Tag Archives: Drug Testing

News And Observer Editorial – May 6, 2013

News And Observer

Critique of a selected News and Observer Editorial:

They’re poor, so they must be on drugs, right? There’s the not-so-subtle implication of a bill passed by the North Carolina Senate this week that would require those who apply for North Carolina’s good Work First program, which offers case and worker training for the poor who are trying to find jobs, to take a drug screening test for which they have to pay.

So, the dull minded might read that to be the thought process of the republicans – They’re poor, so they must be on drugs, right?

When in fact, the opposite is what I think is true – They’re on drugs, so they are more likely to be poor, right?

We should be clear where the insult is coming from.

The other detail?  They only pay if they fail.

Basically, Republicans claim they’re just trying to keep people who need money for their families from spending it on drugs. That’s very close to basically implying that everyone getting public assistance is on drugs. What a horrible implication.

I don’t think that’s what they’re saying at all.  I think that they are saying that if you have discretionary income that can pay for illicit drugs, you are not in need of assistance.

Is there no restrictions that a liberal would place on public assistance?

So what’s the purpose, then, of the GOP-backed drug testing requirement? It’s just another chance to beat up for purposes of political grandstanding some people who can’t defend themselves very well.

The purpose, of course, is to restrict public money to those that are in need of public money.


Florida: Drug Testing Welfare

Drug Test Welfare

Much ado has been made of Florida’s attempt to drug test welfare applicants.  Florida’s idea is that if an individual has enough discretionary income to afford drugs, that person has enough income to be disqualified from a need based program.

Lately, the left has been trying to make the case that conservatives should be against the initiative based on fiscal calculations:

From July through October in Florida — the four months when testing took place before Judge Scriven’s order — 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was marijuana use. An additional 40 people canceled the tests without taking them.

Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.

So, I did my own math.  And what I found was interesting.

The Times article above uses the number of failures at 2.6%, however, other sources I’ve read use a number more like 2%.  Because that number helps the liberal cause, I’ll use 2%.  Because Florida has a 6.7% drug use rate, the 2% failure rate is indicative  of a self-selecting population.  That is, drug users are not applying for benefits knowing they will fail, and have to p ay for, a test.

Further, once an individual fails a test, he is ineligible for benefits for 12 months.  A savings not taken into account.  With all of that said, here is my data:

Drug Test Welfare data

Assuming a constant rate of applications and a conservative 2% failure rate the data shows that 25 people fail each month.  Because Florida hums along at a 6.7% drug use rate, I calculated that a certain number of people would simply not even try to test.  Again, to be conservative, I used a 6% rate and found that 50 people each month did not apply.  Finally, I begin to sum the failure and count the benefits that they WOULD have been given as savings.  I do this on a rolling 12 month period.  Additionally, I assume that this month’s drug users will not be using next month and only count 50 Missing Failure each month; I don’t sum them.

To be fair, the short term cost to the state is negative.  For the first 8 months of this system, the state loses money.  However, by September of the of the first year, or month 9, the state begins to realize savings and finally is in the black12 months after that.

The numbers would be even great if we used a normal 6.7% drug use on the welfare population and didn’t make the assumption that this months drug users will not continue to use next month.

As much as I like it when people use numbers and data to make their point, it’s important that such numbers reflect reality.