The Welfare System and Drug Abuse

Topics: Lyndon B. Johnson, Unemployment, Welfare Pages: 10 (1734 words) Published: October 19, 2014


Last year, I started my first real summer job. I had to attend orientation, complete a physical and submit a drug test. All of these were requirements for me to obtain my job. If I were to fail my drug test, I would not have been able to obtain employment in order to weed eat all day, as this is ultimately what my job consisted of. Of course I passed my drug test, but I find it very aggravating that I, in order to be able to weed eat all day, had to supply a drug test when there are people who are getting free money from the government and they do not. It is my opinion, that everyone who is receiving any kind of assistance from the government should have mandatory drug testing done.

In 1935, President Roosevelt signed the signed the Social Security Act of 1935, as a result of the Great Depression (LeVert). By signing this Act, President Roosevelt made the government responsible for the well being of its citizens. However, the welfare system, as we know it today, didn’t actually take force until 1960-1973. It was during this time that the programs that already existed under President Roosevelt to get people out of poverty, were not actually working. There were still about 40-50 million people that were without adequate food, shelter, employment, and medical care (LeVert).

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy was elected President and he made it a point to the American people that the “hand of hope must be extended to the poor and depressed” (LeVert). The intent of President Kennedy and President Johnson, with his war on poverty in 1964, was not to hand out cash assistance, but to empower Americans with the skills and experience they need to rise above poverty. It was during this time that the Food Stamp Act was created to help provide adequate nutrition for Americans (LeVert). The Food Stamp Act gave low income Americans vouchers for food. Amendments were also made to the Social Security Act that allowed medical care, not only for the elderly, but also low-income individuals and families. Till 1973, there were many more changes to the welfare system that brought about the welfare explosion. As a result of these changes, the number of recipients approved for welfare went from 33% in 1960 to 90% in 1971 (LeVert).

It wasn’t until 1980, when President Reagan was elected, that the first push to reform welfare was spoken of (LeVert). Reagan recognized that there were individual that did not need the assistance and was abusing the system. As President, he promised to rid the welfare system of “cheats and freeloaders” and remove all but the “truly needy” from the program. Despite his attempts, the reform did not happen and the economy began to suffer.

The second attempt to reform welfare happened with the Clinton administration. 1996, President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (D. Vitter). The reform put a limit of 5 years of assistance, gave states incentive to create jobs and said that able bodied recipients had to get a job within two years. Clinton also gave more money to help with daycare cost so that people could go to work. Although this was a good thing at the time, it does not seem that it is being enforced today.

As a result, the welfare system today is in need of serious reform. One of the biggest arguments right now within the system is the use of drug testing to determine eligibility. In 2007, Robert Wood Johnson reported that approximately 20 percent of temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) reported having used a drug substance in the last year and 5 percent admitted that they had a substance addiction (D. Vitter). I have to ask myself, how is this possible? We, as taxpayers, are working to pay ultimately 25 percent of the people on welfare to use drugs.

So why isn’t drug testing mandatory for those receiving assistance from the government? According to an article in the U.S. News Digital Weekly, it is stated that mandatory drug...


Cited: Grovum, Jake. "USA Today." 6 March 2014. Some states still pushing drug testing for welfare.
Gupta, Vanita. "Should Welfare Recipients Be Tested For Drugs?" U.S. News Digital Weekly (2011): 14. Business Source Premier.
Haley, James. Welfare- Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven Press, 2003.
LeVert, Marianne. The Welfare System. Brookfield: The Millbrook Press, 1995.
Rector, Robert. "US News." 15 Dec 2011. Debate Club.
Vitter, Davie. "US News and World Report." 15 December 2011. Debate Club. http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-welfa.
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