The moral environment of entitlement
I seem to recall some psychological studies in the not-too-distant past charting this phenomenon: people tend to set their rules of fair play in line with the general environment they perceive around them. If everybody else is cashing in, they feel it would be foolish not to; if they think everyone else is cheating, the individual's fidelity to the rules suffers.
It seems to be a fusion of emotional reaction (nobody will make a chump out of me!) and rational self-interest (if everyone else is getting a lollipop, why should I be the odd man out?) coupled with the sense that people who work hard "deserve" various entitlements. The trick for the statist is to build the sense that everyone is entitled to these things; as long as the middle class perceives it is being taken advantage of by dependents, there can be an 80s-style backlash. But when you get the middle class hooked on "free" stuff, your mega-State is secure... because they aren't really the "middle class" any more.