Corporate Welfare

Florida Finds That Not All Welfare Recipients Are Drug-Addled Pillbillies

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The Florida legislature passed a law earlier this year requiring welfare applicants to pay for drug tests. If applicants test negative for illegal drugs, the state reimburses them and puts them on the dole. If they test positive, they can't reapply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for at least a year. The state does not pay for drug treatment. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott insisted when he signed the bill that "it's fair to taxpayers," who are "paying the bill" and are "often drug screened for their jobs. On top of that, it's good for families. It creates another reason why people will think again before using drugs, which as you know is just a significant issue in our state." 

Three months later, the program is costing taxpayers more than it's saving them. Central Florida's WFTV found that out of the 40 families that have been tested since the law went into effect on July 1, only two have tested positive for drugs, and one of those cases is going through the appeal process:  

DCF said it has been referring applicants to clinics where drug screenings cost between $30 and $35. The applicant pays for the test out of his or her own pocket and then the state reimburses him if they test comes back negative.

Therefore, the 38 applicants in the Central Florida area, who tested negative, were reimbursed at least $30 each and cost taxpayers $1,140.

Meanwhile, the state is saving less than $240 a month by refusing benefits to those two applicants who tested positive.

9 Investigates first uncovered evidence in June that a similar program in Idaho also cost more than it saved.

However, the state insisted that the program is as much about principles as it is about money. "We wanted to ensure that the individuals who are eligible for this benefit are using them for the true, intended purpose of this benefit," DCF spokeswoman Carrie Hoeppner said.

If this is a veiled attempt to starve pill mills of welfare bucks, how does the state determine who has a legitimate prescription and who doesn't? Drugs aside, there are plenty of ways to (arguably) misspend welfare money, like gambling, strip clubs, and buying groceries at Whole Foods. The state can't test for those activities, and even if it could, I'm guessing it would find that a lot of families are making their welfare dollars go as far as possible. Nobody likes being poor or explaining to their kids why they can't have nice things to eat or wear. 

Lastly, drug-testing welfare recipients seems especially outrageous when you consider that Florida has intentionally excluded recipients of corporate welfare. Sugar cane farmers, commercial real estate developers, skilled trade groups, Mormon ranchers, theme park owners, and film, medical, and tech companies all receive welfare from the state of Florida in the form of tax breaks, eminent domain, water rights, and occupational licensing, but only poor people have to piss in a cup with a stranger watching.  

For more, see Matt Welch on drug testing welfare recipients

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175 responses to “Florida Finds That Not All Welfare Recipients Are Drug-Addled Pillbillies

  1. […]all receive welfare from the state of Florida in the form of tax breaks[…]

    Excuse me? Letting people keep their own money is not ‘welfare’.

    1. Tax Breaks are still a form of the government looking out for someone’s welfare (charity) if they are given out based upon being a member of a group. Welfare means “Health, happiness, and good fortune; well-being”. The government has no place in deciding winners or losers based upon what activities they do or not partake.

      I’m still confused what the fuck is “imminent domain”. Eminent means “Of high rank, station, or quality; noteworthy”. Imminent means, “to overhang”. It commonly refers to something that is just about to occur and will eventually.

      1. it’s eminent domain and the phrase has its origins in the days when all land titles originated from the sovereign.

        The Sovereign’s claim to all land was considered superior to (or eminent over) all other claims.

      2. Tax Breaks are still a form of the government looking out for someone’s welfare (charity) if they are given out based upon being a member of a group. Welfare means “Health, happiness, and good fortune; well-being”. The government has no place in deciding winners or losers based upon what activities they do or not partake.

        You did not make the case. You just repeated the claim with different words.

        One can certainly agree that treating people unequally, choosing winners and losers, etc, is wrong and shouldn’t be done. But failing to take someone’s property is never welfare. A company with all the tax breaks in the world can still go bankrupt regardless of how many inactions the govt takes on its behalf. Ergo tax breaks do not provide for its welfare, even via your definition.

        1. Except that failing to take Joe’s property because you like what Joe does for a living, while taking John’s property because you don’t like what John does for a living, *is* a subsidy of Joe’s chosen profession. It interferes with the free market of labor and of investment. Is it *less* egregious than handouts, eminent domain argle-bargle, and the other forms of abuse noted? Yes. But that only makes it a smaller breed of cat, not a pony.

          1. I wouldn’t call it a subsidy either.

            It doesn’t even have to be “less egregious” than welfare (i.e actual subsidies). Cutting a firm’s taxes by 2$ can potentially help them twice as much as giving the firm a dollar.

            But it ain’t welfare. That kind of twisting the language supports the left’s stupid arguments about tax cuts being “spending” and having a “cost” to the budget that we can’t necessarily “afford”. It’s Orwellian. If you want to argue against favoritism you should do so on the principles regarding the wrongness of favoritism.

    2. It certainly is “welfare” when it interferes with the free-flow of goods and produces barriers to entering the market.

    3. Milton Friedman discussed replacing welfare programs with a negative income tax for the “disadvantaged.” Now, if such a system were implemented, would you say that those who received tax rebates were on welfare? How about those who paid $0 in taxes? Paid only a few dollars? It seems to be a matter of degree rather than kind.

      1. Nope. Difference in kind.

        Deductions, credits against taxes owed, etc., regardless of their merits, are just letting you keep your own money.

        So-called “refundable” tax credits, negative income taxes, etc. are welfare. You are getting a check from the government.

        This isn’t that hard, people.

        1. Aren’t welfare recipients jingoistically referred to as free-loaders? By extension, isn’t rent-seeking a form of “freeloading”? Or is it not freeloading because they expend some amount of time and energy twisting the arms of the purse-string holders?

        2. I’m not trying to contradict you, because I really don’t have a fully-formed opinion on this, and am trying to get all possible information before making a dumb statement, but what about looking at it like this:

          If a tax rate is some certain amount, but the government grants deductions, credits against taxes owed, etc., to certain favored industries, even though it’s technically just letting them keep their money, is it not still an example of gov’t picking winners and losers and thus altering the market?

          Even if it’s just “keeping” money that’s already theirs (which I fully endorse, as all taxes are theft), if the state allows some parties to keep more based on political patronage, it may not be “welfare” in the technical definition of the word, but is it not still a form of welfare (picking winners by allowing them to keep more of their money than others are allowed to keep) in essence?

          1. My only point through all this is that words need to have definite meanings.

            Especially words that you intend to use as strong pejoratives.

            Diluting “welfare” to include tax deductions weakens its meaning and its usefulness as a stick to beat the idiotic with.

            Sure, sure, the state has many tools to reward the Right People. So what? I don’t think its asking too much that we reserve the word “welfare” for certain subset of the most direct such rewards.

            That is all.

            1. The state is still giving something of value to the recipients of the tax break. I don’t mean the money that they don’t collect from them in taxes. I mean the fact that competitors are still being taxed in the usual way. If you want to define welfare as just giving someone a check, fine. But if you extend it to other goods or services which have value, I think that there is still a case to be made for calling targeted tax breaks welfare or a subsidy.

              1. The state is still giving something of value to the recipients of the tax break. I don’t mean the money that they don’t collect from them in taxes. I mean the fact that competitors are still being taxed in the usual way. If you want to define welfare as just giving someone a check, fine. But if you extend it to other goods or services which have value, I think that there is still a case to be made for calling targeted tax breaks welfare or a subsidy.

                Have to agree with RC on this one. While such a practice can constitute rent-seeking, it doesn’t fit the typical use of the term “welfare”, where subsidies are granted. It is definitely market intervention, but IMO distinct from “welfare”.

                1. The problem with this, is when it’s used to prevent the government from closing these tax loop holes.

                  So we have to keep giving away billions in tax credits and deductions because to close them would be raising taxes.

            2. A tax deduction is a pretty direct reward. Considering that corporations take into account the value of NOL carryovers into the net acquisition value of a company. Like other tax deductions, NOLs don’t do anything if the company isn’t profitable.

            3. R C Dean: That’s an interesting view of the word “welfare.” Also, would you care to explain why you should be the authority on how we all use language?

          2. Here is how I look at it. While it is technically not welfare or a handout to pick favorites through tax exemptions or deductions to particular businesses, it is still a favor to the businesses in question which has significant value. So even if the tax breaks don’t directly hand money to the recipients, the government is still giving something of value to them by continuing to tax their competitors at the normal rate. Assuming that there is going to be some level of taxation on businesses, I see little difference between the government pushing one business up (welfare/direct subsidy) and government pushing everyone else down (tax breaks for selected favored entities).

            1. In economics, value arises only from exchange. What wealth are your recipients giving to government in exchange for tax exemptions or deductions such that an exchange takes place?

              Taxes can get paid only from profits. If there are no profits, there can be no taxes collected.

              1. The government gets the income taxes from all of the employees of that business that received the tax rebates to stay or come to the area ONLY beause it received that consideration from the government. If they didn’t get the credit/rebate there, the threat would be that some other area government would give it to them and they’d take their business, which supplied all those nice local jobs and local & state income taxes, to that other area. Jobs and income taxes, that’s what the local politicians receive in consideration, and yes, they are willing to give away other tax funds to keep them.

        3. Good points, RC, as always. To which I would add:

          We already have negative income tax, it is called Earned Income Credit.

        4. Also, consider “tax breaks” as higher relative taxes on entities not favored. Problem solved.

        5. If two people are otherwise equal, but we give a special tax deduction to person A because he makes his money selling corn, while person B makes money selling cars and isn’t eligible for a tax deduction, that’s simply keeping his own money? That looks to me like the government distorting the economy by encouraging one behavior through favorable tax treatment.

          1. Of course. But it isn’t welfare.

            1. When it’s in the package of farm subsidies we have no problem calling it corporate welfare.

            2. Jesus I bet people don’t like debating with you.

              “You said you took a shit, but you didn’t, you LEFT a shit, you did not TAKE it anywhere, by the definition of that word”.

          2. If two people are otherwise equal, but we give a special tax deduction to person A because he makes his money selling corn, while person B makes money selling cars and isn’t eligible for a tax deduction, that’s simply keeping his own money? That looks to me like the government distorting the economy by encouraging one behavior through favorable tax treatment.

            Definitely government intervention, but IMO not “welfare”. Because one company has been successful at obtaining a priviledge to retain more of it’s earnings doesn’t constitute “welfare” in the normal usage.

            1. At the least it’s a subsidiy.

    4. Taxes can get paid only from profits, whether from a material captialist (direct speculator) who has put to work capital (things yielding intermediate goods in production of something else), from a labor capitalist who has put to work the poor’s man capital (his labor) or from a money capitalist (indirect speculator) who has put to work money as capital.

      Taxing less — taking less profits — whether across the board for everyone or at differential rates is not welfare for the exact reason that all taxes only come from a share of the profits.

      If there are no profits, there can be no taxes collected.

      Those who claim, wrongly, of course, that tax breaks are welfare don’t get economics and economy at all.

      Welfare arises when politicians and bureaucrats cut a check or give cash money directly to a recipient who has applied for a grant based on a lack of means (e.g., TANF, SNAP, Section 8, Medicaid) or age (e.g., Medicare, Social Security).

  2. occupational licensing is welfare?

    1. I think he means that as long as you are one of the licensed then you’re on the right side of a potentially onerous barrier to entry.

      1. I have a license and I think licensing is crap and onerous on me too, but I do have to acknowledge it limits competition and increases costs to consumers. I guess I’m a welfare mooch too.

  3. “…imminent eminent domain…”

  4. Welfare pays $120/month per person? Jeez. I thought the point was to keep people from starving on the streets.

    WTF, letting certain people keep their own money because they are politically connected is pretty much the same thing as cutting them a check for the same amount.

    1. Compare these two statements.

      1. I am going to give you $100.00

      2. I am going to refrain from stealing $100.00 from you.

      Do you view these two statements as equivalent?

      1. Compare these two statements:

        1. I am going to give you a $100 because the law you lobbied for and we enacted requires new entrants to the market to meet certain regulatory standards.

        2. Sorry, I’m not going to give you $100 because you don’t meet the regulatory requirements to enter the market. You know, those requirements that are quite arbitrary and have no sound basis other than to stifle competition.

      2. Or these (even simpler) two:

        1. We are going to return $100 of that money we confiscated from you because you know the “right” people

        2. You, not so much.

  5. wait, how do they go from $30 to $1,140? Are they saying the $30 is only a small up-front fee and the test costs $1,140?

    1. Fucking multiplication, how does it work?

      1. oh sorry, didn’t see that it said “38 applicants”.

      2. Public school kids repeat that all the time.

        1. This guy is pretty retarded in math and so is everyone who didn’t pick up on it….

          He states that the program loses money… because a one time cost of $1,140 only saved them $240 a month… He misses the law that states the person who failed the test can only reapply a year later.. so its a $240 a month savings for 12 months.. which equals $2,880.. I think that if someone could spend $1,140 to save $2,880 they should do it. Heck, people buy a $30k hybrid to save 5 miles per gallon.

  6. “Three months later, the program is costing taxpayers more than it’s saving them. ”

    Since when did we start judging government programs by their cost-effectiveness? Please let me know when we use this standard for other government programs like the TARP bill or any “Stimulus” program.

    1. Except that in order to avoid being tagged as racists or class-warriors, many of the folks who argued for this policy argued on the savings it would mean when the freeloading, drug-abusing welfare recipients were tossed off the rolls.

  7. another [REASON] not to do ur own product like forgetting where my extended mags are

    1. I assume this particular set of drug deals is high when they typed this.

  8. The program actually costs taxpayers much more than that.

    Anything that creates paperwork helps the social work empire continue to maintain itself.

    That creates direct costs in the form of employee and infrastructure expenses including deferred costs like pensions. It creates indirect costs because everyone employed in social work is part of the reserve army of statism, and can reliably be called upon to vote for all of statism’s other costs. I bet every Wisconsin social worker was out there fighting with the teachers to try to get Walker’s boys in the state senate recalled.

  9. 93,000 people applied for Fla welfare benefits in May 2011. Seems like a stretch to extrapolate costs or benefits of the drug testing program from a survey of 38 people.

    1. Why were only 40 screened? Am I missing something?

      1. Living in Tallahassee and contracting for the state, I’d guess that DCF only has the resources to screen 4/week. FLDCF has the reputation as a gigantic clusterfuck even among state agencies. The idea that they could handle anything BUT drug testing if they tried to test even 1000 families is unbelieveable.

        1. Why not farm it out to the probation system? They probably drug-test 1000s very week…

          1. Different departments can’t work together! The first rule of bureaucracy is bureaucracy don’t share turf.

  10. Let me see.

    $1140 in upfront costs.
    $240/mo for 12 months = $2880.

    On the math presented in the article, FL is still saving money. Or are we not supposed to count the welfare FL won’t be paying out for a year as the savings?

    1. As an aside, I’ll agree to piss testing welfare cases when every motherfucker in the Florida statehouse and the Governor takes one too. You want to exercise power over the rest of us? You are subject to a whiz quiz at any time, bitches.

      1. Don’t forget the pubsec employees, too.

        1. Hell, any state employee. If participation in extracurricular activities is justification for testing the kiddies, I’d think working for the man is a similar enough justification. Oh, wait, didn’t that get shot down in FL?

          1. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that two wrongs don’t make a right?

            1. When legislators quit pushing drug testing, they get a pass. Until then, if teh state of Florida mandates drug testing for anyone, the people responsible for those decisions pee in the cup, too. They can practice what they preach.

              And in response to your post below about pols who don’t push testing? Show me an elected official in FL that believes all mandatory drug screening should go. I’ll bet you can’t find one.

              1. I would guess that at least one FL legislator is opposed to mandatory drug testing generally, but that’s jsut a guess.
                In any case, it’s really a moot point as no legislature will ever pass such a law on itself.

        2. They tried this. Unless they operate machinery professionally or work the front line of the prison, this was struck down as a violation of the employee’s 4th amendment right. So, I don’t think you can say they’re hypocritical in that respect.

          1. So how is the State drug testing welfare applicants not a violation of the 4A?

            1. They aren’t being forced. They’re volunteering. You can piss in a cup if you want a check. if you don’t wanna piss in a cup, you can get a job like the rest of us. And still have to piss in a cup.

            2. They don’t have a union? They can require as part of their contract with my employer that I be piss tested before working on a state contract, but they can’t drug screen employees who are not a physical danger to others if high/drunk while performing their assigned duties. I’m not defending it, just reporting what the Florida Supreme court has ruled.

            3. They aren’t being forced. They’re volunteering. You can piss in a cup if you want a check job.

              Still don’t see why one is a violation of the 4A and the other isn’t.

              1. Probably the voluntaryness of it. Kind of like if you consent to a search of your car, it’s not a violation of 4A.

                The welfare candidate is free not to pee in the cup. He won’t be forcibly catheterized, and he won’t be imprisoned or fined if he doesn’t; he simply won’t be given other people’s money. Same when applying for a job; if you don’t like the terms and conditions the laid forth by the prospective employer (i.e., drug screening), you’re free to go look for work elsewhere.

          2. From my understanding all state employees are subject to piss tests except judges and legislators. And any management employees. I understand that all supervisor positions are all exempted from the piss tests.

      2. What about legislators who want to end the war on drugs, or at least are opposed to forced drug testing?

        In any case, isn’t the only requirement to hold elected office that you meet a few age and residency requirements and get enough votes? And I think that I would prefer it if my legislators were on drugs anyway.

        1. Though I suppose that if the testing of elected pols were purely for informational purposes, I could perhaps get behind it.

    2. This whole article doesn’t smell right.

    3. I’m surprised it took this long to out the obvious flaw in the math.

  11. I am reluctant to strip all the meaning out of the word “welfare” to include things like licensing, eminent domain, and “tax breaks” (whatever the fuck those are).

    I could see using welfare to include direct subsidies to business, no problem. God knows there are plenty of those. But if the gov isn’t handing you a check, you aren’t getting welfare.

    1. Yeah, same thing with ‘subsidy’. A tax break is not welfare or a subsidy.

      1. Right. A subsidy is when politicians and bureaucrats cut a material capitalist (direct speculator) a check to produce something.

        The National Endowment for the Arts should be an easy example for nearly all to see what a subsidy is. The crappy starving artist whose shitty art work she can’t sell gets a subsidy when the NEA gives her a $5,000 grant to produce a montage of butch dyke lesbians sitting on Harleys.

        And here is another example. A farmer gets a subsidy when the DOA pays her $1,000 an acre for every acre of wheat she plants.

        1. That was pretty f’ing funny. Onanother note I don’t see why Reason is so up in arms about piss testing welfare leeches. Every job I’ve ever had required a piss test before an offer was made. I could of passed on it but I would not be working either. Same thing is true for the welfare leech. I think they should be tested on a random basis at a minumum of 2 times per year after the intial test to ensure they didn’t just get clean before applying.

          1. i have heard that most piss tests are more of a measure to see if you can get your shit together enough to pass one. these tests are also harder on weed smokers since it stays in the system longer. A junkie or cokehead only needs a couple days, but a pothead needs almost a month to be sure. I don’t think most employers give a shit if you do drugs as long as its not at work(except when I interviewed at wal mart they wanted one, and it just happened to be the day after i tried acid the only time).

    2. I can see not wanting to call a tax break “welfare” or “subsidy”, but it still is unfairly fucking over everyone else who still has to pay the tax.
      I don’t think you are an anarchist, so you must think that some taxes are acceptable. Recipients of tax breaks may not be on welfare, strictly speaking, but when everyone else still has to pay, it is pretty damn close.

      1. Nope, no anarchist me. Minarchist. Because of, you know, human nature, history, all that.

  12. Slight thread detour, but similar concept: one year after Virginia revised its concealed carry law to allow permit holders to carry concealed in establishments that serve alcohol (provided they do not consume alcohol), and despite dire predictions to the contrary, “gun crimes” in such establishments has DECREASED.

    But of course, state delegate Donald McEachin (who has that little “D” after his name that evidently stands for “dumbass”) still says it’s a bad idea because “guns and alcohol don’t mix.” Well DUH, McEachin – which is why the law says you can’t drink if you’re packing!

    Never let empirical facts stand in the way of posturing rhetoric.

    1. On that note, is there a law in Virginia that requires off-duty police officers to be out of uniform and unarmed when consuming alcohol in such an establishment?

  13. Artist calls retirement of UND logo disappointing
    Associated Press

    Updated: 08/24/2011 09:53:32 AM CDT

    GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The artist who created the University of North Dakota’s current Fighting Sioux logo says he’s disappointed by its imminent demise.

    Bennett Brien created the American Indian head logo a dozen years ago. He tells the Grand Forks Herald it’s not a logo but a symbol of many things, including bravery, personal growth and the search for truth.

    Brien, who is Chippewa, created the emblem for UND when controversy over the school’s nickname was heating up and critics objected to earlier logos they found to be demeaning. The state Board of Higher Education recently decided to retire the nickname and logo by year’s end, after the NCAA refused to back down on threatened sanctions against the school.

    Brien says life goes on, and energy should be spent on “real problems.”

    http://www.twincities.com/ci_1…..ck_check=1

  14. You could be wrong in saying the program costs taxpayers more.

    You forgot people who didn’t apply for welfare because they knew they’d fail the drug test or because they couldn’t afford one, if any.

    1. That’s a good point.

      Anyone wanna get high?

    2. Yes, good point, but one that can be addressed by examining trends in the application rate before and after the testing requirement went into effect. Anyone?

    3. Ack, that’s what I get for not reading the entire thread. I say something similiar below.

  15. Did they count all the people that didn’t bother applying for welfare because they knew they wouldn’t pass the drug test?

    This is like saying that my employer’s random drug test policy is a waste of money because no one ever tests positive. Don’t you think more people would use if they wouldn’t lose their jobs over it? Of course!

    I think welfare should all go away anyway, but I don’t view this as a violation of anyone’s rights. You’re not entitled to welfare. If you want free munny, then you do whatever the hell they say to do. I’d piss in a cup for a check.

  16. but only poor people have to piss in a cup with a stranger watching

    So, if FL just eliminated welfare, they wouldn’t have this conundrum and there’d be no issue, right?

    *ducks*

  17. Also, “Drug-Addled Pillbillies” would be a good album title.

    1. This isn’t already a Hank III Song or Album?

  18. the program is costing taxpayers more than it’s saving them.

    Here is my surprise. Can you see it from where you are?

  19. It’s nice of the state to establish a(nother) subsidy guaranteed flow of revenue for the drug testing industry. We wouldn’t want those guys to suffer, would we?

  20. Aside from the overly broad deefinition of “welfare” here…

    I am still in the camp that says welfare should be as uncomfortable and humiliating as possible. Food stamps should only be used to buy nutritional gruel.

    Likewise, drug testing seems like exactly the kind of horrible humiliating ritual that ought to discourage a decent number of people from applying. Provided it’s not costing the state absurd amount of money, I don’t feel too inclined to object.

    1. +1 on the nutritional gruel.

      All welfare recipients should only be provided a tasteless gray slop that meets basic nutritional requirements for survival. You can eat as much as you like, and it is served in gruel kitchens, not painstakingly provided to every deadbeat parasite. They want it, they come and get it. This should be the ONLY government-provided welfare. There is no need to keep track of who uses it or who doesn’t. Presumably a rich guy could wander in for lunch any time he likes. No paperwork and minimal bureaucracy. A few surly lunchladies for every hundred thousand inhabitants. Nobody starves, mission accomplished. Cost: micro.

    2. Why not do that for all recipients of government bennies? Want the government to help you restrict competition? You have to post a video of yourself starring in two girls one cup. Want the government to buy your jet fighters? Your CEO has to post a video of himself being pegged by Janet Reno. Etc.

      1. I like the cut of your jib.

      2. Hmm, perhaps not the porn, but I’m sure that we could find ways to make the process of applying for a government subsidy or contract more irritating.

        Require them all to submit to annual audits, and forbid them from spending any of the subsidy money on anything more than bare-minimum office furniture or employee benefits. They should all be packed into tiny ugly cubicles crammed with ancient filing cabinets and old mental desks. They shouldn’t allow anyone to retire until 70 if they have a desk job.

  21. Perhaps only 2 tested positive, because all those drug-addicts who would have applied decided not to for fear of being caught, and thus the cost to taxpayers is really an unprovable net positive. Jobs saved!

  22. 40 is not a large enough sample.

  23. “We wanted to ensure that the individuals who are eligible for this benefit are using them for the true, intended purpose of this benefit,”

    Which, apparently, includes buying booze. Since they don’t do anything to discourage people from using to for that.

    1. Smokes, too, unless they test for nicotine.

    2. But, booze is, like, LEGAL, and stuff.

    3. This is why welfare needs to be ended. I have family on welfare and food stamps, and they have booze, weed, the kids have a new X Box and games, name brand shoes, the whole works. And I help pay for it.

      You can’t monitor every dollar they spend, which is why the whole idea is flawed. And my cousin knows that if she has income, she gets less or no gubment assistance, so she hasn’t worked a real job in about 5 years. She only picks up odds and ends that pay cash.

      1. Yeah, if you have cable, broadband internet, a nice TV and a new smartphone, you don’t need subsidies to feed your family. You need better priorities.

      2. Same story here, except I have TWO cousins like that. Both of them got knocked up, then stopped working and started collecting a whole variety of freebies. Food, medical care, car seats, cash, and more. Worked so well, they both had a second welfare baby! One of them even had the first kid in “free” daycare while she stayed at home with the new baby because, well, it was free! Both have smart phones, newer cars than I do, satellite TV, designer clothes, etc. Ugh.

        1. I have even BETTER anecdotal evidence to back up my stereotypes!

        2. Progress works! The War on Poverty advances.

          When your cousins drive Mercedes, only then can victory get declared!

        3. I agree with most of these points, but what about this:
          I’m a single mother whose deadbeat ex, who already owed thousands in back support, stopped paying altogether 3 years ago. They haven’t caught up with him to make him pay support, even though I gave them his SS#. I applied for health care for my daughter, who has severe ADHD, & food stamps to make up the difference. I work part time so I don’t have to ask for child care subsidies. I live frugally, I don’t ask for Section 8 & pay my bills on time. Recently I got injured & applied for cash assistance after my savings were gone, reported when I went back to work & claim every dime I make, but I’m not making as much due to reduced hours. I don’t have cable or even own a car, I ride my bike to work. I haven’t bought clothes for myself for a very long time, thankfully I have a well off friend who I get great hand me downs from & my daughter gets clothes for Christmas & uses her birthday money to buy hers at an outlet store. I see others around me who lie about knowing where the father of their children are when he’s living with them & making money off the books. So I should be punished if I smoke a joint with my friend every once in a while?

          1. By the way, the computer I’m writing this on was given to my daughter for her birthday & I have to have internet for her to do some of her homework…

  24. I am still in the camp that says welfare should be as uncomfortable and humiliating as possible. Food stamps should only be used to buy nutritional gruel.

    I am ambivalent about this.

    I believe but have no hard proof that food stamps have been transformed from their traditional obvious weirdly colored scrip form to a more inconspicuous debit-card type of payment.

    To reduce the “stigma”.

    And, of course, since cash is still fungible, the money the government gives you to buy Cheerios with will inevitably free up good old-fashioned untrackable paper money for those desperately needed Malte Likker Tallboyz.

    1. I can confirm at least in Ohio, the went to a Debit card system… so people wouldn’t feel bad about being on food stamps.

      1. They do that in VA too.

        One time I was behind this older guy with a huge stack of groceries, over 200 dollars worth. Nice assortment of stuff, not just junk. The lady gives him the total and he whips out his welfare card.

        Fuck that shit. I’m sitting there with a box of pasta and a can of sauce (Kroger brand) because its 2 days till payday and I’m gonna make a big pot of spaghetti for the next 4 meals I’m eating. This motherfucker puts a weeks worth of nice groceries on the government’s dime.

        I also paid my car tax today. WTF the city of Richmond did to get me the car I own I have no fucking clue.

        1. every time I’m behind someone buying tons of fancy steaks and stuff it invariably turns out to be food stamps.

          I suspect they are planning to resell because its hard to imagine one family putting away that much meat and stuff.

      2. Well, it also does serve a purpose that helps taxpayers. When food stamps were actually pieces of monopoly looking money, you had these assholes buy a $2 gallon of milk, and pay with a $20 food coupon….and they got change back in CASH. Makes it really easy to spend on all sorts of stuff. At least the debit cards prevent that.

        1. I don’t care as much about the card as I do the fact that some leech can buy meat, veggies, snacks, desert, etc. while I’m shopping cheap because funds are tight. Thrift and discipline is punished, while being a useless piece of shit is rewarded.

          1. I totally agree. That kind of crap pisses me off to no end. I was working a 2nd job in a gas station and they would come in with their debit cards all the time and buy $20 worth of junk food (i.e. chips, candy, soda). The special welfare payment machine would spit out a receipt for the purchase and have the total amount left on the card and my jaw would drop. I saw some totals as high as $1200 for food and then another $600 for spending money. Here I am busting my ass for my family working 65 hours a week and they sit at home and have more disposable income than me. Fuck that they should have to piss in a cup every week to keep thos type of benefits.

  25. The writer wrote “Drugs aside, there are plenty of ways to (arguably) misspend welfare money, like gambling, strip clubs, and buying groceries at Whole Foods.” How is buying food at Wholes Foods is misspending?? I understood the others ways of misspending but just because you receive food stamps does not mean you cannot buy healthy or at Whole Foods…Did I read this wrong please enlighten me?

    1. I think the idea is that Whole Foods is overpriced and no more nutritional than ‘normal’ food.

    2. It’s mostly a joke. Relax.

      Buying bulk ingredient items at Whole Foods is probably a very efficient way to spend food stamps or whatever.

  26. And, I will add this:

    NOBODY WHO IS ON STRIKE FROM A PAYING JOB SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO GET FOOD STAMPS OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE.

    1. + a million

      “I could work, but refuse to! Fucking feed me!”

  27. How is buying food at Wholes Foods is misspending??

    High prices. Paying extra for status and a warm fuzzy feeling? Please do it with your own money.

  28. Here’s why this is a bad idea, even to those of you who want to insist that signing up for welfare means that you shouldn’t have any right to refuse a drug test:

    The state should not be allowed to use the extension of a benefit to do an end run around any enumerated right.

    If it’s OK to say, “We expect you to waive your 4th amendment rights in order to secure the government benefit of welfare,” then it’s ALSO OK to say, “We expect you to waive every one of your enumerated rights, including the right to free speech and the right to a jury trial and the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments, in order to get a business license.”

    If Florida can undertake this program and it’s totally cool in your eyes, then you should have absolutely no problem with the secretary of state of some other state saying that a requirement of the incorporation of a corporation is that every officer and shareholder of that corporation sign a paper waving all of their enumerated rights.

    OR a state could set a 100% income tax, and credit 95% of your income back to you if you claimed the “I agree to always vote Democrat” tax credit. Hey, don’t want to agree to that? Then don’t apply for the tax credit. Your agreement is “voluntary” as soon as you sign up. Right?

    “Don’t like it? Hey, don’t incorporate then. Nobody’s forcing you to incorporate.”

    No enumerated right is safe if we permit the states to set up benefit schemes that require the waiver of particular rights, or enable the states to secure authority they would not be able to secure using their criminal enforcement powers.

    1. +10 (Amendments).

    2. I see your point, and I’m not deeply commited to the nutritional gruel program, but…

      Getting a business license and getting welfare are very different. I don’t see how the courts would ever uphold a claim that a business license is a “government benefit” which the state can impose restrictions on.

      1. You already waive your 4th amendment rights to get a driver’s license.

        Refuse a breathalyzer? License revoked.

        This is how it starts.

        And there are already scores of “administrative proceedings” out there where operators of a business are denied their 5th, 6th and 7th amendment rights as a condition of doing business.

    3. I reluctantly agree with Fluffy.

      1. I would be more inclined to agree with Fluffy if SugarFree could perhaps provide an illustrative slashfic which incorporates the main argument and presents it in a way that I find interesting…

        1. I keep trying to write a grand filth opus of drugged-up welfare porn, but, alas, it remains elusive.

          1. also, the competition is killer.

    4. @ Fluffy,

      great points, and yet it feels to me kind of like the slippery slope argument.

      If you assume that we must provide a safety net (which we should leave that argument out of this).

      Then I think it’s reasonable to make it a bitch to collect.

      I’m also ok with breathalizers, but not giving the police the right to search every car, or with DUI checkpoints.

      I guess what I’m saying is that I think you have to look at each indvidual sitution.

  29. Which reminds me-

    Has anybody else seen that movie about the “Wild and Wonderful Whites” or whatever they call that verminous tribe of drug-addled hillbillies?

    Holy fuck, sometimes I think Oliver Wendell Holmes was right.

    And of course, they are all as wise in the ways of government-provided sustenance and support as any K Street lobbyist.

  30. Marginally on topic:

    Rubio pushes over Nancy Reagan in rush to podium. Ok, not really. She slipped and fell.

    “Nancy Reagan last night lost her balance and fell as she arrived to watch a speech by Republican freshman senator and Tea Party darling Marco Rubio
    The frail former First Lady was being escorted to her seat in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, California, by Senator Rubio when she lost her footing and took a tumble.”

  31. Or, hell, a driver’s license.

    “Want a driver’s license? Sign this paper that says we can search your house whenever we want.”

    “Hey, that’s voluntary. All you have to do to not get searched is not apply for a driver’s license. Driving is a privilege. We can set whatever requirements on it we want.”

    1. And that’s a problem? I think it is perfectly legal.

      1. O mai! A blast from the past.

    2. Well, there is one difference. There is only ONE place you can get a driver’s license. By contrast, if you want money to live on, there are lots of ways to get it that don’t involve welfare.

      If there was only one store in town and they required you to join their church in order to shop there, another store would immediately open. When it comes to government, that can’t happen. They’ve got an inherent monopoly power.

    3. You already surrender your right to due process in most states by refusing an illegal search and seizure by getting a driver’s license.

      1. Exactly.

        In United States v. Butler a wiser court struck down a New Deal act that imposed a tax on farmers who refused to comply with production limits under the act.

        The court held that the federal government could not use its taxing and spending powers to achieve an unconstitutional end, even if they did so by setting up rewards and punishments for “voluntary” compliance.

        (5) The regulation of the farmer’s activities under the statute, though in form subject to his own will, is, in fact, coercion through economic pressure; his right of choice is illusory. P. 70.

        (6) Even if the farmer’s consent were purely voluntary, the Act would stand no better. At best, it is a scheme for purchasing with federal funds submission to federal regulation of a subject reserved to the States. P. 72.

        (7) The right to appropriate and spend money under contracts or proper governmental purposes cannot justify contracts that are not within federal power. P. 72.

        Also, the court pretty clearly foresaw the end game of establishing the precedent that the government could tax and spend in any way it wished, even to “purchase” compliance with unconstitutional ends:

        blockquote>If the novel view of the General Welfare Clause now advanced in support of the tax were accepted, that clause would not only enable Congress to supplant the States in the regulation of agriculture and of all other industries as well, but would furnish the means whereby all of the other provisions of the Constitution, sedulously framed to define and limit the power of the United States and preserve the powers of the States, could be broken down, the independence of the individual States obliterated, and the United States converted into a central government exercising uncontrolled police power throughout the Union superseding all local control over local concerns.

        Unfortunately this is one of those SCOTUS rulings that did not stand the test of time. Hence our current state of completely-fucked-over-ness.

        http://www.law.cornell.edu/sup…..01_ZS.html

  32. If it’s OK to say, “We expect you to waive your 4th amendment rights in order to secure the government benefit of welfare,” then it’s ALSO OK to say, “We expect you to waive every one of your enumerated rights, including the right to free speech and the right to a jury trial and the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments, in order to get a business license.”

    I think there are quite a few public-housing agencies who have this ball rolling.

  33. Not to mention regulatory administrative courts.

    “Hey, we gave you this permit, so that means the 5th, 6th and 7th amendments don’t apply to you.”

    I realize it impedes everyone’s favorite game of “Let’s Stomp on Welfare Recipients”, but when you support the state in this you’re supporting one of the most egregious elements of the modern regulatory state.

    We have to push back as hard as possible at every instance of the state linking the extension of a benefit to the waiver of a right. Because such uses are accelerating and it means our balls too once it goes far enough.

    1. IF you don’t use drugs you have got nothing to fear. I don’t think drug users should have any rights.

    2. I’ve already commented this upthread but, in this case the government is the only source of permits. So the individual has no choice but to agree to the terms. Welfare recipients have a choice. They can get a job or live off of private charity. A business owner can’t just go get a permit somewhere else.

      1. A business owner can’t just go get a permit somewhere else.

        They’ll just say “Don’t be a business owner – work for someone else.”

        Do you really think the state won’t argue that operating your own business is just as optional an activity as being on welfare?

        1. It’s theoretically possible, but I see it as vastly more farfetched. I don’t think any government would last long in America if it openly claimed that owning your own business is a “priviledge”. Particularly one where you had to give up rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights to operate.
          I also doubt it would get through the courts.

          We’re at least 100 years away from that America, assuming we continue down our road towards creeping state socialism.

          1. They don’t call doing business a “priviledge” instead they say ALL THE TIME–“It’s the cost of doing business…” and require permits, licensure, fees, etc.

  34. Regardless of the merits of the program, I believe it is the right thing to do for moral reasons. Anyone that uses drugs deserves punishment. This is useful tool the government has to round up drug criminals for some good ole fashioned SEVERE PUNISHMENT.

  35. We could probably eliminate this problem by doing away with cash and using only debit cards that allow all transactions to be monitored.

    1. That worked real well after Katrina.

      1. At least we know how much they spent on strippers and booze.

      2. Spending money on strippers is economic stimulus, RC.

  36. Sorry Reason, you are wrong here.

    I support FULL legalization of all drugs EXCEPT for people on the doll.

    If you want to smoke crack on your dime, it’s cool with me. If you want to smoke crack on my dime, we got a problem.

    1. Any other legal activities that you would like the state to prohibit based on your source of income, K?

      1. I would probably be ok with Ciggs and alchohol as well.

        Also, probably PT standards if we are paying for your healthcare.

        Basically yes, I do think the rules change if you are taking money from the government (ie the public).

        If you don’t like the conditions don’t take the money.

        All this is assuming of course that you even believe that a public safety net like welfare is justified.

        But assuming that you do, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have a number of behavior restrictions while on it.

        Being on the dole should NOT be easy, or comfortable.

        1. What about when you have no choice, such as if we move to a single-payer system? Would you change your stance on PT standards?

        2. Having agreed that the State can prohibit (or require) activities based on your receipt of State benefits, would you be comfortable with Van Jones wielding this power? Howsabout Michelle Bachmann?

          1. Excellent question.

            I guess for me, I would argue that I’m ok with it being used for certain purposes but not all purposes.

            Moreover, of course, I would want the governemnt to only be providing this safety net in limited circumstances.

            Basically, I’m ok with making sure that people aren’t starving on the streets. But I want to do my damdest to make sure it’s a limited program, that people are going to try and get off soon.

  37. We have to push back as hard as possible at every instance of the state linking the extension of a benefit to the waiver of a right.

    This line of reasoning only makes sense if you do not believe all rights are granted by the State, unfortunately.

    Most people apparently believe any and all “rights” are conditional and derived from the consent of the governors, and may be altered or rescinded at any time.

  38. All drug testing should cease. People should challenge employment related drug testing, taking it to court to appeal. It constitutes an unlawful search. I don’t know if that’s been done. Poor people should not be drug tested. They are citizens like anyone else. I would not work for an employer who required me to be drug tested.

    1. All drug testing should cease.

      How then can employers assure a drug free workplace? Having employyees high on the drugs affects productivity.

      People should challenge employment related drug testing, taking it to court to appeal.

      Yes it is a search, but drug use is illegal, so you have no inherent right to use drugs, so if you obey the law it is not a problem.

      It constitutes an unlawful search. I don’t know if that’s been done.

      Courts have ruled not.

      Poor people should not be drug tested.

      We all should be.

      They are citizens like anyone else.

      Agreed.

      I would not work for an employer who required me to be drug tested.

      Your choice, but all employers will eventually require it.

      1. Except of course that the trend is the other way. Looser drug laws, and slowly towards legalization. See for example CA 2010

      2. Look, Juanita (if this is really you..it’s been a long time since I saw your sock-puppety face).

        It’s entirely reasonable for an employer to expect their employees to come to work sober.

        But, as long as drug testing tells an employer (in the case of THC) what I did on my day off 2 or 3 weeks ago, and that’s used as a basis for firing me, we have a problem.

        1. Fucking employment at will, how does it work?

      3. It’s not a right to use drugs. It’s a right to not be searched without probable cause. It’s not really an employer’s job to create a drug free workplace. The liberty to not be examined, tested, or searched at all turns is more important. If an employer doesn’t trust me, I won’t work for them. I will go into business for myself, and I will not drug test any employees I may have. I will only hire people I trust.

        1. If the terms of employment require taking a drug test it is voluntary.

          1. True. I do feel that we should not sanction the attitude that we should submit to random drug testing, because that allows the insidious attitude pervade society that is being extended to governmental agencies by making people think it is normal to be routinely drug tested. In fact, it encourages the view that if you don’t agree with the practice, it must be because you use illegal drugs. Of course if others wish to sign away their rights, that is their choice, but don’t expect me to sanction it.

    2. You are challenging employment drug testing by not submitting to the test but that doesn’t mean the employer shouldn’t be able to test prior to hiring you. I highly doubt people are randomly drug testing poor people but they should be tested if they want to receive welfare benefits.

  39. So it costs $1140 to save $280 a month. That’s $3360 ($280 X 12) a year. BIG savings.

  40. So FL is spending $1140 to save $280 per month and the TV station thinks that’s a bad deal? $280 per month is $3360 per year. That’s a HUGE savings.

  41. Given that this is the second push Scott has made for more drug testing, is Reason going to look into or cover the Solantic angle?

  42. A sample size of 40 is meaningless and fails to include those that would have applied were it not know that an application now requires drug testing. Has the application rate dropped since the policy went into effect? It is disappointing to see those who know better play statistical games like this. Yes, this policy is invasive, but it is voluntary and does not deprive people of property like the taxation that is used to fund the benefits in the first place.

  43. A little quick math…the state shelled out 1,100 bucks for tests one time and will recoup 200 bucks a month moving on into the future. That means the state will realize a real savings after just 5.5 months! Please explain just how this program is costing taxpayers more than it saves?!

  44. There’s a key point that’s not mentioned. One of Rick Scott’s companies is Solantic, a chain of immediate care medical centers. One of Solantic’s biggest offerings is drug testing.

    Scott tells people that he divested himself of his Solantic shares when he became Governor. But he simply put them in a trust in his wife’s name.

    This program is set up to be a big money maker for Rick Scott. That’s an important part of the story and I’m surprised that it wasn’t mentioned.

  45. What they are not telling you is that 1600 people refused to take the test …..4100 did and passed but more than 1/3 didn’t even bother so how much is that saving the taxpayers

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