Too Politicized? The Issue of Drug Screening People on Welfare

Last Monday, a bill on subjecting those on welfare to drug screening failed to pass the Virginia Senate by one vote. The measure was backed by Republicans and failed because one Republican didn’t vote.

Whether you’ve heard about it or not, the question of whether we should have those on welfare take regular drug screening tests has popped up a lot recently, and many people are very sharply divided on the issue.

Many of those against it think that it is an invasion of privacy and ask why don’t we screen legislators or bailed-out CEOs. Many see it as picking on the poor.

Those who are for it think that it would cut down on the use of illegal drugs and save money in the system. Many don’t see why it’s even up for debate.

As for me, I don’t think it’s a Republican or Democratic issue, a conservative or liberal issue; it’s just an issue that’s being too politicized so that people are divided and able to be manipulated politically. It’s part of the conundrum of having an almost exclusively two party system with two parties that seemingly have to disagree on every issue, no matter what it is.

Personally, I am for it, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not because I hate poor people; it has nothing to do with class warfare. I don’t think CEOs should be bailed out at all. Their companies should fail if they didn’t make it; that way new companies can take their place and better themselves, improving on where the failed companies didn’t make it. That’s why we have a free market. As for the issue with legislators, the difference is their salary, yes, a government-paid salary. But they are earning that money for their job, while those on welfare are on welfare typically because they don’t have a job. I wouldn’t be against screening legislators, though. As long as members of congress aren’t doing drugs, they shouldn’t have a problem with it. Some government jobs already do this.

In addition, it wouldn’t be an invasion of privacy. By accepting money from the government, you’d willingly be subjecting yourself to screening. If someone’s job can do this without it violating his or her privacy rights, so can this. If it were a privacy issue, we wouldn’t have drug screening anywhere because it would be violating the employees’ rights. Not to mention that we have already given up our rights to privacy at airports and pretty much any security check (some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t, like airports). We should probably have those security checks or some variation of them at government buildings, though. Bombs aren’t exactly a great thing to let in.

As far as drugs go, this wouldn’t just be screening for marijuana. There are other drugs people do too, like cocaine, heroin, and LSD, among others. We probably shouldn’t be sending our tax dollars to people who may be using them. Nice to know you might be paying for someone’s addiction or their eminent death if they don’t get help, depending on the drug.

The thing is, I think this measure does make sense. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t screen people who are receiving money from the government, taken from our tax dollars, and make sure they aren’t being self-destructive and wasting the money given them.

Also, this is in no way a shot at those on welfare. Many on welfare don’t want to be and are hardworking. They are trying to get by and make a way for themselves and have somehow come into unfortunate circumstances. I think that such hardworking people, however, would have few qualms about being screened because that would mean that those who are not hard working or who are abusing the system would be taken off and wouldn’t be getting the same benefits as those who are actually needing it. So really, we are doing those on welfare who are genuinely decent people a service.

Until we can stop making every issue so sharply partisan and divided, we will never be able to advance as a society. Do what makes sense and helps others.

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