Open Thread: Can a Free Market Support a Democratic Socialist Society?

In recent years, America has become increasingly socialized through a welfare state with entitlements seen as rights, mostly paid for by the rich through the redistribution of wealth. Such a state is seemingly the goal of President Obama and fellow liberal Democrats, who relish in the ideas of a more European-style centralized government.

Last week, many labeled the debt negotiations in Congress as a failure of the American political system, laying much of the blame on Tea Party Republicans who were reluctant to compromise on their principles. One of their main convictions was in cutting away unnecessary social programs, which have put an unsustainable burden on the economy. Do you think the US can continue to support socialized programs, or will socialization lead to the economic calamities currently seen across much of Europe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Americans, who are generally more resilient in resisting state infringement than Europeans, could have the wherewithal to bounce back from a downgraded credit rating, especially with the fiscally conservative Tea Party fighting for them in Congress. As Janet Daley explains in the Telegraph,

Contrary to what the Obama Democrats claimed, the face-off in Congress did not mean that the nation’s politics were “dysfunctional”. The politics of the US were functioning precisely as the Founding Fathers intended: the legislature was acting as a check on the power of the executive.

The Tea Party faction within the Republican party was demanding that, before any further steps were taken, there must be a debate about where all this was going. They had seen the future toward which they were being pushed, and it didn’t work. They were convinced that the entitlement culture and benefits programmes which the Democrats were determined to preserve and extend with tax rises could only lead to the diminution of that robust economic freedom that had created the American historical miracle.

The experience of Europeans should be an example to Americans. As many European countries attempt to sustain social democratic programs, they are finding that a capitalist economy can no longer support an ever-expanding social welfare state.

At the same time, citizens have come to expect the entitlements they have paid into their whole lives. Some politicians are finally realizing that social programs cannot last forever, especially with the wealthy already being taxed at exorbitant levels.

The frustrations against the Tea Party were rooted in the thinking that the US can continue supporting the welfare and entitlement programs at ever increasing rates as it has for the past 50 years. Instead, the frustration should be targeted against those who accept the idea that the broken programs will be sustainable much farther into the future.

To what extent do you think a free market economy can support social programs like welfare and entitlements? Do you think the US can continue supporting such programs?

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