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Drug testing may be in the future for those seeking unemployment and other benefits


 

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Question: Should a drug test be required for those seeking unemployment and other benefits?

Options:

Absolutely, yes!

Absolutely not!


Only group members can vote in this poll.

Total Votes: 21

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Applying for jobless benefits? Here, pee in a cup

By Christine Romans
CNN

(CNN) -- If Craig Blair gets his way, anyone filing for unemployment or food stamps must show that they are drug-free. He's a state lawmaker in West Virginia who has introduced a bill to require random drug testing for benefits and lays out his case on a Web site called notwithmytaxdollars.com.

Blair and his supporters say drug use is rampant and taxpayers are growing alarmed with how the government is spending their money.

"The message that we're trying to send is, first of all, we need to respect taxpayers and how their monies are spent," the Republican said. "And drug addiction is in epidemic proportions, and not only in West Virginia but throughout the United States."

His bill would require random drug testing for any government assistance: welfare, jobless benefits or food stamps.

Someone who failed the drug test would get the benefits and 60 days to clean up. If he failed the next test, he would lose benefits for two years.

"It seems ironic that welfare and unemployment are both designed to get you back to work and everything, but how is that possible if you're on drugs?" Blair asked.

Lawmakers in 10 states are considering some type of legislation to tie the expansion of safety-net spending to random drug testing. Similar measures in Michigan and Arizona have failed, either struck down by the courts or found to be too expensive.

amFIX: Should people be drug tested before getting benefits?

Graham Boyd, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project, calls it "typical political theater."

He says the measures will be challenged in court and struck down. Random drug testing is costly, and he called such measures "cruel" during a recession.

"If anything, [you'd think] people would be more compassionate now that people have lost jobs," Boyd said.

But as the recession tightens its grip, momentum is growing in a handful of states to put strings on the vast expansion of safety-net spending.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states (Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, California, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, West Virginia, Virginia and New York) are considering some form of legislation requiring random drug testing for food stamps, jobless checks and other state entitlements.

It could affect millions of Americans who are turning to expanded benefits signed into law as part of the economic stimulus package.

According to the Labor Department, a record 5.6 million people from all walks of life collect jobless checks, and the government says that almost 32 million now use food stamps.

Ron Haskins of the centrist Brookings Institution takes issue with lumping jobless benefits with other state benefits.

"Unemployment insurance really is not a welfare program. It's an insurance program, which means that they've paid into the program each month they've had earnings," Haskins said. "Unless we want to cancel insurance policies because someone doesn't pass a drug test, I think that's really quite a mistake."
VideoWatch lawmakers who want government assistance recipients to take random drug tests ยป

Critics also say that these measures don't address drug treatment, the costs of administering the tests or privacy concerns, and that they could prevent drug users from seeking benefits.

But lawmaker Blair said he has been inundated with support for his bill and says epidemic drug use and a worsening economy means it's time for some "tough love."

It's the intersection of several issues -- drug abuse, the recession and bailout overload -- and has generated passionate debate among CNN viewers.

Angie: "If we're going to drug test American citizens who receive taxpayer-funded services, then I'm assuming these drug tests will be administered to the CEOs of AIG, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America as well. Shouldn't the CEO, who receives trillions of taxpayer dollars, be held to the same standard of accountability as the unemployed?"

Ron: "Monies would be better spent on cutting out the sources. The concerns over Mexico's drug cartels would be better invested than random screening of welfare recipients. ... Address the problems, not the symptoms."

Bob: "I get more than a little disturbed when I read that unemployment benefits are considered by some right-wingers to be 'taxpayer-funded handouts.' Handouts? Really? Hmmmm. Seems to me that most people pay, oh, I don't know, unemployment taxes when they are working so they have a safety net if they lose their jobs."

Albert: "Not unless they intend to offer rehab/recovery/counseling if applicants test positive. Will they be screening for alcoholism or gambling addiction? What about nicotine addiction?"

Tami: "I'm in favor. I've also been drug tested for my job. A stipulation for receiving unemployment benefits is that you are actively seeking employment. A person can't be too serious about their job search if they are high."

But Blair said, "You've got to keep in mind to that there is only a limited supply of money out here, and this is not going to hurt anybody that's not doing illicit or illegal drugs. And the fact is that if we can get this people off of the drugs and make it so they're work-ready, that will help us in West Virginia."


 


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by on Apr. 1, 2009 at 1:56 PM
Replies (11-20):
luckcharm
by Bronze Member on Apr. 1, 2009 at 3:34 PM


Quoting metalcowgirl34:

  What's going to happen to these people's kids if they can't get unemployment?  Does it help a drug addict to quit their addiction if they're left with no income and put out on the street?  I think not.   Being on Unemployment or not isn't going to have any affect on whether or not they quit their addiction... actually not having the money to pay for the drugs would help that more than it would if they recieved unemployment.   Unfortunatly, there are a lot of parents out there that would use the unemployment to buy their drugs,  that sure isn't helping them or their kids.

 Alcoholism doesn't help you get a job either, and no one's going to test for that.  It's ridiculous.  Some of the drugs they WILL test for are less harmful than alcohol! Alcohol however isn't illigal,  whereas drugs are.


                   

che_bad
by on Apr. 1, 2009 at 4:02 PM

i still say if you have $ to spend on drugs, then you don't deserve $ from any of the public assistance programs. and for those who want to complain "that is just punishing innocent children."  um, who's really doing the punishing/neglect here? maybe it's those parents who are using $ for drugs instead of using it to provide food and such for those children.

CharmaineL
by Bronze Member on Apr. 1, 2009 at 4:10 PM


Quoting che_bad:

i still say if you have $ to spend on drugs, then you don't deserve $ from any of the public assistance programs. and for those who want to complain "that is just punishing innocent children."  um, who's really doing the punishing/neglect here? maybe it's those parents who are using $ for drugs instead of using it to provide food and such for those children.

Bravo! I agree totally.

metalcowgirl34
by on Apr. 1, 2009 at 4:20 PM


Quoting BooBooCat:


Quoting metalcowgirl34:

I already saw a post like this in the Answers section where 90% of the people agreed with it and thought it was great.  Looks like that's where it's going here too..... *sigh*.

Why make life harder on people who just lost their jobs and let rich people do all the drugs they want?  You can't just pick on one group of people because they are the easiest to pick on.  What's going to happen to these people's kids if they can't get unemployment?  Does it help a drug addict to quit their addiction if they're left with no income and put out on the street?  I think not.  How much is this going to COST the government to enforce in an economy that's already gone to shit?  I'm sorry, what people do with their own time is their business.  I am for legalizing drugs.  Alcoholism doesn't help you get a job either, and no one's going to test for that.  It's ridiculous.  Some of the drugs they WILL test for are less harmful than alcohol!

Do you think everyone does drugs?

BooBooCat

No, not everyone.  But there a LOT LOT LOT more who do it than you'd think :)  Just so happens that many of them are smart enough to not get caught and not hurt themselves or others while doing it.  It's the stupid people that cause the smart ones to have their rights taken away.

metalcowgirl34
by on Apr. 1, 2009 at 4:23 PM


Quoting luckcharm:


Quoting metalcowgirl34:

  What's going to happen to these people's kids if they can't get unemployment?  Does it help a drug addict to quit their addiction if they're left with no income and put out on the street?  I think not.   Being on Unemployment or not isn't going to have any affect on whether or not they quit their addiction... actually not having the money to pay for the drugs would help that more than it would if they recieved unemployment.   Unfortunatly, there are a lot of parents out there that would use the unemployment to buy their drugs,  that sure isn't helping them or their kids.

 Alcoholism doesn't help you get a job either, and no one's going to test for that.  It's ridiculous.  Some of the drugs they WILL test for are less harmful than alcohol! Alcohol however isn't illigal,  whereas drugs are.


What's your point?  Alcohol used to be illegal.  It's a drug too.  It's more dangerous than some of the ones that ARE illegal.  Just because something's illegal doesn't mean it SHOULD be illegal.  We found that out with prohibition of alcohol.  You can't judge something by that obviously, or you'd have to agree that alcohol should be illegal too.  If you think that, then.....whatever.

che_bad
by on Apr. 1, 2009 at 4:48 PM

the point here is not about whether drugs (or alcohol) are right or wrong, but about whether you should receive assitance for living (e.g. food and shelter) when you're spending $ on frivolous thing such as drugs. 

metalcowgirl34
by on Apr. 1, 2009 at 6:56 PM


Quoting che_bad:

the point here is not about whether drugs (or alcohol) are right or wrong, but about whether you should receive assitance for living (e.g. food and shelter) when you're spending $ on frivolous thing such as drugs. 

It's an invasion of privacy....and the government needs to quit doing shit like that.  If we let things like this continue, they're just going to keep it up until we have no privacy.  Besides, I don't understand why people on here think that poor people have no right to enjoy life at all!  I saw a question on Answers asking if people thought it was ok for someone to buy a birthday cake with food stamps.  Everyone freaked out on her and said no!  Really, if you were on assistance, would be willing to give up EVERYTHING that makes you happy?  It's easy to say you would, but it's another to actually do it.  Mental health is just as important, otherwise physical health doesn't matter much. 

.not.angel.
by on Apr. 1, 2009 at 7:25 PM


Quoting metalcowgirl34:

 

Quoting che_bad:

the point here is not about whether drugs (or alcohol) are right or wrong, but about whether you should receive assitance for living (e.g. food and shelter) when you're spending $ on frivolous thing such as drugs. 

It's an invasion of privacy....and the government needs to quit doing shit like that.  If we let things like this continue, they're just going to keep it up until we have no privacy.  Besides, I don't understand why people on here think that poor people have no right to enjoy life at all!  I saw a question on Answers asking if people thought it was ok for someone to buy a birthday cake with food stamps.  Everyone freaked out on her and said no!  Really, if you were on assistance, would be willing to give up EVERYTHING that makes you happy?  It's easy to say you would, but it's another to actually do it.  Mental health is just as important, otherwise physical health doesn't matter much. 

Drugs harm mental health.

che_bad
by on Apr. 1, 2009 at 8:16 PM

 

Quoting metalcowgirl34:

 

Quoting che_bad:

the point here is not about whether drugs (or alcohol) are right or wrong, but about whether you should receive assitance for living (e.g. food and shelter) when you're spending $ on frivolous thing such as drugs. 

It's an invasion of privacy....and the government needs to quit doing shit like that.  If we let things like this continue, they're just going to keep it up until we have no privacy.  Besides, I don't understand why people on here think that poor people have no right to enjoy life at all!  I saw a question on Answers asking if people thought it was ok for someone to buy a birthday cake with food stamps.  Everyone freaked out on her and said no!  Really, if you were on assistance, would be willing to give up EVERYTHING that makes you happy?  It's easy to say you would, but it's another to actually do it.  Mental health is just as important, otherwise physical health doesn't matter much. 

are you seriously including drugs in "everything that makes you happy"?

well, i'm not on assistance, but in order to survive and NOT end up on assistance...we have had to give a most of stuff that makes us happy.  we don't order out or go to restaraunts or go to movies or to clubs. we haven't bought new things for the house. not had any sort of vacation in over 6 years.my money goes strictly to house, food and uitilities. well you know what? i deserve things that make me happy too!!!  does that mean i should just say to-hell-with-it and start buying and spending on things that make me happy because i "deserve it"? after all, we've paid into unemployement too, might as well have fun collect right?

and i AM NO slamming people on assistance, lots of people truely need it, i understand that. but why should someone who i am paying to support get to splurge while i scrape?

ShadowRaven
by Bronze Member on Apr. 2, 2009 at 10:18 AM

I think it's a reasonable request. As pp said, you are tested for most jobs, why shouldn't you be tested for ue benefits or other government assistance? Are drug tests that employers require considered an invasion of privacy as well? There are so many people that bitch that their tax dollars are going to pay for people to abuse the public assistance system. Maybe if they mandated drug testing, those people would have just a little less to bitch about. I am on unemployment at the moment, and my son is on medicaid and WIC. When it comes to my son, MY rights are irrelevant. I would do whatever it takes to make sure that he has what he needs.

To those who say that the kids would be the ones to suffer: it says in the article that anyone would fails the first drug test would still receive benefits and have 60 days to clean up. Their benefits would only be taken away if, after that 60 days, they fail a second drug test. It's not like you will automatically be denied benefits for failing one drug test. And those who can't do what's best for their children, those who use money that can be spent on more important things like bills and food for drugs, etc., shouldn't be allowed to abuse the system.

Come join my group, The Speakeasy!

http://www.cafemom.com/group/TheSpeakeasy

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