Before listing the offering made on the altar of efficiency, one may wonder why this
should matter to non-Americans, given that most other industrial societies maintain
much higher levels of social caring, even if recently they have been lowered a bit.
Indeed, it might be said that while the US is cutting into the bone, European welfare
states are merely trimming the fat. The question, though, that all welfare states
must face is where the fat stops and the bone begins. This is of great significance
for sound public policies, democratic politics, and matters of principle. Even societies
that have experienced fewer welfare cuts than the US are occasionally swinging across
the line that separates streamlining the social market and dehumanizing it, if for
no other reason than that the line has not been clearly drawn. Talking old people
out of life-saving medical treatments to reduce costs is a glaring example. Furthermore,
the absence of a vision of what a restructured social market is going to end up looking
like what will be gutted as compared to firmly protected - grossly undercuts
the legitimacy and the political support for these streamlining endeavors.