In a virtuous and practical community or civilization, or broadly any environment where people are competing and endeavoring to survive, the natural course is both intuitive and logical, one generally served by man's instincts: that course is the pursuit of sustained life by all practical (and, insofar as possible, ethical) means. Any arrangement which seeks to modify the natural condition, which seeks to renegotiate man's inherent responsibilities, or to redistribute the product of his labor, presents not only a distortion of incalculable risk, but a virtually unlimited number of violations of law and ethics.
Any such distortion, therefore, presents the distinct threat of decadence, lethargy, or even social ruin. For this reason, it is incumbent upon any and all who seek to renegotiate the terms of life, liberty, and property, who intend to defy instinct and nature, to strictly enumerate those impositions and the standards by which success and failure are to be measured (and declared); to determine their risks, limitations and assumptions; to ascertain the possibility of failure and potential consequences; and to honestly account for the costs, both quantitative and qualitative, attending their implementation.
One such example of this kind of distortion is the welfare state, which, through subsidy, redistribution, moral hazard, the transference of risk, and the artifice of non-actuarial contracts and non-economic transactions, supports lives, customs, incentives, habits, and traits not suited for fruitful living, continued survival, or independence. This means that these will, not through their own merit or proven effect, but through artifice, not only project those non-viable traits into the future, but incentivize more of the same, and only more extreme; that, in order to sustain this arrangement for any longer, further distortions will inevitably be necessary until the ultimate conclusion of decadence, lethargy, and social ruin.
There are precious few instances of such distortions which are more dangerous than the those which seek to renegotiate the terms of survival, the immutable necessities of life, the fixed laws of the land, and the costs and tradeoffs attending each of them. This is why we ought, without exception, to be honest and truthful about the risks and the results. These facts are often not easy to accept, to reconcile, or to swallow, and they often challenge the ambitions of dreamers, designers, and opportunists, but they demand just as much appreciation as the laws of physics. The risks attending acknowledgment of the truth may be high, but the risks of ignoring it are far higher.
As stated, the welfare state presents a whole host of distortions to the human condition and the social order. Its ramifications reverberate indefinitely into the future, inevitably coming into conflict with reality, the truth and those who seek it along with their independence. Indeed, the costs of living serve not merely as a burden to be carried, but as a representation of reality and the demands to be met in order to survive and succeed; and insofar as those demands are met through one's own merits, his qualities shall endure to ensure the best chance of survival for posterity. Where these qualities are dishonored or inadequately rewarded, where the fruits are to be enjoyed not by merit but by circumstances or resourcelessness, the distortion will inevitably discourage production and initiative; it will penalize creativity and innovation; and there there will ultimately be less product to enjoy, not only by the few but the many.
In the modern context, it has been through the Marxist maxim, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, that the capitalists and innovators have been vilified and the destitute and, to a lesser degree, employees have been celebrated; all because of political ambitions and the defiance of economic truth.
The truth is that it is only through savings and scaled production, accomplished through economic efficiencies and labor-saving devices, that capital increases and new enterprises are possible. Contrary to the socialist myths, insofar as the capitalist increases his absolute share of the total production, the absolute and proportional share of the total production going to the laborer will also increase. It turns out that the socialist is so confused that he has it entirely backwards. Indeed, it is the capitalist, not the laborer, who stands to benefit least in proportion to the increase in total production; ironically, it is in the opposite case, where capital is decreased, that the laborer stands to suffer most.
It was the French economist Frédéric Bastiat who so neatly summarized this phenomenon: "In proportion as capital is accumulated, the absolute shares of the total production going to the capitalist increases, and the proportional share going to the capitalist decreases; both the absolute and proportional share of the total production going to the laborer increases. The reverse of this happens when capital is decreased."
It therefore defies not only truth and real progress, but the best interest of the many, to overhaul or reimagine the natural state of human action. It stands not only to ignore reality and the truth, but to obscure it from posterity and to leave them unprepared to manage it into the future.
Indeed, any social arrangement (or system) which artificially suppresses the cost of living for any person, or class of persons, is bound to inadvertently yield a measure of undesirables, in the form of unaccountable, deluded takers and psychological, behavioral traits which are thereby increasingly likely to be passed on to subsequent generations of growing numbers of (entitled) expectants. Any shortfall to those expectants will then be characterized as oppressive, inequitable or evil while the mechanism which caused this outcome eludes scrutiny to instead increase in size, reach and power.
The most insidious of these effects is the distortion over the organic cost of living, which naturally proves to filter out those non-viable human qualities that are unfit for the given environment at the given time. This is planet earth's way of communicating what works and what doesn't. It's not an opinion, a value or moral judgment, nor is it an appeal to ethics; it is purely the ante to play on this planet.
And though this may at times appear unfair or cumbersome, the terms of personal responsibility are negotiated at that same level; not on the level of social obligation or what one imagines he deserves, but how one might structure his own life for his own personal betterment. Anything beyond this feedback loop serves merely to obfuscate the deadly serious truth of one's existence, to imagine some fantastical fairy tale which establishes a more abstract form of life.
Indeed, any such distortion relieves the individual, or class, of personal responsibility for his or her own survival, irrevocably confounding the calculus of life by which individuals commit to change or accept death; or in some cases even consider suicide or self-sabotage, at one's own expense. In this case, the mechanism reduces to near-zero the real costs of living, enabling the individual and his unsuited traits to survive into a space in time which exists ever-starkly at odds with them; which leaves his heirs woefully unequipped for the demands and difficulties of life. Meanwhile, the impetus for change, death or suicide in the alternative case, is displaced by a comfortable standard of living maintained by still others, many of whom are living beneath that standard, assumed responsible for those undesirables: undesirables whose very next breaths are made the responsibility of decent and hard-working people who don't even know them; undesirables who therefore sense no obligation to a faceless entity providing for their survival.
So, instead of permitting those individuals, and their traits, to perish as they might along their natural course, the system coercively employs measures, resources and other people to sustain them (the undesirables) and their traits; individuals who would otherwise be compelled to adapt or perish, and traits that would otherwise endure with the benefit of adaptation or perish along with the person. Wherever that person shall succeed only by the grace of others without any reciprocal obligation, wherever that individual would have otherwise failed to survive without continued aid, he and his traits survive unsustainably into the future in the form of his heirs (and those whom he has influenced along the way). This carries into the future individuals predisposed to similar outcomes, lacking the necessary discipline and appreciation for life; assuming little to no responsibility for themselves or their own; and even, in some cases, responding rationally to that system which offers ease and convenience while insulating them from the demands of life on earth.
Consequently the infection metastasizes, spawning a vicious cycle of dependency and negligence which replaces genuine charity with a faceless machine of hand-outs, depriving the dependent of that soul-searching impetus for adaptation and soul-searching which originates from that sense of obligation to the donor. Instead of devoting oneself to ends that might justify the investment or pay it forward, the dependent collects benefits through a bureaucracy full of nine-to-five under-performers who have no interest in representing the taxpayers or maintaining accountability. Consequently the dependent is presented with a figure accompanied by a dollar sign on a balance summary, fully convinced that he is entitled to those funds and that he must do everything in his power to defy his better instincts, whatever remains of them, to avoid anything (namely work) which might disqualify him from continued benefits. Indeed, the dependent may even convince himself that he has even earned that income, and that he is a victim. He does this in order to manage the guilt of being a parasite.
Ultimately, without the personal or tangible feedback loop, that starvation for the necessities of life, the dependent is deprived of the forces which might compel change. Instead, he is coddled into complacency, convinced of that victimhood narrative, and deprived of the skills and the appetite for self-sufficiency and independence. In fact, the dependent is discouraged from working in the welfare state. Indeed, where he should endeavor to become productive, that first dollar of earned income could ironically prove to be his most expensive decision, as he would then be disqualified from some or all of those benefits, while sacrificing the unlimited vacation time and the other advantages attending a life free of work and responsibility.
In a space where work and wealth are vilified and "victims" are celebrated, and where the latter has become far more readily attainable, expect always a wide range of support from and for those who endorse that arrangement and stand to personally benefit from it; and expect still greater numbers to pour into these ranks to get their hands on that which (they believe) is rightfully theirs.
In the fury of all of this, freedom will yield to free stuff, which of course comes as no surprise. After all, free stuff is always more enticing than the challenges of a free life. And while freedom recedes, the masses will lose their appreciation for it; they will also continue to relinquish it for the benefits guaranteed in return.
Inevitably, the expanding bureaucracy will grow beyond control, becoming progressively more onerous and hostile in order to meet its guarantees. What's more, it will be met with an increasingly-illiterate electorate, at least as measured by critical thought and their intolerance for any thought beyond bumper stickers or 140 characters.
In the end, the rational being will be left to swim against the currents of the new conventions, to ignore the noise, to overcome the peer pressure, to flea from hypnosis and ultimately escape from tyranny. While the devolution proceeds, it will no doubt continue under the banner of progress or some twisted iteration of the motto from The Three Musketeers: all for none, and one for all.