This is one of those touchy subjects and incredibly difficult to write about; I am not even sure what specific position to take due to the complexitites of the issues, so bear me out and add some comments to help me clarify my own thoughts.
On the front and outside visage, I do not inherently believe in giving money to drug addicts. To this point, I will use my change to buy milk, yogurt, cereal, etc. for some one who needs money for food, but will not give them the money directly in the event it might be used for drugs.
I will gladly donate to a food bank and often volunteer at a food bank. I will work in a soup kitchen to feed the homeless. I have helped give out UN Food Drop Food in a third world country…..there is not much I wouldn’t do to help some one in need of nutrition. Sometimes the people receiving UN food, would drink village brew, often beyond potent and over a period of time, deadly. I always tried to hand the food directly to the children when possible . Somehow, kids inherently have a better sensibility about equity of distribution.
On the other side of all of this, public assistance (WIC, Food Stamps,unemployment, etc.) is given to adults who are responsible for children and we all hope the adults are using the money correctly. I once read an article about a school ( I believe it was in TX or NM or S. CA) that sent home a bag of groceries over the weekend for kids they knew would not have anything to eat over the weekend since the school was closed. I commend those teachers, the school, the district for doing the right thing, the civil thing and making sure those kids were fed.
Since my undergrad studies were Speech Pathology with an emphasis in neurobiology, I understand drugs as an addiction and teach students why our brains may choose certain atoms, molecules, substances over oxygen, to the point we may poison our body (suffocate our brain, break the filters in the liver and kidneys) and die. At the same time I understand the biological underpinnings of drug abuse, I also know we have the psychology and science in the 21st Century to help addicts turn it around, before it is too late and always advocate for people to get help, especially when children are involved.
Personally, I have a high pain tolerance and so medication/drugs do not work for me – they actually make me worse. After major surgery a couple years ago, I had to beg the nurse to not give me any more pain killers and even after saying I was fine, they wanted me to take something as they could not believe I could not feel the pain…..the medical staff was extremely compassionate, to a fault, however, I know that the fuzzy head was worse than the pain. Suffice it to say I probably have a “lifetime supply” of Vicodin from the one prescription given to me leaving the hospital. Every now and again I love a good beer, cider, glass of wine, some whiskey (great on vanilla ice cream with chocolate crumbles). I have brewed beer and mead. I know the beauty of bacteria decomposing sugar and excreting a wonderful substance. Once, while having to take Flagyll (high dosage) to kill a group of visitors I brought home from a third world country, I used medical marijuana for 7 seven days – but this was after begging my father (a pharmacist) to tell me where to get the suppository or IV form of Flagyll and trying the eponymous Coke Syrup from a friend who worked at McDonalds bled some off for me and not being able to keep down water. So, I am not an “innocent”. I am addicted to dark chocolate and good coffee and all manner of carbohydrates, not necessarily at the same time.
So, you see, I have a fair balance of information on both sides and do not ever support letting a child starve or go thirsty.
What causes me consternation in the extreme is how to mediate between giving some one money, which under the best of intentions is to feed them and the children in their care, and control its use so it is strictly for that purpose. I know food stamps must be used for food items (unfortunately some items allowed I do not consider all that nutritional), although food can be traded for other goods/services. WIC goes to the mother, whom I would hope has the best interest of her children at heart, although drugs often prevent this clarity.
What do we do if the adult “in charge” is on drugs once we deny the monetary benefits? Do we remove the children and get the adult medical assistance? Do we test the kids – there has been an upswing in parents drugging their kids as drugs make you less hungry? How do we make sure that kids are being fed, clothed, housed and educated when our economy is messed up – we can barely do it when the economy is fine? What is in the best interest of children and our community at large?
How do we reconcile our conscience with what is best – the conundrum of right vs. correct?
My immediate, gut reaction is it seems so right to deny the benefits to people who can not pass a drug test as it would seem to “force” them to seek help. I am not so sure this is the only solution (probably not yet an answer). And so, as I digest the pros and cons and listen to the people running government hash it out, I discuss with family and friends and think and meditate. California is one of the States on the list considering what to do with benefits.