Drug Testing for Welfare recipents

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Killer Joe, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. turgy22 Nothing Special

    Maybe the drugs are a gift.
  2. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I'll certainly agree that welfare money shouldn't be spent on luxuries and have said so previously. However, I'm going to repeat that unless you have access to their receipts and financial dealings and know 100% what they spend their money on, you shouldn't make assumptions on what they're doing.
  3. EricBess Active Member

    Put this another way. If I were to run into some very hard times and didn't have anyone to help me out, but I had some luxury items that were worth decent money, my choices might be 1) sell those items to afford rent, or 2) be moved to the street and not have a place to put those luxury items anyway. Either way, I effectively lose the luxury items.

    I don't begrudge people some amount of material possessions, but I am paying taxes that someone else is living off of, you can see why I might feel that they are being irresponsible if they have certain luxeries that I can't even afford. It is possible, Spidey, that the TVs were gifts, but anyone who would gift a big-screen TV to someone in those circumstances is seriously enabling the problem. And quite frankly, if someone has wealthy enough friends and family that are willing to give them gifts like that, then it proves my point about charities - those friends and family should help them out instead of having taxes helping them. I think it's a pretty safe bet that the friends and family would want to see some action on behalf of those people to get themselves out of the situation if they were footing the bill. The government doesn't have to resources to even care.
  4. Mooseman Isengar Tussle

    Are all people on welfare abusing it, of course not, but some are.
    I have known young mothers who have planned to get pregnant again to get more money from welfare. They lived in section 8 housing and received food stamps and welfare checks. It was enough for them to live as well as I was at the time... and I worked 6 days a week.

    Also, welfare wasn't created to prevent crime, but to create a safety net for all Americans in time of need, not as a long term solution, even if the problem persists.
  5. train The Wildcard!!!...

    Well - though it can seem that way, I don't think that anyone is automatically assuming. I do think each is using the familiar examples they know of, whether through first hand knowledge or other means. And maybe that's the key: How many do you know receiving benefits, that are involved with drugs? Maybe some, maybe none. It will be different for all of us.

    Unfortunately - "deserving" welfare, is not as subjective as it should be. More should be taken into account, and there should be some continuous improvement of guidelines, controls, etc.

    Coming from a family that had received benefits when I was younger, I've been there, done that. Was I involved in anything illegal, no. Was my brother, yes. Were there things we got when we shouldn't have, not that I know of. And trust me, family gifts were sparse as well, and none for our "position". Some things for us came down to layaway and having to wait for it. Then there were times we got nothing.

    I would surmise, in the town (200,000 people) I lived in, about 80% of the families receiving welfare or other benefits had direct ties to something illegal. This wasn't always drugs - but if benefits were stripped for involvement or knowledge in those activities, there would have been more to go around.
  6. TomB Administrative Assistant

    I don't know if this will help any, but as far as I know alcoholism and drug abuse are both considered to be diseases by the medical profession. Because of that, I'm not sure classifying drugs as a "luxury" would be entirely accurate, though you could say the term might apply to casual users. I'm wondering, too, that if the plan is to cut off aid to families where the parent fails a drug test, well, wouldn't that (in effect) be punishing the children as much or more than the parent? And if the parent IS an addict? I'd be concerned that whatever money the family does still have would be going to buying drugs and not to feeding the kids or paying the bills.

    And please don't respond by saying the state should take those kids away and put them into foster care. Even though doing so would kind of solve the problem of people using their aid money on drugs (no kids = no aid money), it would likely do even MORE harm to the kids. Don't get me wrong - I realize that drug addicts usually aren't the most responsible parents, and that in cases involving neglect or abuse it can be an appropriate solution, but that's really a separate issue isn't it? I mean, just because someone fails a drug test it doesn't necessarily mean they're bad parents. Sure, I think it would be a good idea to investigate things further from there, but it would be wrong to assume the worst based on one failed drug test.
  7. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    EricBess: I believe we were talking about families who were already ON hard times and received the TVs. If they fell on hard times after they had the TVs, yes, they probably should be trying to sell them for some value.

    But I disagree about families being able to support a welfare one instead of buying a TV for them - those families might not be able to support them long-term (which I believed I touched on in one of my replies). But they CAN pool their money together to provide a nice gift.

    Mooseman: <shrug> Some people are like that, no doubt. But is it fraud? Are they good mothers? I think more needs to be looked at than just "people are having more babies".

    And I agree about welfare being a safety net (at least initially) but it's probably morphed into something more than that.

    train: I feel it is assuming because though KJ might have changed the title of the thread to mean all fraud/misuse, it wasn't that way initially. And everyone jumped on board with the idea, the uncertainty of it (welfare recipients being drug users, else why be tested) rather than being outraged at sure and already known money-wasters, like *billions* of money being paid to fraudulent Medicare claims. Instead, everyone's "looking down" at some class of people and trying to ferret out some money misuse there.

    TomB: I agree with your sentiment, although I think people here are more concerned with people using drugs at all with "free money" rather than concerns about a parent's parenting ability.

    But again, I know a second-hand case where a parent has a disabled child and receiving disability but using that money for stuff for her, rather than care for the child (and in this case, she DID get a TV and has cable and internet and all that, they weren't gifts :) ). Now, I'm pretty sure this is fraud and we're still thinking what to do since she's a distant relative, but if we do report her and she goes to jail, the child probably would be better off in foster care (because there aren't relatives who can take him in) 'cause hopefully then he can get the care he needs.
  8. EricBess Active Member

    Spidey - I have no idea how much a big-screen TV cost at the time, but a comparable TV now days costs a couple grand. I also don't know how much those particular people were paying for rent, but assuming worst-case scenario, tax money was subsidizing about $500/month for their rent. That big-screen TV could have paid for 4 months of that, which would have taken a burden off of the tax payer. I still think it is far more likely that they purchased this TV themselves, but even if it were a gift, why should tax payer money be paying their rent when they have friends/family that have enough money to buy them a TV costing at least $2K?

    But through this, I think you might be missing my point. Whether the TV was purchased themselves or given to them as a gift, the problem isn't the people. If the system is going to allow them to do this sort of thing, then why wouldn't they take advantage of it. My point has always been that state and federal welfare systems are messed up and promote addiction and dependency (to the program, not substances).

    I'll give you a counter-example. In my church, we have a welfare system for people in need. In order to receive, you sit down with the bishop and explain your situation and why you are in need of help. The first thing you are told is to go to your family and ask them for help. Families are encouraged to help each other, but aren't always in a position to do so. If there is still a need, then you sit down with the Relief Society President (the women's organization in our church) and they discuss food needs for your family and place an order with the "bishop's storehouse" (basically a food bank organized by the church) to make sure your food needs are taken care of. If there is need for help with utilities or rent, checks are written directly to those places. However, it goes further. We have a "stake employment center" where anyone (member or non-member) is invited to come and learn job seeking skills. If you are receiving financial assistance because you are unemployed, you are expected to go to the employment center. There is a network of employers who use the church's websites and other members are encouraged to network and ask around. The point is, it is more than just a hand-out, but a system to help people get out of tough financial situations by learning necessary skills. There are also programs to help with continual or additional education needs. Each month, the welfare recipient checks back in to see how things are progressing and what additional assistance is needed.

    The government isn't organized properly to do something like this, so instead, its a brute-force approach where people simply fall through the cracks. There are people certainly in need and I'm not saying that a welfare system run by the government isn't helpful and being used properly by a lot of people. But I think that those needs could certainly be better served by other organizations. The more the government does, the less charities feel like they need to do. But the government is a big stick with no control. IMO, dealing with welfare needs should be a surgical procedure. There is a saying - Give a man a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. The government is not personal enough to do that.
  9. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I got the point, but you have been missing mine - that unless you know the exact circumstances of how the TV/other goods were obtained, you're not in a position to judge them.

    Now, I agree with what you're saying about the system. Like all government-wide systems, it's prone to abuse and mismanagement. Would it be better for "private-sector" organizations to take its place or to clean up the system and get tighter controls? That's the question.

    I did a quick Google search on welfare requirements and on the surface, it looks like to qualify to welfare, you also need to be looking for income and that it's a limited time and there's programs you're supposed to be in to improve your job skills and all of that. So really, I think we all need to educate ourselves on exactly what welfare is, what is required and expected, rather than rely on personal observations and assumptions of we think is going on.
  10. turgy22 Nothing Special

    Seriously? A $2000 TV? Obviously, I wasn't there, but I'm guessing you're overestimating the value of the television. I bought a 46" flat screen LCD television a couple months ago for about $800. I can't imagine anyone living anywhere for $500/month would have room for a television any larger than that. Maybe the technology was better or it was long enough ago that prices were significantly higher, but that estimate leaves me a tad skeptical.

    I agree with this statement.
  11. train The Wildcard!!!...

    I'm very familiar with the programs, including the vocational training, continued employment-search, etc. that are part of the welfare program - but it is too easily abused still.

    Being in those office - even at so many interviews or applications per week - there are times when employment is declined, but since "effort" was put forth, they can remain on the program, and sadly, actively decline to work.

    It's not everyone, but it's an unfortunate part of the system. It needs to improve and become much more efficient. I think drug testing can be a control.

    What if they fail the job application because they failed the drug test. The company they applied to can't openly state they "failed their drug test" - so it could easily be seen as just "not making the cut" and the benefits continue.

    Also - the bridge between the public welfare program, and the charities and private institutions providing other programs is established enough, that someone not even looking for additional benefits suddenly realizes there are many more handouts than originally thought.

    Its a catch 22 all the way around right now.
  12. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    That's focusing on a very minor part compared to the big picture of whether someone is abusing the system by not working towards the requirements.
  13. Killer Joe Active Member

    The problem I see with the drug testing is that even if just ONE welfare recipeint tests positive there'll be NO END to the critic's rhetoric.
  14. train The Wildcard!!!...

    And yet KJ brought it up... sheesh!...

    Understood - but even the minor parts have to be accounted for...
  15. DarthFerret Evil Sith Weasel

    Ok, just to sum this up a bit. And yes, I think this is something that a lot of us have not even really addressed here. DRUG USE IS ILLEGAL! That means that should someone fail a drug test, in my opinion, they go to jail. End of story, so sorry bye bye now. I put drug users in my mind right up there with grand theft, and assault. I don't expect many here to be on my side of this. But to me it is plain and simple. If it is illegal, you go to jail. No saving throw, do not pass go, the chickens have come home to roost. So my question itself is, why are people who use drugs treated with sympathy instead of anger. Everyone got so mad at Enron (or Martha Stewart, or BP, etc...) and yet is so ready to forgive a drug user.

    So when someone says they are not worried about drug use and are more worried about fraud, etc, that worries me. Illegal is illegal and I find that it should carry equal weight both ways.
  16. turgy22 Nothing Special

    I think people decry fraud more than drug use because the latter mostly hurts the person doing the drugs. With cases of fraud, one person is benefiting off the misfortune of others. Same with theft. Obviously assault is different in that no one benefits, but one person is harmed. So, I personally disagree with you about the ethics behind drug use. I think people should have the right to hurt themselves, as long as it does not become a detriment to the rest of society.
  17. Mooseman Isengar Tussle

    Question: Should Rush Limbaugh be in jail for illegal drug use?

    Spidey; "rather than being outraged at sure and already known money-wasters, like *billions* of money being paid to fraudulent Medicare claims."
    No one said they aren't outraged by that too.

    People should be allowed to do mostly what they want with their own money, but don't ask for me to pay for you, then it becomes my decision how to spend my money.
    rokapoke likes this.
  18. EricBess Active Member

    John Stossel recently did a program that included information on this. I don't remember the specifics. There is a great YouTube site called "The Channel of Liberty" that makes a lot of his programs available. Anyway, he interviewed HR people and the upshot is that there are a ton of people who are offered jobs, but turn them down because they are "on unemployment" (a form of welfare). In one country, unemployment benefits lasted 5 years and their studies showed that a huge amount of people took exactly 5 years to find a job. They changed the benefits to only extend 3 years and suddenly people only took 3 years to find a job.

    Not to hard to figure out cause/effect in that one.
  19. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I agree with you there. And frankly, I think alcohol is the greatest "legal" drug and causes more harm to others than most "illegal" drugs, looking at alcohol's impact on society.

    Well, considering the amount of money you get back for investigating those types of cases vs supposed drug use by welfare recipients, I would think it's a better bang for the buck.

    Sure. But a) is it your money once it reaches the government and b) you're paying for those people with the Medicare fraud cases also. And in regards to a), if yes, then you might as well put restrictions on how the government can spend your money, i.e. "pork" projects, or supporting programs you don't agree with, etc.

    EricBess: I've always like John Stossel, though haven't seen his stuff in a while :) But I'd be curious, what exactly is "a ton"? 100% of the applicants? 90%? And where the jobs offered to those not on welfare, what percentage of those took them? Just from what you wrote, it could appear that the program was slanted to bring about the sort of "outrage" they're looking for, but the whole picture needs to be seen.
  20. EricBess Active Member

    One of the things I like about Stossel is that he frequently presents facts and then lets you decide for yourself. Yes, the facts he presents are frequently one sided, but he isn't opposed to bring in the opposing view. For example, he had a tort lawyer on the program who actually made a lot of very good points that John didn't agree with, but he let him have his say. I tend to agree with most of what Stossel says, but I occassionally think he is off base and while he is clearly bias, he does a decent job of letting the "opposition" present their case.

    As for the specifics, you could go to you tube and look for "The Channel of Liberty" to find a lot of the stuff. The specific episode was fairly recent and was called "The battle for our future" or something like that.

    I don't recall specific statistics being given, but they interviewed multiple hiring departments. I imaging that they were hiring departments primarily for low end jobs as that would make a difference as well. The types of comments that were made were "that happens all the time". Now, clearly, it isn't "all" in the sense of 100% of the time, but the point is, it happens frequently enough that it isn't a shock to anyone in those positions when it does happen.

    I don't believe you are allowed to ask a job applicant if they are on welfare or not, so it would be difficult to conduct studies at that level.

    Again - my point isn't that these people are bad. My point is that the system is set up in such a way that it is easy to "play the game". We probably all know people who have done it. And what's worse, even if you don't intend to "play the game", you are incentivized to do so. Personally, I just started a new job, but I've been technically "out of work" since last November. We looked into unemployment, but I have occassional side projects that I do for extra cash. Because of the way unemployment works, I would have to completely give those side projects up if I wanted to collect benefits. I've looked into disability because of my health issues with similar results. It's all or nothing. If I'm "on disability", I wouldn't even be allowed to try to contribute.

    To me, it's not the people that are the problem - it's the system.

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