Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients Not So Fiscally Conservative

A 2012 study published by USAToday revealed some VERY interesting numbers when it comes to the whole notion that all people receiving welfare are drug users/abusers.  Turns out there is data, cold hard facts, to back up that this simply isn’t true.  Not only is it not true, it also turns out that it is not a money saver at all!  We all knew this, though.

The USAToday editorial looked at two states who enacted laws requiring citizens who apply/are on welfare to submit to drug testing.  Here’s the data:

In Arizona 87,000 applicants were tested for drugs.  Number of positive tests: One

In Florida 51,000 applicants were tested for drugs. Number of positive tests: 21

It costs $42.00 per person for testing.  That means testing companies have received $5.8 Million in tax payer money, in TWO STATES, to stop 22 people from collecting a total of $400,000.00 in benefits.

Fiscally conservative?  I don’t think so.

  • The Money Magician

    I’ve seen this analysis before, and have a problem with it. The problem with the data is that it doesn’t reflect the number of drug-using potential applicants who were deterred from applying. With the numbers you’ve provided, I think the breakeven point would be at only 0.23% – that is, if only 23 out of 10,000 potential applicants are deterred from applying, the state will “save money”. That seems pretty certain – one 2010 study of illegal drug use in America said that 9% of us are users of one thing or another (http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/08/study-22-million-americans-use-illegal-drugs-3/). If only 2.5% of potential welfare-applicant drug users are deterred from applying, the state “saves money”.

    I have severe misgivings about this drug-testing on other grounds. As a bean-counter, I’m not factoring in any indirect costs (increased incarceration rates, etc.) that might result from this – that’s why “saves money” is in quotes above. And then there are those pesky moral issues – collateral damage to children, for instance.

    I go after false (IMHO) arguments like this one, because when they’re knocked down the real arguments are often ignored. Better to lead with strength.

  • Herb

    I think they know there are not that many users among people on welfare. Their goal is to make it hard for the people on welfare and make the process more costly. “Money Magician” mentions the costs to government but neglects to mention the monetary impact on the welfare recipient. When you’re down enough to collect welfare what are your costs to take a day off, have someone watch your children, and transport yourself to the testing site?
    The other issue is welfare is supposed to support “families” down on their luck. Take a single mother who has a couple of kids. The mother smokes a little “weed” and you knock her off welfare. Now you’re punishing the kids for their parent’s transgression.

    Anyway, the goal of the far right is to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all other so called entitlements. To reach this goal they’re going to starve these programs of funds and screw around with the rules with the intention of making programs fail. The last thing they want to do is make these programs work.

    • hannah

      Federal officials distributing money directly to individuals, instead of first passing it through banks and other private corporations so they can take their cut is offensive to the people who depend on this unearned income to support a life-style — i.e. the lifestyle of the leisure class, which is supposed to serve as an incentive to the working class.
      Bloomberg reported the other day that the major Wall Street banks collect three cents our of every dollar spent. That actually accounts for their entire profit.

  • hannah

    U.S. enterprise has always looked with envy on the guaranteed income stream of our public corporations and are ever keen to get a piece of that for themselves. The makers of drug testing kits are, like the purveyors of imaging and laminating equipment to produce “official” identification badges, looking for permanent revenue and a quasi-monopoly situation. The identification mania is a aguaranteed winner because, in addition to people’s visages changing with age, health and cosmetic usage, the proclivity to relocate residence (on average every two years) virtually guarantees constant, if not increasing demand. No market saturation to worry about.

    Drug testing, on the other hand, has also proved disappointing because of the high rate of false positives.

  • tchair

    Fair is fair…If you support drug testing for welfare than you should support a tax audit for tax Breaks

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