(WALL STREET JOURNAL)
By Nicholas Eberstadt
In President Obama's second inaugural address, he not only outlined an ambitious agenda for his second term but also seemed intent on shutting down debate about the social-welfare state and its impact on American life.
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"The commitments we make to each other—through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security—these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us," Mr. Obama said. "They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great." In other words, the president is tired of listening to critics of America's entitlement programs, and as far as he is concerned, the discussion is now over.
It is not over—and won't be anytime soon, because the country's social-welfare spending is generating severe and mounting hazards for the nation. These hazards are not only fiscal but moral.
A growing body of empirical evidence points to increasing dependency on state largess. The evidence documents as well a number of perverse and disturbing changes that this entitlement state is imposing on society.