Drug testing welfare recipients is a program that has been in place in some parts of the United States of America for the last three years. The program aims at ensuring that every person who benefits from welfare programs is not a drug addict and does not use the assistance provided by the government to continue their illegal activities. The United States government spends a considerable amount of money each year in the support of various welfare programs to help reduce the number of poor people within the United States of America. The desire of the government to support such welfares raises mixed feelings among the politicians and the taxpayers, which has led to the drug testing of welfare recipients (McLaughlin 570).
The government has the mandate to ensure that the taxpayer’s money ends up in constructive activities such as supporting needy and well-behaved citizens. The proponents of the drug-testing program argue that the government should ensure that the recipients of the funds are responsible citizens who deserve the taxpayers help by conducting tests of every recipient (Schaberg 45). However, regardless of the many promises and high expectations from the program, little to no change has been seen over the last three years. The program has done nothing more than widening the gap between the rich and the poor through the suspicious drug tests. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to argue against the drug testing welfare recipient program by outlining the limitations of the program. Further, the paper will discuss the negative impacts arising from the unnecessary drug tests.
Drug testing of welfare recipients is a wasteful and a social damaging activity that has done more harm than good in the states in which it is practiced. Conducting the activity of testing all the welfare recipients is a costly activity, and the results do not in any way save enough funds to aid in the development of the nation. During the onset of the program, the proponents of drug testing argued that the program would save the government around 1.7 billion dollars. Three years down the lane, the program is spending more funds than its outcomes, which affects the economy of the state negatively. Additionally, the insistence on drug testing welfare recipients consumes money that can be used to foster the lives of the unemployed Americans and other welfare beneficiaries. The government can use the funds used to run the drug-testing program to formulate better solutions to the drug problems among the marginalized communities in the United States of America (Ashman 89).
Drug testing welfare recipients is a discriminative act against the marginalized communities. Drug abuse is a global problem that affects both the poor and the wealthy. Therefore, the government should not focus on the poor only when many wealthy leaders in various parts of the worlds use the same drugs yet they benefit from the taxpayer’s money. A fair process for drug testing welfare recipients would include the political leaders and government officials who are the major beneficiaries of taxpayer’s money. Further, in the past three years, very few people have tested positive for drugs, thus making the program unnecessary. Testing of innocent citizens who are part of the taxpayers is discriminative and can have severe social implications. It is a way of saying that the poor people do not have the same rights as the wealthy people. The rich do not receive such tests yet they benefit from the taxpayers money in one way or the other (Ashman 106).
Other than discrimination, the drug testing of the welfare recipients further marginalizes the poor in various ways. For instance, a child can lack proper education or other welfare assistance because his or her parents are considered as drug abusers. The lack of assistance from such families leads to a cycle of poverty, which will lead to more misuse of drugs and criminal activities. In most cases, people get to drug abuse because they lack the necessary resources to survive. Denying the welfare recipients of such help based on theory drug use will lead them to use drugs more to cope with the hard economic conditions. Additionally, most drug users from the marginalized communities feel unworthy of any sympathy. Therefore, denying the welfare help to such people will worsen their situation or even trigger violent activities that can be detrimental (Gustafson 124). Assisting the marginalized communities goes beyond the donation; it is also an emotional process. Instead of using the welfare programs to marginalize the already marginalized communities, the government can use these platforms to counsel the drug addicts and transform them into responsible citizens.
The purposes and the agenda behind the formation of the drug testing welfare recipient are questionable. The program is only practiced in some states yet drug abuse is a problem in the entire United States. Some people may argue that the program is an incentive to keep the lower socio-economic class away from drugs. However, denying people the help that they rightfully deserve does not act as an incentive for transformation, but a trigger for violence and social class discrimination. Governments around the globe have come up with better programs that act as incentives to keep the lower social class from drug abuse rather than withholding denying help. Further, the program does not contain a policy that goes beyond the testing of the welfare recipients (Gustafson 79). Drug abuse is an addictive activity that requires more than just denying someone help to turn around. If the true agenda were to turn around the lives of the marginalized communities by encouraging them to live drug-free lives, the program would include a follow-up program that oversees the transformation of the victims.
The major argument of the proponents of the drug testing welfare recipient program is that the policy will save the government money by reducing the number of welfare beneficiaries. However, the results of the program proved otherwise over the last three years. In fact, the program is eating in the budget of other necessary programs, which makes it a burden. Most of the recipients of the welfare programs are poor people who need the help of the government in one way or another (Schaberg 46). For instance, the government needs to invest in recovery programs to help the drug addicts become responsible citizens. Therefore, drug testing the recipients of the welfare program would not necessarily save money, but identify needy citizens who require a different kind of help. Further, many beneficiaries of the government funds do not necessarily qualify for the welfare programs.
Government officials and other well-paid people also benefit a great deal from the taxpayers money, which should also be targeted if the agenda was to cut down expenses. Although drug test is a common practice in many working places in the United States, people are not tested at the end of every month before receiving their salaries. Therefore, focusing on the lower social class people to reduce the finances used by the government to support its citizens is an unfair and a discriminating process.
The constitutionality of the drug testing process for the welfare recipients is highly questionable. Welfare programs should foster self-sufficiency by educating the beneficiaries of better survival techniques not by convicting them. Further, welfare programs are not parental oversights that determine who should receive help and who should be punished based on their previous activities. The welfare programs serve as a transformation platform that can aid in changing the lifestyles of the marginalized communities through financial support, education, and employment opportunities (McLaughlin 581). Additionally, punishing the poor for drug use will only shift the focus of the drug making companies in a different market. In other words, the government should deal with the drug making companies rather than the users to end the drug abuse menace among the poor.
In conclusion, drug testing welfare recipients is an unconstitutional process that is both wasteful and socially damaging. The program has failed to save the government the stipulated amount of money and instead managed to tear people up across socio-economic classes. The federal government and the state governments should therefore find an amicable solution to prevent this kind of discrimination from affecting the national spirit of the American people of unity. The drug testing process is a costly endeavor that will only benefit a few drug-manufacturing companies at the expense of the poor Americans who deserve the help from their government.
Ashman, Karen K. Introduction to Social work & social welfare: Critical thinking perspectives. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Gustafson, Kaaryn S. Cheating welfare: Public assistance and the criminalization of poverty. New York: New York University Press, 2011. Print.
McLaughlin, Brianna. “Drug testing, welfare, and the special needs doctrine: an argument in support of drug testing TANF recipients.” Cleveland State Law Review 61.1 (2013): 567-595. Print.