Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lenten Meditation IV

inspired by Isaiah 58:9-14

One of my hot  button issues lately has been the drive to require drug testing for welfare recipients. A lot of otherwise well-meaning people - Christians included - seem to think this is a good idea. Why would we provide the wherewithal to drug users to purchase more drugs? It even seems logical . . . if you don't think about it overmuch.

I think it's a terrible idea. Here's why:

  • At the heart of this notion is the supposition that drug users are somehow rewarded by their drug use. They lay around in a substance induced state of euphoria and do nothing to lift themselves out of the morass they have created for themselves. They are somehow thus better off than the rest of us who have to work and struggle to provide for our families. I submit that drug users are not better off than the rest of us, and that drug use, while it may be viewed as a problem, is also the symptom of a larger problem - one that is not cured by the removal of drugs from the formula.
  • Drug users support - not very well I'll agree, but support nonetheless - children who are not drug users and who did not ask to live with or depend on drug users for their sustenance. Denying assistance to families based on the drug use of the parents punishes innocent children. This is the kind of policy position that only perpetuates the problems and indeed makes them worse than they were. 
  • In states where laws have already been passed to require drug testing to qualify for public assistance, the costs of administering the programs have thus far outweighed the savings afforded by withholding welfare. The reason? The actual incidence of drug abuse among welfare recipients is very low. In my own state of Florida the chief beneficiaries of the drug testing program has been the companies who get paid to provide the testing. One of these is owned by the wife of our governor. This is pretty much the exact opposite of 'removing the yoke from our midst and pouring ourselves out for the hungry.' 
As always, Lent is a good opportunity to reassess our thinking.

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