Friday, May 21, 2010

That Question To Ponder I posed the other day

Yeah...I know I said I'd plop my thought into that post.  I planned to.  Really I did.  Quick, simple, just a short note added to my original post.  Honest to goodness, I swear on the computer keyboard here I had every intention of doing just that.

But being short-winded, concise, to the point, focused...that all just goes completely against my natural makeup.  Sorry.  It would have been like stroking your cat against his grain....don't know about your cat but that totally grates the prince cat that lives here!  Stresses him out for days if you rub his fur the wrong direction.

So you see my problem.  I had to post it all by itself.  I had no choice really.

So, when I posted and answered this over at the other blog, I grabbed a copy to share here:

Over at FaceBook a conversation came up about "should drug testing be required for State assistance programs (i.e. food stamps, cash assistance, rent assistance, etc.)"
I asked about it on my other blog, and I'll ask it here as well. I'd love to hear what you think.  I'm not asking to debate anyone's viewpoint, just wondering what the populus thinks about the idea.
My thoughts aren't usually popular ones, but that's just me.  On this topic, I'm a fence-rider.
Honestly, I think the idea is a good one at its core.  It's tax-payer funds, after all, and none of us want our money squandered more than it already is.  If you choose to waste your life doing drugs, do it on your own dime and don't come looking for a hand-out from hard-working folks.  Plain and simple.
However, I don't think it's that simple a decision really.  The comments I have so far on the other blog are all for it, based mostly on the idea that children in those families are getting the short end of a raw deal.  Parents doing drugs are selling, trading, bartering off their food stamps in order to fund their drugs, and their children are the victims, left without food to eat.
I understand that thinking, I really do.  I don't see drug-testing being any kind of answer to the problem, though.  Testing the parents and limiting food stamps, taking them away altogether, or forcing treatment plans on them isn't going to feed those children and give them a better life.  there is far more needed than to take their assistance away, believing that will force them to change their ways.  Drug testing, in that scope, is barely more than a bandaid on the problem at hand.  It isn't going to change anyone's lives by much, if any at all.  It is, however, going to create a larger crack in the system for those folks to step into and disappear.  Out of sight, out of mind.
I don't know that I have any viable solution to that problem at all.  I just don't see drug testing as anything more than creating a hiccup in the system.
On the other hand, I'm completely against drug testing as a 'requirement' in general because of the ramifications it brings with it.  No, I'm not one to do drugs.  I don't even do OTC's, thank you very much.  I understand the legality of it all, but still, a big part of me says it's not the government's business what I do in my life (providing it's on my time and my dime...which getting assistance for wouldn't be, obviously...but still, go with me here...)
Our federal government system is way too encompassing as it is.  They are too far reaching into areas that the original government system never intended.  To allow them another step, even one seemingly small as this one, is to give up yet another mile or two of our private liberties in this country, and I simply don't believe we can afford to do that anymore.  They are (already, perhaps) out of control in that aspect.  I don't want to give them another inch of space in my life.
I totally oppose the drug testing 'requirements' on that basis.  No, I certainly don't want my income, what my husband has worked hard to provide for us, being handed over to folks too drug-induced or just plain lazy to provide for themselves.  The falling apart welfare system in this country is a big part of why we have zero work ethics in folks these days.  Everyone's getting a hand-out and are darn proud of it.  They will put a lot of effort into scamming working the system to their benefit just to avoid the real manual labor it takes to provide a roof and food and basic comforts to their flesh and blood.  Welfare provides them with a fancy car to drive, while hard-working folks drive duct-taped VW's to and from work.  Welfare provides them the 'freedom' to sleep until noon, and play video games with their other 20- 30- 40-something lazy recipient buddies.  Welfare hasn't done a good job at helping families get out of their circumstances in a long time.
No, of course, not every family on State assistance is living a life of laziness and disinterest.  It's not a stereotypical system these days.  These days you have a large portion of folks on welfare subsidies who have come to that point after years of avoiding it by the skin of their teeth.  The ONN...that Obama News Newtwork of government cronies who feed you what they want you to hear...tells you that the unemployment numbers are lowering, slowly but surely, and what a great thing that is.  Bull-hockey.  I won't dispute the numbers of unemployment may be dropping in some areas, but it's not a boon to the tanked economy or because of some idea there are new jobs out there somewhere. It's because those folks dumped from work last year, the year before, etc. have simply reached the end of that line.  They have outlasted their unemployment benefits and have fallen off the other end of the system.  Not working yet, or not working enough hours to support themselves, they have had to move on to State assistance, church food pantries and the like, to keep afloat. 
Maybe drug testing is a pride issue.  I mean, honest folk down on the luck without much on the ball with jobs and the like, simply don't need another  smack to their pride.  A silly reason, I know, for those of us not thinking it's the end of the world to need help, or to lose a job, but there are alot of folks out there sinking into wild depths of depression over that lost job.  They don't see a light in their tunnel other than the next train coming.  There is a stigma attached to the whole Welfare system for good honest folks that those sucking down down drugs simply don't have.

What I think would be nice to see would be pleasant people in those offices first off.  Welfare workers have to put up with alot of garbage, I understand that, but don't sour on everyone else because of the few lemons you get in your day.  There's enough kicking people while their down mentality in this world already, and honestly, you have a job...albeit one you may not like much...but you are employed and a lot of those coming to you for assistance do not have that.  And most of all...honey, it ain't your personal money they are asking for.  Stop acting as though everyone filing out an application is taking money out of your personal pocketbook, ok?
Also, a help might be to have some training, some teaching, involved.  Used to be that was a requirement for assistance.  For the unemployed, you had to show proof you were actively seeking work, either by sitting at the job center or by filling out papers telling where you applied and who you spoke to specifically.  Now, you just call a number, talk to a computer and tell them you did not work on these days, and you were available for work. Bingo, your money is on a debit card that week or the next.
Well, what about some sort of teaching/training for say, food stamps?  Nothing has to be in-depth really, just some basics like menu planning, cooking simple meals using more scratch items and less boxed/nuked foods, price comparison and coupon usage, smart shopping, like sales and store-brands, etc.  You can drop a couple hundred dollars in a blink of an eye if you don't have at least a general plan when you go shopping.  By teaching some basic skills like these, you can help some families stretch their meager food stamp income...and honestly, you might lower the obesity rate most states are carrying right now to boot.  Most of these folks (and yes, there are always exceptions...) are buying what they are used to.  They don't know how to cook...only how to reheat.  They are strict name-brand users, and won't look twice at a store-brand.  They don't have a clue what to do with anything even remotely healthy, like fresh fruits and veggies, or even meats.  They want canned ready meals, lots of snacks and treats, and sugar-laden cereals.  They just know what they know.  They've never been shown there are other ways to shop, other things to buy, and perhaps better *healthier* ways to feed their families. 

Way back in those medieval days of programs like WIC, I had to take a class.  I'm not giving myself some level of pride here, but seriously, perhaps with baby #1 I could have used some tips and lessons on things like diapering, bathing, feeding and so forth, but after 4 babies....their lessons were akin to a 1970's Sesame Street episode for an adult with any level of a brain.  Still, to qualify, I had to sit there, 3 classes, pushing an hour in length, in order to get my allotment of paper coupons for milk and beans.  It was insane.  I understand there is a HUGE need for that sort of teaching to a whole generation of new moms, but I'd already been there, done that.  Those resources could have been put to better use, but they were there and that was a good thing.
Why doesn't the food stamp program have something like that?  Why doesn't the cash assistance program teach a little Budgeting 101?  Why doesn't, why doesn't, why doesn''s a broken record that can keep going on and on.

Bottom line, I don't think drug testing is the best idea for assistance programs.  It has good points, to be sure, but the drawback for me is the huge door it opens to an already over-stepping government. If I honestly thought drug testing would force some folks to change their ways and wake up, I might be more on that side.  But my head just isn't that buried in the sand.  The government hold it opens up far outweighs the short term benefits in my mind.

In an ideal world, when a family falls on hard times, neighbors, family, friends, the churches of America, should be the ones stepping up to help out and walk along while helping those down-trodden families find their way again.  That is, afterall, what the church is supposed to do, at least according to the Bible I read.  I know there are pantry programs and the like at many churches, and that's a good thing, but it's just a portion of what the church could and should do in their neighborhoods.

But, that....and a lot of other things I mentioned in this long-winded opinionated pile of thoughts here...are enough for several other posts....


Greg and Donna said...

I am thinking that the whole "welfare" system needs to be thrown on the scrap pile and started over. No more generations of people in the same family waiting for their check every month...somebodies gotta work. I totally understand people needing help to get over a rough patch in life but life is not all a rough patch. No one is entitled to welfare and I do think there should be more strict qualifications and management of the system. And driving up to the grocery store in your Mercedes and spending your food stamps on groceries is just matter how you try to justify it. (Not you personally, just an in general observation). And I agree, the drug testing while a good idea, is really just a bandaid to apply to the corrupt system.

Stephanie said...

Great post! You gave me a lot to think about, and as I said the other day, I am one who receives said benefits.

Keep up the good work :) And I agree with you on the "kicking people when they are down mentality" stinks!

Jennifer Hancock said...

Mrs. Smith,

I know I posted on this last night.. but after I gave my response my husband and I had a discussion over this. He, just like you, thinks it is not the answer and it allows the government one more reason to get involved in our life. (by the way he likes your style of writing).. Jenn

Linda said...

As someone who has been on both sides of this issue, I do agree with you. But honestly, as I see it they should do away with the whole program. I have seen what it does.My family has been destoyed by this. As a young married person,my first husband got cancer six months out of the military, got fired from his job to get treatment and I found out I was pregnant. All at 20 years old . We lost everything, including our self-respect. Eventually two kids later, the marriage fell apart. Government agencies wouldn't help with what we really needed. Shelters wouldn't take me in because I wasn't abused by my ex-husband, family helped some but at a huge cost.They had us trapped from the moment he got cancer. My sisters are still hooked on the system and they work, but are below poverty and desperate for that "help" like a drug. They lie, cheat and steal to keep it. I got out by finding a good man to pull me out.My church had nothing to offer us but kind sentiment. There was no way out. Drug testing would not matter, and while I wish they would offer classes , even that would not help. You can lead a horse to water but can't make him drink. Sin is the problem on many levels and the government is in no position to tackle that, nor would that be a good idea. My sisters and their families are ruined , and that is how the system wants to keep them. Drug dealers don't want treatment for their clients because then they are out of clients and there is no one to control.


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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