Just say no to welfare dollars to buy drugs

Our tax dollars should not be going to help people on welfare buy illegal drugs.
Jul 16, 2014


Most everyone is willing to help folks who are down and out, but not give them dollars for drugs.

That is why we support Michigan House Bill 4118. The bill, passed by the House last year, penalizes welfare recipients who test positive for drugs. The bill was recently tweaked by the Senate and sent back to the House.

The original bill would require testing of a welfare recipient if an "empirical screening tool" indicates a reasonable suspicion, and would prohibit benefits for six months if a person tests positive a second time (or refuses "treatment" the first time). 

If the recipient has children, an appropriate "protective payee" would be designated to receive welfare benefits on their behalf.

This would begin as a one-year pilot program in three counties.

We fully support this legislation, and hope the day is close that it’s enforced in all of Michigan and the entire country.

Some opponents think this kind of legislation “picks” on welfare recipients and violates their rights. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Since when is it anyone’s right to buy illegal drugs?

Other opponents believe the bill would punish the children on welfare. We believe Michigan has answered this complaint with the “protective payee” provision.

If a person on welfare uses welfare dollars to buy illegal drugs, it’s our money being used to commit a crime.

The bill would also help those on welfare. First of all, they shouldn’t be using welfare dollars for drugs, since it’s a crime. Secondly, they can better spend their precious dollars on things like food and clothing for themselves and their families.

Staying free of drugs would also make the welfare recipients more employable.

A Florida judge ruled drug testing of welfare recipients in that state unconstitutional due to illegal search and seizure. However, we believe the provision in the Michigan bill that requires a “reasonable suspicion” alleviates that concern.

We encourage the Michigan Senate and House to reach agreement and pass this much-needed legislation.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty, Fred VandenBrand and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Protective Payee? I'm in full agreement of requiring drug tests, but there seems to be a huge gray area in the bill. Ever watch the show Shameless (great show)? The people abusing welfare will find a way to continue abusing it. I haven't read deep enough into it, but have other states implemented this law, and if so, what do the statistics show?




Random drug testing of welfare recipients has been in vogue with over a dozen states in the past few years. Some of the laws have been banned as being unconstitutional on various grounds; some are being scrapped by current legislators has being too costly with few positive results.

One common denominator is that the drug testing itself is quite expensive - $35-$75/per test. This, coupled with the costs of hiring implementation staff, mailings, etc, it becomes a significantly expensive program. Add to that studies show that the numbers of test-positive cases averages 2-3% of all testing, so that in terms of rate of return on investment, it is not cost effective.

Numerous studies also show that there is no evidence that drug usage is any greater among welfare recipients than in the general population.

Random drug testing - biometric screening - is effective in suppressing participation in welfare programs. If suppression of the number of recipients is the goal, rather than temporarily supporting the poor for a pre-determined time period, and with a very stringent set of criteria that has to be met to become a recipient, then this is the ticket.


I understand that a bridge card can be used at a ATM for cash. So I guess that's how so many bridgecard recipients can buy cigarettes and alcohol.

It is a fact that low income individuals smoke and drink more than the middle and higher income individuals.

There should be no way in heck that this practice is allowed!!!

This card should be used for food only!!!!


You are absolutely correct that a bridge card can be used at an ATM for cash. It's a huge money-maker for the bigger banks, making millions on ATM transaction fees.

" Big banks lifted more than $19 million out of the wallets of poor people in California in 2012, by charging them unnecessarily high fees for withdrawing cash from their EBT [Electronic Benefit Transfer] cards."


It's just a form of corporate welfare - banks making profits off from public welfare. It won't be disallowed anytime soon.

By the way, welfare drug tests do not test for alcohol, cigarettes, poor food choices, or any other bad choices that incur far greater costs to society than illegal drug use in terms of health care, childhood malnutrition, and education.


Yup, our provision of free credit cards to the "poor" so they are not denied access to illegal drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, strip clubs and hookers is really corporate welfare for big banks that have the nerve to charge fees to cardholders for transactions using the cards;

When the rest of us have to qualify to get credit cards and pay fees for their use to purchase things we want, that is o.k.;

Banks making money off of student loans was corporate welfare and had to be stopped, so when Obama took over the student loan program and the government not only profited from the fees that had gone to the banks, while even denying student borrowers their former right to declare bankruptcy, that was O.K. and the government's making profits of over $10 Billion / year was not Bureaucrat Welfare.

The Government cannot limit the use of the free EBT cards to food and necessities, and prohibit their use to purchase drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and lap dances; but it's o.k. for government to limit the use of government money for school lunches to foods Michelle Obama thinks are healthy;

The Government paying hundreds of dollars per day, not including up to $1,000 PER BED for illegals who have broken our laws thanks to Obama's lawlessness is O.K., but spending $35-$75/per test to keep drug users from abusing welfare (and protecting their health) is just too expensive and not cost effective. (Cue canned Response - Bush/Cheny costs of 2 wars; Halliburton; great recession)

Get it yet folks? If the government wastes money it's o.k.; if the government wants to do anything and everything with Other People's Money to support current and future Democrat voters, it's all O.K., but try to save some money and limit the lifestyles of illegals and the little snowflakes on welfare, and it's cruel, it's expensive, it's not cost effective, it's because of corporate welfare.

Maybe we should all just become Berkeley, California, which just regulated that its new legal pot sales outlets must provide free pot, of the same quality as that sold, to the poor.

Ah, Liberals and Progressives - the most generous people on earth as long as they are spending our money . . . .


Perhaps you miss my point. I think it's ridiculous and a total waste of money and pretense to initiate a welfare drug program when it's been shown to be expensive, wasteful and unnecessary, not to mention, in many cases, unconstitutional. When a scant 2% of all welfare recipients test positive for illegal drugs, but a great many are guilty of gaming the system to buy alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, and the like that only adds to the strain on our medical facilities, health care costs, and compromises children, then yes - I think drug-testing welfare recipients is a stupid idea. If the object is to better the lives of recipients, fine, but then why stop at illegal drugs? It you are going to infringe on the civil liberties of US citizens, why not really address the core problems?

As for welfare recipients spending money on lap dances, strip clubs, and hookers, I will have to suspend judgement and rely on your expertise.

I'm more than happy to have a portion of the federal and state tax dollars I have paid for years to go to helping those in need, in addition to my other means of personally supporting those in dire need, including in my own extended family. In the last 20 years, there has been a great deal of Federal and State legislation that has seriously tightened up on fraud, corruption, and waste, and has successfully addressed the balance between support and dependency. Welfare per se is about 5% of the Federal budget.

And if the city council and town folk of Berkeley, CA, vote unanimously for medical marijuana dispensaries to provide free medical pot to the poor, up to 2% of their allotment, so be it. You did read where in just the first 3 days of selling legal pot, Washington state took in $150,000 in excise taxes only - not including state and local sales taxes.


I didn't miss your point - if there is a program that might save taxpayers' money but unfortunately restricts the lifestyles of those who depend on our benevolence, you are opposed to it.

I have always stated here that my first obligations with my own hard-earned money are to my immediate family, my extended family, my friends, and what's left to others truly in need - you support the government taking my money and giving it to those who the government thinks needs it more than my family, both immediate and extended, my friends, and others to whom I would extend charity. That's not your job, your responsibility, or your business; it's also not within the authority of the federal government.

In the same vein, if I want to spend my money on drugs, alcohol, smokes, strip clubs, hookers or lap dances I will do it - it's my money - and I will stop the flow of money to family members, friends or others who choose to waste the money I give them or choose to spend my money on things that I either disapprove of or have decided I can't afford within my budget.

The bottom line is that you and your progressive friends think: (1) that you know better than I how best to spend my money and (2) you have a right to force me to spend it the way you want through government programs. That's not in the Constitution, it's not in the State Constitutions, but it's the way liberals have manipulated both emotions and the system to where we are today. I can recognize that but I don't have to accept it or be silent in the face of what it has done to the hardworking taxpayers of the country and those hard working folks who have been forced into part-time employment, under-employment or unemployment by Obamacare and the policies of this Progressive Administration of Hope and Change!


You seem a tad bit defensive. Be rest assured I was not implying you to be stingy, although you may be. I, and indeed, the entire Trib online, understand you do not care if a government program is run efficiently, successfully, or helps a multitude of citizens. If it is not mentioned in the Constitution, written in 1788, and is a government program, you oppose it unconditionally on ideological grounds.

I, on the other hand, expect government to adapt to societal and global changes and challenges, and where I tend to support the program, I expect it to be implemented well and oppose any waste.

I note you don't seem to have the same fervor against government corporate welfare, legislatively created tax loopholes, subsidies, and off-shore tax havens, or defense spending that exceeds the spending of all developed countries combined, as you do dollars spent on the indigent, including young children.


What I wrote is not defensive - it is my philosophy as a free American. You cannot judge whether anyone, much less me, is stingy because you have no idea of the level of support I give to, respectively, my immediate family, my extended family, my friends, and others in addition to the significant tax dollars that are extracted from me to support those who you and the government think are deserving.

How you could allege that I, of all people, don't care if my tax dollars are used efficiently by the government indicates either: (1) your blinders about everything I have written here or (2) the lengths you will go to misrepresent what I have consistently written.

I suppose you especially object to the Bible, since it was written long before the Constitution and obviously has no relevance to our modern, progressive society.

Your snark about my fervor is not unexpected - nor is your intentional misdirection concerning indigent citizens and illegal aliens, however old they are. If you want to attack corporate welfare and government spending favoring the well to do, how about looking at Obama's crony capitalism, particularly with respect to green energy scams, the outrageous money printing by the Fed, and the huge gains of the stock market favoring the uber rich, like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steyer, the Wall Street Oligarchs who support Obama and have never been prosecuted and other billionaire Democrats O'Bumbler spends all his time fund raising with.

deuce liti

Thank God the folks you americans put in office never use the tax payers money to:

Buy drugs.
Pay for prostitutes.
Bribe Officials.
Cheat the common man, etc.

Your government has you so worried about the nickel the poor person takes that you never see the dollar the rich person takes out of your back pocket.

You people pass laws to choke the poor while the rich convince you to do it.


As late as it is, I would like to say that you are indeed overly-sensitive and defensive about my comment. Let me go even further and suggest that if I were told you have dedicated yourself to and sacrificed for your family, extended family, and friends, respectively, your whole working adult life, I would not be surprised; and I think I have, at this point, a fairly in-depth understanding of your philosophy of government.

But I will not accept your pigeon-holeing people (me) into a paradigm of your making just because your personal paradigm is stagnant and inflexible. In addition, the minute you bring Obama into this discussion, as if welfare, drug testing, and every other tangent that comes down the pike begins and ends with him, you lose all credibility. I wonder what you will argue about when Obama's term comes to an end. You can't seem to sustain an argument that doesn't center around Obama. What will you do without him?


Madam, you have pigeon-holed yourself with your constant defenses of the indefensible regarding all things Obama, all things Big Government, and all bad behaviors of people and classes of people you support.

Regarding the merciful end of Obama's term the answer to your question is Simple - I could do with former President Obama exactly what you do with former President Bush - a never depleting well of blame and source for justification of all kinds of stupid behavior.

Harry Kovaire

Or maybe, it will go something like this...

The year is 2017, during his normal duties as Gate Guard for the White House, a Marine is approached by an old gentleman, a regular on the GH Tribune boards who posts under the nom de plume "VladTheImp." The old man approaches the guard and says, "I'd like to go in and speak with President Obama." The Marine Guard replies, "I'm sorry sir, but Mr. Obama is not the President and does not live here anymore." Old Vlad thanks the guard and leaves.

The next day old Vlad approaches the same Marine Guard and says, "I'd like to go inside and speak with President Obama." The Marine Guard replies again, "Sir, Mr. Obama is not the President of the United States any longer, he has returned to his birthplace in Kenya." Again, old Vlad thanks the Marine Guard and leaves.

The next day, at the same time, old Vlad, approaches the White House gate and addresses the same guard. "I'd like to go inside and speak to President Obama." At this point, the Marine Guard says forcefully to the old man, "Sir, I told you yesterday, and I told you the day before, Mr. Obama is not the President of the United States. Don't you understand that?" Old Vlad looks at the young Marine and says, "Of course I understand. I just like hearing you say it."

The Marine Guard snaps to attention, salutes the old man and says, "See you tomorrow, sir!"


I suppose as a poem substitute, this will have to do. The only humorous thing about it is the inference that Vladtheimp has moved back to DC!


Humorous? It would be a dream come true. I'd even help pack and wave goodbye. The bad part is that even though he'd be gone geographically, he'd still be on here every freakin' day to torture us from afar. At least there'd be one less closet liberal around here trying to convince us he's not.....


I do believe you are on to something, LTA. Let's consider what Vlad has told us about himself in this forum, and look at the big picture:

---> He's Irish (think Tip O'Neil or Ted KENNEDY!!). Check.

---> He grew up in New York state. Check.

---> He drove a VDub. Check.

---> Drinks American bourbon and red wine. Double check.

---> Elitist credentials. Check.

---> Inspired by MLK. Check.

---> Worked for 30 years for the government. Triple check.

---> Golfs, grills outdoors, and listens to rock n' roll. Huge check.

I do believe we've got ourselves a closet lib. You nailed it, LTA - yet once again - insightful, aware, and sharp as a tack.


All good points Lani, but you have forgotten the most convincing piece of evidence, offered by ole Vlad himself.

If you were a young, white, upwardly mobile male during the turmoil of the 1960's, living in the city which could arguably be called "The eye of the storm", you could not marry a black woman (AKA marrying out of your race) without being a raging, card carrying liberal extremist of the day.

I put forward the premise that all the psychotic, rambling drivel that has been produced here, in a small town newspaper's online forum, by this man, far from his native land, is simple over-compensation to hide his true persona. What we have here is a old man simply trying to deny his inner young man's liberal extremism by swinging the pendulum to the other extreme in a pathetic hope for rational thought and balance before time runs out.

"Methinks that thou dost protest too much"

Harry Kovaire

Maybe he just grew up.

“If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

~ Georges Clemenceau (paraphrased)

commonly attributed to Winston Churchill


You are being unduly harsh on your pal, Harry. Secondly, your quote is falsely attributed to Winston Churchill; what he did say is....
"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."

When I was young, I had a strong independent, self-reliant streak, and was an idealistic proponent of Ayn Rand. As the years went by, I kept the independent self-reliance, but my ideology was tempered by life and my realization that good government could do good things, including for those most disadvantaged among us. I found a balance between the unrealistic, harsh, romantic, and unsustainable ideology of the far right libertarian or right wing extremist, and the far left liberal socialist. Perhaps what you really mean to say about Vlad is that he has never found that balance.

When it comes to welfare and drug testing, my conservative roots make me abhor waste or abuse of the system; being pragmatic and self-employed, I look at the bottom line. Studies tell us that the return on this investment is not justified. And as a person who supports the human spirit, I believe that the richest country in the history of the world can find a way or problem-solve to address the ever-present situations of those Americans who are far less advantaged, physically or mentally impaired, or having a rough patch - often out of their control - through a generous spirit and smart government policies.

Just coming back from hearing lots of stories about the depression and WWII, when people sacrificed, shared, and looked out for each other under horrible duress, that this human condition has to become a political football tells me that this is not America's finest hour.

Harry Kovaire

I happen to agree with you about the stupid drug testing programs. It seems you are coming around to my $50/hr. minimum wage proposal as the most cost efficient method of welfare distribution. :D

Good government could do good things, but we are unlikely to get it as it grows ever larger, corrupt, and unmanageable. We seem to have a hard enough time keeping the local township honest. Government will never be able to do as much good as what a good culture can do.

I am glad you had a nice weekend of nostalgia. The very best of us comes from adversity and those were adverse times. It is human nature to remember the good and forget the painful. In reality, I think history shows we have always been a contentious lot.

(fixed the quote attribution - he gets credit for everything)


LTA and Harry Kovaire:

My favorite quote from the one who gets credit for everything:

"Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put".

~Winston Churchill

deuce liti

"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."



Bam. Boom. *Clink*.


Harry, My Man

"Old gentleman"? Wrong on both counts!


"..you have pigeon-holed yourself with your constant defenses of the indefensible regarding all things Obama, all things Big Government, and all bad behaviors of people and classes of people you support."

And you, sir, not only have no shame, but are a total idiot.

EDIT: In addition, while you spout your lunacy about your martyrdom at the hands of government, I think is important to point out that, according to your written word on this forum, your sustenance was achieved at the hands of government, via a steady flow of government contracts handed to you, while mine was achieved through entirely my own devices, with compensation based strictly on my own abilities, with not a single government "hand-out", not even a student loan, mortgage loan, or unemployment benefit. While your fortune depended heavily on government, mine was built entirely on free markets, with heavy doses of capitalism.

Yes - you ARE a total idiot, and while I'm at it, a hypocrite, too.

deuce liti

I must commend you on your stamina in the futility of arguing with vlad. His inability to truly acknowledge any wrongdoing of his party reminds me of a prophesy in the bible about the last days. 2 Timothy 3:1:

"But know this, that in the last days+critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, 3  having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness,4  betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride..."

Not open to any agreement. It surely describes people and indeed the political system of this country today. Vlad and his political affiliation have crossed their arms and taken their toys home.

Moreover, an intelligent person would never be so obstinate.


Thank you, deuce liti. I don't have a lot of time or money, but I do have a lot of stamina and perseverance - particularly when I am defending that which I will always support - the human spirit.

Look up Learned Helplessness Theory. Might help to understand what I'm up against.

Harry Kovaire

"His inability to truly acknowledge any wrongdoing of his party reminds me of Lanivan."

There ya go - fixed it for ya!


sincerely hope you have not seriously injured yourself during the process of patting yourself on the back; however, in assuming such a pretzel-like position you have strayed far from your Progressive orthodoxy. I guess you didn't get the memo that If you've got a business - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. Obama channeling Lizzy Pocahontas Warren:

"look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.  (Applause.)
     If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

And mortgages - if you got a non-government mortgage you got it because of the efforts of the banks that you vilify here regularly, who used money other people deposited to make the mortgage loan happen, unless you inherited wealth that allowed you to avoid the banking system altogether.

With respect to my own personal history, you have again demonstrated an inability to comprehend that which is clearly written, and to make up a fabulist story to fit your own narrative. I have never been a government contractor, but please, Madam, believe whatever is necessary to preserve your progressive unreality.



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