Poor oppessed people exist and have existed in all systems. Ilegitimaly wealthy people have existed in every system.
A class of people who are not extremely poor nor extremely powerful yet count with a significant freedom for self-determination in society exists *only* in Western Christian democratic capitalist societies and in other countries to the measure that . And that's how life is.
As bad as the American crisis is and as bad as unemployment is, in other systems autocratic rulers would feel free to exterminate the excessive number of people or simply let them defenseless in face of barbaric invasions which, eventually, would also diminish the population. I hear people are having breakdowns because they have to smaller houses, are selling their cars. In places where the situation are really bad, when this happens, you go to the streets or worse.... What prevents *this* kind of tragedy is not a centralized government nor socialistoid measures. It's the overall freedom that still remains.
As for the old lady who makes $800 a month, a lot of old ladies down here in Brazil make ends meet with less than the local minimum wage which is R$540 or around U$320. To have something more, they weave, and do work that is appropriate to their physical conditions and age. Working for a living is not a burden, it's an honour. I'd rather have a country with enough capitalism and economic freedom that would have allowed them to save enough money for a calmer retirement than what we have today, a welfare state that prevents people from saving for themselves by taking taxes on the promises of services that are intrinsically impossible to be delivered.
St Paul *clearly* says that widows and orphans, if they can't work for themselves, should be supported by their family and not by the community. That it is a shame and a sin to try to "push" those in need onto the community. Only those who do not have absolutely anyone are the responsibility of society.