Letter: Testing welfare recipients for drugs good policy



I am an Indiana resident, but originally from Florida, which was the first state to require drug testing for welfare recipients.

Although it was held in its implementation, this proactive and forward thinking legislation is still in the process of appeals. That was mostly because of the opposition of some well-intended, but clueless civil liberties organizations, while this issue has nothing to do with any civil liberties or prejudice against the poor. Drug testing is meanwhile required for most of the workforce that sustain those welfare programs through collected tax revenues.

If this were really a civil liberties issue, it would as well apply to all of them. Testing is done to all recipients and not specifically or intentionally because their real or purported wealth.

One of the main objectives of this legislation was to save money, something that cannot be determined at this moment. We should ask if we really want to support drug addicts (how many no one knows) until they are properly tested, and the real intended savings can be quantified.

Not all recipients are addicts, but how are we to know those who really are, and to what extent are we wasting, not only the money that is given to help them, but more important what is intended for their children and/or direct dependents?

Those minors and innocents are the ones who we need to help the most, but a drug addict or an alcoholic is impaired because of their chemically induced dependency that obfuscates their clear judgement. They frequently can act against their best interests and those of their loved ones, in spite of our best intentions.

Drug testing if done in a judicious manner can be an effective tool to solve this problem. By adequately identifying these cases we can better help them and treat their totally incapacitating addiction, emotional illness, as well as physiological dependency.

In California cash assistance for homeless people, when there was a change by giving food and lodging, instead of direct cash, many of the recipients stopped seeking that help. This was so because the money was being really used to pay for their vices, not for their livelihood. This is not a political party issue, or a right versus left matter, it is a right versus wrong determination.

Most of the opposition in Florida was political in nature, directed against a

Republican governor, but it is a matter of good governance and stewardship of limited public funds, regardless of our ideology or political affiliation. Do we want to continue spending our dwindling tax dollars blindly, irrespective of how funds are being used, or conscientiously help those that are in real need?

In a time where not enough funds are available, public programs should be directed in a prioritized manner, in order to help those who truly need it, and this clearly excludes proven junkies, whatever their real numbers may be. This issue can be analyzed logically, pondered judiciously and finally determined in accordance to the best interest of the people, but without any form of fanaticism, political bias or emotional obfuscation.

Ivar Rodriguez

Seymour

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