CHARLIE MITCHELL: Drug tests don’t deter Mississippi’s freeloaders

Last year Mississippi lawmakers insisted it was essential to start drug-testing welfare applicants. “We must help them overcome their addictions,” was the altruistic reason.

Almost a year passed. Oops. Guess how many people out of 5,578 applicants have been “helped.”


And the “help,” of course, was to reject their applications for free money….

…The answer is not in the halls of the Legislature; it’s in the county offices. Caseworkers must be selected and empowered to counsel applicants and use their discretion about awarding benefits of all types. Formulaic approaches simply do not work because the leeches learn the formulas and how to skirt them. There must be penalties, serious penalties, for fraudulent applicants and, importantly, for those who profiteer on the backs of the poor through false Medicaid billing, charging to exchange SNAP benefits for cash, operating slum housing and assorted other methods.

What lawmakers can do is devote their time and attention to crafting job-friendly communities. Some may choose a lifestyle of dependence regardless, but it’s more likely that dependence is a default — a path chosen in the absence of opportunity or other alternatives.