Many people have debated if welfare spending is worthwhile. One side argues that welfare payments are not large enough to provide what is needed to meet the peoples’ needs for a month. The other side argues that welfare payments are often spent frivolously on unnecessary and illegal spending. An effective way to address both concerns would be to pay welfare recipients more money if they are drug tested. This would ensure that welfare payments are not used to buy drugs, removing one of the main objections that taxpayers have for the proposal to increase welfare payments.

Some people may object that requiring drug testing for additional welfare payments would encroach on personal rights. However, this issue can be bypassed by making the drug testing process voluntary for an increase in welfare payments as it would not cause people to do something they do not want to do. Having individuals volunteer to be drug tested for additional welfare would allow the government to continue to support those in need of assistance and not be unreasonable by taking away this support system already in place. This also does not violate anyone’s personal freedom by forcing them to take a drug test and disqualifying them for their government assistance.

For those on welfare the average family of four receives $900 a month in government assistance. My proposal calls for money to be reallocated within the welfare system so the government does not have to pump additional funds into the welfare budget to support those who are willing to be drug tested. This is accomplished by lowering the base payment to all welfare recipients, by 20% to generate a pool of money to be distributed to welfare recipients in additional income.

With the new income, all participating welfare receivers gain the support they need from the government but now the taxpayers can have more confidence that the extra payments are spent on necessities. By having people volunteer for drug testing, those who use drugs will not get tested and their personal rights will not be stepped on while still giving some government assistance. For those who pass a drug test they would receive additional money each month to provide for their family’s needs.

With today’s welfare system large amounts of the governments’ funds can be misspent due to the freedom of spending welfare recipients have. The option of having drug testing for additional welfare payments implements a plan to ensure that current welfare funds are used in a more effective way by making the receivers more accountable for their new income.

Jake deLinde is a University of Central Arkansas student of regular columnist Joe McGarrity, a professor of microeconomics at the university. This submitted column has been reviewed and revised by McGarrity. These submitted pieces add an economic viewpoint to the issues of our day. Send comments and responses to