Prior to the Great Depression, private charities and state and local governments did a remarkable job of taking care of those in need. Since the mistakes of the Herbert Hoover Administration, however, and the continuation of those mistakes by Franklin D Roosevelt, we've never been the same.
How did Europe get this crazy? I think it's because European governments have overstretched by trying to provide too much, so that when they attempt to provide the limited benefits that good government should accomplish, they fail. They've certainly conditioned many people to think that someone else is to blame for their various plights.
Why are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? Because the rich don't pay their fair share of taxes? Perhaps this is a minor contributing factor. However, the greatest means to increase the divide between rich and poor is actually inflation of a nation's currency. Here's how John Maynard Keynes explained it.