Read RBC Bloggers, Avoid Bad Public Policies

Florida’s initiative to drug test welfare recipients has turned out to be a disaster. The programme resulted in more rather than less spending while violating the privacy of people who had done nothing wrong (unless you consider it a crime to be poor).

Q: How could Florida policy makers have known in advance that their initiative would fail?

A: They could have read Harold Pollack or yours truly.

Just sayin’

h/t: Ed Kilgore.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

4 thoughts on “Read RBC Bloggers, Avoid Bad Public Policies”

  1. What is this “policy” you’re talking about? Republican legislators don’t need no stinkin’ policies!

  2. From Miller-McCune:

    “When Pollack and several colleagues produced the first nationally representative data, they found that 10 percent of welfare recipients in 1994 and 1995 had used an illicit drug in the previous year, not counting marijuana, and 4 percent met the diagnostic screening criteria for illicit drug dependence.”

    I’d have guessed, based on nothing but so-called common sense, that 10-20 percent of welfare recipients might be drug users of some kind, which is actually what the good professor Pollack’s study found.

    Florida’s rate in the screening was actually much lower.

  3. In the same way that the GOP and conservative policies are frequently anti-science, they are also often anti-data.

    Since the GOP sees poverty as a moral failing rather than a circumstantial condition, they regard anyone who might need welfare assistance as irresponsible with their own lives. The natural extension of this logic is that welfare recipients must be on drugs, or they would fix up their lives and just get rich already.

    Even when the data prove that most (9 out of 10) welfare recipients are not drug users, the GOP still believe in the “poverty is a moral failing” framework, and so seem to dismiss perfectly legitimate evidence.

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