Many on the political left wish to emulate the social welfare state model of most of western Europe.
Under the incoming Obama administration I think it can be safely predicted that an attempt may well be made to implement sweeping changes in America to reach this goal, although this picture of the Obama economic team does cause me to wonder if such an attempt will be made.
Assuming that such an attempt is made however, is this desirable, even if it is doable? For a jaundiced view of the impact on the welfare state in Britain, especially on cultural mores, see this article. Of course we have seen much the same trends in the US over the years even with a smaller, in proportional terms, welfare system. Will greater dependence on government exacerbate these trends? Is it morally problematic to implement policies that cause people who have the ability to provide for themselves to increasingly rely on government services? Does such dependence lock many individuals into lives of perpetual adolescence, shunning any responsibility for their own actions? How do such government policies square with traditional Christian attitudes towards those able to work as reflected in Saint Paul’s admonition in Second Thessalonians, “For also when we were with you, this we declared to you: that, if any man will not work, neither let him eat.”? Does a universal welfare state take resources away from those who, through no fault of their own, cannot work by greatly expanding the number of people receiving benefits? Perhaps it would be a good idea to answer these questions before implementing policies to create a society where citizens will look first to the government, rather than themselves, as they make their way through life.