New Tennessee Drug Test Law For Welfare Recipients Goes Into Effect – Catches One.

Czernobog

Former Staff
Dec 2011
35,477
20,095
Phoenix, AZ
Here we go again. Yet another state demonstrating that drug testing applicants for welfare wastes more tax-payer many than it saves by "weeding out" the drug users.
"Four people were turned down because they refused to participate in any part of the drug screening process," the Tennessean reports. "Six other people willingly submitted to a drug test, and one tested positive."
812 people in total applied. 808 were screened. The process includes an initial written questionnaire. Those who "fail" the three question test must submit to a physical drug test -- presumably by providing urine -- or give up any welfare benefits.
Statistically, one out of 812 is a 0.00123152709 percent rate of "capture," so to speak. And that is assuming the testing was accurate and did not deliver a false positive. Applying those results mathematically to 12 months, Tennessee might encounter 12 people who tested positive for illegal drug use.

Now, on the other side of the equation is the cost of the test, itself. The actual drug test costs $25-$30 per test. Now, even low-balling the cost at $25, this comes to a cost, in the first month, of $16,160 spent to deny one person benefits.

There are two typical arguments in favour of the drug testing laws:

  1. The laws are designed to save the government money, and balance the budget. Considering that we now have evidence from three states - Florida, Georgia, and, now, Tennesee - that there are so few people using drugs that actually apply for benefits, contrary to the rhetoric, that it costs more money to test than it saves in providing benefits to alleged drug users, in what way can anyone reasonably argue that the measures "save money"?
  2. The people who support the drug testing measure are so personally offended by the thought of anyone using their money to support a drug habit, that they are willing to spend the money necessary to insure that this never happens. To those people I have a question: considering your insistence, in all other areas, that "out of control government spending", and "invasive government over-reach" are so unacceptable that they must be exposed, and corrected at every opportunity, just how much tax-payer money are you willing to waste in your crusade to insure that not one. single. person gets to abuse a single penny of "your money"?
 
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the watchman

Former Staff
Jul 2011
94,358
61,531
becoming more and more
Like I say, voters should turn the tables and demand a bill testing their legislators for drugs.
 
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Jun 2014
64,249
39,015
Cleveland, Ohio
I am offended by people using tax money to support a drug habit, but TANF is not even on my top 10 list of programs that should be changed. Start with the ridiculous SSI program that classifies drug and alcohol abusers as "disabled" and pays them, and then move on to the Medicaid and Medicare program that treats drug and alcohol abuse like a mental illness, and even pays to keep such people in mental health beds.

If Tennessee has a drug screen that is so inefficient it captures virtually no illegal drug users, then it seems to me virtually no TANF applicants are harmed and this is a nonissue.
 
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Sep 2013
47,192
38,579
On a hill
Here we go again. Yet another state demonstrating that drug testing applicants for welfare wastes more tax-payer many than it saves by "weeding out" the drug users.
"Four people were turned down because they refused to participate in any part of the drug screening process," the Tennessean reports. "Six other people willingly submitted to a drug test, and one tested positive."
812 people in total applied. 808 were screened. The process includes an initial written questionnaire. Those who "fail" the three question test must submit to a physical drug test -- presumably by providing urine -- or give up any welfare benefits.
Statistically, one out of 812 is a 0.00123152709 percent rate of "capture," so to speak. And that is assuming the testing was accurate and did not deliver a false positive. Applying those results mathematically to 12 months, Tennessee might encounter 12 people who tested positive for illegal drug use.

Now, on the other side of the equation is the cost of the test, itself. The actual drug test costs $25-$30 per test. Now, even low-balling the cost at $25, this comes to a cost, in the first month, of $16,160 spent to deny one person benefits.

There are two typical arguments in favour of the drug testing laws:

  1. The laws are designed to save the government money, and balance the budget. Considering that we now have evidence from three states - Florida, Georgia, and, now, Tennesee - that there are so few people using drugs that actually apply for benefits, contrary to the rhetoric, that it costs more money to test than it saves in providing benefits to alleged drug users, in what way can anyone reasonably argue that the measures "save money"?
  2. The people who support the drug testing measure are so personally offended by the thought of anyone using their money to support a drug habit, that they are willing to spend the money necessary to insure that this never happens. To those people I have a question: considering your insistence, in all other areas, that "out of control government spending", and "invasive government over-reach" are so unacceptable that they must be exposed, and corrected at every opportunity, just how much tax-payer money are you willing to waste in your crusade to insure that not one. single. person gets to abuse a single penny of "your money"?
I know of one case where a false positive caused a woman who was working hard to turn her life around to loose custody of her children.

By the time the results came back of a second test proving the first was in error, the woman had disappeared.
 
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Sep 2013
47,192
38,579
On a hill
I am offended by people using tax money to support a drug habit, but TANF is not even on my top 10 list of programs that should be changed. Start with the ridiculous SSI program that classifies drug and alcohol abusers as "disabled" and pays them, and then move on to the Medicaid and Medicare program that treats drug and alcohol abuse like a mental illness, and even pays to keep such people in mental health beds.

If Tennessee has a drug screen that is so inefficient it captures virtually no illegal drug users, then it seems to me virtually no TANF applicants are harmed and this is a nonissue.
Addiction is disabling.
 
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Czernobog

Former Staff
Dec 2011
35,477
20,095
Phoenix, AZ
I know of one case where a false positive caused a woman who was working hard to turn her life around to loose custody of her children.

By the time the results came back of a second test proving the first was in error, the woman had disappeared.
Damn. I hadn't even heard that one. So, in addition to wasting money, there is the danger of false positives causing all sorts of problems for families. Nice...
 
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