Gov. Voldemort Rick Scott (who, not coincidentally, has a financial interest in a drug testing facility; he just transferred legal ownership of it to his WIFE) decided to drug test welfare recipients. This cost taxpayers millions of dollars and lined his wallet, and they found that only 2% of all welfare recipients tested actually tested positive for drugs. Of that 2%, ALL of them had family members who were eligible for welfare, so NO welfare money was saved by attempting to deny it to people on drugs. (I’ll also note that I heard nothing about getting people who tested positive into a rehab, or any concern for innocent minor children who rely on welfare to, you know, not starve.)
Now considering that data exists that has found that 5% of Americans use illegal drugs (that’s the LOWEST percentage I have found; other data puts it at 22 million people, or 9% of the population), that means that, according to the findings in Florida where only 2% of the tested population tested positive, people on welfare are LESS LIKELY to use illegal drugs. In fact, people on welfare are anywhere from 3% to 7% LESS LIKELY to be using illegal drugs than the general population as a whole.
Also, let’s not pretend that there are not “false positives” when drug testing, because there are. Your legal doctor-prescribed medications can show up as opiates or other “illegal” drugs. You can eat a poppyseed bagel and have a false positive. If there is a possibility that a test could be WRONG and deny a family some needed assistance so they can EAT, there is something gravely wrong with the idea.
Furthermore, you can’t buy non-food items, which is fair, because it is FOOD assistance, not Food and Toiletries Assistance…but that means that someone who can’t afford to eat without enduring the shame and hassle and difficulty involved to request food assistance (meager as it is) probably can’t afford other things like: pet food, diapers, toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, tampons or sanitary pads, shaving razors, aspirin, vitamins, and so on.
In some places, you can’t use food stamps to buy hot food (like a roast chicken from a grocery store’s deli section), prepared food (like pre-made sandwiches, which are, oddly, sometimes cheaper than buying all the bread, condiments and fillings separately), frozen food, and so on. Guess what? People who have never been on food stamps get very angry if folks buy, say, a birthday cake (allowed) or soda pop or chips (allowed, but people have the nerve to bitch about it, because you’re not allowed to eat junk food EVER if you’re on food stamps). No, you deserve your suffering because you’re asking for help that YOUR TAX DOLLARS help pay for. Now that YOU have fallen on hard times, you better make sure your cart contents meet with everyone’s approval because they all think it is 100% THEIR tax dollars paying for that pint of store-brand ice cream that you should be ASHAMED of yourself for purchasing with food stamps.
It is “unfashionable” to point out that a lot of these drug testing schemes, in addition to being very profitable for certain corporations and individuals with a financial stake in those businesses, operate on the old and well-debunked Reagan-era myth of the “Welfare Queen” who is always presumed to be both a person of color and someone taking advantage of a broken welfare system to avoid working for a living. In truth, the average welfare recipient is a white mother in the suburbs who remains on welfare about two years and is actively searching for employment (and this is partially true because there are more white people in general). Why is it unfashionable: Because when you say something sounds problematic and racist, conservatives clutch the pearls and act offended. Well, boo hoo. Stop being racist, then. Problem solved!
The idea is that “lazy people of color” are using “your” taxpayer dollars (it is always assumed that these people do not also pay taxes) to avoid work while getting high on illegal drugs, but the truth is that this is bunk and it is not-so-thinly-veiled racism.