Adams County Supervisors
would like to lend their expertise to the restructuring and success of the
Natchez-Adams Public School District. Supervisors met in open meeting
recently to discuss their distaste for the public school leadership.
Last summer's Ferguson, Missouri,
disturbances revealed that while blacks were 67 percent of its population,
only three members of its 53-officer police force were black. Some might
conclude that such a statistic is evidence of hiring discrimination.
The Miss-Lou’s breaking news:
Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick announces re-election
bid. Adams County and Concordia Parish jobs picture improves dramatically.
Adams and Wilkinson counties will apply together for federal funding through
the TIGER discretionary program.
The Advice Goddess:
He met a woman, and they hit it off
like wildfire. It seemed everything she said and did was perfect. In six
months, then they were engaged. She and her four kids moved in with he and
his two kids. Here's what happened next.
Terry Savage on money:
According to last year's report from the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, raising a child is a costly proposition. The
USDA estimated that a child born in 2013 will cost the average family about
$245,000 -- before college!
McAllister on health:
When anyone asks, I always say I am
nowhere near my prime, which I hope I only reach the day before I die. These
thoughts are echoed in the book by Jane Fonda, "Prime Time." Fonda says her
70s are the best years of her life.
Thomas Sowell thinking clearly:
Iraq was in fact ours to lose, after U.S. troops vanquished Saddam Hussein's
army and took over the country. Today, we seem to be in the process of
losing Iraq, if not to ISIS, then to Iran, whose troops are in Iraq fighting
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Tourists and pilgrims welcome:
Summertime and the weather is nice and
warm. It's the perfect time to visit Natchez, Vidalia and Ferriday to sample
Southern history and culture.
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More good writing:
Read more local news on
www.natchezsunxpress.com. Columnists Michael Barone, Michelle Malkin, Amy
Alkon and Dr. Rallie McAllister also contribute their latest features.
State’s plan to ‘help druggies’
by Charlie Mithchell
Last year Mississippi
lawmakers insisted it was essential to start drug-testing welfare
applicants. “We must help them overcome their addictions,” was the
Almost a year passed. Oops. Guess how many
people out of 5,578 applicants have been “helped.” Eight.
the “help,” of course, was to reject their applications for free money.
Mississippi was not alone in its noble quest. Well
over half the states have considered drug-testing applicants for assorted
benefits. Nearly two dozen states passed laws. Mississippi’s was modeled
Results nationwide mirror the experience here: The
screenings have cost more than they saved.
Truth be told, these laws were not about helping
druggies. Not at all.
They were a legislative response to rising tension
between working-class America and an increasingly visible class of citizens
who, in polite terms, are leeches.
This latter group games public and private
charities for handouts. Happy with sustenance-level lives (and sometimes a
bit better than sustenance), these folks receive free food, free housing,
free health care, free utilities (including cell phones), pocket money and
The image is that these folks sit on their porches
swilling beer (or smoking pot) and laugh at suckers who show up for jobs and
Working people are angry. Their view is that their
jobs in construction, farming, manufacturing or stocking the shelves at the
grocery store are barely enough to keep them and their families fed. Having
to cough up taxes for leeches who never worry about the cost of a doctor
visit or how much electricity they use is infuriating.
An elite element of American society ignores this
situation and the tensions it creates. Many politicians relay on the culture
of dependency for re-election.
That’s not healthy.
But it’s equally unhealthy for lawmakers to respond
with broad answers and empty solutions that cater to prejudices.
In Mississippi, one program was targeted for drug
screenings. It is TANF, which stands for Temporary Assistance to Needy
Families. TANF is one of the smaller programs — paling in comparison to SNAP
(food stamps), Medicaid or Unemployment.
The benefit for a family of three is $170 per month. (That’s about
$1.90 per day per recipient. Just guessing, but that may not buy a lot of
The law went into effect last July 1. In turn, the
state chose a questionnaire created by the SASSI Institute (Substance Abuse
Subtle Screening Inventory) to be completed by all applicants. (According to
the Mississippi Center for Justice, the institute says its test should not
be used as a general screening tool, but SASSI provided training and has
accepted state payments of $2 per test.)
Of the 5,578 TANF applicants (Mississippi has
720,000 residents living below the federal poverty line), the screenings
indicated 74 were likely druggies. The state paid $43 each for their drug
tests and, through April, eight tested positive. That’s between one and two
tenths of one percent.
The cost of the screening applications and drug
tests totals $21,846, which the Mississippi Center for Justice correctly
ciphers as enough to pay one month of benefits to 129 families.
Other states have had similar results.
To the argument that some may now self-select
against applying because they know drug tests will knock them off the
eligibility list, there’s this: The number of applications year-to-year has
where is the solution? How does a state really help the truly needy while
discouraging the leeches?
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.
What’s clear — and supported by evidence — is that
while, “We’ll drug-test ’em,” may have won applause from the working class
in a campaign speech, it hasn’t changed reality.
Freeloaders are still at it with little to fear.
Exploiting the poor continues, too. A law that was supposed to “help,” has
Charlie Mitchell is a
Mississippi journalist. Write to him at