Responsibility Taken by the Federal Government: Social Security
Throughout the 20th century governmental responsibility has made remarkable progress. One major milestone of the widening of the responsibility of the federal government was it’s making an obligation to care for the elderly and retired in the form of social security. In 1935, the Social Security Act was enacted by the federal government to provide financial security to the elderly, retired citizens in America. Although the federal government first took on this responsibility in 1935, it is still affecting our lives today. However, social security would not have advanced this far without many organizations and individual reformers to begin and improve social security throughout history.
In America’s early days before the kickoff of industry, there was little need for retirement savings for a few key reasons. First of all, people were dying at a much earlier age; most people didn’t live past 38, whereas in 1900, 60 years of age was common for about 40 percent of the population and 15 percent experienced 80 years of life. Another reason for the irrelevance of social security in the 19th century and earlier was that people were usually living rurally on farms with extended families to take care of them. Furthermore, the Civil War also didn’t allow the government much economic room to consider providing a service such as social security. However, after the Civil War, pensions were a form of social security for civil war veterans that carried into their retirement. Unfortunately these pensions provided support for only a very small portion of the population; not even one percent of Americans received these pensions. Despite a much lower need for social security in the 18th century there was one great thinker ahead of his time, Thomas Paine. In 1797, in his pamphlet, “Agrarian Justice,” Paine proposed that an inheritance tax should be established and that money should be set aside for people to be given a sum from the tax dollars at 21 and 50, to “enable him or her to begin” and “enable them to live in old age… and go out of the world decently,” respectably. Furthermore, other countries around the world had put in place social security plans. However, no formal kind of society security on federal shoulders was ever officially put into practice in the U.S. until the beginning of the 20th century.
Leading up to 1935 there were various new circumstances and specific causes that in turn pushed the federal government to create an official social security system. Mainly because of health improvements there were more elderly, retired people at the turn of the 20th century that created a much greater need for some kind of security system. Moreover, perhaps the greatest cause for the gap being widened in need of social security was the incoming industrial revolution. In the late 1800s into the early 1900s there was great migration to industry in the cities. This impacted family life because often a...