I do find the difference in views of the Welfare State very interesting. Leaving aside personal views as to which view is 'right', I'm realising there's a fundamental difference in our cultures there. For British people the Welfare State IS part of the 'British Dream' if there is such a thing. After the depression years of the 20's/30's and the Second World War there was a huge movement here towards creating 'a better life, and a fairer world for our children', and free health treatment, old-age pensions, unemployment benefits, etc. were very much a part of that. And I would say that's true for most western European countries.
Thinking about it now I'm wondering whether it has to do with our history which was much more class-based and fundamentally unequal than in America. In previous centuries in Britain (and most of Europe) no amount of hard work could raise you from the working class or peasantry to the rich and powerful classes, you had to be born into them or tough luck. Hard work, determination and courage might help you survive, but it was virtually impossible to break out of your position in the class system. And that was still true to a great extent when I grew up in the 50's (some people would say it still is). Of course this is the very reason why so many people emigrated to America, to escape those restrictive systems
Of course there has always been a strong feeling here too that the state should only provide for people who genuinely deserve it and not for those who are just too lazy to work. But perhaps we're more used to the idea that people are not born equal, and that not everyone is going to make it, however many opportunities they get?
I'm also beginning to understand why the ideas of Marxism and even Socialism were so much more abhorrent to Americans than Europeans.
I'm not sure what I think about all this, but it's really got me thinking. I'm gonna have to go off and delve into the comparative history of Europe and the US. Wow, for a book club the ONBC sure gets me thinking about a lot of stuff other than books!
'Well, it's a little difficult for me to tell right now because I'm kind of having a bad day'