I want to know what you think.
Eight states are considering passing legislation that would require random drug testing for people to receive food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare.
Supporters of this legislation feel that it's necessary in response to an ever-growing population of Americans applying for government-funded aid as a result of the economic downturn. These lawmakers feel it would help to identify the potential health risks and the probability of those receiving aid getting back on their feet when the economy turns around - and that it would also send a clear message: In America, you don't get something for nothing.
Why notget tested? Millions of Americans are drug tested at random for their jobs every day - the sameAmericans whose taxes are funding government assistance programs like food stamps, unemployment and welfare. And as American citizens, we need to take responsibility for our own well-being and that of our families.
Now, I'm not getting down on the millions of Americans who may be down on their luck, or for whatever reason, must rely on government aid to help them through tough times while they try their best to get back on their feet. But then if that's the case, a random drug test should not be a problem, right?
But there are two sides to every argument - and there may be a couple of questions worth asking when considering this proposal ...
What about the unintentional effects that limiting aid to a family - especially one with children - may have in failing to provide them with necessities as basic as food on their plates? We don't want to punish the children for their parents' actions. But then, in some cases, with severely drug-addicted parents, how can we be sure that the money is going to support the children, rather than to support the habit?
Just last year, a contest in southern California called "There Ought to Be a Law," yielded a disabled 16-year-old winner whose life challenges inspired his proposal of legislation to mandate random drug testing for all pregnant women on welfare. R.J. Feild was born weighing just 2 pounds, 2 ounces with traces of heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, alcohol and cocaine in his system due to his mother's drug use while she was pregnant. And while the "R.J.'s Law" never made it into legislation, it brought to light an important issue.
But then what happens to people who test positive for drugs while on public assistance? Would the states flat-out refuse help forever, or would they help them get into a rehabilitation center to kick the habit? Right now, most states can't even meet their Medicaid requirements for people to get routine health care. Perhaps a better plan might be to pump the government aid they would normally receive directly into rehabilitating them.
So I'd like to know what you think, because at the end of the day, we'rethe ones funding these programs.