"Today a hope of many years' standing is in large part fulfilled. This social security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens who will reap direct benefits……through old-age pensions and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health." -Franklin D. Roosevelt, 14 August 1935
This Friday marked the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act of 1935, a monumental victory in the struggles of working people in America. Social Security has allowed elderly and handicapped Americans to live without fear of financial catastrophe. From its inception, Social Security was condemned by the reactionary propagandists as a socialist plot doomed to failure. Of course, while it most certainly is a socialist plot, it has been nothing but a success - much to the irritation of the right-wing.
The efforts to privatize Social Security, liquidate its assets and absorb the system into the stock market are not new. However, these efforts have never had as much open support from the Republican Party as they do today. What was once seen as a fringe idea circulated among private-state libertarians is now the mainstream for the Republicans, with calls for Social Security's full privatization being made from the podium of the Republican National Convention in 2012. They know that Social Security is strong and one of the greatest assets that the American people have, which is exactly why they are so increasingly earnest to sabotage, dismantle, and discard it.
Social Security is not without flaws. To correct these flaws, Social Security must be expanded. The cap on high-income Social Security tax must be removed. The potential for Social Security to be a transformative institution in building a socialist economy is far greater than most dare to think. Imagine living in an America in which all earned wages are paid through Social Security, an America in which labor is compensated fairly and equally by metric measurements of production costs and value.
Social Security was an important step in the direction towards socialism for the people - not just the rich - and a system of general economic security for those who need it. Long may Social Security continue to thrive, expand, and benefit the people!