I've always been fascinated by the differences between charity and government-provided welfare entitlements. There are many practical differences, of course, including the eternal left-wing contention that voluntary charity can never adequately provide for the needs of the destitute, so an immense system of compulsory welfare is required. There are important conceptual differences, too, and the big ones are contained within two words from the previous two sentences: "compulsory" and "entitlement."
The welfare state has absolutely exploded over the past few years, capping off decades of spirited growth. To describe programs such as SNAP (i.e. food stamps) as part of a "social safety net" is laughable. As Daniel Payne notes at The Federalist today, 20 percent of American households are now enrolled in SNAP. That's not a safety net - it's the foundation of an entirely separate society. And the upper edges of Food Stamp Nation now extend well into the formerly independent Middle Class. The end game for American socialism was never a society in which pure Takers dominate indentured Makers, endlessly voting themselves the largess of the federal treasury, because they've got a 51 percent or better majority. Instead, it's about creating a hybrid class of Takers who are also Makers - people who see themselves as highly productive taxpaying members of society, but who are dependent on government wealth transfer programs to make ends meet.