Whenever stories break about welfare recipients using benefits on luxury items there’s understandably some outrage incited. Personally, I’ve never cared that much. If they’re taking my money regardless, why spend any time ruminating over how it’s inevitably wasted?
I would have to make an exception when it comes to those on public assistance using drugs however. I’m a firm believer that welfare should be a safety net – not a hammock. How many drug addicts on welfare do we really expect to go out job-hunting?
Liberals critics have long attacked drug testing welfare recipients as both a violation of privacy and ineffective, but the success varies on a state-by-state basis. While drug testing welfare recipients didn’t yield much benefits in Florida, North Carolina is seeing a success.
As Breitbart reports:
Starting late last year, North Carolina began issuing drug tests to new applicants for certain state welfare benefits. Now the state is reporting that 24 percent of the first batch of applicants tested came up positive for illegal drugs.
State officials report that of the 89 applicants given the drug test, 21 of them tested positive. An additional 70 applicants who were told to take the test never showed up for their appointment and consequently never got benefits.
The law requiring drug testing of Work First recipients suspected of drug use was signed into law in 2013 despite Republican Governor Pat McCrory’s veto — his first such action.
In his veto statement, McCrory said the legislature “overreached” with its drug testing requirement. McCrory also said the program is too costly.
Still, the drug testing requirement was only levied on the Work First program, not all state welfare programs.
North Carolina’s Work First program assists low-income families, but the majority of those who benefit are children, not the adults. Additionally, adults who receive the aide must participate in work requirements.
The implementation of the law went into effect in August of 2015 after objections were eased and funds were added to the budget to pay for the program.
Now, some results are in. The Macon Telegraph reports that of 7,600 welfare applicants, two percent were referred for drug testing. Nearly one quarter of those tested were found to have illegal drugs in their systems. But the positive tests amount to only .3 percent of total applicants.
Also, despite the positive results, in half the cases benefits were still paid to the applicants because children were involved.
Another policy that has proven success is requiring welfare users to either work or be undergoing job training. Maine was able to reduce their food stamp usage 90 percent after instituting such restrictions.
Under Obama’s presidency the number of able bodied individuals with no dependents skyrocketed 370 percent. Nobody is saying we shouldn’t have a safety net – but it’s been a hammock for far too long.
[Note: This post was authored by The Analytical Economist]