Social Security: Time For Change? Essay

2232 words - 9 pages

For the past 78 years, one governmental system’s benefits have been essential to the nation’s elderly and disabled individuals. This system itself has focused on providing benefits to every American when they reach the age of 65, or earlier than the age of 65 if they preferred to receive smaller amounts of benefits per year (Social Security Administration). The system, at the same time, has taxed citizens and companies to levy this distribution of benefits. This system may seem to be a great idea; however, the trust fund has been ever decreasing with no end of this decrease in sight (Economist Briefing). This system –Social Security – is in grave danger of running out of funds and needs to be reformed immediately.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced many revolutionary monetary policies, including an increase in regressive taxes, the introduction of the minimum wage, and the creation of the Social Security system. President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, thereby creating the Social Security system in 1935 after it passed through Congress, partially due to an overwhelming 371-33 vote in the House. This new act resembled Francis Townsend’s proposal for the government to give $200 a month to all retirees over the age of 60 (Folsom). United States citizens would receive monetary sums, paid for by a 1% tax on each dollar of earned income. Employers were then expected to match this amount for each employee. The act also set up a federal-state system of unemployment insurance and gave aid to the states for care of dependent mothers and children. The aid also applied to the crippled, the blind, and public health services. This plan was a novel idea; no other country in the world had a system where current workers had taxes taken out to help support the aged. While the economic stability of this regressive taxation was questioned, it was nevertheless a major change in American social thought. Before the Social Security Act, Americans had believed in laissez-faire economics and that in their capitalistic economy, winners deserved their rewards and losers needed to fend for themselves. The Social Security Act spun the schema of social responsibility 180 degrees; the federal and state governments now cared for the underprivileged and handicapped. Citizens were expected to contribute to this care for the underprivileged and handicapped through their yearly tax “contributions.”
While the Social Security Act helped encourage a greater amount of care for underprivileged people, it simultaneously took a massive toll on the economy. In New Deal or Raw Deal?, author and economic historian Burton Folsom claims Roosevelt’s Social Security plan created many problems. Folsom points out that the Social Security Act retarded recovery from the Great Depression by contributing to unemployment as well as being financially unsound, as workers had to reach age sixty-two to receive benefits, while the average life expectancy at the time was only 60 years...

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