints, probably satirically:

What about drug-testing those who take tax credits/deductions? After all, their payments are generally way bigger than an assistance payment. You get any moral outrage over a drugged-up 1% collecting their millions in deductions/credits?

andrew23boyle tackles, most likely seriously:

What if we exempted weed, tested only for the really dangerous drugs that are going to cause serious problems, including prescription drugs, and test basically anyone receiving money from the government to include employees, soldiers, contractors and the top officers of any corporation, labor union or other entity receiving government funds. Could you agree to that?

PostScript could, sure. Unless they can test for molybdenum now.