June 5, 2012
According to Carl Hiaaseen of the Miami Herald, drug testing welfare applicants is a failing program that only pays off for the drug screening companies and this policy was designed to single out the individuals living in poverty. The new law, which was passed on March 31, 2011, requires all welfare applicants to submit to a drug test before benefits will be disbursed. Carl Hiaaseen??™s article was written on September 30, 2011, which is less than one year after the bill was passed which doesn??™t allow for much time to collect new data.
Although I do have an opposing view then Mr. Hiaaseen, who believes that this new law is a colossal waste of money, which was ???based on the misinformed and condescending premise that welfare recipients are more prone to use illegal drugs than people who are fortunate enough to have jobs??? (Hiaaseen, n.d.). Even though we harness opposite view as to whether this program is a good investment, Carl is a very credible source, he is a graduate of the University of Florida, with years of experience in journalism and is also an accomplished novelist. He??™s received numerous awards for his articles and has been published in 34 languages (Hiaaseen, n.d.). At 23 years old Hiaasenn joined the ???Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter??? (Hiaaseen, n.d.). The Miami Herald it??™s self is a reputable company founded in 1903, the Miami Herald has grown into the largest publication circulating in south Florida, winning many awards including the Pulitzer Prize.
On the contrary, the reliability of Carl Hiaaseen??™s reporting leaves something to be desired once a little research is done on this topic. This article has a deceptive statements based in incomplete and altered data. People always make the statement, ???numbers don??™t lie???, on the contrary, statistics can be skewed to favor on side of the other. When calculating the success rate of this program, if you choose to omit certain facts and figures you can receive different results. Hiaaseen provides evidence from ???The Department of Children and Families which reports that since July, when the drug testing program stated, only 2.5% of welfare applicants have failed??? (Hiaaseen, n.d.). What he fails to mention is the number of people who didn??™t take the drug test when requested. This information makes the failure rate seem more substantial. One would reasonable assume, the applications that declined to take the test did so because they are currently daily or recreational drug users. This assumption is further supported by the fact that the applicant must pay for the test initially and will be reimbursed upon completion with passing results.
Additionally, this unmentioned information further affects the validity of Hiaaseen??™s article. As mentioned earlier the fact that this article was written only six months after the passing of the law doesn??™t allow for a full accounting cycle which gives a more complete picture. This is important because some careers are seasonal, for example farmers, fishers and logger have seasonal jobs. Certain seasons are more profitable than other, with this in mind this data could have been collected during a peak season in this area. Furthermore, once we reanalyze the data, this time including the applicants who declined to take the test once they initiated the application process as a ???failed??? test we calculate a different failure rate. According to an article written by Kelli Kennedy of the Associated Press in October of 2011, one month after Carl Hiaaseen??™s article was published. Kennedy??™s article reports ???32 applicants failed the test, 7028 passed and 1597 didn??™t take it??? these numbers were also collected from the Department of Children and Families (Kennedy, 2011). If the applicant declines the test for any reason, they ???aren??™t required to explain??? (Kennedy, 2011). With actual numbers reported we can recalculate the failure rate at 8.8%.
Regardless of my stance on new law requiring a drug test is completed as part of the welfare application process. I don??™t believe drug testing companies are the only ones profiting from the new law. As a tax payer, my tax money funds government programs, therefore I consider each welfare recipient my employee; I would like to know my money is being designated responsibly. The new law, which was passed on March 31, 2011, after second quarter numbers were released Carl Hiaaseen published his article, again this doesn??™t allow sufficient time to collect enough data which includes seasonal workers.
Hiaaseen, C. (n.d.). Carl Hiaaseen. 06/01/2012. Retrieved From http://www.carlhiassen.com/index.shtml
Hiaaseen, C (n.d.). Commentary: Drug Testing Welfare Applicants Pays Off for Screening Companies. The
Miami Herald. 5/31/2011 Retrieved From
Kennedy, K. (2011). 1,597 Welfare Applicants Decline Drug Test in Fla. Associated Press. Retrieved From http;//news.yahoo/1-597-welfare-applicants-delcine-drug-test-fla-223619572.html