Let me start out by saying that I think there needs to be some sort of social safety net for Americans who find themselves out of work or down on their luck.
However, I think the one we have now is far too generous and we've reached a point where too many Americans are far too eager suckle at the public teat and the easy availability of government assistance has caused a breakdown in societal and family ties.
Case in point: Former GOP Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts on "Fox News Sunday" this morning discussing the possible extension of unemployment insurance to 99-weeks (again, for going on 5 years):
We have done it before. We did it -- it will probably pass, the three-month proposal put forth by Reid and Heller is something that will move forward. But as a Republican, I made proposals to just find a way to pay for it. Happy to help. My mom is on welfare. [emphasis added]
Really? The mother of a former U.S. senator whose net worth two years ago was estimated between $314,652 and $1,927,614? (And it would be decidedly atypical if his income as a former senator went down after leaving office.) Is he really not helping his needy mother out? If he is, is she not reporting that income to continue receiving aid from taxpayers?
Prior to FDR's New Deal and its extension under LBJ's Great Society, churches, mutual aid societies and families were the social units that helped out those down on their luck. Government takeovers through various welfare programs have largely caused mutual aid societies to cease to exist, and churches are no longer seen by many as a primary source of help to the needy. (Test: Commission a poll to gauge awareness of SNAP, Obamaphones, etc. vs. the term "mutual aid society" and see if most of the public even knows what the latter are/were.)
Now, the family unit is no longer a bedrock societal building block. It's one thing if you're talking about a minimum wage, part-time employee at McDonald's being unable to help out a sibling or parent who doesn't have a job, but it's something completely different when you've got a former U.S. senator of substantial means who is unwilling to help his own mother.
Instead of creating a safety net where the government is the last resort of the needy, it is the first resort. Government, then church, then the wealthy will help out their own family if the first two somehow fail.