## Should government benefits be conditionally granted?

 Quote by WhoWee Some of these fellows worked at the Securities and Exchage Commission - the Wall St watchdog agency.
Yeah well, we're all dumb, drunk, and horny. (Okay, occasionally.) I don't get upset about sex.

The SEC, huh? Guess they had it coming.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Homework Help Science Advisor There's two issues. 1) Is requiring drug tests an unreasonable search on innocent people? The number of guilty people (in this case, people poor because of their own poor life decisions) denied benefits is part of the equation on reasonableness. Or in other words, the benefits can justify some invasion of privacy (the US Supreme Court upholding random sobriety checks, for example). Given some of the downside of drugs (especially a few highly addictive drugs such as meth, crack cocaine, heroin that are almost impossible to use in moderation), you'd expect more drug users to wind up needing financial assistance and the statistics do bear that out to a certain extent according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. (If broken out, marijuana use shows almost no difference in use between incomes.) A. Any Illicit Drug Use in the Past Year Code: Age Group 12-17 18-25 26-34 35+ Total Do receive 20.4 21.4 16.9 15.5 18.0 Do not receive 18.6 25.7 14.1 5.8 10.9 So, requiring drug testing would theoretically cut welfare rolls quite drastically if the behavior of welfare recipients didn't change. That's probably unrealistic, though. The more likely result is that almost all welfare recipients would stop using illegal drugs. The only savings would come from those too addicted to change their behavior. The majority of welfare recipients would be imposed on for no reason at all. The monetary benefit would be small. A small percentage of welfare recipients would make healthier life choices (which is almost always a good thing). 2) Is it fair to require a person to give up some freedoms in order to receive benefits from other taxpayers? This is equivalent to requiring a person to earn their rights by proving they're able to be independent adults. Theoretically, the monetary impact should be positive. Earning the right to be a full citizen protected by the Constitution would increase the motivation of welfare recipients to support themselves and get off welfare. But that benefit relies on the assumption that welfare recipients are on welfare because they're lazy and would rather get money for nothing. I don't think the idea would provide more motivation than the current federal program which limits the duration of welfare benefits (granted, those limitations tend to be diluted at least a little by the states and even federal regulations provide some exceptions to the limit on how long a person can receive benefits). I also think setting some requirement for earning the right to Constitutional protection would run afoul of the Constitution. Welfare benefits aren't the only benefit received by low income people. Earned income credit is part of the modern version of welfare benefits and that has no limits except the probability of a working person to eventually push their income above the poverty level. If the requirement for drug testing is going to expand to all that receive earned income credit, then I think there's going to be some drastic problems that go beyond just violating the rights of a few individuals. If we consider special tax deductions (child care credit, educational expenses, extra exemptions for each child, etc) and all the other things that result in nearly half the population paying no net income tax, then I think the problems of that proposal rise to the point where an entire political party could be driven out of existence. I think the intent is clearly to limit drug testing to a group small enough that there will be almost no impact at all other than rhetorical.
 Is the use of crack, crank and heroin a freedom that must be protected - or should we ask more from the people we choose to help?

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 Quote by WhoWee Is the use of crack, crank and heroin a freedom that must be protected - or should we ask more from the people we choose to help?
Actually, I'd be in favor of a felony conviction making a person ineligible for government benefits for some period of time (maybe not for life, since there's the assumption that a person should be able to serve their time and then return to society as a productive member, even if the assumption seems to fail in many instances, but for some reasonable amount of time).

I think drug testing for people that haven't been convicted or even charged with any crime is overkill. And, for any preventative law (such as random roadside sobriety checks), I think you have to make darn sure the law isn't harrassing more innocent law abiding citizens than the few guilty parties you're catching.

 Quote by BobG Actually, I'd be in favor of a felony conviction making a person ineligible for government benefits for some period of time (maybe not for life, since there's the assumption that a person should be able to serve their time and then return to society as a productive member, even if the assumption seems to fail in many instances, but for some reasonable amount of time). I think drug testing for people that haven't been convicted or even charged with any crime is overkill. And, for any preventative law (such as random roadside sobriety checks), I think you have to make darn sure the law isn't harrassing more innocent law abiding citizens than the few guilty parties you're catching.
I think the threat of random checks might be enough of a wake up call for a small percentage of people - my guess is the same percentage wouldn't care if the death penalty was the consequence of their actions (NOT suggesting the death penalty).

In the real world - hard drugs destroy lives of the addict and anyone that depends on them. IMO - Government programs can be enablers. If we REALLY want to help people let's tackle the problems in a way we can have an impact.

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 Quote by WhoWee I think the threat of random checks might be enough of a wake up call for a small percentage of people - my guess is the same percentage wouldn't care if the death penalty was the consequence of their actions (NOT suggesting the death penalty). In the real world - hard drugs destroy lives of the addict and anyone that depends on them. IMO - Government programs can be enablers. If we REALLY want to help people let's tackle the problems in a way we can have an impact.
This is the same justification for random roadside sobriety checks. The check points catch almost no one, but alcohol related traffic fatalities drop significantly on those weekends provided the check points receive enough publicity ahead of time on the local news.

But the other half of that equation is the limitations put on the officers conducting the check points. They can't do more than just ask you if you've been drinking or perhaps some other benign questions. The stops do no more than provide an opportunity for probable cause (the driver's breath reeks of alcohol, the driver can't put together a coherent sentence, etc.) The only drivers that actually receive a sobriety test are the drivers that gave the officers a probable cause just by uttering a few sentences. The key is that the "search" has to be reasonable even given the fact that most drivers stopped won't be drunk and may not have even drunk any alcohol at all. (Personally, I don't think random sobriety check points meet that standard, even with the limitations, but the US Supreme Court would disagree with me.)

A drug test requires a lot more. The person is going to have to report to some valid testing center, taking up an hour or more. For that type of inconvenience, it's going to be hard to meet the standard of a reasonable "search" when 80% or more of the people you're harrassing will be innocent.

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The drug test plan didn't work out as expected in Florida.

 Gov. Rick Scott’s crusade to drug-test cash welfare applicants is turning out to be another thick-headed scheme that’s backfiring on Florida taxpayers. The biggest beneficiaries are the testing companies that collect $10 to$25 for urine, blood or hair screening, a fee being paid by the state (you and me) whenever the applicant tests clean — currently about 97 percent of the cases. The law, which easily passed the Legislature this year, was based on the misinformed and condescending premise that welfare recipients are more prone to use illegal drugs than people who are fortunate enough to have jobs. Statistically, the opposite is true, despite the claims of Scott and Republican legislators who cheered this unnecessary and intrusive law. The Department of Children and Families reports that since July, when the drug-testing program started, only 2.5 percent of welfare applicants have failed. By contrast, about 8.9 percent of the general population illegally uses some kind of drug, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/09/3...g-welfare.html

I have mixed feelings on this one. I can't see withholding benefits for an entire family because one adult failed the drug test.

On the other hand we shouldn't have to support druggies.

It is kind of ironic that most employers now require drug testing for new hires.

 Quote by edward It is kind of ironic that most employers now require drug testing for new hires.
That is a very good point edward - if you're unemployed and using illegal drugs - how are you going to pass a drug test?

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 Quote by WhoWee That is a very good point edward - if you're unemployed and using illegal drugs - how are you going to pass a drug test?
There are a lot of jobs that don't require drugs tests. Construction would be one example...

 Quote by SixNein There are a lot of jobs that don't require drugs tests. Construction would be one example...
Depends upon the employer - also in the event of an accident - OSHA might disagree?

 Quote by BobG I think drug testing for people that haven't been convicted or even charged with any crime is overkill. And, for any preventative law (such as random roadside sobriety checks), I think you have to make darn sure the law isn't harrassing more innocent law abiding citizens than the few guilty parties you're catching.
BobG, you said in your earlier post: 1) Is requiring drug tests an unreasonable search on innocent people? The number of guilty people (in this case, people poor because of their own poor life decisions) denied benefits is part of the equation on reasonableness. Or in other words, the benefits can justify some invasion of privacy (the US Supreme Court upholding random sobriety checks, for example).

You have made the most reasoned arguments yet in this thread, if we look at the sobriety checkpoints isssue, we will find that in the precedent setting case allowing sobriety checkpoints, that the majority opinion stated that those checkpoints were unconstitutional, but that they felt the founders and the majority would agree that they were needed( after I was stopped in one, was when my reading of the founders and american history as well as USC court cases began), I disagree on both counts( the founders did not make laws anywhere close to this invasion, and if the majority of the public agree, an ammendment would be not a hard thing to get, making it constitutional), but even then they put conditions, IIRC, it is a five point plan. They have to warn the public, they have to have an administrative order in place the public can see, it has to be put in a place that would have a higher percentage of risky people than non risky, they have to be held at times that will produce a higher number of convictions than free citizens, And most of all it has to be convenient, meaning they cant close down a freeway with thousands of people being inconvenienced for a few arrests.

Even with all these conditions, far more people are stopped, without probable cause, than are arrested for crimes. Just this last holiday season in Utah they had a checkpoint, 1000's stopped, 0 arrests. It doesnt seem to me a valid inconvenience.

To WhoWee: We know how you feel with the fourth and fifth ammendments, how about the rest. Should we take the right to free speech? The right to own guns? the right to a jury trial and due process? Or is it just the rights where you see as producing a drug and alcohol free society?

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 Quote by WhoWee Depends upon the employer - also in the event of an accident - OSHA might disagree?
Does OSHA even review construction? Maybe the largest jobs. There is also a lot of handy man stuff people can do.
 As far as the employer drug testing, isnt it convenient that the US government cant, constitutionaly, restrict personal choices, but then congress puts in place OSHA and MSHA among others, which mandate drug testing? I believe this is one of the biggest problems in the US. Congress knows they have no authority, so they put in place a regulatory agency, which goes out and does things congress would never have the guts to say aloud and which the american people would never allow. We can look at what the EPA, the DEA, the DOE, what ever agency does and one would have a hard time justifying their actions against the constitution if they were making law, as long as they are making regulations who cares? I would say I do, dont you? Drug testing like a whiz quiz, does not test if one is high, it tests if one has used. If workplace safety is the issue, wouldnt they want to know if one was high? All it does is reduce the liability of insurance companies and corporate interests. He has used therefore he was at fault, therefore we dont have to pay anything. If one was serious about reducing workplace injuries, would the users at work be the ones you want to single out, or the ones that have used in the last week, or two weeks, or more? The down side I see is that those who smoke MJ are liable for a month or more, those who do tweek, coke, heroin, and about every other drug including prescriptions, except for valium which reacts similar to weed as in fat soluable and long lasting metabolites, are liable for less than one week, would you rather have someone smoking weed working with you or someone using alchohol or heroin or meth or cocaine? As someone who has used most all of it at one point or other in my life, and has worked with those using, most all of it, for most of my life, it is not those that use that worries me, it is those that are using while they are working which does. Lets pass mandatory blood tests, lets see how far that gets when you feel you have the right to stick a needle in everyones arm, it would never happen, thats why wiz quizzes are the way today. They reduce liabiility of the monied interests, while being unintrusive enough to allow them to go forth. At least that is the way the empirical evidence I have seen, leads me to believe.

 Quote by Jasongreat BobG, you said in your earlier post: 1) Is requiring drug tests an unreasonable search on innocent people? The number of guilty people (in this case, people poor because of their own poor life decisions) denied benefits is part of the equation on reasonableness. Or in other words, the benefits can justify some invasion of privacy (the US Supreme Court upholding random sobriety checks, for example). You have made the most reasoned arguments yet in this thread, if we look at the sobriety checkpoints isssue, we will find that in the precedent setting case allowing sobriety checkpoints, that the majority opinion stated that those checkpoints were unconstitutional, but that they felt the founders and the majority would agree that they were needed( after I was stopped in one, was when my reading of the founders and american history as well as USC court cases began), I disagree on both counts( the founders did not make laws anywhere close to this invasion, and if the majority of the public agree, an ammendment would be not a hard thing to get, making it constitutional), but even then they put conditions, IIRC, it is a five point plan. They have to warn the public, they have to have an administrative order in place the public can see, it has to be put in a place that would have a higher percentage of risky people than non risky, they have to be held at times that will produce a higher number of convictions than free citizens, And most of all it has to be convenient, meaning they cant close down a freeway with thousands of people being inconvenienced for a few arrests. Even with all these conditions, far more people are stopped, without probable cause, than are arrested for crimes. Just this last holiday season in Utah they had a checkpoint, 1000's stopped, 0 arrests. It doesnt seem to me a valid inconvenience. To WhoWee: We know how you feel with the fourth and fifth ammendments, how about the rest. Should we take the right to free speech? The right to own guns? the right to a jury trial and due process? Or is it just the rights where you see as producing a drug and alcohol free society?
In the context of this thread - what is wrong with a social contract whereby if you need our help - you agree to not break the law?

 Quote by WhoWee In the context of this thread - what is wrong with a social contract whereby if you need our help - you agree to not break the law?
You are making the assumption that the drug laws are lawful. Which, IMO, takes quite a strech of the imagination if one reads the constitution. Unless one reads into it that document what they want to see, and not that which is seen. Why is it that those at the first of the century thought inorder to ban something an ammendment was needed? And then why was that ammendmend overturned? Why has government never again tried to ammend the constitution to ban things, but decides only to get a USC decision agreeing with them, means it is law? Last I heard legislation(laws) was the job of congress, not the USC.

And you still didnt answer, How about the rest of the bill of rights? How far are you willing to go with this disenfranchisement of rights?

 Quote by WhoWee That is a very good point edward - if you're unemployed and using illegal drugs - how are you going to pass a drug test?
This assumes, drug tests are unbeatable. Let me tell you I know plenty of people who's mission in life it is to pass piss tests, and they have made a living doing it. On the other side, as I have said before, todays drug tests test to see if one has used, not if they are using.

 Quote by WhoWee In the context of this thread - what is wrong with a social contract whereby if you need our help - you agree to not break the law?
Nothing of course. It's not a breach of rights or in any way morally wrong to require people who are getting government benefits to conform to certain societal standards ... like not using illegal drugs.

My question had to do with whether such conditions/testing are actually worthwhile (wrt a cost/benefit analysis). The stats from Florida's testing of cash welfare recipients seems to indicate that the incidence of illegal drug use wrt that segment of the population is significantly less than the incidence of illegal drug use wrt the entire population.

But those statistics might be misleading in an important sense. It might be that, faced with the prospect of losing benefits via failed drug tests, a certain percentage of potential recipients of the welfare who would otherwise use illegal drugs choose not to do so because of the testing. And if that's the case, then the drug testing is a good thing, imo, by any measure, because any additional governmental expenditure will have been to good purpose in that it will have, presumably, changed lives in a positive way. Sometimes people who have habitually made bad decisions need a bit of (enforced) structure to compel them to make decisions that are good for them and those who depend on them.

So, wrt your OP, my current opinion is that, yes, government benefits should be conditionally granted. But not just wrt aid to the poor. The American financial and corporate sectors have in general habitually made some decisions and undertaken some actions which most of us would consider to be not in the best interests of America, or humanity for that matter. Of course holding the wealthy and powerful accountable is a lot harder than holding the poor and powerless accountable.

Which raises another question wrt your OP. Does it apply to wealthy and powerful corporations as well as people who need a few dollars to get sufficient food, or clothing, or housing, or transportation, etc. ?