Mar 26 2009
08:47 am


The states of West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Hawaii, Florida, and Minnesota are all looking to tie drug testing to the receipt of unemployment benefits, or some other form of public assistance. Arizona tried and failed.

I just don't get it. Unemployment is at its highest in twenty-five years, the economy is in a downward spiral, millions of people are just getting by and government wants to further degrade them. Random drug testing should not be allowed in order receive public assistance. It's invasive and humiliating, IMO. I could be wrong.

Did you know? Drug testing is not the only restriction envisioned for people receiving public assistance: a bill in the Tennessee Legislature would cap lottery winnings for recipients at $600.

MDB's picture


I can certainly see the appeal of requiring drug testing for unemployment benefits -- after all, if you're going to be getting benefits from state, then the state should be able to insure that you're behaving lawfully.

On the other paw, I'm opposed to drug testing in general, with the exception of cases where public safety is clearly a concern.

As for capping lottery winnings for people on welfare? I gotta admit; I kinda like the idea. The lottery preys on the poor; maybe that will be a disincentive for the poor to purchase lottery tickets. I think there's better ways to go about making sure the poor aren't wasting their money on the lottery.

(Aside: the lottery is essentially a legalized version of what organized crime used to call "the numbers racket". The mafia usually paid out 90% of what they took in as winnings; state governments usually pay off about 50%...)

Voting is like driving. If you want to go backwards, select R. If you want to go forward, select D.

KC's picture

Basically, it seems like a

Basically, it seems like a backdoor way to limit unemployment benefits demand.

Maybe we should focus on how much


bureaucrats have spent on the most popular drug, alcohol, with TVA p-cards.

reform4's picture

It's also about the income generated

Check into how much testing recipients costs. Follow the contract funding.

Sarge's picture

Drug Testing

Lets also drug test Federal and State Legislatures, bail out Wall Street bankers, General Motors, Chrysler, and anyone else that receives Federal and State monies.

StaceyDiamond's picture


Our wanna be mayor Burchett has suggested this for receiving afdc benefits in Tn. As an unemployment recipient I don't want the headache of it, plus its inferring people lost their jobs because of moral failings, and that's most certainly not the case now.

Nobody's picture

Just like the drug testing

Just like the drug testing I think the gov't needs to mind it's own business. I don't think either of those things good for anyone (public assistance or not) Why stop with just public assistance, why not just go all the way with anyone who benefits from anything the governement does?

1) if you use a road to get to work--drug testing
2) if your kid goes to school--drug testing (for you AND the kid)
3) If you want the fire department to come to your home--drug testing
4) If your business benefits from the economic stimulus package--drug testing.
5) If you need the police at 2:00 in the morning, you had better have already had your drug test.

Do people REALLY think that those who receive a "direct check" are the only one's on the public dole?? Hell, we all are. Every single person in this country benefits directly from what the local, state, and fed gov'ts do with the money we pay in taxes. We are ALL on the dole in one way or another. Drug test us all, cap all our lotto winnings. Don't stop there, if anyone does any thing that some governement body doesn't think is good (e.g., babies out of wedlock) then give folks a financial penalty.

That'll fix everything.

CannoKorn's picture

Many employers require

Many employers require random drug tests in order to stay employed and keep getting paid. My company does which means I have to prove I'm clean once a year. Seems kinda intrusive but I thought liberals liked that approach?

sugarfatpie's picture

Puhhleeezz. Whose trying to


Whose trying to deny women control of their bodies? Pro-lifers are, not liberals.

-Sugarfatpie (AKA Alex Pulsipher)

"X-Rays are a hoax."-Lord Kelvin

Old school's picture

Gov drug testing et al

Hello - Bottom line: All big brother-like programs share the same perspective --> YOU (the 'client') CANNOT & WILL NOT BE TRUSTED!!

From a song "we need to know a little bit about you for our files".
From a song (paraphrse): "I (gov) used to do a little (intrude), but a little was too little, now I need do a little more"

Rhetorical question: Where will this lead us? Stay tuned for at least the next 4 years...

Factchecker's picture

What Faux News and right wing hate radio give us

...but I thought liberals liked that approach?

Where did you get that idea?

GDrinnen2's picture

In theory, I don't mind drug

In theory, I don't mind drug testing for unemployment benefits. As has been pointed out here, many/most companies do some type of drug testing. I'm not at all interested in my tax dollars funding the habits of an addict. I would be particularly in favor if the state would help these folks find treatment optioins.

HOWEVER, the Governor's proposed budget has huge cuts for mental health and drug and alcohol addiction services. Many, if not most, of these organizations have experienced cummulative cuts for the past two years of over 20%.

Cutting unemployment benefits and not providing substantial funding to treatment services would just make a terrible problem even worse.

StaceyDiamond's picture


What's ironic about Campfield not wanting folks on public assistance to take above 600$ in lottery winnings is that if they took the 10 mil or whatever it would get them off the public assistance. I hate this drug testing thing because it makes the assumption that you're unemployed because you're on drugs. Unemployment and other forms of public assistance is sometimes not even enough to cover a month of regular expenses. If you choose to spend all of it on drugs you will soon suffer the consequences anyway. They should drug test folks who move into Campfield's apts. Also, why cap the winnings at 600$, why not 10$ or 5$?

GDrinnen2's picture

I don't agree that it makes

I don't agree that it makes the assumption that you're unemployed because of drugs. Companies drug test all the time, that does not mean they assume everyone is on drugs.

I do think that it makes the assumption that if you are on drugs and receive public assistance, you will spend some (or all) of the money on drugs. I don't think thats an unreasonable assumption.

bizgrrl's picture

I have never worked at a

I have never worked at a company that gave a drug test and hope I never will. I have also not looked for a job in over twelve years. Do most employers really require a drug test these days?

I did interview at a company where after two interviews they decide to mention they require blood tests. I went ahead and took it, knowing I would decline the job offer. They wasted my time and money, I wasted theirs.

rikki's picture

I do think that it makes the

I do think that it makes the assumption that if you are on drugs and receive public assistance, you will spend some (or all) of the money on drugs. I don't think thats an unreasonable assumption.

Obviously you've never had the munchies.

R. Neal's picture

Companies do drug testing to

Companies do drug testing to save on insurance and worker's comp.

StaceyDiamond's picture

drug testing

Many companies test, but that sits with me differently than the government doing the test. BTW, family Guy was so funny last night. The dog was busted for pot and he was caught trying to use Baby Stewie's urine for his test.

R. Neal's picture

Random government testing is

Random government testing is a 4th Amendment violation, in my opinion. Companies are apparently not bound by the Constitution and other such inconveniences.

StaceyDiamond's picture


I was just thinking that too, wondering if this was even constitutional. People wanting all sorts of restrictions on those getting public assistance have probably never been on public assistance . What if you needed food stamps and you had a false positive, are you supposed to just go hungry? How much does it cost to administer the test for the millions on unemployment? Do you go hungry while waiting for the test to come back?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Drug testing is not the only restriction envisioned for people receiving public assistance: a bill in the Tennessee Legislature would cap lottery winnings for recipients at $600.

I think I've mentioned this before but I lived in California at the time that state implemented its state lottery (sometime in the 1980's) and I recall that they flat out prohibited anyone incarcerated or on public assistance from collecting winnings.

The REASON I recall this is that the state's first two jackpot winners were first someone in state prison then someone on public assistance of some sort. Neither party was able to collect.

I tend to agree with Gary D's thinking (above), and furthermore I suspect that a good number of people on public assistance--not all, of course--may well need to be protected from their own misguided notions as to how to plan for their financial futures. It ain't by buying lottery tickets.

JHayes's picture

I don't have a problem with it at all

Unemployment compensation is designed to help keep people afloat and to pay bills while they are transitioning from one job to the next.

If people are at home blowing dope, etc. they are probably not using their unemployment correctly anyways, so I don't have a problem with it.

Plus, people have the option to go on unemployment. It is not forced upon them. Some, not all, people quickly find other jobs and don't even want to fight the headache of applying, etc.

Last, and most importantly, doing drugs is ILLEGAL. So if people are collecting these benefits from the government and are doing ILLEGAL activities, such as drug abuse, I have no problems with them losing their unemployment.

Somebody's picture


I find it odd that 'limited government' conservatives just love this sort of concept. Their belief is 'if you are to be the recipient of my largesse, then you must sign away your rights and subjugate yourself to me.' That's the mentality. To receive my help you must become my bitch. Lost on these folks is the reality that they are really asking that recipients of assistance subjugate themselves to what? Government control, a thing that is otherwise anathema to limited government conservatives. Ironic, isn't it?

WhitesCreek's picture

Well that just doesn't go far enough...

How about anyone who gets a tax break getting drug tested? Or a tax refund? Or any of a hundred other pea brained sized reasons that exclude the real world?

JHayes's picture

Not Conservative

I'm not "conservative," perhaps I am admittedly old school.

I guess your one of those individuals who believe that people who murder/rape others should just get a year in prison and then should be released back to the public. That's fine, I'm not.

I think people who intentionally "break the law," should not be rewarded by those who make it, in this case receiving unemployment compensation. To me, it sounds like common sense, but I suppose when it comes to government there is no such thing.

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