I should add . . .
I think that the argument that we need to carefully shepherd the poor through life is not only kind of creepy, it's also contributing to the fact that we need to shepherd the poor through life. People dependent on the system don't get good at behaving like middle class people--paying their bills on time, etc. Instead they develop a lot of skills at dealing with government bureaucracy (or they give up). Once the gas has been turned off a few times, one generally learns to pay the bill rather than go without heat. What one learns from bureaucracy, on the other hand, is that the world is a capricious yet rule-bound place where you are either powerless against the system, or looking for a way to cheat it.