Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Welfare? State!

Self-righteous, Bible-thumping southern legislators were sick and tired of welfare recipients using their welfare checks to score illicit drugs. The licked their lips, counting the dollars that they would be saving by terminating welfare payments to those nasty poor folks who failed to pass a test under a new statutes they proposed and passed (with a gubernatorial signature to make it law). Millions and millions of dollars, they figured. And popular sympathy for the lazy, drug-addicted poor would tank, making cutting even more benefits that much easier. Yup, if those receiving public assistance tested positive for drug use based on mandatory testing required to qualify. A slam dunk, they believed.
“North Carolina has joined a growing list of states that have spent huge sums of money to drug test welfare recipients in order to make sure they weren't wasting government money on drugs -- only to find out that they rarely use drugs.
“The state launched the program in August, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recently revealed to Vox [a journal of politics and politics] that 0.3 percent of the approximate 7,600 applicants and recipients screened for drug abuse tested positive for drug use.
“Other states have seen similar results. A mere 0.17 percent of the 39,121 applicants tested in Tennessee were found to be using illicit drugs, according to the Tennessean. In Arizona, more than 87,000 welfare recipients went through drug testing and only one person tested positive, USA Today reports.
“According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 13 states drug test welfare recipients and another 19 states have proposed similar legislation.
“This type of legislation was introduced in 2009 by GOP state Rep. John Kavanagh. "We don't want people who are abusing drugs to be on welfare because that means that the taxpayers are subsidizing and facilitating illegal drug use," he said to the Arizona Republic that year.
“Proponents of these bills believe states can save money by getting drug users who they believe spend government money on drugs, out of the welfare system. But critics argue that these lawmakers solely want to shame the poor.” AOL.com, February 18th. Guess it cost more than any savings, huh? And what about values? Really? Who are these guys?
With the exception of Michigan, all of these skeptical states are/were Red States in the South, Southwest and Mid-West, mostly Bible belt venues. Strange that in this Evangelical heartland, the Christian values of charity without strings (Luke 10:33-36), loving thy neighbor (Matthew 22:39) and not sitting in judgment of others (“casting the first stone” – John 8:7) are scarce and considered such terrible policies that can get cause a conservative Tea Party, Evangelical-proselytizing politician to lose the support of the Base. Exactly where are the Christian values they tell us they are fighting to preserve? Oh, only the convenient ones. I get it now.
I’m Peter Dekom, and hypocrisy is just plain ugly, but it seems to be a political requirement for so many who claim but do not practice some of the most important Christian values and run for office in the Bible Belt.

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