Viewpoint: Drug testing Welfare recipients

Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would force people applying for welfare to pass a drug test before getting any benefits.

On the surface, it sounds like a good law. After all, who wants our tax money going to drug abusers?

But if you take a closer look, you may realize the proposal is at the least a bad idea and waste of time, and at worst an unfair assault on the poor. Here's why.

Similar laws have been struck down in other states. If it passes in Georgia, the state will certainly face a long and costly court fight.

Before Florida's law was put on hold, only a tiny percentage of welfare applicants failed drug tests. There's no indication Georgia is wasting tax money on welfare recipients who waste their benefits on drugs. And there's no proof that people on welfare are any more likely to do drugs than any other group.

There's no outcry to drug test HOPE scholarship recipients, or farmers who get government loans, or executives from companies who benefit from huge tax breaks, or state lawmakers who are paid with our tax money. So why single out poor people who depend on an already strained safety net?

It's probably simply a ploy by some lawmakers to score political points with their supporters at the expense of people who don't have much of a political voice. And that may be the worst possible reason to pass a law.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.