Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Welfare Recipients and Drug Testing

This isn’t going to be funny.  Or, shall I say, this isn’t going to be one of my attempts to be funny.  I got into some arguments the other night about drug testing those on welfare or receiving food stamps.

You do not solve the problems of a nation by taking things away from those who have the least.  You do not help the indigent, the weak, or the sick, by threatening to take away what little they have.  You can’t force someone to act the way you want them to by threatening them with starvation.

Drug abusers have a medical condition, not a moral condition.  I have never been addicted to a drug, but I have heard about it from those who were.  Most addicts know they need to quit, they want to quit, and are motivated to quit.  Most addicts have access to “12 step programs,” to drug treatment centers, to support from family and community.  Most addicts fail to kick their habit.  They lose their jobs, their homes, and their lives.

If you take away the only source of food, clothing and housing addicts have, you won’t be giving them the willpower to quit.  They’re going to starve.  Their children are going to starve.  The elderly who depend on them are going to starve.

Also, Constitution explicitly forbids it.  The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

If my emphasis didn’t make this clear enough, it means the government can’t take your bodily fluids unless there is reason to believe you committed a crime.  Being poor and needing a safety net isn’t a crime.  You can’t just go up to millions of Americans and ask for their bodily fluids.  Even if you had the money, resources, and manpower to regularly test thirty million people for drugs, it isn’t allowed.  We own our bodies, and the government isn’t allowed to peek into them whenever it wants to.

Take comfort in that.  Someday the government might just want to look into you.

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