Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Listen to lawyers on drug testing poor

Tomorrow's editorial tonight:

Let’s hope the county attorney’s office put the skids on the wasteful and ill-considered idea of Mecklenburg County requiring drug testing for all welfare recipients. The fact that County Attorney Tyrone Wade said such testing would be an unconstitutional violation of search and seizure laws and that only the state can impose drug-testing requirements – not counties – should be sufficient to nip this unwise idea in the bud.
Yet given the comments of some Mecklenburg commissioners on Tuesday, there’s the distinct possibility that pursuit of this folly will continue. It shouldn’t. Local and national data show the move would have negligible impact on nabbing drug users or reducing welfare rolls. Studies show less than 2 percent test positive. And the cost to test – Mecklenburg officials say it would be $6 million annually – is simply ridiculous, especially during an economic downturn. There are many more productive ways to spend $6 million, and they would yield a much higher return on the investment.
We’re not condoning welfare recipients – or anybody for that matter – using illegal drugs. They shouldn’t.
But singling them out for mandatory drug testing accomplishes little other than humiliating people who are down on their luck. Increasingly many of those people seeking assistance are middle-income families whose wage earners lost jobs – and most everything else – in the last recession. They are people whose tax dollars helped fund these assistance programs. Now, ideologically-driven politicians want them to be drug tested to get back some of what they put in.
Of course, the real target of these drug-testing-welfare-recipient laws aren’t those newly poor. The target is the persistently poor. Some feel these people aren’t deserving of help. Conservatives nationwide have latched on to this drug-testing idea as a way to stop providing such help.
N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, threw out the idea last month in a talk to a Republican group. He said the state should consider drug testing those receiving welfare and other benefits as a way to prioritize its spending.
Conservatives have gotten some public support by comparing the idea to drug testing required for many jobs. But the comparison is apples and oranges. The random drug testing required for jobs is associated with safety and security in the workplace. That’s not the intent of drug-testing welfare recipients.
In any case, the county already has a plan that sounds reasonable and fair on this issue. Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services Director Mary Wilson says applicants for Work First, a cash-assistance program, undergo a drug assessment. Those who show signs of drug abuse must enroll in treatment to receive benefits and are subject to drug testing. She also said the county administers drug tests for food-stamp recipients who have been convicted of some drug felonies. A positive drug test disqualifies those applicants for six months.
These policies are sufficient. County officials should not waste their time or our money on pursuing this unwise, illegal idea any further. State leaders shouldn’t either.


Ghoul said...

Ah, yes the completely dishonest Observer editorial. While 2% tested positive, another 18% refused to take the test. I wonder why?

larrydpowell said...

Even the poor are covered under the constitution. I know some think, they should be! It looks like ghoul is one of them.

The name suits him or her!

To answer ghoul, maybe they where standing for those rights.Using simple logic, wouldn't need an answer...

Vegas Bargain Hunter said...

Just look at Florida and see how they are wasting taxpayer money. But if you want it, include All government check recipients like Corporate CEOs, Mayors and all other Government officials, Seniors on Social Security, Everyone getting a dime from the government.

rky84 said...

Larryp: I also don't remember the Constitution guaranteeing long-term welfare payments.

Vegas: At least the government officials are supposedly working for their money.

All that said, I'm not sure drug-testing would solve much. Welfare is OK for short-term but should be cut off or systematically reduced after a certain period. We have to give them some reason to want to work.
How about a scale that provides less payment, the higher the obesity. We have the fattest poor segment in the world. Most of our poor aren't really poor on a world standard.

Anonymous said...

I'm not in total disagreement with the concept, but it's a complicated issue.

Regardless, spending time and energy trying use county jursidiction to affect state-mandated public policy shows ignorance on the part of the commissioners, in my opinion.

Skippy said...

Ghoul - you can't expect the Charlotte O to be honest can you? Only 80% of the voting public think that acountability (Larry that would mean we support this, just trying to keep it simple) of our money as in drug testing should be done. But then again, this is Charlotte O's voting base now and the welfare class/section 8types just handed Charlotte over to the Black Political Caucus, gots to protect the plantation voters at all costs.

Jerry's Jewelry Blog said...

The Florida experiment yielded 2% positive on drug tests and the SC testing that Nikkie Haley bragged about ended up at less than 2% of those tested. This is considered less than the average for the public at large.

DewSchnozzle said...

"Feel Good" testing to appease the angry, ignorant segment of the populace is ineffective.
Those who are brave enough to refuse the test are no different than a defendant facing interrogation asserting their 5th Amendment right to remain silent.
Put plain and simple: this is the purest form of class warfare. The "haves" want to keep the "have-nots" down.
VegasBargainHunter is right on the ball. All of us receive some kind of taxpayer assistance whether you know it or not. If you are employed, there is a high likelihood that your employer has some kind of offset, rate reduction, utility subsidy, etc. If you are not employed or retired, then you are a recipient of social security, medicaid, food stamps, cash assistance, etc.
I pity those who have to endure the process of applying for public assistance. However, I pity the ignorant more.

kim23 said...

I think that this faa drug testing program is very necessary for all companies these days. It is a very good method to prevent injuries, theft, tardiness, absenteeism, accidents and many other problems of substance abuse.