Back in December of 2017, Governor Scott Walker, the current Governor of the state of Wisconsin (and once a brief rival to Donald Trump to be the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential election nominee), is apparently moving forward with his plan to implement mandatory drug testing for individuals applying for food stamps. For some, including one writer at Merion West, this political move amounts to immoral behavior on the part of Walker and any other person that would dare support his plan. As a matter of fact, the author, in the aforementioned piece, wrote: “Conservative Americans have been peddling narratives about racial minorities addicted to crack wanting to take from a system to which they have given nothing. Governor Walker knows that this is how many of his constituents think.” This is speculation on her part.
Conservatives may have a number of reasons to support this move without being racist or adhering to any ignorant thought that every minority on welfare must be abusing drugs. (Even when it comes to individuals receiving medical care, there is a reason outside of racism, which causes conservatives to look for other ways to make sure that assistance given by the government is effective.) Yes, there can be a stigma that may be associated with being a person who receives food stamps. However, in order to judge Walker or his constituents, we must stick to the facts or find the truth in what we can ascertain from statements that he has made and what studies may show.
There will always be politics at play with such touchy items as anything dealing with brothers and sisters on welfare. Walker has issues with the Democrats on what he planning to do with the testing. There was a piece by Think Progress about the discoveries of 7 states when it came to spending for drug testing for welfare recipients. It is important to read for one’s self, but let us just, rather simply, that there was plenty of wasteful spending going on. As conservatives, Walker and other Wisconsin politicians should be sure to create policy that will not follow in the footsteps of past states terrible use of funds, especially if phenomenal results are not being produced.
Mandatory drug testing may not be THE answer (or the only answer). Nevertheless, it may be a part of the solution to curb abuses by those able-bodied individuals (when they are found) receiving food stamps and living as if it is a free service as opposed to a benefit to help them through tough times. This is not to say that all of these individuals are drug abusers and lazy. As a child, my family received food stamps (while living in a housing project) and, from what I was able to conjure up in my memory, no one ever abused narcotics in my immediate family. However, everyone in my neighborhood could not utter such a statement as true for them.
The point is if mandatory drug testing can legally help with putting individuals to work, while not getting ridiculous with the funding for this policy, then it may be of a benefit to Wisconsin. The key items are still making sure that doing things by abiding by the law and not being foolish with the taxpayer’s money.
Jerome Danner is a member of Project 21, an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook for more of his thoughts and commentary. For more of Jerome’s writing, please check out his website.