Why do we have a welfare state and what are its consequences for ordered liberty?
Thirty years after the arrival of the Reagan Revolution was thought to have ushered in the end of the New Deal era, 16 years after the Gingrich Revolution arrived in Washington to continue the job, and 14 years after President Bill Clinton capitulated in “ending welfare as we know it,” Americans find themselves on the cusp of a vast expansion of their welfare state to near-European dimensions. Liberals understandingly revel in their good fortune while it lasts, while conservatives are bewildered: “What happened?”
Forward to William Voegeli’s
Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State (2010)
The fiscal crises of European welfare states and American cities such as Detroit have served as a cautionary tale for American public policy and have posed a dramatic backdrop for recent books such as Sam Gregg’s Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future (Encounter Books, 2013) and Daniel Hannan’s Why America Must Not Follow Europe (Encounter Broadsides, 2011) as well as policy conferences, such as CATO’s 2012 “Europe’s Crisis and the Welfare State: Lessons for the United States.”
With the rollout of Obamacare now underway, the prospects for restraining the American welfare state in the name of limited government and federalism look increasingly dim.
The Philadelphia Society’s fall 2014 meeting will seek to understand why, when the evidence of failure—from dependency to fiscal insolvency—abounds, the welfare state retains its hold in national policy. We will examine the European origins of the welfare state; consider the intellectual influences that shaped the growth of welfarism in America; look at some of the latest data on the consequences of welfare policy; and debate whether conservatism can offer principles and policies that might effectively limit the welfare state.
**Meetings of The Philadelphia Society are for members and invited guests only. For more information, please contact us.**