Friday, July 09, 2010
Let's talk about Social Security since it has been a factor in many of the differences between left and right. It is popular on the right to say it was a bad idea. I disagree totally. I think it was a good idea not only because it helps the elderly but also for those with disabilities, children whose parents have died. It recognizes that the world isn't always perfect and that even if you do everything right, sometimes things go wrong. It is not welfare because it's like an insurance that people pay into.That was its intention anyway.
Here's the thing, without it where are the elderly? The photo is of my great grandfather who was a miner. He died at 65 in Deadwood, South Dakota and as best I know it he had to work right up to his death. He and my great grandmother never had a lot. They raised a lot of children in a time where nothing was easy, and I don't think there were any social programs to help them out. They would never have been able to save much as they were needing it all to survive. That happened a lot back before Social Security.
I know what some say that their kids should take care of the elderly but not everyone has kids and not everyone who has them has children with enough money to do anything for them. Life is hard scrabble for a lot of people in this country, and it's not because they are lazy.
GW Bush and many other Republicans have favored putting some of what people pay into Social Security into the stock market to be invested. Since the stock market has nose dived recently and even now is up and down, that idea isn't talked about so much. What it would mean is no guarantee for what someone might receive at retirement. It would also have led to a lot more profits for the investment firms and at what price? It would have taken more money out of a system that some claim is broke.
I understand how the right sees all of this, but I don't know how many come from families like mine where Social Security is really all they have when they retire even though they worked hard all their lives. I am so incredibly proud of the people from whom I came. For them Social Security represented a hope that my great grandfather never knew.
Social Security is not broke right now but if it is not tweaked, by continuing the tax on higher incomes, possibly raising the age of retirement given we live longer, it will be broke sooner than some hoped given our job market.
For now, there is a trust fund, which a Republican president raised the taxes to put into as a way to secure it for future generations. The federal government though did what it so often does and used that money with a promise to repay. The problem is will it be able to someday? If it keeps going as it is, there may come a time where they will have to say some won't get Social Security. It might become means tested instead of what it was intended to be for all.
I don't know how many people want to see the elderly in poor homes or worse and unable to buy food. I don't know how many want to see the disabled with no money for shelter or basic needs or children who lose parents to also be left even more impoverished. I think the talk of Social Security ignores what it was intended to be. It ignores what life was like before it for the old. It ignores how some really do need it to live with any level of independence.
It doesn't provide a lot of money. My widowed mother got $850 a month before she died. She was living in a mobile home on this farm which enabled her to have pride in being mostly independent. A lot of her income back then went to pay for her medications. She wasn't one for going to the doctor and she was that stubborn type of woman who pretty much called her own shots until the day she died which was in her own bed, in her own home, and on this farm. She left a small inheritance for her son and daughter which says she lived frugally, and it was Social Security that enabled her to have pride to the end of her days.
I don't have an objective view of Social Security. I cannot see it like some might. I see it as something this country did because it was the right thing to do. It is not fun to pay taxes but for heaven sake what is the alternative? Do people really believe that churches will take care of everybody?
To me Social Security is a good program. It is a social insurance program and not charity. For those like my family, it's made a huge difference where they didn't have to fear old age like my great grandfather probably did or where his wife never again had a home of her own. I know that some will say why should other people pay for that. Well, I say it's because sharing is good for us and it's not a burden when it's for the elderly, the disabled, and children who have lost parents.
I understand good people see this differently, but I think they are wrong just as they think I am. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree.