What about a person who has a disability (mental illness, mental retardation, brain injury) that renders them incapable of following the rigors of a drug rehab program?
Are we as a society ready to turn our backs on these people?
BTW, I agree with Matclone, that in many cases, drug addiction and mental illness go hand in hand.
How do we decide if someone is mentally handicapped because of drugs or if they are on drugs because they are mentally handicapped?
I'm sure Uncle Sam and accurately make that call.
Isn't drug addiction and/or alcoholism classified as a disease?
If drug addiction is legally recognize as a disease (I'm not sure if it is or is not) then that in itself is grounds for government assistance.
I'm surprised no one from a sport with its share of orthopedic injuries has mentioned another form of addiction that sometime occurs: narcotics. Show me someone who's hooked on painkillers and I'll show you a person who doesn't want to work.
Like you say, G&P, these are complex issues.
I think that many of the arguments are missing the point of the proposal.
Certainly the majority of people on assistance are good people who would rather not be on the government dole. Certainly many are either truly disabled, or have other issues that preclude them from being able to seek or perform jobs that would enable them to get off of assistance.
What this proposal is designed to do, is to identify those who ARE on assistance and who would have a better chance at getting off of assistance if they were drug free.
I don't think anyone was trying to group everyone on assistance as a drug user, or abuser of the system and it's intent. I think what some are saying, is that this could be a tool to better identify those who are abusing the system and either help them clean up so that they can support themselves, or at the very least give them a reason to get clean, so that they don't lose their benefits.
I've got a job working for a state organization and I knew going into it that I would be drug tested. It was a requirement for which the benefit was a good state job with plenty of benefits. I see those on assistance as being on the same payroll as I am, so I have no issue with requiring them to be drug free, just as I am.
As for those who are mentally ill, or have drug addictions including alcohol, this type of program, would enable the government to better identify those people in order to better help them.
Someone suggested classes on cooking, interviewing, resume writing, budgeting, etc. Why would it be so bad to require attendance of such classes as a requirement for continued use of benefits for those who weren't deemed to be truly disabled? It's the whole, give a man a fish/teach a man to fish idea.
I agree with parts of what you had to say....
However most drug addicts and alcoholics I have known are almost powerless over their addiction. It is only through a great deal of persistent help of treatment that any addicts overcome their addictions.
If testing was used as a tool to steer addicts towards treatment it would be useful. If testing is used only to deny benefits it would be destructive and would only make the situation for the addict completely hopeless.
If we don't fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don't really stand for them.
You know Rome wasn't built in a day. If we sat here long enough we could iron out what we all would seem to be a fair compromise that included testing. I am sure that we could agree that testing would not eliminate those who fail but mandate classes and treatment. As said previous classes on resume and cooking and other life skills even job training should be a part of welfare or similar programs.
As Rick said the point is not to punish but to help those who need it. At the same time IMO you would weed out those who are unwilling and concentrate on those who are willing. The reason we say no to this idea cant be because it is hard or that some of the people wont make it. We have to move forward in spite of these truths. Making assistance a stepping stone not a crutch. Giving people the ability to be educated and equipped to succeed without the government. If most of the people dont want to be there then I would assume they would jump at this opportunity.