“Cue The Rant!”:: The Problem With Drug Testing People On Welfare

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So the Mississippi senate passed a bill to drug test some welfare recipients last week. And of course of Governor Phil Bryant praised this measure as expected. While this isn’t any big time surprising news, I’ve been seeing a trend lately that is really making me mad.

Mississippi passing this law is just yet another example (of many) of Mississippi being Mississippi. But as I talk to people and peruse through social media I keep seeing happy black people (a lot of women in particular). While it does make sense in a sense (because we all know some people abuse the system and take advantage of the government) I’m here to tell you this is wrong. I know why you are tempted to think this is a decent thing. It’s comparative to the voter ID law. Makes sense on the surface but after some critical thinking and little investigating, you’ll find it out it’s incredibly stupid.

Cue The Rant!

Before you go doing the tootsie roll because folks on welfare aren’t going to be able to game the system, you need to look a little closer at some facts.

When you feel the need to implement programs like these, you have to realize you are tagging a stereotype to welfare recipients. You are basically saying through your actions that people on government assistance use drugs enough to start having to test for it.

This type of bill isn’t new. According to ThinkProgress.com, several states have implimented these same drug tests. Statistics show that TANF recipients don’t have a higher rate of drug use than the general population. It costs to test these families and rehabilitate them after. Something to the tune of 36,000 dollars.

Other states, including Utah, Florida and Minnesota have implemented similar laws in the past 5 years and they’ve turned out to be a massive waste of time and money. Utah spent 30,000 and found only 12 people on drugs that were on welfare. Even crazier, only 2% of all the folks on welfare in Florida tested positive for drug use.

Ridiculous.

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This is only one of the many ways people try to unfairly stereotype people on welfare. Now I’m not ignorant to the world. Trust me I know there are people on welfare who do nothing but hang out and do drugs. But it’s not enough to warrant this wasteful and ignorant law. There is this untrue perception of people on welfare that they have so much money to waste on frivolities and this needs to stop.

Everything isn’t what it seems. This is the same way society stereotypes black men, painting us all as dangerous, lazy and angry. So it really stings when our own people fall for the stereotypes. And while I know it makes you angry that you work so hard to just get by and they are able to take advantage on government assistance, remember they are on welfare for a reason and you are much better off.

So stop thinking this is good news. Despite all the numbers and facts, Phil Bryant is still championing the bill. He’s still clinging to old outdated ways of thinking and he continues to embodies everything wrong with Mississippi. It’s sad that when MS continues to do this and we aren’t surprised anymore. But what’s even sadder is seeing people cheering this terrible legislation.

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to cue the Sir Charles.

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