Sunday, ABC15 posed the question; ‘should Arizona drug test welfare recipients’. They gave two sides to this argument; side one from Kimberly Yee State Representative said:
efforts in Arizona and across the country to allow for drug testing of those receiving welfare benefits are not only appropriate, they’re imperative.
And Public Police Director of ACLU of Arizona Anjali Abraham had this to say:
since drug use among welfare recipients is no greater than that among the general population, it makes no sense to target one small population of individuals. It would be punishiing people for being poor.
You can read both opposing arguments here at ABC15.com. Both sides point out valid points but you can wrap these points up with a sentence each:
- receiving welfare benefits is a privilege, not a right
- it is punishing people for being poor
Arizona started a program (2010) that required people suspected of being on drugs and receiving welfare to be drug tested. The recent budget approval has this program continuing despite the expensive costs associated with drug testing (averages roughly $42/person).
Most would agree the welfare system is a necessary program, it aids people who truly need the help. There are always going to be people who will take advantage of the system… this is one way to help allieviate that burden. But drug abuse is not the only addiction that people can use welfare money to help pay for. Where do you draw the line? Should people not be allowed to buy cigarettes or alcohol if they are welfare recipients? What about those that spend the money on things like pornography or prostitutes? How about those that use the money to buy new clothes or shoes?
Despite the moral/ethical arguments most would agree the welfare system needs to be better regulated. But the question is how this should be done. One extreme leaves the poor/underprivileged wearing a scarlet letter A on their clothes (remember the days of actual ‘food stamps’ not a food stamp credit card) and the other allows people to take advantage of the system and add burden on the tax payer. Which is worse?
One point neither argument made was the employer/employee relationship. You go to work to receive a paycheck. Employers reserve the right to drug test anyone they feel could be under the influence of drugs. Should this not be extended to people receiving welfare benefits? They are receiving a paycheck from the government to help them through a financial hardship. Which side do you agree with? Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts. Add your own argument if you have a different take on the subject.