ON-Lion Letter
Last year, the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., hosted a conference on "Europe's Crisis and the Welfare State:  Lessons for the United States."  The Spring/Summer 2013 issue of the Cato Journal features 12 articles based on the conference papers.

"The heavy debt burdens of Greece and other European welfare states are the result of profligate entitlement spending and a lack of fiscal discipline," according to Cato Journal editor James A. Dorn in an introductory note.  "Both explicit debt and massive unfunded liabilities in pay-as-you-go social welfare programs must be resolved if Europe is to achieve long-run prosperity.

"When people become accustomed to welfare and form an entitlement mentality, there is an ever-growing demand for more benefits, resulting in higher taxes and slower growth," Dorn continues.  "When the debt burden becomes unsustainable, as in Greece, present beneficiaries will take to the streets and exert political pressure to maintain the status quo.  The social and economic disruption is evident.

"The United States is facing its own debt problem, driven by the rising costs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, he writes.  "The unfunded liabilities of the federal government now exceed $100 trillion compared to an explicit gross public debt of nearly $17 trillion.  The so-called social contract between present and future generations cannot be sustained -- political promises will be broken.

"This special issue of the Cato Journal examines the influence of the welfare state on Europe's economic crisis, the reforms necessary to end that crisis, and the lessons America can learn."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supported the conference.
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