I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about the role of the state in shaping society. I proposed that increased social programs funded by the taxpayer can work to prevent disenfranchisement and ghettoisation and so rise the 'baseline' of society which in turn benefits everyone eventually.
He agreed that it would work in principle, but that it would be "wrong" of any state to do that under various principles of freedom: even though social programmes do not tread on anyone's rights or freedoms (besides taxation), and how, in fact, they work to increase the effective freedoms and opportunities of said disenfranchised peoples. That it is wrong because the state would be engaged in a form of social engineering, which is at ends to the notion of freedom and liberty that many subscribe to.
"The Great Experiment" of the USA has worked, there's no denying that. The nation has the highest per-capita rates of development and economic strength but is far from perfect.
So I'm asking: is it ethical to resume "the experiment" given it is shown to produce undesirable results in certain cases, or is it morally right to have such a system given that other systems work better to reduce ill-effects at the expense of imagined (or real) "freedom"?