Required Drug Testing for Welfare in Florida

Are there any precautions taken for false positive tests? They do occasionally turn up wrong every once in a while. NPR's This American Life had an episode a while ago about people in drug court and had a heart breaking story of a guy that had been clean for years taking regular tests. Toward the end of this probation period, he had one test go positive, and immediately retook it twice more which were negative. The judge didn't give a crap, threw him in jail for a short term, punished him for lying to the court, extended his sentence, etc. So the guy ended up going back to drugs, because, really, why try?

MattDaddy wrote:

OG, all of that backstory is fine, but it doesn't change my original response. The fact is he's no longer going to be an owner (or even part owner), and the company is not going to see a massive increase in business because of this. How he got there doesn't change that.

Sorry, but I disagree. He only took action because he was catching political heat for having a very real conflict of interest that would have personally enriched him had he been able to get away with it. As his business history shows we're not dealing with a man of outstanding moral character here.

OG_slinger wrote:
MattDaddy wrote:

OG, all of that backstory is fine, but it doesn't change my original response. The fact is he's no longer going to be an owner (or even part owner), and the company is not going to see a massive increase in business because of this. How he got there doesn't change that.

Sorry, but I disagree. He only took action because he was catching political heat for having a very real conflict of interest that would have personally enriched him had he been able to get away with it. As his business history shows we're not dealing with a man of outstanding moral character here.

I guess the question would be, would you support this measure from a man of outstanding moral character, and if not why not?

Why not just issue cards that require an ID to use? It won't stop people completely from selling their welfare cards for cash, but why not limit those cards to just buy groceries? Let them only work at supermarkets. The technology is there.

Dirt wrote:

Why not just issue cards that require an ID to use? It won't stop people completely from selling their welfare cards for cash, but why not limit those cards to just buy groceries? Let them only work at supermarkets. The technology is there.

Can't pay rent at the supermarket.

Tanglebones wrote:
Dirt wrote:

Why not just issue cards that require an ID to use? It won't stop people completely from selling their welfare cards for cash, but why not limit those cards to just buy groceries? Let them only work at supermarkets. The technology is there.

Can't pay rent at the supermarket.

I don't know about other States, but in CA, assisted housing (Section 8) is separate from welfare.

OG_slinger wrote:
MattDaddy wrote:

OG, all of that backstory is fine, but it doesn't change my original response. The fact is he's no longer going to be an owner (or even part owner), and the company is not going to see a massive increase in business because of this. How he got there doesn't change that.

Sorry, but I disagree. He only took action because he was catching political heat for having a very real conflict of interest that would have personally enriched him had he been able to get away with it. As his business history shows we're not dealing with a man of outstanding moral character here.

It doesn't matter in the case of my response because I wasn't arguing his moral merits or how he got to this point, I was only clearing up the facts about the drug testing company as they presently stand.

Dirt wrote:

Why not just issue cards that require an ID to use? It won't stop people completely from selling their welfare cards for cash, but why not limit those cards to just buy groceries? Let them only work at supermarkets. The technology is there.

There's nothing to stop them from buying someone's groceries/gas/etc with their welfare card in exchange for cash.

MikeMac wrote:
Dirt wrote:

Why not just issue cards that require an ID to use? It won't stop people completely from selling their welfare cards for cash, but why not limit those cards to just buy groceries? Let them only work at supermarkets. The technology is there.

There's nothing to stop them from buying someone's groceries/gas/etc with their welfare card in exchange for cash.

this actually happens on a fairly regular basis. When I go shopping in poorer parts of town (there's a fantastic Polish butcher on Fulton Ave), I'm ocassionally asked to trade bridge card money* for cash. That is -- someone will buy me 20 dollars worth of kielbasa in exchange for 10-15 dollars worth of cash, which I assume he would promptly trot down to the liquor store for smokes/liquor.

I'm really torn on this issue. drug tests for welfare recipients has with it the connotation that drugs are the reason why people need welfare. I realize that's often the case, but in many cases it isn't. If the point of the system is to reduce fraud -- i.e., spending government funds on drugs -- maybe this is an option.

Although, I should add, like any other liberal, those tests should also come with the support services required to help people get off drugs. Otherwise it's just punishment and classism. "I can afford my drug habit."

*not sure if you all have bridge cards. It's what my state uses to dispense money to disadvantaged people.

The problem is that it's not always booze/cigs/drugs/etc. It can be just the basics of living.

I don't know of any government handout programs that cover many items you and I consider necessary like toilet paper and dish soap. I live next to an apartment complex dedicated to helping unwed mothers get on their feet, and you would be surprised how much of a challenge it can be to get a hold of stuff like that. My church does a lot of work in there, but it's hard to help the girls learn how to prioritize and hard to make others who haven't had to live that way understand and help.

I wish every bit of corporate welfare required drug tests of the entire board of directors.

Jayhawker wrote:

I wish every bit of corporate welfare required drug tests of the entire board of directors.

Less drug tests all around. Lets not go drug testing willy nilly, that would blow.

boogle wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I wish every bit of corporate welfare required drug tests of the entire board of directors.

Less drug tests all around. Lets not go drug testing willy nilly, that would blow.

Double drug tests for mathematicians.

boogle wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I wish every bit of corporate welfare required drug tests of the entire board of directors.

Less drug tests all around. Lets not go drug testing willy nilly, that would reveal copious usage of blow.

FTFY..

Jayhawker wrote:
boogle wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I wish every bit of corporate welfare required drug tests of the entire board of directors.

Less drug tests all around. Lets not go drug testing willy nilly, that would blow.

Double drug tests for mathematicians.

Yes. You _have_ to be stoned to get some of this crap. 0.999~ = 1, for instance.

1/9 = 0.111~. 9 (1/9) = 0.999~, 9 (1/9) = 1, therefore 0.999~ = 1. Easy.

Nomad wrote:

I guess the question would be, would you support this measure from a man of outstanding moral character, and if not why not?

I wouldn't support this policy if Jesus H. Christ himself proposed it (which he wouldn't considering all he had to say about the poor). It's simply not the government's job to enforce a Puritanical morality like that.

I can understand the appeal of drug testing people on welfare, it's not a crazy idea by any means. However the terrible and retarded track record the US has with drug policy makes me lose any faith in it. Put on the fact that a smoking habit is freaking expensive, alcohol is a terrible drug, and Marijuana is both pretty harmless and shows up by far the easiest on a drug test tells me that it has nothing to do with helping the poor or sound fiscal policy. The government is just upping the ante on the War against Drugs, because it doesn't fold on anything until at least the first trillion dollars.

Seth wrote:

If the point of the system is to reduce fraud -- i.e., spending government funds on drugs -- maybe this is an option.

I find it hard to believe that reasoning is behind the Governer's thinking in this case. He is the same Governor that canceled a prescription-drug database that was meant to cut down on fraud and to help catch abusers. In that case, I believe he cited privacy concerns.

Jayhawker wrote:

Double drug tests for mathematicians.

I'm being discriminated against!

Tanglebones wrote:
boogle wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I wish every bit of corporate welfare required drug tests of the entire board of directors.

Less drug tests all around. Lets not go drug testing willy nilly, that would reveal copious usage of blow.

FTFY..

If you want to be honest, amphetamines are the drug of choice in high level mathematics. Erdos popped bene's like a boss.

Kannon wrote:

Yes. You _have_ to be stoned to get some of this crap. 0.999~ = 1, for instance.

You have not even pierced the waters of the lake sir. It gets deep and crazy magic, like set theory and proof theory.

More on topic, even in professional areas and academics certain levels of substance abuse persist and are kind of accepted (see amphetamines and marijuana in Math departments). Accepting that, how can we force more rigorous standards on welfare recipients? Many of these areas specifically in academics use government funding, but are we going to start drug testing all the academics of the world?

I had a friend who became a physicist, and he'd probably smoked his own weight in pot by the time he left college, and he was a big dude. He said that heavy pot use was extremely common in whatever field he went into - I forget what it was, now.

boogle wrote:
Kannon wrote:

Yes. You _have_ to be stoned to get some of this crap. 0.999~ = 1, for instance.

You have not even pierced the waters of the lake sir. It gets deep and crazy magic, like set theory and proof theory.

No, I grabbed a simple example on purpose. That's the only one I could get my head around enough to use as an example Heavy math is full on crazy.

boogle wrote:

More on topic, even in professional areas and academics certain levels of substance abuse persist and are kind of accepted (see amphetamines and marijuana in Math departments). Accepting that, how can we force more rigorous standards on welfare recipients? Many of these areas specifically in academics use government funding, but are we going to start drug testing all the academics of the world?

But it is kind of an interesting idea that brings up, if some of the crazy-smartest people on the planet, and what the government narrative would have being the most productive and economically important people in the US (Financial field) have drug use in their field accepted, it's an interesting counterpoint to the idea that drugs are only ever used by the lower-class poor.

This is cooler. Alternatively, anything from Category Theory is significantly awesome. (I highly recommend [em]Conceptual Mathematics: A First Introduction to Categories[/em], by the way. It covers things from a level appropriate for someone with a high school level of mathematical education, and talks about a branch of mathematics that a lot of people have never heard of, but which is becoming increasingly relevant in computer science. Very neat.)

Uh... I guess I'm off topic. >_> Okay, back to the drug talk.

Glad you linked the WSJ article Dimmer - you might want to re-read it.

On another note, I'm half way wondering if there isn't a more insidious intent behind this proposal. From the article "The average monthly welfare benefit in 2006, which reflects the most current data collected by the government, was $372". If the cost of the drug test is even as low as $35 and you're already so up sh*t creek that you need $372 just to try and survive the month, how the heck can you afford to front $35 at the time of application? Is the idea to make sure you can't afford to apply?

Wait, they're going to make the RECIPIENTS pay for the tests?!?

This is a good issue for republicans, as, on the surface, it seems like a no-brainer. Who wants their tax money to fund someone's drug habit?

Setting aside the myriad concerns about consitutionality or Governor Scott's possible intent to line his own pockets, let's use math to look at this policy more closely.

Historically the cost of a drug test in Florida was roughly $90. Solantis charges $35, so we'll use that as a baseline. The population of Florida is in the neighborhood of 18.5 million. The Wall Street Journal reported that current welfare rolls in Florida were 14% (NB: these numbers exclude folks on unemployment). That gives us 2,590,000 Floridians currently on welfare. The best information I can find right now puts the number of Floridians on welfare at around 106,000.

At $35 a pop, that's $3,710,000 for a single round of testing. It should be noted that some folks will test positive and have to pay for their own test - but if the goal is to prevent anyone on drugs from receiving public funds, testing would obviously need to happen on an ongoing basis. Realistically, they'd have to happen at randomized intervals a couple of times a year, to prevent folks from "getting away" with drug use.

These numbers also exclude the money the state will be forced to spend on inevitable legal challenges (the false positive problem folks have mentioned upthread), as well as any additional administrative overhead for running this program.

I have a hard time buying the notion that Florida doesn't have better things to spend money on. I would also argue that, if there are millions of dollars available, that spending them on drug treatment programs would be a more effective way to help folks on welfare get past addiction issues.

[Edit to adjust numbers. Good catch, MikeMac. :)]

Malor wrote:

Wait, they're going to make the RECIPIENTS pay for the tests?!?

Kinda. Applicants have to front the cost of their drug test.

Florida HB 353 414.0652 (1)[/url]]The department shall require a drug test consistent with s. 112.0455 to screen each individual who applies for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The cost of drug testing is the responsibility of the individual tested.

If you test clean, your initial benefit is increased by whatever the cost of testing was (I'm sure up to an approved amount).

Dimmerswitch wrote:
Malor wrote:

Wait, they're going to make the RECIPIENTS pay for the tests?!?

Kinda. Applicants have to front the cost of their drug test.

Florida HB 353 414.0652 (1)[/url]]The department shall require a drug test consistent with s. 112.0455 to screen each individual who applies for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The cost of drug testing is the responsibility of the individual tested.

If you test clean, your initial benefit is increased by whatever the cost of testing was (I'm sure up to an approved amount).

Ah so my math is wrong.

Malor wrote:

Wait, they're going to make the RECIPIENTS pay for the tests?!?

initially yes. If they pass they get it reimbursed through the welfare payment.

So if I have the math right..

Welfare Recpient @ Start: $0
After Drug test: $-35
If pass: Welfare + cost of drug test (35?)
If fail: -$35

In summary, f*ck Florida.

Now it's a casino. Put $35 in, see if you win!