To Test Or Not To Test?

The other day, I logged onto my Face Book account and saw a shared post by a friend of mine that went like this:

“Here….Let me tick some people off….Did you get drug tested today? Thank you Florida, Kentucky and Missouri, which are the first states that will require drug testing when applying for welfare. Some people are crying and calling this unconstitutional. How is this unconstitutional? It’s okay to drug test people who are working for their money but not for those who don’t?…Re-post this if you’d like to see this done in all fifty states. I did!”

I’ve seen this post circulate around on Face Book before. At that time, I did re-post it, but I didn’t this time because I figure I’ve done that already. Also, when I did re-post it, I upset a couple of my friends!

I really am not concerned that I upset them, since I believe in the concept that we can agree to disagree from time to time.

What did they get upset at me for?

Because, I am FOR the requirement that all welfare applicants be drug tested before receiving assistance.

A fair percentage of welfare recipients are drug addicts and/or alcoholics. The system fosters them to remain that way. I understand it is a disease. I do get that. I studied substance abuse and addiction at length in college. Unfortunately, it is also a disease that uses the term DISEASE as an excuse! It is one disease that with the right treatment can also be put in remission. I’m getting off point here….

These people were upset that I did not recognize addiction as a disease, but I do!!! Really!

What I find off balance and unfair is that hard-working folks, EARNING their money are often required to submit to regular, random drug testing. To serve in the military, you are subject to random drug testing all the time! In Civil Service, you are subject to drug testing at anytime. Many jobs require their employees be drug tested!

So, why is it that folks who earn their money AND also support welfare through the taxes they pay have to be drug tested but the recipient does not?

The message I get is that some folks seem to think that these people can’t help themselves, therefore, should not be held to the requirement of drug tests.

Yet, I’ve had people approach me, on the street, pan handling with a welfare EBT card that has money in their back pocket!

They ask me for cash to help buy food yet they have an EBT card with money on it? Every panhandler that has approached me has had one! I do ask each one!

Okay, beyond that. it can still seem like I’m being insensitive to these folks. They are, after all, down on their luck. Or, are they? It seems we – as a society – have become lazy in dealing with the ‘less fortunate.’ Throw a Band aide on it and hope for the best? Lazy, opportunistic folks have figured out how to ‘ride the system’ and be almost invisible while doing it!

I’m not saying that EVERYBODY on the system does that! Of course not!!! On the other hand, there is a fairly large portion of folks ‘on the dole’ who are on welfare and have no plans to do anything else!

I’ve been on both sides of the topic where welfare is concerned.

I was on welfare for a while when I was a single mother, just starting out on my own, alone. I had food stamps that people saw me pull out in the grocery line to pay for food. I heard the disparaging sighs while they waited for me to pull the correct stamps out to pay. I know what that feels like! I also know that back then, the system monitored the heck out of those on the stamps.

Every month, I had to fill out paperwork detailing any work I may have done for pay and how much. I had to list all of the jobs I applied for and any results. They wanted to know my rent, overhead bills and all that. It was very invasive to my privacy and uncomfortable but I knew why it had to be.  I was on food stamps for about six months. I used the welfare system for what it was designed for: to help me get back on my feet and support my family. I also got into the CETA program that was being offered, to train in the building and construction trades. THAT is what the welfare system is for.

After a while, I got a job as a laborer in residential construction. It was in the early 1980’s when the economy was pretty bad and pay was really low. At that point, I was making too much to receive food stamps but it wasn’t enough to cover rent, overhead and food costs. I was stuck in that grey area and had an issue with being able to feed my daughter and I. It was difficult but I managed. It hurt my ego, but my best friend came over to my apartment in the evenings, when she could, to watch my daughter. I went out into the night and picked trash cans – yes, garbage cans – for aluminum cans and glass bottles. I had a large hiking backpack that I used to put them in. When full, I went back to my place and crushed the cans, washed out the bottles and readied them to turn into recycle. The route was to empty backpack, ready recyclables and head out for more! I did this a few nights a week, all night long, just to have money for food. I didn’t have a working car, so it was all done on foot and bicycle. No way was I going to ask for handouts. I didn’t want to ask family or friends, so I just buckled down and did what I had to do.

Many folks on the dole, nowadays, abuse the system. They know how to ‘play’ the system. It’s these few “bad apples” that make the rest of us scoff at the whole system. It is poorly managed and easily abused. It needs to be re-vamped to discourage using it as a permanent means of support.

So, if I seem insensitive to this system, I feel I have every reason to feel that way. I support the implementation of the drug test requirement so that it causes prospective applicants to think about it from a different light – as a means to getting back on their feet and not as a means to sit around and do nothing.

When these panhandlers with that card in their back pocket come up to me asking for money, I’d rather they just say “Thank you” to me. After all, it is me and every other tax paying person that PAYS for that EBT card they have! Why should I give them anything more? They were able to walk up to me and talk to me. That tells me they are mobile, able to get around and have some communication skills. They CAN work if they wanted to.

So, yes, the drug test requirement should be in place for all fifty states. However, that is only the beginning. The approach to assistance should be better managed, fostering encouragement for folks to strive to return to being productive in society. Our country was based on the character traits of drive, determination, creativity and entrepreneurship!

Is it unconstitutional? I don’t think so.

I believe that as responsible adults, we can all agree to disagree, and that is really quite alright! This is just my opinion…

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