Last modified on December 29, 2023, at 08:50

Welfare state

The Welfare State is typically associated with rich nations such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan and many more. It is a variant of Socialism.

The welfare state is the package of benefits that the unemployed, sick or indigent population receive for free from the national government. These benefits typically include various forms of National Health Care, wherein health care, hospital treatment and medications are provided free of charge by the State; unemployment benefits that a basic income for the unemployed, and other benefits.


The welfare state was originally designed by European traditionalists, such as Otto von Bismark in Germany and Winston Churchill in Britain, to head off State Capitalist proposals to regulate and tax industry.

New Deal

The welfare programs in the U.S. are distinctly smaller and less costly than in Europe. They were first set up by the New Deal in the 1930s, especially Social Security and unemployment insurance. Medicare and Medicaid were added in 1965. Republican President George W. Bush added a major drug benefit in 2002.


The major U.S. welfare reduction came in 1996, when President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (the leading conservative of the era), formed a coalition to pass the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. It ended the generous benefits to welfare mothers and require them to take jobs. The change enacted were implemented and reauthorized during the Bush administration. They involved the move away from cash assistance and toward social services or work activity assistance.[1]

The reductions of 1996 ended the AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and radically changed the US welfare system. Tighter restrictions were placed on the eligibility and manner of receiving public aid in order to discourage families (mainly single, divorced, or widowed mothers with children)[2] from remaining idle (outside of the work force). For instance, recipients are required to find employment within two years of receiving aid, and a single family could receive aid for a total of five years. If a mother gives birth to a child while on public assistance, states are allowed to establish "family caps" in order to deny further benefits the family may have been eligible for before the reform.[3] Legal immigrants have also been made ineligible for any Social Security Income (SSI).[4][5]

The concept of "charitable choice" was part of the comprehensive law of 1996 which advocates called “welfare reform.” Its goal is the inclusion of religious organizations ("faith-based-organizations") into the public welfare system. The new role of religious organizations as social service providers – which is in line with the fundamentally charitable nature of faith – goes along with a shift in ideas of social inequality and deviant behavior in terms of having not only structural and economic but also behavioral and moral reasons for faith-based organizations to handle welfare.[6]

The leading conservative opponent in the U.S. is Charles Murray.

Quotes about the Welfare State

For a more detailed treatment, see Essay:Conservative quotes on American patriotism, preparedness, firearms and religion.

  • "Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone." -- Frederic Bastiat
  • “But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” – Frederic Bastiat, The Law
  • "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy…"—Alexander Fraser Tytler, Scottish lawyer and writer, 1770
  • "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." – C. S. Lewis
  • "There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him." - Robert Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
  • "In politics, few talents are as richly rewarded as the ability to convince parasites that they are victims. Welfare states on both sides of the Atlantic have discovered that largesse to losers does not reduce their hostility to society, but only increases it. Far from producing gratitude, generosity is seen as an admission of guilt, and the reparations as inadequate compensation for injustices – leading to worsening behavior by the recipients." - Dr. Thomas Sowell

See also

External links

Further reading

  • Murray, Charles. In Our Hands : A Plan To Replace The Welfare State (2006) excerpt and text search
  • Trattner, Walter I. From Poor Law to Welfare State: A History of Social Welfare in America (6th ed. 1998), standard scholarly history excerpt and text search


  1. Scott W. Allard, "The Changing Face of Welfare During the Bush Administration," Publius: the Journal of Federalism 2007 37(3): 304-332 in EBSCO
  2. [1]
  3. Washington Post
  4. Cornell University Law School
  5. [2]
  6. Alexander-Kenneth Nagel, "Charitable Choice: the Religious Component of the US-welfare-reform - Theoretical and Methodological Reflections on "Faith-based-organizations" as Social Service Agencies," Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 2006 53(1): 78-111,
  7. Dr. Carson says Black Americans Must Reject the Welfare State. Tea Party Crusaders, Accessed January 22, 2015.