This is where Sombart becomes less relevant or, perhaps, not relevant at all. Americans are now all socialists in the sense that they broadly support the programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance and others) that constitute the largest share of government spending.

We don’t call these benefits “socialism,” because that would, given our history, stigmatize them, and we don’t want to do that. They enjoy public approval, because they seem the decent thing to do, and of course, they now have millions upon millions of beneficiaries who magnify their political clout.

Both parties are addicted to this socialism, though Democrats are more so than Republicans. Just because it is inconvenient to question the drift toward an ever-larger — even socialist — welfare state does not mean we can escape the possible consequences of moving in this direction.