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Pissing Away Welfare
Author: BobR    Date: 2015-01-14 11:29:47

If there's one thing that conservatives can't stand, it's the thought that someone "lesser" than them is getting something that they don't deserve. With the exception of Republican politicians and corporations, they hate freeloaders. They live their lives just knowing that someone somewhere is getting a handout of someone else's hard-earned tax dollars, and it makes them livid.

That has to be the explanation. Otherwise, why would we be seeing red state after red state passing laws to require welfare recipients to take drug tests? They apparently already get irritated when someone uses food stamps and haven't sold all their belongings and reduced their clothes to rags. How dare someone still own jewelry or a cellphone and file for foodstamps? They aren't destitute if they still have something!

Florida was the test case for this new idea - the idea that they could save tons of money by flushing their welfare rolls of all those drug users. After all - if all you had to do all day was lay around the house in the lap of poverty, you'd do drugs too (yes, that says a lot about what the people passing the laws would do if they were getting welfare). Needless to say - it was a complete failure. Rather than save money by purging their welfare rolls, they instead found that only 2.6% of those tested failed the tests. The savings from being able to kick them off didn't come anywhere close to the cost of paying for all those tests.

GA and Tennessee followed suit. The results in TN were even more worthless:
In July, Tennessee began a drug testing program for applicants to the state’s welfare program. Since then, just one person has tested positive out of more than 800.

Applicants have to answer three questions about drug use to get benefits, and if they answer yes to any of them, they get referred to urine testing. If the result is positive, they have to complete a treatment plan and then take another test. If the second comes back positive, they get cut off from benefits for six months. Those who refuse to take a drug test in the first place can’t get benefits.

In the month since it began, six people submitted to a drug test and just one tested positive out of the 812 people who applied. Four were turned down for benefits because they refused to participate in drug screening. That means a positive rate of 0.12 percent for those who took part in the screening. That compares to the 8 percent of state residents generally who use illegal drugs.

Despite stereotypes that the poor people who need welfare assistance use drugs at a high rate, other states have had similar results. In Utah, just 12 people tested positive in a year of drug testing applicants. In Florida, 2 percent of applicants failed the tests in 2011 but the state has an 8 percent rate of illegal drug use.

And when Maine’s governor set out to prove that welfare recipients in his state were using their benefits to buy drinks and cigarettes at bars and strip clubs, he turned up next to nothing.

So what's this all about? Wisconsin's NOW says "It’s about vilifying people" regarding similar proposed legislation in their state, and - while that is certainly part of it - I think it's racially motivated. In the mind's eye of these legislators, it's not poor white rural folks on welfare, it's inner city blacks. That perception - likely held by most Americans - just does not stand up to the reality of statistics.

For years, the number of whites and blacks on Welfare has been constistently even, with hispanics less than half of either. Also, despite the perception of the lazy unemployed "welfare queen" pumping out babies and living off the "largesse" (I almost vomited typing that) of welfare, there is a sizeable percentage of working poor, employed by money sponges like McDonalds and Wal-Mart:
It seems that welfare queens are back in the news these days. The old stereotype was an inner-city unwed mother -- that’s dog-whistle-speak for black -- having multiple babies to get ever bigger welfare checks (throw in a new Cadillac and the myth is complete). Regardless, welfare reform of the 1990s ended that narrative.

No, the new welfare queens are even bigger, richer and less deserving of taxpayer support. The two biggest welfare queens in America today are Wal-Mart and McDonald's.

This issue has become more known as we learn just how far some companies have gone in putting their employees on public assistance. According to one study, American fast food workers receive more than $7 billion dollars in public assistance. As it turns out, McDonald's has a “McResource” line that helps employees and their families enroll in various state and local assistance programs. It exploded into the public when a recording of the McResource line advocated that full-time employees sign up for food stamps and welfare.

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private sector employer, is also the biggest consumer of taxpayer supported aid. According to Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, in many states, Wal-Mart employees are the largest group of Medicaid recipients. They are also the single biggest group of food stamp recipients. Wal-mart’s "associates" are paid so little, according to Grayson, that they receive $1,000 on average in public assistance. These amount to massive taxpayer subsidies for private companies.

So while the CEOs of these corporations enjoy massive compensation, their employees struggle and end up making ends meet via our tax dollars. It's obscene. As it is, the ~$300B we spend annually on Welfare is still only about 7.5% of the total budget. That's less than what most people think they should tithe to their church for essentially the same thing, per their prophet's teachings. Imagine if there wasn't so much income disparity? If the worker was able to keep more of their labor's worth (in pay) rather having it line the already bulging pockets of their employers, we could decrease that percentage quite a bit.

Instead of passing laws to waste precious tax dollars on drug tests, they should be passing laws to prevent another gilded age with a majority of the country living like serfs.

40 comments (Latest Comment: 01/15/2015 00:04:52 by Raine)
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