Should we drug test people who collect unemployment benefits? | The Tylt
Republicans just passed a new law that would allow states to drug test people on unemployment. While President Trump is expected to sign the law, critics say drug testing people on public assistance has been proven ineffective and wastes millions. Plus, unemployment insurance is actually paid into by employees—it's not welfare. But many states want the ability to drug-test residents seeking benefits, and some say this is a states' rights issue the feds should stay out of. What do you think?
Should we drug test people who collect unemployment benefits?
People object to these drug tests on the grounds that unemployment is not a welfare program—workers pay into the system for unemployment insurance. Forbes writer Judy Stone calls these tests a "sham" that help politicians look tough, while enriching corporations that do drug testing.
"There is a huge industry now surrounding drug testing....The Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) employs lobbyists to try to prevent decriminalization of marijuana and to expand workplace drug testing—again, something that is opposed by many physicians and researchers."
But conservatives like Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz say the law is actually repealing an unnecessary regulation created during the Obama era, one that limited states to drug testing only professions that already require frequent drug screening—such as commercial drivers, flight crew members, and people who carry firearms at work. They say the states should be allowed to make their own decisions about who they drug test.
Critics say state drug testing isn't just intrusive, it's a total waste of money. When states like Wisconsin and Florida have implemented drug testing for public assistance recipients, it's ended up costing taxpayers millions and turned up very few users. Vice holds up Arizona's drug testing as an example of failure:
Arizona in 2009 became the first state to pass a drug-testing program for welfare recipients. Approximately 87,000 people were tested between 2009 and 2014, during which time a grand total of three people tested positive....The net savings from withholding benefits from drug users in Arizona were reportedly $3,500—quite a different figure from the $1.7 million state lawmakers had promised.
But for many people, it's simply logical. If you have the time and funds to do drugs, you shouldn't be collecting unemployment.
How is drug testing for unemployment even arguable? If you have time/money to do drugs...maybe you have time for a job or don't need $— Tom (@ChomSmith) March 20, 2017
People are actually upset about a bill that allows drug testing for unemployment benefits. Let that one sink in— Collin Oliva (@CollinOliva) March 20, 2017
Many want to know: if state drug testing doesn't save money, what is the point?
And others question the wisdom of taking away people's unemployment benefits if indeed they do have a problem with drugs. They say this measure is just another way to demonize poor or struggling people as lazy takers.
And others want to know, will we be testing government employees? Testing those who receive Social Security? All of these people receive government money.
Beyond the debate over the cost or effectiveness of state drug testing, many argue it's simply unconstitutional. The ACLU is currently preparing for a legal battle to oppose it.