Paul Krugman takes issue with the idea that "turning to the welfare state is a dead end." Depends. But an anti-"welfare-state" attitude certainly doesn't make much sense at a time when our economy is getting less, not more, secure.
... The traditional accoutrements of a good job — a defined-benefit pension plan, a good health-care plan — have been going away across the board.
Every time you read someone extolling the dynamism of the modern economy, the virtues of risk-taking, declaring that everyone has to expect to have multiple jobs in his or her life and that you can never stop learning, etc,, etc., bear in mind that this is a portrait of an economy with no stability, no guarantees that hard work will provide a consistent living, and a constant possibility of being thrown aside simply because you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And nothing people can do in their personal lives or behavior can change this. Your church and your traditional marriage won’t guarantee the value of your 401(k), or make insurance affordable on the individual market.
So here’s the question: isn’t this exactly the kind of economy that should have a strong welfare state? ...Paul Krugman, Economics and Politics
There is another side to this. Reading Krugman's post made me think about the era of the most solid of economies, where jobs were many and far more secure than they are now (example: joining IBM in the mid-'60's).
But there were still people who didn't want a lifetime job then, as there are now They were willing to accept some risk in return for more creative, rewarding work. These risk-takers, as we know, often turn out to be significant benefactors of our society. What good was it to keep healthcare, for example, beyond their reach during their leanest times? Or anyone's reach? Did that somehow improve their character, make things better for the rest of us?