Surprise! Welfare drug testing is a waste of time and money

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Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families reports the not surprising results of a pilot program from the Arkansas legislature to drug-test recipients of certain welfare payments — temporary assistance to needy families.

It's been a waste of time and money. There was one positive drug testout of 800 applicants for the assistance. Four others were denied benefits for refusing to take the test. At the four-month rate, that means perhaps 15 people will lose benefits (not necessarily for drug use remember, perhaps only on principle) in a year. The testing program costs roughly $100,000.

CLARIFICATION: Not all recipients are tested, only those who answer questions in a way that suggests a test is in order. 

AACF comments:

Here’s a short list of things more likely to happen than an Arkansas welfare recipient testing positive for drugs (the odds of our welfare recipients testing positive are 1 out of 800):


You are more likely to be born with extra fingers or toes (1 in 500)
You are more (much more) likely to be audited (1 in 119)
You are more likely to catch a ball if you’re at a major league baseball game (1 in 570).

This drug screening program is a solution looking for a problem. There are still plenty of real problems in Arkansas. For example, Arkansas kids are very likely to grow up in poverty (1 in 4 kids do) or drop out of school (20 percent of students in Arkansas high schools don’t graduate on time). Perhaps we should focus on these issues instead.
Well, sure. But nothing says loving GOP-style better than spreading a little Big Brotherism and punishment around on the lucky ducks of the underclass.

I wonder if you'd get a 1 in 800 positive on drug-testing of legislators.

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