Tony Benn, interviewed by Michael Moore, describes how the UK welfare state, in particular, the NHS came out of the horror and destruction of WW2.
He explains that there was no unemployment during the war. If it is possible to employ everyone killing Germans, then why cannot we employ people building hospitals? The post War Labor government did it even though the country was wrecked by 6 years of Nazi bombing.
Why then cannot we do it now that we are much better off, there is more money and better technology and we are in one of the most advanced countries in the world? The truth is that we have not overspent. It is simply that the vast wealth we now have is not evenly distributed among us. A tiny fraction of people own nearly all of the wealth. Benn says 1 percent owns 80 percent, though it is more extreme still. A few thousand families own almost all of it.
So there is no need for austerity, no need for warfare, but there is a need to realize the reason why the politicians pretend there is. It is to make sure the wealth stays in private hands, and that it is, indeed, concentrated into them even more. People are constantly fooled by artificial threats and the threat of destitution. Benn says fear and demoralization keep people malleable. It's true!