F. A. Hayek is one of conservatives’ superstar anti-socialist economists. A few years ago, you may have run into his philosophy rapped in the “Fear the Boom and Bust” video by EconStories on YouTube.
His classic anti-socialist treatise was “The Road to Serfdom”. In chapter 9, called Security and Freedom, Hayek considers the implications of social insurance programs, and he clearly distinguishes them from socialist central planning. In fact, Hayek endorses the government’s role in providing the following:
Welfare – “… there can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody.”
Health Insurance – “Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance — where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks — the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.”
FEMA – “To the same category belongs also increase of security through the state’s rendering assistance to the victims of such ‘acts of God’ as earthquakes and floods.”
Unemployment Insurance – “There is, finally, the supremely important problem of combating general fluctuations of economic activity and the recurrent waves of large-scale unemployment which accompany them.”
Despite all the right-wing rhetoric, there is a clear distinction between social programs and socialism. Socialism is a centrally planned economy, where government owns the means of production and distribution of goods. When the Soviet Union experimented with socialism the result was long lines for simple daily necessities like toilet paper. Socialism simply cannot produce the necessary quality or quantity of goods and services.
Social programs, like those listed above, are not socialism. And, even if you are a right-wing conservative, you can be for social programs without being for socialism.
(Quotes above are from “The Road to Serfdom”, The University of Chicago Press 1944, 1972, 1994).