Drug tests for welfare recipients?

Flea

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090326/ap_on_bi_ge/states_welfare_with_strings

Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing.
The effort comes as more Americans turn to these safety nets to ride out the recession. Poverty and civil liberties advocates fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already desperate situations worse.
Those in favor of the drug tests say they are motivated out of a concern for their constituents' health and ability to put themselves on more solid financial footing once the economy rebounds. But proponents concede they also want to send a message: you don't get something for nothing.
I had a really visceral reaction when I saw this article. To me, it represents a criminalization of poverty. Not that anyone proposes rounding up the poor and throwing them in jail, but it's the flip side of the Calvinism that's so hardwired into US culture. If the wealthy demonstrate God's favor with their prosperity, then the poor must logically be out of God's grace and therefore somehow evil. And thus they deserve an overkill of "supervision."

"Nobody's being forced into these assistance programs," said Craig Blair, a Republican in the West Virginia Legislature
What a bizarre conclusion, especially at a time like this. Blair must lead a very charmed life. It's interesting that he compares it to job-related testing. I think the rationale for drug testing on the job is that drug use would cut down on the quality of work, or endanger people's safety. Not that recreational drug use is magically safer if it happens at home, but I think he's comparing apples to oranges here. As it stands now, the only criteria for these "entitlement" programs are things that would demonstrate need - one's financial or medical situation, for instance. People need food, and shelter. One doesn't need a job in the same way. You can send out resumes if you don't like your job, but you can't realistically voice your displeasure over something by going naked and not eating.

Drug testing is not the only restriction envisioned for people receiving public assistance: a bill in the Tennessee Legislature would cap lottery winnings for recipients at $600.

Another illustration of how our culture views the poor as "challenged." I could be wrong here, but in the context of this article I can only guess that the rationale is that welfare recipients would immediately blow it all on a giant crack orgy? There are already strict income guidelines in place for welfare eligibility and lottery winnings would knock anyone off the rolls anyway. Why the overkill with a separate new law?

At least six states Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Virginia tie eligibility for some public assistance to drug testing for convicted felons or parolees, according to the NCSL.
Nelson said programs that screen welfare applicants by assigning them to case workers for interviews have shown some success without the need for drug tests. These alternative measures offer treatment, but can also threaten future benefits if drug problems persist, she said.
This makes a lot more sense to me. I could support testing for a specific population that has already demonstrated a propensity for drug issues. That makes sense. Offering treatment makes sense. But testing everyone willy-nilly doesn't. It's insulting, it's likely to chase some truly deserving people away, and it wastes a lot of resources that are already stretched to the breaking point.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've been on Social Security for about 7 years now with a disabling medical condition. I'm not happy about it at all; but every so often I try working and I land in the hospital every time. I could introduce MT to literally dozens of people on public assistance; while some struggle with addiction they're actively in recovery. All of us "work" in some sense to the best of our ability with family and community involvement. We just can't do it for pay for a variety of reasons.


Sorry ... I guess this is mostly a rant. <blush> Still, it's a worthwhile subject for discussion and a fun flip side to the thread on legalization. I'd be interested to hear some opinions ...
 
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Flea

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I just went back and noticed the "elfare" typo in the thread title. Now I have visions of Santa's Little Helpers in the off-season, standing in line at a soup kitchen. :uhyeah:

I really need to try to fully wake up before posting in the morning ... at least until my eyes are focused.
 

MA-Caver

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This makes a lot more sense to me. I could support testing for a specific population that has already demonstrated a propensity for drug issues. That makes sense. Offering treatment makes sense. But testing everyone willy-nilly doesn't. It's insulting, it's likely to chase some truly deserving people away, and it wastes a lot of resources that are already stretched to the breaking point.
Why would it chase those deserving people away... unless they got something to hide? It's a drug test after all... if they're NOT using (illicit drugs) then they got no worries right??
Government waste is a fact of our lives, and they do mandatory drug testing anyway on all their employees, a few hundred thousand more aren't going to break the bank. Besides it could be just a one time thing, one test... pass clean then okay get benefits. Pass dirty... (wags finger at them) no benefits because you'll probably blow it on drugs and not feed the kids... like so many.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've been on Social Security for about 7 years now with a disabling medical condition. I'm not happy about it at all; but every so often I try working and I land in the hospital every time. I could introduce MT to literally dozens of people on public assistance; while some struggle with addiction they're actively in recovery. All of us "work" in some sense to the best of our ability with family and community involvement. We just can't do it for pay for a variety of reasons.
Appreciate your disclosure, appreciate even more your (repeated) attempts to return to the work-force. Still, you're lucky in a way... at least from my view point... I've been applying for disability on my hearing and depression for 12 years now... get turned down every time. :rolleyes:
But I do get food-stamps.
Now I'm working again the amount I will receive each month will be proportionally less. That's okay, the FS benefits will stop in July. So no state welfare program is long term (anymore).
Far too many people have abused the systems across the country. Far too many have taken advantage of the welfare system by pretending to be disabled, pretending to be out looking for jobs and just not getting hired, having an extra kid to boost the amount and a number of other scams. The real drain on the resources would be to hire more people to ensure recipients are truly deserving of the benefits allocated to them. It's ugly but it's true. When rules are changed to make it harder to qualify or to keep up the minimum requirements (10-20 job searches a week in your chosen field, reporting income, face to face meetings, etc.) that is what makes it difficult and harder for the honest ones applying for benefits.

Sorry ... I guess this is mostly a rant. <blush> Still, it's a worthwhile subject for discussion and a fun flip side to the thread on legalization. I'd be interested to hear some opinions ...
No, it's a good topic.

I've got no problem with being tested, they can test me all they want. I have known welfare recipients in my past who run out to the drug dealer as soon as they cash their benefit check each month.
Maybe it sounds like it's stereotyping that the poor are a bunch of alcoholic drug-addicts living in squalor passing on criminal behavior from generation to generation... but ask yourself this. Go to your ATM and get about $300.00 cash and put it all in your pocket... then drive/walk around slowly the poorest neighborhood you can know of in your area.
You won't do it will you? Wonder why?
Now do the same in the wealthiest neighborhood in your area... you just won't do it will you? Wonder why? ... because you'd be embarrassed to have such a pitifully small sum in your pocket ( :lol: ) Ok kidding aside. But the dynamics are there and they are clear.
No not all poor people are criminals and not all criminals are poor people. However the percentage is higher and for obvious reason. The working class and wealthy don't have to struggle as hard to eek out a living. Sure it's easier to go out and TAKE what you could WORK for. But you got to get the WORK/JOB first and if no-one is hiring then what can you do. Work fast foods jobs. Okay, minimum wage is around $6.00 an hour now. Feed your family, pay your rent/mortgage and utility bills and gas in your vehicle with that? How about your other bills? Credit card, insurance, medical, etc.
It's a struggle and for some a hard struggle. It's depressing. Very depressing. A way of life. Miserable day to day.
You have to admire the ones who live this existence without turning to the mind numbing effects of drugs and alcohol to help them forget. Sadly you won't have many to admire.

The states that are contemplating or already initiating this drug testing program have probably already experienced the abuse of their individual welfare systems. Go into their confidential files of the applicants and look into criminal records (if any) and you'll probably find drug-related charges ranging from possession to worse. It's a no-work way of getting money. It's from your taxes that are taken out of your paycheck each month.
Just like those guys on the streets pan-handling do you want them to take your offerings and buy booze/drugs or food with it?

Same thing.

How are you going to make sure they do?
 

Bill Mattocks

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Social Security is a retirement plan which everyone who is eligible for social security benefits pays into. It is an entitlement. I would not support drug testing for a person to receive their social security payments.

On the other hand, Welfare is a - let's put it bluntly - hand out. It is public assistance given to those in need, hopefully so that they can get back on their feet and get off public assistance. You do not pay into it directly, you have no 'welfare account' like you do a social security account.

So the question is, does society, which provides this assistance, have a right to a say in how it is spent?

We just finished showing AIG our outrage - we gave them assistance, they gave bonuses. We believe we have the right to tell them they cannot do that (most of us, anyway).

We do put restrictions on other forms of public assistance. For example, food stamps can only be used for certain things and not others. I worked, in my callow youth, in a convenience store. I well remember the people who tried to buy candy, gum, beer, and other non-food items with food stamps. People who tried to get me to trade a couple bucks in food stamps for a single dollar in cash. People using traded, bartered, or otherwise 'not their own' food stamps. People basically trying to get over on the system. Not all of them for sure. But some.

So if we can tell AIG that they have to spend our money responsibly, if we tell food stamp users that they can't buy beer with our money, then why can't we tell welfare recipients that they can't buy drugs with our money?
 

Bob Hubbard

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Social Security is free cash for the government, which they are under no obligation to pay back. Those receiving it, let em have it. Same thing with disability payouts.

Testing those on public assistance? Sure.
Add to the mix also being registered with a job bank and approved temp agencies, and then check to ensure they are using them to try and get back on their feet.
drug test? check.
look for work? check.
file taxes? check.
took a bath this week? check.

it's all good.

Oh and Bill? According to "them", it's not -our- money, it's "their" money. How dare we tell them what to do with "their" money. (Quoted from someone who tried to buy beer and lotto with food stamps) Me, I'm all for it.

Then again, I also want to shut down medicare, medicaid, social security, etc.
 

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I can only say that I hope that the bill were to be passed in Georgia. My family is in dire need of assistance, as we are just keeping our head above water. Problem is, I keep getting told that I make too much to be given food stamps.

When you apply for assistance, you're required to list your bills out in seperate lines for someone to look at and determine if you have frivolous bils among the necessities. It's funny how we have maybe 2 frivolous bills that total out to a whopping $65 a month, and that is considered to be grounds for declining my request. You know how many groceries you can get for $65 a month extra, with 2 babies and 2 adults in the house? Not enough.

The reason I'm constantly turned down for assistance is because the margins keep changing every time we apply. The margins keep changing because more and more people who don't need or abuse assistance are given the green light, and that leaves those of us who need the assistance standing around wondering what the next step is.

Providing a random drug screen will drop, in my estimate, 80% of the turds in the town that I live in from the program.

For example:

When I first got married, I was working in a sports/shoe store. We were living off of roughly $650 a month, with $30 left out of our rent/car/electricity payments per month to buy groceries with. We were still turned down for assistance then.

But, I can't tell you how many times I would have someone buy a pair of Jordan shoes that retail at $175 with their food stamp card...they were able to do this because the card is technically considered an ATM card, and we were not allowed to turn those away. So these jack-turds can buy their Jordan shoes at $175 a pop, wear them to "the club"...oh, and try to return them after wearing them over the weekend...and my wife and I were stuck on eating tomato soup 5 nights a week for a year and a half????

Yeah, I hope they test every one of those bastards. And then, I hope they disqualify them from requesting assistance for the next 5 years. I'll gladly piss into a cup. It's hard enough just admitting that we need the assistance, what's a piss-test going to hurt?

Unless, of course, you have something to hide...
 

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I am all for the testing of assistance recipients.
Like was stated previously there is a difference between a program that someone pays into so they can eventually get back from it, and insurance programs designed to cover the possibility of someone needing to draw from it, and assistance programs where money and services are given with no strings attached.
I think they not only need to be tested for drugs, but required to participate in work training, work search, and other education programs.
I know its also harsh, and I know it will most likely never be accepted, but some form of birth control for those on public assistance would be a good idea as well, for the time period of them being on public assistance. I can not think of one good thing about someone on welfare having more kids during that time period, its obviously a horrible position to be in, and I can not think of anything positive for a kid to be brought into the world under those circumstances. A newborn requires so much work, that for someone on assistance to have a baby, and not neglect that baby would pretty much require constant assistance for many years. Sad Situation, but unfortunately too many people do not use common sense in this situation and make it worse. Or they take advantage of the situation(Nadia Suleman) and use it as a money making scheme.
Whats the old saying about teaching a man to fish will feed him for a lifetime?
 

Drac

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Yeah, I hope they test every one of those bastards. And then, I hope they disqualify them from requesting assistance for the next 5 years. I'll gladly piss into a cup. It's hard enough just admitting that we need the assistance, what's a piss-test going to hurt?

Unless, of course, you have something to hide...

Amen.....
 
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Flea

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That's the thing though. It's degrading and unnecessary. It clearly implies that anyone with the temerity to fall on hard times must have criminal tendencies. As far as chasing away the truly deserving, it takes some self-respect to refuse to submit to that, which means some children are likely to go to bed hungry.

I think they not only need to be tested for drugs, but required to participate in work training, work search, and other education programs.

LuckyBoxer, states already require a lot of programs for people on public assistance. It depends on the individual, but most recipients have to go through some education or job training, or life skills training like AA or parenting classes. Welfare payments usually have a hard deadline by which point the recipient has to show results or they'll be cut off. The same goes for disability pension; everyone's case gets reviewed every 3 years and you have to document that you're following a treatment regimen. For obvious reasons recovery isn't required, but you have to prove that you're taking responsibility for your health.

I know its also harsh, and I know it will most likely never be accepted, but some form of birth control for those on public assistance would be a good idea as well, for the time period of them being on public assistance. I can not think of one good thing about someone on welfare having more kids during that time period, its obviously a horrible position to be in, and I can not think of anything positive for a kid to be brought into the world under those circumstances.

I agree that it's reprehensible to have children at a time like that, but it's just as reprehensible to dictate someone's family planning based on bureaucratic policies. That was done to death in the United States, and it was outlawed for a reason. Those policies were abused outrageously by officials: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2006/sep/06/news/chi-0609060234sep06 I see where you're coming from, but it's been tried. (Besides, I suspect the pro-life lobby would have conniptions if welfare officies acknowledged the existence of condoms.) I was just as upset over the Suleyman case as everyone else, partly because I knew it would pour gasoline over the "welfare mom" stereotype.

When you apply for assistance, you're required to list your bills out in seperate lines for someone to look at and determine if you have frivolous bils among the necessities. It's funny how we have maybe 2 frivolous bills that total out to a whopping $65 a month, and that is considered to be grounds for declining my request.

Brandon, I've been there too. I can see why they do that, but it does feel pretty intrusive. I was quite amused when I ordered my DTV converter a few months ago and all I had to give them was my address. Why the big difference? Well, people really need television I guess ... :wink2:

Yeah, I hope they test every one of those bastards.

Actually my parents were married, and I'm a very nice person.

Appreciate your disclosure, appreciate even more your (repeated) attempts to return to the work-force. Still, you're lucky in a way... at least from my view point... I've been applying for disability on my hearing and depression for 12 years now... get turned down every time. :rolleyes:
But I do get food-stamps.

MA-Caver, I'm sorry to hear about your depression. It's a bear, isn't it? I don't qualify for food stamps myself. Interestingly, a friend of mine told me a couple months ago that he recently qualified for stamps. He's one of those poster-children for social services. He's totally disabled with schizophrenia, and went through a couple of years of malnourishment because he was too embarrassed to fill out the paperwork. He didn't even mention it to any of his friends; of course we would have flattened him under a mountain of fresh groceries if he had. I'll never forget the day he brought it up and flashed his TANF card. He got this christmas-morning expression as he waxed poetic about fresh broccoli and pudding cups. It's all about perspective, isn't it? Now that he's eating properly, the difference in his health is dramatic. He's a totally different person. I wonder if his sz symptoms would have allowed him to take a drug test if that were required last year?

At any rate, I thank you all for your feedback. It's good to hear other points of view. Thanks for the education!
 

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I don't see a problem with it, really. I've had to do drug tests and background checks with some jobs.
 

Bill Mattocks

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090326/ap_on_bi_ge/states_welfare_with_stringsIn the interest of full disclosure, I've been on Social Security for about 7 years now with a disabling medical condition.

Here's some good news for you - a bit, anyway...

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/26/seniors.stimulus/

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An estimated 50 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will receive their one-time $250 economic stimulus check starting in early May -- several weeks ahead of schedule, Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday.
 

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It's an unconscionable violation of privacy. I feel the same way about drug screening for jobs and high school students. If the state wants to test my blood, they can get a damn warrant.

On top of that, you have technological issues like false positives which will make life very difficult for a certain fraction of the people you are screening.
 

Bob Hubbard

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The one with the money makes the rules.
I don't care to play by their rules, so I never applied for food stamps.
I've also turned down those jobs that required the tests. Not because I have anything to hide, but because I do see them as an invasion of my privacy.
 

Gordon Nore

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I mentioned the story quoted in this thread to my wife, a long-time social worker and ex-pat American. She wondered allowed how many US jurisdictions already do this.

If an employer can legally drug test an employee or applicant, then it follows -- I suppose -- that a government can drug test a recipient or applicant for assistance. I don't like the notion of proving to someone that I am not cheating or breaking laws, when the only basis for testing me is that I happen to be standing there. It creeps me out.

Here's my thumbnail sketch of how 'welfare' works in these parts. Many people come up short and yet find that they are not poor enough to get just that little bit that keeps them going. To get to a place where they can get assistance, they often have to have lost literally everything. Everything you've got has to go in order to be worthy to be looked down upon.

A lot of folks are going to be on assistance. People are going to lose jobs. Once severance has run out, if they even got it, they will go on unemployment. Then, once having exhausted that resource, the trajectory is pretty clear. All of a sudden, an American (or Canadian, etc.) worker and taxpayer and contributor becomes someone not to be trusted for no other reason than their employers, money managers and government leaders have been untrustworthy.
 

Bill Mattocks

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All of a sudden, an American (or Canadian, etc.) worker and taxpayer and contributor becomes someone not to be trusted for no other reason than their employers, money managers and government leaders have been untrustworthy.

I can certainly understand the ire, shame, and embarrassment felt by a person who has fallen on hard times in the manner you described.

But ultimately, we are giving them free money, with no conditions, and no requirement that it be paid back. That money comes from all of us who work in the form of taxes. As much as it might insult their dignity to ask them to prove they are not spending that money on drugs, it would insult my intelligence to ask me to accept that I have to give some of my hard-earned money to people who use it to get high instead of eat, feed their kids, bathe, buy clothes, and look for work.

So who has the rights here? The giver or the recipient? I don't feel quite as much pity for the welfare recipient being asked to pee in a cup when I think of the alternative - "Give us the money and don't you DARE question us about what we intend to do with it."

I mean frankly, what parent just gives their kid money because the kid demands it, and doesn't say "Now, what is this for again?" And that's voluntary giving - not being pried out of our pockets without our consent.
 

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I can certainly understand the ire, shame, and embarrassment felt by a person who has fallen on hard times in the manner you described.

I appreciate that. Never got to the point of welfare personally, but we lived pretty desperately for awhile after a double lay-off. Employment insurance exhausted. Constantly sending out resumes, doing odd bits of work. What saved us was not grit and bootstraps -- it was, frankly, an inheritance that permitted us to live comfortably and send me back to school, and, fortunately, into what has been a successful new career.

Like I said, if you can test a worker, a citizen, who has provided no cause for concern, then anybody can be tested.

What you said, Bill, about welfare being a handout. Yes, I agree. Sadly, that's all it is.
 

5-0 Kenpo

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This whole debate resolves around one central point: is State welfare a right or a privilege (not in the positive sense)?

If it is a right, then the government should have no basis to regulate whether someone who is recieving welfare is on illicit drugs or not.

If it is a privilege, then the government has every right to regulate who recieves it. If this were not the case, then what right would they have of even setting income limits?
 

CoryKS

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That's the thing though. It's degrading and unnecessary. It clearly implies that anyone with the temerity to fall on hard times must have criminal tendencies. As far as chasing away the truly deserving, it takes some self-respect to refuse to submit to that, which means some children are likely to go to bed hungry.

I have to disagree with this. It doesn't imply that those who request assistance must have criminal tendencies, it implies that some of those who request assistance may use drugs and that they want to exclude those individuals from receiving aid. If they thought everyone were criminals, they would forego the testing and decline them all.

There's nothing inherently degrading about taking a drug test. I had to take one when I started working at my company. It's nothing personal, they want to know that the programmers working on their systems aren't under the influence of illegal substances.

I don't see a problem with this policy - in fact, I wish they'd expand it to include the management teams of companies who apply for bailout money.
 

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For those who think that a drug screen for welfare is intrusive:

I invite each and every one of you to Southwest Georgia. I'm serious. If you could only see the way things are around here, you would change your minds in a quick-hurry.

People around here abuse the system, and it makes it hard for people who need the assistance to get the assistance that is offered. Assistance is offered to those who need it. I want someone to explain to me how it's fair that I live off of $60 a month for groceries while the jack-turds in my town that are currently on the welfare system go buy Jordans with their foodstamp card.

And, just in case you're wondering, yes, it makes a difference if even one person abuses the system. It makes the requirements that much harder to adhere to to qualify. I'm not willing to quit my job to accept government money, which is what many of the people around here do...they say that they're looking for other jobs, but all you have to do is fill out a form that says you looked for "x" amount of jobs for today...nobody checks it. Ever.

Why am I so angry about it???? Because I just started a family, thinking at the time that I was financially secure. But then, as the economy declined beyond the point of no-return while my wife was still pregnant, we realized that we were in over our heads. My wife was laid off from her job, and I'm in danger of being laid off from mine. We managed to get unemployment, but the people who processed it got the paperwork wrong, and didn't take taxes out on it, so now we owe the government even more money that they continue to take away from me, that I have no way of giving them.

To top all of that off, I'm told that I still make too much to qualify for food stamps, regardless of the fact that I now have 2 infants and a wife with no job, and the only "frivolous" bill that I have is an internet bill, which I need to do my job from home on occaision. All the while, the degenerates in my town are riding in their pimped out rides with full tanks of gas, buying their club outfits with foodstamp money, and laughing the whole way to the bank while they live at home with their momma at 35 years old.

Yeah, I have a HUGE problem with that.

So what if it implies that all people who need assistance are degerates? Do you even think I really care what anyone thinks about me at this point in the game, when I have to worry about how the hell I'm going to feed my kids the next day?? Yeah, let them think I'm a druglord kingpin. I don't really care. I'll piss in a cup all day to prove that I'm not, if that's what it takes, as long as I get the assistance that is offered.

If it offends you to pee in a cup to get government assistance, then I guess you need to check your priorties at the door. What is more important: being able to put food on the table, or having your pride hurt because someone might think poorly of you?

Test everyone. If you have a problem with getting tested, then don't apply for the assistance. Simple as that.

Actually my parents were married, and I'm a very nice person.

Sorry about that. I guess I would have lumped myself into the "bastard" category as well. That was my /facepalm moment of the day.
 

The Last Legionary

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Test them, and limit food stamps to, food.
Pay the electric, gas, water, phone and rent bills for them, automatically.

You don't need cable, a cell phone, etc.
Don't need beer. Don't need Lotto. Don't need $200 tennis shoes.

Go buy a used pair for $5 at Amvets or Goodwill, and shut up about it being "demeaning".

You aren't owned anything. This is a perk, not a right. SO shut up.

If they want to give you free money, they can set the rules and if you don't want to comply, you can go beg, go whore, go steal, go to private charity, or go find a job that will pay you. Shoveling **** isn't beneith you, sorting garbage isn't beneith you.

Stop thinking that you are owed a house, a car, food, shelter, and clothing. That's all earned. It's not the governments job to give it to you. It's certainly not my job to pay for it for you.

People need to suck it up and stand up for a change, and drop this entitlement crap.
 

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