Good Ideas from America's Youth

CBS is reporting that 16-year-old Sacramento native, R.J. Feild, won an essay contest called "There oughta be a Law." He went to the State Capitol on Thursday to introduce the bill he co-authored:
Under his proposal AB 2389, all welfare recipients would be randomly drug tested. If they test positive, they would be offered help. But if they refuse to enter drug rehab, they would lose their benefits.
Feild was born to a mother on welfare who was using heroin, meth, cocaine, and alcohol during her pregnancy.

Personally, I see no problems with this legislation. Welfare is not a right, but a privilege, and as a result, someone who accepts it should be subject to regulation, even if it requires a waiver of traditional 4th amendment rights (which random drug testing would normally violate).

Every transfer payment from the government carries with it a danger of moral hazard: if a party carries less risk, a party may behave in a riskier manner. If you don't have to supply your own income, you may behave in ways that are detrimental to working; if you get free medical coverage, you may be likelier to engage in unhealthful activities; if the government bails you out when you make poor financial decisions, you may decide to continue making risky investments.

I would certainly support our welfare state more if it required some quid pro quo in the form of behavioral regulation, and random testing appears to be a viable way to accomplish that. Kudos, R.J.