Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Welfare drug testing wasteful

I was so ticked to read about Texas' drug testing for welfare plan that I looked up my representatives and shot off this angry email.

I am writing to express my disgust and opposition to the proposed measures for drug testing welfare recipients. A similar program introduced in the state of Florida was a proven failure and absolute waste of resources, namely tax dollars.

The program did not deter drug users from applying for aid, as there was no reported change in the numbers of applicants after the program was implemented. The drug testing disqualified a paltry 108 people, 2% of applicants, and primarily for marijuana, widely regarded as a low-risk drug that causes fewer deaths, disease, and overall damage than alcohol.

The state lost $45,780 on this program, counting attorneys and court fees and the thousands of hours of staff time it took to implement the policy. Considering the population of Florida is over 19 million people, $$45,780 can hardly be justified to deny benefits to a mere 100 people—people in such dismal living conditions that they need an escape more than anyone else.

Prohibition has only ever been a failure in the history of the United States, giving rise to more violent crime, and the War on Drugs is no exception. I find it absolutely unacceptable and morally reprehensible to waste constituents’ hard-earned dollars on programs destined and proven to fail.

Denying a handful of people welfare benefits is nothing compared to the citizens who need government programs most; consider the millions of uninsured women and children in Texas and the state’s abysmally low number of dollars spent per student in education. There are hundreds of other programs and millions of people who would benefit from judicious spending by our representatives. And wasting tens of thousands of dollars to exclude a hundred people is an irresponsible waste of resources designed specifically to target and criminalize the poor who are in the greatest need of assistance.

As a humanist and a skeptic born and raised in Texas, I hope you’ll keep your constituents’ desires and needs in mind when consideration of this issue comes to you.


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