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Everyone applying for welfare must pass a drug test… This is not the distant future but present day reality, and millions of welfare recipients in the United States will need to undergo a simple but necessary procedure of drug testing. The debate over the constitutionality and feasibility of drug testing for welfare recipients persists. Proponents of drug testing are convinced that federal authorities do not have to finance welfare recipients’ drug addictions. Opponents of drug testing argue that mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients violates their constitutional rights and does not lead to economic and financial savings. In reality, drug testing for welfare recipients is necessary and justified, since drug testing can ensure efficient allocation of limited welfare resources and regulate the surging demand for public assistance in the United States.

The financial crisis is walking around the planet. The United States is suffering the tragic effects of the recent financial turmoil. The rates of unemployment in America constantly increase, and more than 5.4 million American citizens already receive unemployment insurance (Anonymous). The American state is fighting to provide the needy with relevant financial and material support. Almost 32 million Americans receive food stamp benefits, with another 3.8 million living on TANF (Anonymous). Welfare benefits have become a real financial savior for millions of Americans without employment. Yet, whether or not all welfare recipients deserve federal support is difficult to decide. Mandatory drug testing has the potential to enhance the efficiency of resource allocation among welfare recipients and regulate the surging demand for state assistance in the U.S.

States pass laws and regulations to make all welfare recipients undergo a drug test, before they get cash assistance from the state (Anonymous). As a result, drug testing is becoming the basic legal condition of receiving welfare benefits (Anonymous). All welfare recipients must pass a drug test once a year (Waldron). The state will reimburse the costs of drug testing to all welfare recipients, whose results are negative (Waldron). Those who fail drug tests will be denied benefits for a year (Waldron). The goals of implementing mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients are numerous. At the very basic level, America needs to allocate limited welfare resources more efficiently and wisely. Drug testing will automatically reduce the number of welfare recipients and enhance the state’s accountability to taxpayers.

Drug testing for welfare recipients is necessary and justified, since the United States needs to allocate limited welfare resources wisely. The rates of unemployment constantly rise, and federal and state authorities are fight to provide the needy with sufficient material support. The number of unemployed in the United States has reached the highest point since 1967 (Anonymous). In the meantime, the rates of illicit drug use among welfare recipients are higher than among the general population. The National Poverty Center estimated that at least 9 percent of welfare recipients were alcohol dependent in 1995 (Jayakody et al. 2). 21 percent of welfare recipients used illegal drugs during one year preceding the study (Jayakody et al. 2). At least 10 percent of the study participants used an illegal drug other than marijuana, and 6 percent used crack or cocaine (Jayakody et al. 2). Florida Governor Rick Scott is right, when saying that drug use is higher among welfare recipients than among the rest of the U.S. population (Waldron). Therefore, mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients will allow reducing the pool of welfare applicants, as well as the costs of welfare payments and public assistance, and ensure more efficient allocation of welfare resources.

Mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients will strengthen states’ accountability to taxpayers. It will also provide personal accountability of welfare recipients to the state. Taxpayers exemplify the main source of welfare resources and payments in the U.S. Thus, mandatory drug testing is necessary and justified. “It’s not right for taxpayer money to be paying for somebody’s drug addiction; on top of that, this is going to increase personal responsibility, […] we shouldn’t be subsidizing people’s addiction” (CNN Wire Staff). The proposed drug testing initiative is the right thing for taxpayers (CNN Wire Staff). It is also a simple test of honesty and fairness among those, who apply for public assistance. Taxpayers have the legal right to know how the state uses their money. Taxpayers give away a share of their income with the state in the form of taxes; the latter are used for public assistance and welfare purposes. In this context, drug testing will serve as a buffer of honesty between the state and welfare recipients and guarantee transparency of financial relations between taxpayers and the government.

Not everyone agrees that drug testing for welfare recipients is feasible and constitutional. Opponents of mandatory drug testing claim that the new policy legalizes abuse against one of the most sympathetic social groups in the U.S. (Anonymous). The new law is believed to affront families and violate welfare recipients’ constitutional laws (Waldron). According to the U.S. Constitution, no searches can be conducted without a due cause (CNN Wire Staff). Most probably, the new policy will cause legal arguments and lawsuits, and courts generally frown upon random drug-testing which takes place without probable cause (Waldron). The costs and economic benefits of mandatory drug testing are surrounded by controversy: economic and legal professionals suggest that the cost savings of mandatory drug testing are minor, compared to the amount of costs needed to implement the program (Waldron). General cost savings on rejected welfare applicants are estimated at $40,800-60,000, against the $178 million to run the program (Waldron).

Yet, the issue of privacy loses its relevance, once citizens apply for public assistance. Applicants must be legally obliged to pass drug tests before they receive the funds. It is at least incorrect to say that drug testing for welfare recipients has no probable cause: the mere fact of applying for welfare is a serious reason to undergo a drug test. The results of drug tests can ensure efficient allocation of limited welfare resources, and the obligation to undergo a drug test has nothing to do with the violation of individual rights. In many instances, applying for welfare is no different from applying for a job – employers, like social agencies and workers, have the right to obtain the fullest information about applicants. Drug testing must be mandatory for each and every welfare applicant but to reduce the tension, welfare applicants must be aware of the importance of drug testing and realize the seriousness of the economic and social situation in America. Those who apply for public assistance must understand that drug users reduce their chances to obtain material support from the government. Welfare resources are limited and should be distributed wisely. Drug test results will become a solid criterion for choosing those, who deserve to be supported by states. These results will also guarantee that welfare recipients can quickly recover and find decent employment, once the national economy rebounds (Anonymous).

Conclusion

States pass laws and regulations to make welfare applicants pass drug testing. Drug testing for welfare recipients is necessary and justified, since drug testing can ensure efficient allocation of limited welfare resources and regulate the surging demand for public assistance in the United States. Drug testing will reduce the pool of welfare applicants and enhance the quality of welfare resource allocation at state and federal levels. Drug testing will further guarantee states’ accountability to taxpayers. Certainly, not everyone agrees that mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients is constitutional and feasible. Many believe that the new laws will legalize abuse against the most vulnerable population groups. Yet, the issue of constitutionality and privacy become irrelevant, once citizens apply for welfare. Moreover, drug testing has nothing to do with abuse. Drug testing for welfare recipients is similar to drug testing for job applicants – employers and taxpayers have the right to know their money is used. Drug test results will become a solid criterion for choosing those, who deserve to be supported by states. They will also guarantee that the recipients of public assistance quickly find new employment, once the national economy rebounds.

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