Those on the left end of the political spectrum might be shocked to learn that the cover story in the latest National Review ? yes, William F. Buckley?s National Review ? makes a case for the ongoing existence of a welfare state in the United States.

What author Jim Manzi doesn?t support, though, is the welfare state as it?s constituted today. Manzi?s primary theme involves ?unbundling? the five components of the system that leads to taxpayer-supported pensions, health care, education, and welfare payments. The five components: a safety net, risk pooling, a requirement of prudent behavior from beneficiaries, redistribution of wealth beyond what?s required for the safety net and risk pooling, and a mechanism for the government to provide goods directly.

The first two components ? provision of a safety net and the exploitation of economies of scale, such as risk pools ? are legitimate government functions. But bundling them has an enormous drawback: It hides the transfer of wealth from the prudent to the imprudent. This is especially problematic in the modern environment. The safety net and risk pools should be different programs.

Not everyone on the right side of the political divide will offer such a sanguine approach to an ongoing welfare state ? I can see objections from many of the contributors to this forum ? but it would be interesting to see whether any folks on the left would be willing to consider Manzi?s ideas.

Put in place, they potentially would lead to a permanent welfare state that nonetheless fails to serve as one political party?s perpetual vote-producing machine.