WELFARE PROGRAMS may well be the most unpopular of all government initiatives. They are criticized by the social scientists who observe their effects, disdained by the taxpayers who pay the bills, and generally unappreciated by many of the people who go through the bureaucratic process required to collect the benefits. Yet, governmental support programs are as old as human civilization—with an ages-old realization that rulers have an obligation to look out for the welfare of the governed. The Bible teaches Paul's injunction to “do good to all men” by helping those in need by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, healing the sick.

Today, not all governments acknowledge such obligations. Canada and Denmark have wide-ranging social welfare legislation. Britain's National Health Service provides ...

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