I think that once a state reaches a certain level of prosperity, this may be inevitable. “Smart” politicians realize they can be popular by giving out these goodies. Smart is in quotes because what is good for them (in the short term) is harmful to their civilization in the long term. My guess is that they understand this all too well, but don’t care.
As I've said before, the fall of the Roman Republic, as opposed to the fall of the Roman Empire, began the day that Carthage was destroyed. The influx of loot from that conquest, coupled with the revenue stream from being the sole, undisputed power in the Med, was the root cause.
Political machinations to control this wealth led to a collapse in civic virtues, and ambitious men abounded, vying to be the one who would distribute the goodies. The Senate became wholly corrupt, and men such as Marius, Sulla, the First and Second Triumvirates became the norm, and not the exception.
At the end of all that, the Roman Empire was born. It too, would not last, due to overweening ambitions, lust for personal power, and collapse of societal virtues...