Here's Robert Samuelson on the idea of public benefits:
People who wonder what America's budget problem is ultimately about should look to Europe. In the streets of Dublin, Athens and London, angry citizens are protesting government plans to cut programs and raise taxes. The social contract is being broken. People are furious; they feel betrayed.
Modern democracies have created a new morality. Government benefits, once conferred, cannot be revoked. People expect them and consider them property rights. Just as government cannot randomly confiscate property, it cannot withdraw benefits without violating a moral code. The old-fashioned idea that government policies should serve the "national interest" has given way to inertia and squatters' rights.
To be precise, that wouldn't be a "new morality," that would be a new moral obligation (or duty) under the existing morality (or moralities). But it really isn't that anyway, as those obligations form part of the social contract–people pay taxes, make laws, establish government programs, etc., and expect (rightly, under the old morality) their needs to be met accordingly. When abrupt changes to this contract are made, people will expect some kind of justification. No sane person could call these things a new morality.
By the way, we should also remind ourselves that people violating the principles of the old morality helped bring about economic catastrophe.
But while we are talking about morality, and fiscal responsibility, let's go back to Robert Samuelson, in 2003:
A possible war with Iraq raises many unknowns, but "can we afford it?" is not one of them. People inevitably ask that question, forgetting that the United States has become so wealthy it can wage war almost with pocket change. A war with Iraq would probably cost less than 1 percent of national income (gross domestic product). Americans have grown accustomed to fighting with little economic upset and sacrifice.
Just to be clear. He didn't go on to critique that morality–about the economic upset and sacrifice. How much has that war cost us now?