Drugs, Welfare and Bad Math

After I was offered a position with my current employer in January 2015, the human resource department made clear to me that the offer was contingent on three things: first, my ability to pass a background check; second, a worthy credit history; and third, my passing a drug screening. In fact, the majority of my employers over the years have required that I pass a drug screening before they were willing to have me as a part of their team. Drug testing has become commonplace in today’s professional world. Whether the starting wage is $9.00 an hour and you’re mopping floors or $85,000 a year and you’re managing a sales team, drug testing is a predictable element of the screening process for companies across the globe. So it’s surprising to me that there is so much deliberation when it comes to states electing to drug test welfare recipients.
North Carolina is one of those states and earlier this month the state released the results from tests they’d performed between August and December of 2015. The numbers go like this:
Welfare applicants and recipients: 7,600
Referred for drug testing: 159
No shows: 70
Actually tested: 89
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 68
It remains unclear how the state chose the 159 that were referred for drug testing, with one caveat: those individuals who had been convicted of a felony within the three years before they applied for benefits were automatically referred. Others were referred following a “screening” process by social workers. The mechanics of that “screening” process are murky but took into account prior drug use. What the numbers show are that 23.6% of those individuals tested received a positive result. Here’s the math:
21 is P% of 89

Equation: Y = P% * X

Solving for P

P% = Y/X
P% = 21/89
p = 0.236

P% = 0.236 * 100 = 23.6%
Pretty simple, right? Except that’s not how many (most) people (liberals) are interpreting the results based on these headlines:
Wait. What?
Didn’t we just determine that nearly 25% of North Carolina’s welfare recipients use drugs? Yes, yes we did. But liberal math is apparently different from, ugh…math?

Here is how the liberal media did their math to support their headlines and their subsequent drivel.

21 is P% of 7600

Equation: Y = P% * X

Solving for P

P% = Y/X
P% = 21/7600
p = 0.0028

P% = 0.0028 * 100 = 0.28%
See what they did there? Completely disregarded were the 159 people who were actually required to test. And the 89 people who actually showed up to be tested? Those people were disregarded, too. Instead, they looked at the 7,600 welfare applicants and decided that only 21 of those people used drugs. Based on that logic, the math assumed that the 7,532 who were not tested were drug free. And if I am using that same logic in reverse, and I assume that the only drug free welfare recipients were the 68 people who showed up and tested negative, then the number of positive tests jumps to 99.11%.
Not fair, right?
No, it’s not fair and it’s certainly not accurate.
You don’t get to pick and choose the numbers to make the stats work for you. The fact remains that of the 89 people tested, nearly one quarter of those people tested positive for drugs. Do with that information what you will, but that’s it. End of story.
If I am being honest, I don’t know exactly how I feel about drug testing recipients of public aid. What I do know, however, is that liberal math is shaky, at best. If you have to lie to support your position on an issue, perhaps you should reevaluate your position altogether.

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