Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Social Security, Part I

In several upcoming posts, I will be taking on the issue of Social Security. I would like to open up this series with a quote from the New Dealer himself, FDR

In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, noncontributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.
How does this quote, from FDR's Message to Congress on Social Security, reframe the debate on Social Security? I'm not quite sure, though I do know it quite handily yanks the rug out from under anyone claiming to defend FDR's legacy by fighting for the status quo. I'd like to get some reader input to see where the debate leads. The comments are open.

Continue on to: Social Security, Part II: 2018 or 2042?