skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Bill Would Lift Ban On Food Stamps For Drug Felons

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law a controversial and sweeping welfare reform bill with much ceremony.

Aired 7/5/13 on KPBS News.

A bill taking its final steps through the state legislature would reverse a Clinton-era rule that bars drug felons from collecting food stamps.

Special Feature Speak City Heights

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

"A long time ago, I concluded that the current welfare system undermines the basic values of work, responsibility and family," he said before signing the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. "Today we have an historic opportunity to make welfare what it was made to be, a second chance, not a way of life."

The national conversation about welfare was happening against a backdrop painted by the so-called "War on Drugs" — something San Diego resident Kathryn Fletcher knows a lot about.

That same year, she was crisscrossing state lines with a boyfriend and his 668 pounds of marijuana. She went to federal prison for six years for transporting an illegal substance.

Now, 17 years later, Clinton and Fletcher's decisions have come to a head in the state legislature.

There, lawmakers are considering whether to reverse a Work Opportunity Act rule that bars convicted drug felons, but not other felons, from collecting food stamps, or CalFresh here in California.

Fletcher, who now has four children to feed and poor job prospects because of her criminal record, calls the law a crime.

"If you look at it, you're denying a pregnant woman or children access to food, something that simple and that necessary for something that their mom did and paid for," she said. "I paid for my crime 15 years ago and I'm still paying for it. My family is paying for it."

Eighteen states have lifted the ban already. California is one of 19 states to keep an amended version of it on their books. The amendment allows Californians convicted of low-level offenses such as possession to qualify for CalFresh if they seek drug counseling.

No bans exist for the Women Infant and Children, or WIC, program, though participants must complete a federally-mandated drug screening. Children can receive CalFresh dollars regardless of their parent's actions.

But Fletcher said aid for her and her husband would go a long way in closing a gap left by the already low payouts. The average food stamp benefit in California is about $4.90 per person per day.

The California Public Police Chiefs, California Narcotics Officers and California District Attorneys associations oppose the bill, saying they're not comfortable opening public benefits up to those who deal and transport drugs.

Fletcher said that distinction inadvertently impacts families. She said women are particularly susceptible to getting pulled into the drug business by men who feign companionship.

Authors of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), say lifting the ban could help reduce recidivism as the state shifts more offenders into county jail and onto the streets under prison realignment. An earlier version of the bill would have allowed drug felons to use CalWorks welfare-to-work programs, a provision that has since been dropped.

The bill, SB 283, passed the Assembly's human services committee this week and heads to the appropriations committee, the last stop before a final vote, in August. It passed the Senate 26 to 8.

Comments

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 5, 2013 at 8:03 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Why? Did some quack declare that drug abuse is a mental illness? Hey, if you make the wrong choice>>deal with it. They will just sell their benefits for more drugs anyway.
That happens all of the time. Time for some tough love in this nanny state.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 5, 2013 at 12:05 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

If someone as served their time, they should have their rights back.

People who get out of prison are vulnerable and often have difficulty finding jobs.

It statistically proven that when someone convicted of a crime is able to get back on their feet and integrate back into society, thy are LESS likely to reoffend, making us all safer.

To make assistance programs unavailable to a group who needs it the most defies the entire point of the program.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 5, 2013 at 12:07 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Muckapoo: "They will just sell their benefits for more drugs anyway"

If they are denied the benefit and can't eat, then they will get back into drug dealing because there is no other option.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 6, 2013 at 8:46 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

I have an option for them. Get a job and quit having kids that they end up dumping on the doorstep of the welfare system. Irresponsible behavior all the way around and looking for the rest of us to help solve their problems. Too bad Fletccher. Grow up and learn responsibility. Society does not owe you for your bad choices.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 7, 2013 at 1:30 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Muckapoo, you don't believe in second chances? In rehabilitation? In paying a debt to society, then moving on?

It sounds like you are against food stamps period, which is a separate argument altogether.

My point is that if someone has done their time and paid their debt to society, they should, like anyone else, be able to apply for this assistance program that already exists.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 7, 2013 at 8:20 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

In a limited resource system, top priority should go to those who have not offended against the system. Sometimes you have to make your own second (or subsequent) chances.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 7, 2013 at 9:44 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"In a limited resource system, top priority should go to those who have not offended against the system. "

You mean those who have not been caught. Big difference.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 7, 2013 at 9:53 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

How about we make it so they have to test negative for drugs for 6 months and have to be drug tested regularly to get their benefits. I have to pee in the cup to get my benefits and I have to actually work for them. Then we could have these fine folks dedicate 6 hours every Saturday cleaning up weeds and trash from the roadways to pay back for some of the food they are getting. Imagine how much better our communities would look if we actually got something for the gifts we give to irresponsible people. Can't wait to hear how this would be a burden on these folks by interrupting their week-ends. LOL

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 7, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Food stamps aren't the only form of government assistance. Why should only the recipients of specific assistance be tested?

Children are a tax write-off. Should we be drug testing everyone who claims a dependent on their taxes?

How about farmers who receive subsidies? Should they have to pull weeds on the weekend?

Aside from the questions regarding criteria for drug testing, will the actual cost to implement and enforce broad and constant testing be less than the benefits received?

Are we testing for legal drugs too? What about paints and glues that can be sniffed? What about cough syrup?

How often will you test them? Cocaine and meth can be out of your system in under 72 hours. Are you testing them 2-3 times every week?

And what happens if they fail? How will you deal with people who are now homeless and hungry?

Give some real answers or GTFO

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 7, 2013 at 1:17 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Anon, try reading the article. We are talking specifically about convicted drug "felons", not casual users. Felon means they were selling or worse. If they can't stay off the drugs, the heck with them. Start a fund Anon. Do it out of your funds. Leave me out of supporting losers. Yet you want me to gtfo. You have been drinking the Kool-Aid to long dude. If I get out, who will continue to fund this type of insanity. Until then, have someone who can read help you with the article. LOL

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 7, 2013 at 6:36 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

So pretend you're a convicted drug felon. You can still receive government assistance in numerous other ways. Why is the food stamp program being singled out?

My questions still apply, especially those regarding cost and implementation of the program. Even if we only target convicted felons, do you have an answer to:

Will the actual cost to implement and enforce broad and constant testing be less than the benefits received?

Are we testing for legal drugs too? What about paints and glues that can be sniffed? What about cough syrup?

How often will you test them? Cocaine and meth can be out of your system in under 72 hours. Are you testing them 2-3 times every week?

And what happens if they fail? How will you deal with people who are now homeless and hungry?

Quit dodging. If you can't directly answer these questions, maybe it's time to rethink the strength of your position.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 7, 2013 at 8:16 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

There are some people who cannot be saved from themselves. There is no sense investing in them. The perpetual failures will, at some higher than average rate, kill themselves off with excess or stupidity.
If a drowning man tries pulling you down with him instead of trying to stay afloat, it doesn’t help to tie your fate to his.
Random drug tests will go a long way to reducing abuse. I don't think the idea is to catch everyone who is abusing drugs, but to ensure there is a quick and ready exit ramp for non-compliance.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 8, 2013 at 8:51 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Anon seems to want a free access to benefits for losers. The rest of us work for ours. Most of us are drug tested on a regular basis. Anon, if we just make them show they are clean for 6 months, is that too much? Is it too much to expect that these folks work 1 day on the week-end to pay back? I think all welfare recipients should pitch in to show they care about the cities that support them. I am tired of the one way benefit system where I receive nothing back for the taxes I pay for these folks. Plus, they seem to be gaining in mass.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 8, 2013 at 10:29 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"There are some people who cannot be saved from themselves. There is no sense investing in them."

But implementing a drug test is investing in them. Even if you catch them and they're out of the system, it is just going to make them even more desperate to survive. That usually implies crime, or homelessness, or both. That implies more police. More crime lowers tourism and property values.

Point being, the money is coming out of our pockets one way or another. Is it better to feed people and hope for rehabilitation, or segregate them? Especially if the segregation is going to cost us more, directly and indirectly, in the long run...

I'm not trying to make so much of a moral argument as a cost-efficient one that leaves the fewest negative impacts on the general public. What is wrong with this approach?

"The perpetual failures will, at some higher than average rate, kill themselves off with excess or stupidity. "

This isn't fact, it's opinion.

The truth is a felon could have committed only the felony for which they were charged, and lived an honest life since. "Perpetual failures" implies some sort of repeat offenses. I did not see that mentioned in the article anywhere, so I'm unclear why you phrased it how you did.

"If a drowning man tries pulling you down with him instead of trying to stay afloat, it doesn’t help to tie your fate to his."

Very extreme analogy. Why have any government assistance at all then? Should we stop subsidizing farmers? If they can't turn a profit, let them drown... right? Maybe we should stop funding public schools, too. If I don't have kids, why should I help someone else educate their child? Let them home school the child if they can't afford private school. Not my responsibility at any level, am I right?

Maybe we should stop funding the fire department and let people who use the service pay individualized, extremely high fees to compensate for all of us who aren't letting their houses catch fire. I mean, their fire. Why tie my fate to it?

"Random drug tests will go a long way to reducing abuse. "

Prove it.

" I don't think the idea is to catch everyone who is abusing drugs, but to ensure there is a quick and ready exit ramp for non-compliance."

Why is this your main goal? It might cost us all even more money.

And who are you really catching? The number of potential drug felons that aren't getting caught is probably pretty big. The number of potential convicted drug felons that wouldn't get caught in the random testing could be pretty big.

So ultimately, this isn't about effectively targeting drug abusers who are receiving government assistance. It's about disregarding financial and social sensibilities in order to get some type of weird justice against a small group of people.

Makes me think you're kind of sick in the head yourself. You'd rather see someone shot than given another shot.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 8, 2013 at 10:32 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

As long as hundreds of billions of this country's tax dollars are spent on military misadventures across the globe, NOTHING should be cut from welfare or humanitarian programs here at home. Nothing.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 8, 2013 at 10:44 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"Anon seems to want a free access to benefits for losers. The rest of us work for ours."

You work for food stamps?

Fact is, not all drug users are losers... and not all losers are drug users. Trying to make it seem like the two groups completely overlap is deceitful. Maybe just ignorant.

I work two jobs and use "drugs". Which one(s)? I'll let you guess. You seem to love assigning arbitrary labels based on surface level observations anyway. So this should be right up your alley. Remind me again how I'm a loser. Not only do I fully support myself, but I pay into many government programs that I never utilize, and I'm happy to do it. Remind me again how I'm a loser.

"Most of us are drug tested on a regular basis."

This simply isn't true. The vast majority of jobs only require drug screening for initial hiring and post-accident, as it tends to be insurance-related.

"Anon, if we just make them show they are clean for 6 months, is that too much?"

If we can't do it accurately or cost effectively, then yes it is too much.

"Is it too much to expect that these folks work 1 day on the week-end to pay back?"

Maybe not. But realize that some of these people are physically incapable. Assuming they are healthy, I am not opposed to having work for them to do.

"I think all welfare recipients should pitch in to show they care about the cities that support them. I am tired of the one way benefit system where I receive nothing back for the taxes I pay for these folks. Plus, they seem to be gaining in mass."

Do you feel the same way about people who call the police or fire department for help? I pay taxes and haven't used either service in years. I may be paying into a social security system that won't have anything for me by the time I retire. Why don't we get up in arms about all those lost taxes?

Why? Because we are a society. We have good and bad. I don't mind paying into a cost-efficient system that can provide food/water/health/shelter to the downtrodden. Even the ones who have made mistakes in the past. I know I can use police, fire, or ambulance services if I need them. That's amazing. I can drive on safe roads in safe cars due to the hard work of others before me. I enjoy all these wonderful things everyday. Why can't I appreciate these great things while retaining an understanding of why I have to help chip in to help those worse off than myself?

Elizabeth Warren sums up the sentiment nicely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=...

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 8, 2013 at 10:46 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

By the way, guys. I afforded you the courtesy of directly quoting and responding to your questions. Please do the same. I'll repost:

Will the actual cost to implement and enforce broad and constant testing be less than the benefits received?

Are we testing for legal drugs too? What about paints and glues that can be sniffed? What about cough syrup?

How often will you test them? Cocaine and meth can be out of your system in under 72 hours. Are you testing them 2-3 times every week?

And what happens if they fail? How will you deal with people who are now homeless and hungry?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 8, 2013 at 1:12 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"But implementing a drug test is investing in them. Even if you catch them and they're out of the system, it is just going to make them even more desperate to survive. That usually implies crime, or homelessness, or both. That implies more police. More crime lowers tourism and property values."

It may imply more crime (or may not) in the short term (but probably not the long term), but as you rightly point out, not all felons are repeat offenders. If you truly believe in their rehabilitation, enabling them to continue abusing drugs does not help them. If you have an increase in crime and a corresponding harsh punishment to deter recidivism the system can stabilize at a lower rate.

""Perpetual failures" implies some sort of repeat offenses. I did not see that mentioned in the article anywhere, so I'm unclear why you phrased it how you did."
I am referring to the inevitable question of extreme example of the criminal who will not conform and whether we should continue to support him or not. If an individual corrects his behavior, invests in his own rehabilitation and complies with the law there are many people who would help him recover. I don't have an issue with this, but 'helping' someone by rewarding their bad behavior is a fool's errand.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 8, 2013 at 1:19 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

“Very extreme analogy. Why have any government assistance at all then? “
Good question, but I’m sure you can answer that one on your own.
“Should we stop subsidizing farmers? If they can't turn a profit, let them drown... right?”
Yes, a farm is a private business.
“ Maybe we should stop funding public schools, too. If I don't have kids, why should I help someone else educate their child? Let them home school the child if they can't afford private school. Not my responsibility at any level, am I right?”
I used to agree with you, but I now view it as payback for my own education. I would prefer that schools were funded with a head tax instead of a property tax to better correlate the service with the payment, but that is a detail issue.
“Maybe we should stop funding the fire department and let people who use the service pay individualized, extremely high fees to compensate for all of us who aren't letting their houses catch fire. I mean, their fire. Why tie my fate to it?”
A fire department is a PUBLIC GOOD. Please see link for an explanation


( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 8, 2013 at 1:25 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

“Prove it.”
I’m OK with a pilot program.
"Why is this your main goal? It might cost us all even more money.”
My main goal is to ensure that people claiming public money do not waste it. All regulatory schemes to minimize waste, fraud and abuse cost money to implement. That does not imply they are unworthy of implementation.
“And who are you really catching? The number of potential drug felons that aren't getting caught is probably pretty big. The number of potential convicted drug felons that wouldn't get caught in the random testing could be pretty big.
So ultimately, this isn't about effectively targeting drug abusers who are receiving government assistance. It's about disregarding financial and social sensibilities in order to get some type of weird justice against a small group of people.”
To quote you above, Prove it.
“Makes me think you're kind of sick in the head yourself. You'd rather see someone shot than given another shot.”
Think that if you like. There are certainly people out there the world doesn’t need, but if they are free to become dangerous to me, I am free to decline to assist them. In a previous post you were able to distinguish individuals from the group. Would you care to try that again?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 8, 2013 at 1:33 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

“By the way, guys. I afforded you the courtesy of directly quoting and responding to your questions. Please do the same. I'll repost:”
No problem

“Will the actual cost to implement and enforce broad and constant testing be less than the benefits received?”
Can’t say until we try it.

“Are we testing for legal drugs too? What about paints and glues that can be sniffed? What about cough syrup?”
I wouldn’t, but then again I think all drugs should be legal

“How often will you test them? Cocaine and meth can be out of your system in under 72 hours. Are you testing them 2-3 times every week?”
Results of the pilot study should help refine schedules, but I would suggest starting with monthly, with negative results required prior to payment.

“And what happens if they fail? How will you deal with people who are now homeless and hungry?”
I probably won’t deal with them at all. Presumably you meant to ask how society should deal with them… the answer is that it depends. If they pick themselves up and find a way out, then we should do nothing. If they commit a crime there are already sentencing guidelines in place.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 8, 2013 at 2 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

_uckapoo, you mean there's no such thing as a white collar felon?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 8, 2013 at 2:18 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"It may imply more crime (or may not) in the short term (but probably not the long term), but as you rightly point out, not all felons are repeat offenders. If you truly believe in their rehabilitation, enabling them to continue abusing drugs does not help them. If you have an increase in crime and a corresponding harsh punishment to deter recidivism the system can stabilize at a lower rate."

Why wouldn't it imply long term crime? Are they going to work their way up some sort of criminal ladder until they qualify for assistance again? If you take away people's basic needs, you force them into a position where they have to work outside the system to survive. I fail to see how this lifestyle can result in any sort of rehabilitation.

"I am referring to the inevitable question of extreme example of the criminal who will not conform and whether we should continue to support him or not. If an individual corrects his behavior, invests in his own rehabilitation and complies with the law there are many people who would help him recover. I don't have an issue with this, but 'helping' someone by rewarding their bad behavior is a fool's errand."

It's not a reward, though. It's a method of effective control. By providing basic needs, you are giving someone a real opportunity to lift themselves out of a bad situation. By looking for more reasons to punish, we may be shooting ourselves in the foot. You are lowering the chances of successful rehabilitation, and potentially costing taxpayers more money than just continuing to invest in food for people who need it.

Also, I'd like to think that a "repeat offender" would be in jail and therefore not burden the program. I could also push the argument that drug use is a victimless crime, but that might sidetrack this discussion a little too much.

"Good question, but I’m sure you can answer that one on your own."

Why have government assistance? Because not everyone is born with equal opportunities. Government is supposed to represent the best interests of the most people, and people like myself can acknowledge that my taxes go way farther through government than they ever could as an individual. It's the reason we invest in social programs like public school, the fire department, and things like electricity, sewer, and roads. If every individual was responsible for financing all those endeavors, it would be horribly inefficient in both cost and function. The same holds true for welfare programs.

"I used to agree with you, but I now view it as payback for my own education. "

So someone gave you a shot at free education. You used it to better yourself, and now you're paying it forward. What a concept. I wonder where else this could be applied......

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 8, 2013 at 2:33 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

To me this doesn't have anything to do with thinking someone is a "loser" etc., it has to do with fairness and justice.

An argument can be made that people on parole or probation should be excluded because they are technically still serving te punitive portion of their sentence (though I would argue even here they should be allowed on moral grounds since they often need the help at this stage due to lack of employment and their non-offending dependents are also effected.

However, once someone completes parole or probation, they should not continue to be subject to punitive behavior by the government. There are of course exceptions am cases when felons are still punished even after competing their sentence (like a sex offender registry), but the basis of that is public safety.

The public's safety is not in jeopardy by a felon of any kind applying for food aid. The entire argument is simply "we don't like you, wedo t like what you did, so you aren't allowed".

From a legal perspective, that's an extraordinarily weak argument, and I would venture to guess a court would strike down this ex-post facto punishment with not even a public safety defense for it.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 8, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"A fire department is a PUBLIC GOOD."

Even if you want to argue on a technicality, the fact remains that it is a communal investment in which only a few unlucky people will ever have a need to utilize. Extremely similar to food stamps in that sense. No one ever complains that their house hasn't caught fire... No one should be complaining that they're not poor enough to need help buying food.

"I’m OK with a pilot program."

But you stated that "random drug tests will go a long way to reducing abuse". Now your response to my asking for proof is that you'd be ok with a future program? Way to weasel out of that one.

"My main goal is to ensure that people claiming public money do not waste it. All regulatory schemes to minimize waste, fraud and abuse cost money to implement. That does not imply they are unworthy of implementation. "

Nor did I imply it. I simply stated that this may be a reason to not move forward with the program. No one has even tried to present a cost-benefit analysis, or how they would actually try to implement it. (How often they would test, who, and what for.)

I also do not want to see public money wasted. That's why I'm trying to find the optimal solution, regardless of the amount of "justice" you may or may not feel.

"To quote you above, Prove it."

I can't. That's why I used the language I did. I can personally assure you (as anecdotal as it is, you know I'm not lying) that not all drug dealers/users have been caught or charged. I think we can all agree that drug testing does not catch every single person using drugs, either. So although there is no way to concretely prove it, it's not like I'm being outrageous in my claims. If you want to divorce yourself from reality for the sake of feeling like you're giving your argument more validity, then that's on you.

"Think that if you like. There are certainly people out there the world doesn’t need, but if they are free to become dangerous to me, I am free to decline to assist them. In a previous post you were able to distinguish individuals from the group. Would you care to try that again?"

People that use (or even sell) drugs are not a danger to you. You don't have to buy or use them. They're not rapists or murderers who force people against their will. You are so disillusioned if that's how you really think.

As far as being able to distinguish individuals, I'm not 100% sure what you're referring to.

---
(Thanks for finally answering the questions)

"Can’t say until we try it."

...But even then, are secondary costs going to be included? Can they even be accurately tracked? Is it worth it to roll the dice and see people have less access to food?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 8, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago


"I wouldn’t, but then again I think all drugs should be legal"

This is where I get really confused. So we shouldn't test for legal drugs, even though they may be more dangerous to the user? You can get food stamps, just huff paint and smoke cigarettes instead of eating a pot brownie. This isn't going to help people better themselves. You just gave them a loophole to keep getting high.

And if you think drugs should be legal, why discriminate against the people who have drug-related felonies? Seems a bit contradictory.

"Results of the pilot study should help refine schedules, but I would suggest starting with monthly, with negative results required prior to payment."

Cool, so I test clean, then I get high off of every drug under the sun for the next 25 days, then stop. It all exits my system in time for the next test. Your drug testing is costing taxpayers money, and it's completely ineffective against determining who is using, except for marijuana (the least dangerous) because it stays in your system multiple weeks. Your system is almost completely flawed, and super easy to exploit. Not only are you costing taxpayers money, but people are beating the test and you still have to pay for their food stamps. That is a complete failure.

"I probably won’t deal with them at all. Presumably you meant to ask how society should deal with them… the answer is that it depends. If they pick themselves up and find a way out, then we should do nothing. If they commit a crime there are already sentencing guidelines in place. "

Being homeless isn't a crime, but an abundance of homeless in the area can lower property values, or cause an increase in police presence, all effectively costing the taxpayer money with no crime being committed. So your "I probably won't deal with them at all" sentiment is a little short-sighted.

Or you can help them eat and give them a real shot at a better life. They may not make it, but I think we have to keep giving people opportunities. If nothing else, it beats the alternative.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 8, 2013 at 3:11 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"But you stated that "random drug tests will go a long way to reducing abuse". Now your response to my asking for proof is that you'd be ok with a future program? Way to weasel out of that one."

I'm not trying to weasle anything. Neither of us can provide prrof without some kind of test. Is there some reason you oppose testing the theory? What sort of proof would you accept before the program were tested?

"I think we can all agree that drug testing does not catch every single person using drugs, either. So although there is no way to concretely prove it, it's not like I'm being outrageous in my claims." Agreed, I'm not claiming anything close to 100% effectiveness in catching offenders and correcting their behavior, just that motivating good behavior by witholding rewards in the face of bad behavior can be effective.

"This is where I get really confused. So we shouldn't test for legal drugs, even though they may be more dangerous to the user? You can get food stamps, just huff paint and smoke cigarettes instead of eating a pot brownie. This isn't going to help people better themselves. You just gave them a loophole to keep getting high."
I think you are missing the point. Nothing we do will keep some people from certain acts, which they ought to be allowed to engage in, not matter how self destructive. There are two issues though... 1) we should not subsidize their habit and 2) criminal behavior as the result of addiction is still not excusable. You should not be able to buy luxuries like tobacco or alcohol with food stamps either.

"That is a complete failure." OK, what is a better way to perform the test?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 8, 2013 at 3:17 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"Being homeless isn't a crime"
True
"but an abundance of homeless in the area can lower property values"
OK, but that doesn't cost me money
"or cause an increase in police presence",
Why, if there are no additional crimes?
"So your "I probably won't deal with them at all" sentiment is a little short-sighted."
Certainly no more shortsighted than the idea that a community with nice weather can reduce the presence of homeless drug addicts by providing benefits without screening for drug use.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 8, 2013 at 3:21 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Benz, I am not on food stamps, but I am pretty sure there is already a law in place that you have to buy actual food - I have seen people in front of me at the grocery market and if they buy alcohol and food, they swipe the food stamp card and it picks up the "legit" items, then they need to provide another form of payment for any other items.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 8, 2013 at 3:22 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"Or you can help them eat and give them a real shot at a better life. They may not make it, but I think we have to keep giving people opportunities. If nothing else, it beats the alternative"

I'm not clear on how many chances you think someone deserves. Can you explain that please? Is that any amount of self-destructive behavior or criminal activity that would cause you to let someone be the (CENSORED TO ABIDE BY FORUM RULES) they have determined they want to be and stop trying to save them with someone else’s funding?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 8, 2013 at 3:36 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"I'm not clear on how many chances you think someone deserves. Can you explain that please? Is that any amount of self-destructive behavior or criminal activity that would cause you to let someone be the (CENSORED TO ABIDE BY FORUM RULES) they have determined they want to be and stop trying to save them with someone else’s funding?"

Not to intrude on your conversation with Anon, as I know this was directed towards him or her, but isn't this something dictated by the criminal justice system, not the food stamp office?

The specifics of their crime should be reflected in their court-mandated prison sentence, not in what benefits they are allowed to apply for once they have served their debt to society.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 8, 2013 at 3:44 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"I'm not trying to weasle anything. Neither of us can provide prrof without some kind of test. Is there some reason you oppose testing the theory? What sort of proof would you accept before the program were tested?"

I'd like to see a price tag on what it would cost to ACCURATELY monitor drug usage (meaning testing every 48 hours, for "legal" drug abuses as well) and compare it to what the projected savings would be, including the projected secondary costs I mentioned. (such as a potential need for increased police)

When the cost-benefit analysis can conclude a marginal amount of savings will occur, only then should the pilot program begin.

"Agreed, I'm not claiming anything close to 100% effectiveness in catching offenders and correcting their behavior, just that motivating good behavior by witholding rewards in the face of bad behavior can be effective."

But if it's not even close to being truly effective; you're not achieving the black & white goals you laid out. Bad behavior that goes uncaught will be rewarded.

Never mind the idea that assistance affording food shouldn't be perceived as a reward to earn, but rather a safety net for the less fortunate. Just like public schooling isn't a reward for good parents, but an opportunity for everyone to have an education. Food stamps are an opportunity for everyone to have food.

"I think you are missing the point. Nothing we do will keep some people from certain acts, which they ought to be allowed to engage in, not matter how self destructive. There are two issues though... 1) we should not subsidize their habit and 2) criminal behavior as the result of addiction is still not excusable. You should not be able to buy luxuries like tobacco or alcohol with food stamps either."

You are missing your own point. Nothing we do will keep some people from certain acts. This is inherent in every system. You can't punish the whole for the actions of a few. You have to find the best way to give the most people opportunities, while minimizing the taxpayer expense.

Random testing will either be too costly due to the constant nature of testing required to accurately asses drug use, or it will be ineffective due to its inconsistency and subsequent inaccuracy. This is why it's a bad idea. The taxpayer will have pay more regardless.

As far as criminal behavior, if it's a crime then it's a crime. We are supposed to give criminals due process. If they're guilty, then they receive their punishment. If they go to jail, no food stamps. If they don't, then they're paying their debt to society in other ways, as per the judge. If they are repeat offenders, they'll end up in jail. Funny how it works itself out like that.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 8, 2013 at 3:44 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"OK, what is a better way to perform the test?"

If you want accuracy, you're testing every 48 hours. If that's not affordable, then there's your answer.

If you test any less than every 48 hours, you will be granting a window for usage that can still result in a clean test. If the testing is inaccurate, what's the point?

Point being, if there's no good way to implement this, it's probably a bad idea. It may just be the lesser of two evils, but if it's the best option then so be it.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 8, 2013 at 4:04 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

There is no end to this argument. I suggest that you libs start a foundation to care for your losers as you wish. I, frankly, do not want to help. They have used reckless regard for the laws and basic responsibility. Because they have only one skill (making babies), does not make me want to continue their lack of moral regard. Let them starve. Let their kids go to foster homes. Unless they can prove they have cleaned themselves up, they are nothing more than a pimple on the behind of society. There, it has been said. Clean up, get a job and support what you have brought into this world. Otherwise, get out of the life that I have worked hard for, made the right choices and am making do. WAH WAH WAH.. Muckapoo has spoken on this for the last time.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 8, 2013 at 4:07 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

I think you may be setting the bar a bit too high. Some level of testing will produce some level of effect (heck, the rumor of some level of testing is likely to produce some level of effect). Every 48 hours is obviously too frequent and I am not an expert on drug testing (though I've certainly donated my share of samples) but I am under the impression there are tests capable of detecting use for longer periods (hair samples? spinal fluid analysis?)
In any case, randomly substituting in a different test occasionally may help induce better behavior as well.
What do you think?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 8, 2013 at 7:04 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"Some level of testing will produce some level of effect (heck, the rumor of some level of testing is likely to produce some level of effect)."

Maybe, but it also might be short-term once people figure out how to beat it.

"Every 48 hours is obviously too frequent and I am not an expert on drug testing (though I've certainly donated my share of samples) but I am under the impression there are tests capable of detecting use for longer periods (hair samples? spinal fluid analysis?)"

There are, but something like a hair follicle test can produce a positive for months, if not a year or longer. Someone could be denied months of benefits based off of a very old positive.

"In any case, randomly substituting in a different test occasionally may help induce better behavior as well.
What do you think?"

It may. But it's uncertain, and even if we do reduce drug usage, is that really solving any problems? There's no guarantee that it will magically motivate someone.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 8, 2013 at 10:34 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Interesting that AL ANON would support this welfare bill, sounding very "humanitarian," yet he/she is an immigration restrictionist as much as Benzzz or CA offender. Inconsistent much?

Will the real AL ANON PLEASE stand up?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 9, 2013 at 6:58 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"There are, but something like a hair follicle test can produce a positive for months, if not a year or longer. Someone could be denied months of benefits based off of a very old positive."

Two thoughts here. It is probably possible to measure not just a boolean value, but a concentration. An increase (or lack of expected decrease) could indicate continued use.
Also, good... get clean and stay clean.

"even if we do reduce drug usage, is that really solving any problems? There's no guarantee that it will magically motivate someone."

It is certainly not solving the whole problem, but nothing will do that. You are also correct that there are people who, as asinine as it sounds, will expend great effort to resist being motivated. These are the perpetual failures I referred to above. What is your plan to stop carrying them as dead weight?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 9, 2013 at 8:14 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Some people say "I did okay with my life without any help, so that means no one else gets help." That can be easily turned around by my saying, "I did okay with my life without any help, but that doesn't mean no one else needs help." (There! See how easy that is?) Believing that there's only one way to do things and that everyone should do things exactly like you did is boorish and regressive.

Comments about who is relevant or irrelevant to society are sad. Some would have you believe that they have a scale which is perfectly calibrated to detect "dead weight" in societies. Men are not islands. The worst people in the world are those who prey on the weak and discard life. Those who dream about doing the same come in second place. If you're half as tough as you think you are, take on the elites. Rehumanize yourselves.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 9, 2013 at 9:17 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"Interesting that AL ANON would support this welfare bill, sounding very "humanitarian," yet he/she is an immigration restrictionist as much as Benzzz or CA offender. Inconsistent much?"

What? I support immigration reform. I wish the process involved nothing more than a background check and a health screening to allow people to immigrate. I hate that it takes so long and tends to cost so much. But I digress...

"There is no end to this argument. I suggest that you libs start a foundation to care for your losers as you wish. I, frankly, do not want to help."

But you already are helping. Your property taxes help fund schools, regardless if you have kids or not. Your taxes help fund public services you use like water and electricity. Do you really think if people didn't communally invest, we'd have as great of a clean water delivery system as we do now?

You are already helping, and you are already receiving benefits. Don't pretend like you can somehow financially isolate yourself from the whole of society. It's almost totally impossible.

"They have used reckless regard for the laws and basic responsibility. Because they have only one skill (making babies), does not make me want to continue their lack of moral regard. Let them starve. Let their kids go to foster homes. Unless they can prove they have cleaned themselves up, they are nothing more than a pimple on the behind of society. There, it has been said."

Sounds like you have a very narrow profile of poor people. It's amazing how much judgment and anger a person can have over a group they've experienced almost nothing about. "They" are all the same rough sketch. It seems that you feel nobody receiving help is a good person. It's your classic fear of the unknown. Why don't you try living on $1000/month and see who you become?

"Clean up, get a job and support what you have brought into this world. Otherwise, get out of the life that I have worked hard for, made the right choices and am making do. WAH WAH WAH.. Muckapoo has spoken on this for the last time."

Many people who have received help in the past did clean up and get a job. My wife had a point in her life where her mom needed food stamps. But she ended up getting a better job (yeah, she already had one) and is now completely self-sufficient.

But that doesn't fit your narrative of blind hate, so it will probably be ignored...

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 9, 2013 at 9:35 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"Two thoughts here. It is probably possible to measure not just a boolean value, but a concentration. An increase (or lack of expected decrease) could indicate continued use.
Also, good... get clean and stay clean."

Potentially. I am not knowledgeable enough on the subject to say.

But again, which drugs are we testing for? You'll end up herding people towards specific types of drug use based on what you test for... so now instead of someone using pot, they're huffing paint. Is this really better? We see similar problems with the war on drugs. Banning certain things just leads people to seek legal alternatives, which can be much more dangerous. (Pharmaceuticals are the number 1 killer, and synthetics like spice and bath salts are way less safe than cannabis and cocaine, respectively)

" It is certainly not solving the whole problem, but nothing will do that."

Correct. So now the goal should be: How do we effectively minimize our expenses while doing the least amount of bad?

There is much more of a negative social impact when people are cast off and end up wandering aimlessly in the world, hungry and desperate. That breeds crime. That's bad.

Feeding people alleviates the high crime potential, saving us money in the process. We already throw away a ton of food as a nation, so giving it away doesn't seem like we're being wasteful, or taking away someone else's portion.

Introduce drug testing to the picture, and you're immediately funding a bureaucracy (costing taxpayers more) whose only purpose would be to find excuses to remove people from the program, placing them into the former category of "cast off and wandering aimlessly" aka higher crime potential. So we're spending MORE money to create a higher probability of crime, in order to save the taxpayer money? Doesn't make much sense.

"You are also correct that there are people who, as asinine as it sounds, will expend great effort to resist being motivated. These are the perpetual failures I referred to above. What is your plan to stop carrying them as dead weight?"

Genocide. (That's sarcasm, kpbs!)

Really though, you can't do much. You have to effectively run damage control. It's like having a really poorly behaved child. You can't abandon them, you have to keep making sure they're fed. You just continue to work on them in the meantime. It sucks, but that's life. We have plenty of other things to be appreciative for.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 9, 2013 at 10:58 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Anon11, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but from your commentary it seems you believe that society has some kind of obligation to find something useful for everyone to do and to care for them until we provide them with that employment.
I reject this idea as it is inherently unstable. Many of our disagreements can probably be traced to this fundamental difference of opinion (assuming I have assessed your position correctly).

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 10, 2013 at 9:57 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"Anon11, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but from your commentary it seems you believe that society has some kind of obligation to find something useful for everyone to do and to care for them until we provide them with that employment. "

I believe that society is already largely intertwined. Social order is present almost everywhere. Even in the privacy of your home, you're using a tv and/or internet system devised, built, and installed by various groups of people. It is really unavoidable.

With that in mind, we don't have an obligation so much as a need to address everyone who falls under the umbrella of our society. Like I postulated in prior posts, there are going to be costs associated with other people, even if they aren't direct and obvious. Food stamps now, or more police presence later.

This understanding puts my mindset in a place where I feel it is optimal to do the least bad for the most people, while minimizing costs. Feeding people shouldn't be such a contentious issue. Even if they're not the greatest people in the world, they still deserve not to starve.

I really feel like people who oppose mindsets like mine are people who have never seen a true struggle, or weren't born into dysfunctional, immigrant families and never sent to school. So many people have circumstances beyond most of their control. They couldn't even begin to improve themselves without a little outside help.

Like I've said, we all fund teachers for public schools so everyone (even bratty kids or kids of less-than-wonderful parents) gets an equal shot at an education. Feeding people alleviates a basic obstacle to survival, and can allow them to use their extra time to pursue education or ways to improve their lives. Imagine if at 5 years old, you were thrown out into the world and expected to educate yourself, because society felt it didn't have an obligation to make you useful. Do you really think that would save us all money and make life better?

So long story short, we are all interconnected, and we should aim to make every dollar we spend give the most people the best shot at improving their lives, even if they've made mistakes in the past. Invest in them instead of against them. It's all coming out of your pocket one way or another, and it might cost less to give them a chance instead of ignoring them and dealing with the fallout.

"I reject this idea as it is inherently unstable."

Do you have an example of a stable system?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 10, 2013 at 10:41 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

‘With that in mind, we don't have an obligation so much as a need to address everyone who falls under the umbrella of our society.”
Here is another point I’m uncomfortable with. It seems like people are using ‘society’ as a defined term and I can think of a few cases off the top of my head where I would not include large groups of humans in “our society”. What boundaries are you placing on the set you describe?

“Like I postulated in prior posts, there are going to be costs associated with other people, even if they aren't direct and obvious. Food stamps now, or more police presence later.”
Again, this may be true in the short term, but cannot be true perpetually. Removal of that support structure may well coincide with additional crime, but so too would bankrupting that same support structure a generation hence with even more humans dependant on it.

"So long story short, we are all interconnected, and we should aim to make every dollar we spend give the most people the best shot at improving their lives, even if they've made mistakes in the past. Invest in them instead of against them. It's all coming out of your pocket one way or another, and it might cost less to give them a chance instead of ignoring them and dealing with the fallout."
Is there any act so despicable, or any number of failures to abide by requirements, or any level of negligent sloth that would cause you to cease caring for a human?

"Do you have an example of a stable system?"
The United States, prior to the introduction of social security & welfare. On a smaller scale, any tribal subsistence group whose population is in balance with the environment.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 10, 2013 at 1:07 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"Here is another point I’m uncomfortable with. It seems like people are using ‘society’ as a defined term and I can think of a few cases off the top of my head where I would not include large groups of humans in “our society”. What boundaries are you placing on the set you describe?"

People that are outside societal influences. Which is almost nobody.

"Again, this may be true in the short term, but cannot be true perpetually. Removal of that support structure may well coincide with additional crime, but so too would bankrupting that same support structure a generation hence with even more humans dependant on it."

If we get to the point where people are starving in mass, it is going to be representational of a much deeper problem than general apathy. The laws we put in place can dictate how many people are affordably fed, while the amount of available food stays static. The united states throws away ungodly amounts of food already. Laws disallowing distribution of day-after foods to the poor affect us all. We are feeding landfills instead of people. The situation you describe would imply a large scale failure of leadership, because we certainly have the resources.

Maybe we can stop subsidizing tobacco and start subsidizing vegetable produce. That's just shifting money laterally..

"Is there any act so despicable, or any number of failures to abide by requirements, or any level of negligent sloth that would cause you to cease caring for a human?"

Crimes which have victims. I would hope that those people are in jail. But even still, who pays for them to be in jail?

Sloth is a horrible characteristic. Unfortunately, whether they are on government assistance or wandering the streets scavenging for food, they are going to cost us. Would you rather feed them, or police them once they have already turned to crime?

"The United States, prior to the introduction of social security & welfare. On a smaller scale, any tribal subsistence group whose population is in balance with the environment."

Welfare has been a part of america since the original colonies. Ever heard of the English Poor Laws? They were imported into the colonies. What about the Civil War pension system?

Never mind that social security was implemented in response to a society made unstable through the great depression.

But let's say you're right. The united states is now more stable without medicare and medicaid. Without WIC and AFDC. Without food stamps or unemployment or social security. Really??

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 10, 2013 at 2:38 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"People that are outside societal influences. Which is almost nobody."
I see you arguing for providing for the wants of the world. How can you think that is sustainable? Please clarify.

"If we get to the point where people are starving in mass, it is going to be representational of a much deeper problem than general apathy."
Exactly, there will be much less disruption if the starvation occurs slowly and is widely dispersed geographically.

"Maybe we can stop subsidizing tobacco and start subsidizing vegetable produce. That's just shifting money laterally.."
I half agree with you; Stop subsidizing tobacco and apply the 'savings' against the debt.

"Would you rather feed them, or police them once they have already turned to crime?"
The later, because it will only affect those who become criminals while the others will have been motivated to avoid starvation in a different way.

"Welfare has been a part of america since the original colonies. Ever heard of the English Poor Laws? They were imported into the colonies. What about the Civil War pension system?"
Good point, I should have been more specific. The United States before individuals were entitled to receive public funds merely for lack of a job. There have always been charities and limited government programs, but these have expanded significantly during and after the depression and do not always require continued effort on the part of the petitioner to receive assistance. Do you not see this as inherently unstable? Would you accept or endorse a system similar to the English Poor Laws? If not, why not?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 10, 2013 at 5:09 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"I see you arguing for providing for the wants of the world. How can you think that is sustainable? Please clarify."

World? Maybe eventually. For now, we need to take care of those who are here first. (And not their wants, their needs. Food definitely isn't a "want")

I believe it is sustainable to feed every American. Currently, we throw away a horrific amount of food every day. This food could theoretically feed us all, and it would require only a system of redistribution. We wouldn't need to actually produce more food. If we can manage to waste so much in these bleaker economic times, imagine what we can do when we are more financially abundant.
http://www.nrdc.org/food/files/wasted-food-ip.pdf

Meeting the basic (and I mean basic) needs of our society is investing our communal money wisely. More prevalent opportunities for growth can only help to foster an environment of growth... which is the whole point of the program in the first place. Temporary support. How can you find a job if you're too busy figuring out how to eat everyday?

"Exactly, there will be much less disruption if the starvation occurs slowly and is widely dispersed geographically."

See, this is an example of how you and I differ. The callous way you lay out a strategy for starvation with minimal "disruption" just displays a horrible lack of empathy. My strategy for starvation is to do whatever it takes to prevent it, because most (if not all) starving people don't deserve it.

"I half agree with you; Stop subsidizing tobacco and apply the 'savings' against the debt."

Make vegetables cheaper. People eat better. They're more productive at work and have less hospital visits. You make money by investing in smart ideas, in the private and public sectors. Applying money directly to the debt isn't making it work for you. The debt will naturally decline when smart investments are abound and the returns start trickling in. Just ask Germany. http://www.eurodialogue.org/Wind-energy-surplus-threatens-eastern-German-power-grid (Not a satire, I assure you)

"The later, because it will only affect those who become criminals while the others will have been motivated to avoid starvation in a different way."

So rather than find a job, you'll let them find food. You're just setting up yet another obstacle for them to overcome on the climb out of their hole. How is that helpful?

And you'd rather spend $47k/year on incarcerating someone rather than <$10k feeding them? That makes NO sense to me.
(source: http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/laomenus/sections/crim_justice/6_cj_inmatecost.aspx?catid=3)

That's not even bringing up the people that will turn to crime and not get caught. How do you account for them? We only have so many police....

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 10, 2013 at 5:09 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"Good point, I should have been more specific. The United States before individuals were entitled to receive public funds merely for lack of a job."

The modern welfare system was created as a response mainly to the Great Depression. If the system was stable, why was their an economic depression causing the need for a welfare system in the first place?

And in regards to unemployment insurance, it's just that.. an insurance. If you pay for it, you get benefits when you need it. Just because it's insurance run in the public sector doesn't mean people aren't entitled to what they paid for.

"There have always been charities and limited government programs, but these have expanded significantly during and after the depression and do not always require continued effort on the part of the petitioner to receive assistance. Do you not see this as inherently unstable?"

There are arguments against welfare, and they do apply sometimes. But I'm looking at the big picture.

If proponents of welfare are wrong, we wasted money on keeping people afloat, enabling their laziness. We still have clean water, police and fire departments, schools, roads, safe cars, convenience stores open 24 hours, cell phones that can send pictures across the world instantly. We're not exactly doing bad.

If opponents of welfare are wrong, we created a class of criminal that feels cast off from society. We will breed segregation, and crime will be more rampant. Distrust of people will naturally increase. Jobs will be that much more valuable to people so employers can be more abusive, or demand ridiculous amounts of work for minimal wages.

I'd rather try to keep people fed and feeling like human beings, even if in the future I'm proven totally wrong. And I don't think the program would receive funding once it got to the point where it was showing itself to be unstable. Like I said earlier, getting to the point of mass starvation would indicate much deeper problems than just individual efforts.

" Would you accept or endorse a system similar to the English Poor Laws? If not, why not?"

Kind of irrelevant, as we're in a different, modern society. But to try and answer your question, I would continue to support assistance for the hungry, poor, elderly, sick, disabled, and continue programs like unemployment insurance. I would love to see universal health care in addition to universal food availability. And I think we have the money to do it, if we reallocate it and make smart investments (especially in ourselves).

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2013 at 7:15 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

“World?”
This is why I asked you to bound the set of who to include in “our society”. It is now clearer (you seem to not include foreigners) but is “here” San Diego? California? The West?

“I believe it is sustainable to feed every American.”
Yes and No. If all the food were divided among all the people with no waste or spoilage that is correct… BUT the assumptions that underlie such a distribution scheme are not feasible. Further, even if it were possible to do today, that does not imply that it would continue to be possible with unrestricted population growth.

“Meeting the basic (and I mean basic) needs of our society is investing our communal money wisely. More prevalent opportunities for growth can only help to foster an environment of growth... which is the whole point of the program in the first place. Temporary support. How can you find a job if you're too busy figuring out how to eat everyday?”
I agree. There should be (and are, and have been) programs to provide limited temporary support to those who will use it wisely and wean themselves off of it. Charity provided to closely monitored individuals can be very effective at changing behavior. It is critical that compliance be a pre-condition to assistance.

“The callous way you lay out a strategy for starvation with minimal "disruption" just displays a horrible lack of empathy. My strategy for starvation is to do whatever it takes to prevent it, because most (if not all) starving people don't deserve it.
We do differ. I am aghast at the horrible lack of empathy you callously display in taking rewards from people who earn them and redistributing them to people who do not deserve them. It is not a question of what one has done to deserve to starve, but rather what one hasn’t done such that they don’t deserve to eat.

“Make vegetables cheaper. People eat better.”
OK, I still see debt as a greater long term threat to more people.

“So rather than find a job, you'll let them find food. You're just setting up yet another obstacle for them to overcome on the climb out of their hole. How is that helpful?”
In what way are we setting up this obstacle? The requirements of survival long predate me (or government). The appropriate question is ‘how much effort is it worthwhile to expend on an individual who doesn’t carry their own load?’ The answers vary from “None” to “Quite a bit” depending on the circumstances.

“And you'd rather spend $47k/year on incarcerating someone rather than <$10k feeding them? That makes NO sense to me.”
I also believe we can drastically reduce the costs of incarceration. There are savings to be had there as well. Also this is a moral argument.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2013 at 7:30 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

“The modern welfare system was created as a response mainly to the Great Depression. If the system was stable, why was their an economic depression causing the need for a welfare system in the first place?”
Population stability is not the same as economic stability. We should probably have a separate discussion on this issue.

“in regards to unemployment insurance, it's just that.. an insurance. If you pay for it, you get benefits when you need it. Just because it's insurance run in the public sector doesn't mean people aren't entitled to what they paid for.”
True, I have no argument with voluntary insurance. I argue against mandatory insurance on the grounds of government interference in personal liberty.

“There are arguments against welfare, and they do apply sometimes. But I'm looking at the big picture…”
Your arguments do not seem to follow. Lots of examples you mention are public goods (see above for link) and the assertion that we would create a criminal class who feels cast off from society assumes that there is no such class now, which I believe to be inaccurate.

“I'd rather try to keep people fed and feeling like human beings, even if in the future I'm proven totally wrong.”
OK, somewhat… There are certainly people worth investing in, for a limited time anyway, but the threshold to deserve that help has to be much higher than ‘still breathing and has human DNA’.

“I would love to see universal health care in addition to universal food availability …And I think we have the money to do it, if we reallocate it and make smart investments (especially in ourselves).”
This is where I’m losing you. I get that there are people who think the world owes them a living (I disagree, but I know they exist). I (and others) believe that smart self investment is a key to continued success and that for almost all situations in America those opportunities exist. You seem to be implying both and I can’t figure out which, if either, you are describing. When you say “we have the money to do it” what do you mean exactly? Who is “we”?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 11, 2013 at 7:58 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"I (and others) believe that smart self investment is a key to continued success and that for almost all situations in America those opportunities exist."

I (and others) believe that smart government spending is a key to societal success and that smarter spending will create better opportunities for most if not all.

You have this jones for personal accountability that doesn't extend to politicians and defense contractors. Always excluding, never including. You'd rather demonize food stamp recipients because you dream about eradicating those you believe are inferior to you. I'd rather we help drug addicts than help a fat cat at Northrop Grumman get fatter.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2013 at 8:31 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

What make you think I don't believe politicians or contractors should be accountable for their actions? That idea does not represent my opinion at all.

I'm also not interested in eradicating anyone. Those who do not provide for themselves or have someone provide for them will die off without any action on my part, as they have for all of history.

Just out of curiosity, what is that drug addict doing to make your life or society better such that you would prefer his company to that of someone productively employed defending you from the possibility of foreign aggression?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 11, 2013 at 9:46 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

How is someone supposed to rehabilitate themselves when they can't even get food to eat?

And for those who think society does not have an interest in keeping this people from going back to prison, read today's USA today article:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/10/cost-care-aging-prisoners/2479285/

The United States has an epidemic of aging prisoners. It's a huge problem the media has largely ignored, but these people cost tax payers $100,000/year each, a hell of a lot more than food stamps I can tell you that.

I would rather pay for these people to get assistance when released from prison so they can get back on their feet instead of paying $100,000 per person per year to house them in prison as they age and need medical care.

If doing what is morally right doesn't sway some, maybe this economic argument will.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 11, 2013 at 10:02 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Benz,

It's not about whose company I prefer. It's about my belief that a defense contractor bilking the country for weaponry which only serves one purpose is no better than a drug-addict. They both exert destructive pressure on society at varying levels. Nothing personal.

Duck's move to take this discussion from the specific to the general is compelling. Who cares about food stamps for felons if we disregard the principle of rehabilitation? Our justification for jailing as many people as we do is that we hold out hope for their rehabilitation. We're not talking about people on death row. We're talking about people who have paid their debt to society ... in full.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 11, 2013 at 12:40 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Sorry to not reply to the other post.. I think my points have been made and others seem to agree. I'll let them continue the discussion.

But I just wanted to say, in reply to:
"Those who do not provide for themselves or have someone provide for them will die off without any action on my part, as they have for all of history."

When the homeless die, and no friends/relatives/personal accounts can be found to cover expenses, the state takes them to the morgue, and eventually does a cremation or basic burial. Who do you think pays for the State to conduct this service?

Come on, man. You can't be this dense!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2013 at 1:58 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

You are correct; Now compare the cost of a cremation against the cost of continuous support you are proposing.

The point was not that there would be no cleanup required, but rather that they would die (or not) without my interference. i.e. I was not engaged in eradication.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2013 at 2:03 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"We're talking about people who have paid their debt to society ... in full."
OK Mr. Hypothetical Felon, we're even. You don't owe us and WE DON'T OWE YOU.
Good thing you've had a bunch of quiet time recently to study up on useful skills, now go find something productive to do with your life.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 11, 2013 at 2:17 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Benz,

Kathryn Fletcher is a very real person. She needs help. She could get that help with the amount of money that was just wasted in Afghanistan over the last 45 seconds. (Isn't it ironic that we're excluding drug-addicts based on economic arguments when we're financing Afghan warlords who operate opium fields?)

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 11, 2013 at 2:49 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Your assertin that we should not be financing Afghan warlords (with which I totally agree), does not imple that we should instead be financing Ms. Fletcher. There are many better uses to which that money could be put.. not least of which is returning it to you, the citizen from which it was extracted, who could then use it to provide for Ms. Fletcher if you chose to do so.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 11, 2013 at 3:16 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

benz: "OK Mr. Hypothetical Felon, we're even. You don't owe us and WE DON'T OWE YOU"

Benz, it seems you have a problem with food stamps in general.

If so, that's fine if that's your opinion.

But what we are talking about here is a government assistance program that already exists, and you are saying that someone convicted of a crime who has paid their debt to society should not be able to apply.

Why?

Because you don't like them?

Don't like what they did?

I bet there are a lot of people who are not convicted of anything who apply for food stamps that you don't like as well.

You need to have a valid reason to deny someone from applying for something that is open to anyone who qualifies financially.

And where does it end?

Should anyone with a convicted on their record be barred from applying for a scholarship? Applying for a marriage license and getting the tax breaks associated? Applying for property-tax relief if their home prices has gone down? Having their kids get a reduced price lunch in school? Be able to apply for WIC? Should we just say once someone is convicted of a crime they are never allowed for the rest of their life to apply for anything that might give them some financial benefit to the cost of tax payers?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 11, 2013 at 3:24 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

By the way, this isn't about conservatives being "upset about drug dealers getting tax-payer subsidies", but rather about widling away the entire existence of the food stamp program.

Ban this group here, that group there, just keep banning, banning until you have nothing left.

Today they passed a farm bill without food stamp provisions at all in it for the first time since 1973:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/us/politics/h...

It's no secret conservatives want food stamps gone. For everyone.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 11, 2013 at 5:08 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"You are correct; Now compare the cost of a cremation against the cost of continuous support you are proposing."

Sure, right after you acknowledge the discrepancy between the cost to provide food stamps to someone for a year and how much it costs to incarcerate someone for a year. You ignore so many crucial points...

"The point was not that there would be no cleanup required, but rather that they would die (or not) without my interference. i.e. I was not engaged in eradication."

Kind of like how you don't actually hand out food to poor people yourself..

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 12, 2013 at 8:06 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"right after you acknowledge the discrepancy between the cost to provide food stamps to someone for a year and how much it costs to incarcerate someone for a year."
OK, as currently constructed, the costs to incarcerate are significantly higher than the cost to feed.
Now, for the results of your comparison...

"Kind of like how you don't actually hand out food to poor people yourself."
Sure, I'm not certain what you are saying here though.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 12, 2013 at 2:57 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"OK, as currently constructed, the costs to incarcerate are significantly higher than the cost to feed. "

Glad you understand why continuing the food stamp program is important. Apply your quote to your comments, and maybe you'll start to see where you went wrong.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 14, 2013 at 9:12 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Anon, you have yet to compare the cremation costs against the feeding costs.

( | suggest removal )