# Should government benefits be conditionally granted?

by WhoWee
Tags: conditionally, government, granted
 P: 1,123 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?
HW Helper
P: 2,280
 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.
P: 1,123
 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.
HW Helper
P: 2,280
 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.
PF Gold
P: 876
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.
P: 1,123
 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?
PF Gold
P: 194
 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...
P: 1,123
 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?
P: 75
 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?
PF Gold
P: 194
 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.
 P: 75 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.
P: 1,123
 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?
P: 75
 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?
P: 75
 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.
P: 1,414
 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. ?
P: 75
 Quote by ThomasT 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. ?
ThomasT and WhoWee, lets look at another scenario. I dont use drugs, therefore the test wont effect me, but I use my welfare money to buy drugs, those which I sell. I am still using my welfare check to buy drugs, but I am not on drugs, how will taking my rights away keep me from buying drugs? The sad part is most welfare recipients, will only get fifty cents on the dollar for the previous discription.
P: 1,414
 Quote by Jasongreat ThomasT and WhoWee, lets look at another scenario. I dont use drugs, therefore the test wont effect me, but I use my welfare money to buy drugs, those which I sell. I am still using my welfare check to buy drugs, but I am not on drugs, how will taking my rights away keep me from buying drugs? The sad part is most welfare recipients, will only get fifty cents on the dollar for the previous discription.
Accompanying the disbursement of government funds with certain, quite reasonable imo, conditions doesn't constitute an infringement of rights.

In the scenario you outline above, the person/entrepreneur who uses their cash assistance to make a profit (whether via buying and selling drugs or whatever) is actualizing the ideal of free market capitalism.

Ironically, it's the US's archaic drug laws that make a certain sort of entrepreneurship possible, and which make drug testing necessary in the view of some.

Nevertheless, I think that doing drugs for recreational purposes, or engaging in illegal enterprises, is a self-defeating practice. So, as long as recreational drugs (except alcohol of course) are illegal, then I don't think that drug testing is altogether a bad thing and might even help a certain percentage of welfare recipients to change some of their bad habits ... to the benefit of themselves and those who depend on them. Call it "tough love". I think it actually works wrt a lot of people. Of course, I don't think for a moment that that's the reason that a particular (state, local, or federal) government might adopt the testing requirement, or why a lot of people would be in favor of it. But the net effect can be, I think, a positive one.
P: 925
 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 at all - the problem arises when you presuppose guilt associated with breaking the law. Sobriety checkpoints was mentioned earlier - this would be the same as if at these checkpoints everyone had to go through a sobriety test, not just those the police had reasonable suspicion about. If there is reasonable suspicion about government assistance recipients breaking the law, by all means give them a drug test.

 Related Discussions Current Events 3 Academic Guidance 8 Special & General Relativity 17 Current Events 8