With all due respect, I really don't consider the US much of a welfare state at all.
Thing is, Peter, the US is not SUPPOSED to be a welfare state - that happened in the 30s because of the Great Depression and FDR's idea for the government to provide help to those in need AT THAT TIME.. in fact, it wasn't supposed to continue but only be a band aid. It has now turned into a cancer... the result of which is that the private organizations, like religious institutions and charitable organizations, which formerly DID provide help to the less fortunate, simply quit doing it. But that's not surprising, since to be able to provide more welfare, the government had to raise taxes to cover it... the US government, unbeknownst to others in the world, doesn't actually have money on its own, but gets it from the citizens by way of income and other taxes imposed. Lower and fewer taxes means more money in the public's hands and private charitable organizations to be able to help those that are at the bottom of the income scale.
Think of it on a smaller level if it helps - your children.
So the citizens of the US should be considered as if children. While that may seem true to some, it's not. Yes, I would never kick my children out of the house, at least not until they were old enough to fend for themselves...
In the United States, people are supposed to be independent enough to do just that. That's one of the basic ideas of Western Democracy and freedom. It's not always easy nor does it always seem just, but it gives everyone equal opportunity - to make it or fail. Those that are several generations on welfare are the biggest problem as no one has every forced them "out of the house" even though they should have left long ago!
Let's see - this will bring up several objections:
1) What about the cost of health care, for instance - well, maybe you didn't know that state run hospitals can and do provide FREE health care to anyone who can't afford it, even without insurance. The problem comes when those that can't afford private care demand to have it, even without the proper coverage.
2) So what about education - in the United States, public schools are just that - public - paid for by local tax money and so available and FREE to the local population. As far as post high school education, there are not only private colleges & universities, which yes, do charge quite a lot, but there are state-supported (land-grant) universities as well as community colleges and technical schools, most of which provide low-cost, taxpayer-supported education. And all these lower-cost educational opportunities do provide a good foundation and respected degree programs. Besides all that, there are plenty of scholarships and financial aid programs available to those that actually deserve (and don't just think they are entitled to) them. By the way, California has always been "famous" in the US for provide free university education, BUT now, because of policies like that, California is in dire economic trouble!
New Orleans has been in "environmental" trouble for a very long time - after all, the city was built lower than the major water that almost surrounds it - the river, which was MOVED to provide more land area, and the lake - and those levees were built to hold it all back. Ten years ago, the levees were in trouble and NO ONE bothered to fix them.
In good times, people just enjoy the beauty of the mighty river, the French Quarter, the music, food, etc., and in bad times, everyone wants to blame the government - typical.