The Welfare State
The Welfare State
This volume must begin--and end--on the level of questioning. Are we living in a welfare state now? Or is it a threat to or promise for the future? Is it compatible with or contradictory to the free enterprise system? Can it exist in harmony with a free representative democracy, or is it in conflict with our way of political life? Does it impair or strengthen the full, creative development of the individual? Can we afford the welfare state, or can we afford not to afford it?
To these questions this volume is directed. Yet we must operate under a grave handicap. People of all shades of opinion can agree on the definition (if not the merit) of a labor union, the United Nations, or the tariff. No such agreement has been reached on the definition of the welfare state. The first section of this volume introduces a series of definitions, all offered in good faith by men of serious intent. Yet many of these definitions contradict each other.
The task, however, is certainly worth tackling. For there is one strong theme which runs through the many variations of the welfare state discussion. Stepping in where many others have not feared to tread, we might express the basic theme this way: How much shall government do for its citizens, and how much shall individuals do for themselves? In searching for the way to progress and the better life for all, at what point shall we divide self-reliance from over-all action by the elected government?
These are questions, it might be noted, which can be realistically raised only in the United States and a few other nations. For in many countries even today, the vast majority of people have never known anything but the barest minimum level of existence. "Welfare" to them consists of food and shelter for the next day.
In another category entirely are those many countries with limited resources, particularly those struck body blows by World War II