Florida punishing the poor?

From the fine folks at the ACLU comes more nonsense about institutionalized marginalization of low-income families. The state of Florida is considering legislation allowing the government to drug test applicants of state welfare programs.  Of course the ACLU interprets this as a punishment of some kind:

Florida’s bill goes so far as to make people  applying for public assistance, who have very limited means, pay for the cost  of their drug test.  If the individual’s  drug test comes back negative, the state will then reimburse individuals for  the cost of the test.  If the drug test  comes back positive, Florida  will not provide drug treatment, it will merely make the applicant ineligible  to reapply for TANF for a year.

By the ACLU’s account, there is no extra cost to the applicant if they are not drug users, so what does it matter if they have limited means.  Whether or not the poor are more likely to be drug users should be irrelevant.  Being poor does not justify or require using drugs.  FL State Senator Paula Dockery has it right when she says, “It’s hard for me to justify to taxpayers that I’m taking your money and giving  assistance to people who are buying drugs with it”.  Sen. Dockery understands that money is fungible.  The financial assistance the individual receives from the state enables the them to pay bills with state monies and buy drugs with personal monies.  Basically, if they were behind on their bills because they used to pay what bills they could in addition to drugs, now they can be current on bills thanks to state aid and buy drugs.  (Another exploitation of the principle of fungibility is government funding of abortion through Planned Parenthood.  Read the comment section for my analogy as to how this principle is exploited.)

The only people this kind of legislation hurts is drug users looking for government handouts.  There is only a disincentive to apply only for the drug users.  Non-users have nothing to fear.

Critics worry the measures will inadvertently harm children, who are the  beneficiaries of the bulk of welfare funds. Bills in some states, including  Florida and New Mexico, would allow children of parents who fail drug tests to  continue receiving their share of the benefits through a third-party  caregiver.

Supporters said that would protect children from drug-addicted parents and  would give parents an incentive to overcome their addictions.

It wouldn’t matter if the children would still receive their share of the benefits.  It would still be exploited by the drug using parents (fungibility!).  A possible incentive for the unfit parents to kick their habits might be removing the children from the home.  Not everyone is fit to care for children.  Foster parents would be arrested for allowing children to live in the environment that some of these drug-using biological parents foist on their own children.


  1. If this legislation gets through, I will be very interested to see the fiscal effects. You’d think that the public assistance spending would go down, but by how much? I’d also like to see the percentage that fail the test.

    This could be something that other states may adopt.

    • Other states have tried this and have failed to get it through. On one front organizations like the ACLU pretend to oppose the measures because of violations of the constitution (unreasonable search and seizure). And on the other, race-baiters like Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews and the rest claim it’s racist. In their eyes food stamps/welfare = black. So if the can’t get it defeated by law suits, they bully proponents by calling them racist.

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