In yet further proof that Republican efforts to drug-test welfare recipients is nothing but a poor-shaming waste of public funds, Tennessee is reporting that the overwhelming majority of Tennessee welfare users are drug-free and just trying to get by:
Out of 39,121 people who have applied for Families First in Tennessee benefits since the state instituted drug tests in mid-2014, just 65 have tested positive for narcotics. Only 609 of those applicants have even been asked to pee in a cup, because so few applicants give responses to a drug questionnaire that trigger urine tests. The positive test results amount to a 10.7 percent drug use rate among those tested, and the number of tests ordered amounts to just 1.6 percent of the total applicant pool. If the state’s drug screening questionnaire is as effective at gauging risk as the state thinks it is, then its two-layered testing system has revealed that just 0.2 percent of welfare applicants can’t pass a drug test.
The state has wasted $23,592 of taxpayer dollars in their second year of attempting to prove that welfare users are trying to game the system and deny the needy benefits that clock in at a pitiful $165 a month, having learned nothing from the utter failure that was their first year of drug testing. That echoes the conclusions that seven other Republican states have found when they drug test welfare recipients – hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted to find that only a very small sliver of welfare applicants tested positive for drug use. ThinkProgress reports that Tennessee tested 16,017 and found 37 positive tests; Arizona screened 142,424 and found three positive tests; Mississippi tested 3,656 and found two positive tests.
And so on and so forth. These programs represent what happens when the socioeconomic discrimination of FOX News becomes public policy, further adding to the substantial mound of evidence that flies in the face of the despicable “Entitlement Nation” myth that is constantly being passed off as fact by the right-wing propaganda factory. Republican governors in these states should be more focused on fixing the economies that they’ve ravaged by implementing the other FOX myths, like the idea that tax cuts for corporations and the rich will stimulate growth.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.