Editor’s note: Social Security is under attack. Between 2010 and 2017 its operating budget fell 10%. There is fear that the increase in the federal budget deficit from the recent $1.9 trillion tax cut for the wealthy will be used to reduce the program. Cuts will mean more seniors in poverty. The fight for Medicare for All is part of the fight to save Social Security.
WASHINGTON, DC — Social Security was passed in 1935 to provide a form of economic security to address the need to support workers after the end of their work lives with resources provided in largest part by the workers themselves. The backdrop for the creation of this program was the Great Depression, which created a level of fear to which this was a response.
The original Social Security Act created several programs that, even today, form the basis for the government’s role in providing income security for older people, the unemployed, and needy families. The Medicare program was created 30 years later.
The original program covered workers in only about half the jobs in the country, those in commerce and industry. This meant that at its inception, this program codified the limitations of this exploitative economic system—capitalism—by defining social security in a way that was racist and sexist, failing as it did to cover workers in fields of work populated primarily by people of color and women: agriculture, service, child care, home care, health care, education, and the social service industry. Some of those “errors” have since been corrected through the action of the workers and their unions.
This Social Security system, even in its initiation, was opposed by the corporations and Congress. During the 1980s, Social Security was taken completely away from the working class through Congress—which is made up principally of the rich. Capitalism only serves a few, the 1%, and has a dominant effect on all of our institutions, including Social Security.
Together we can create all the necessary goods and services—including Social Security—that we need, and a world where no one has to suffer the injustice of poverty, hunger, homelessness, sickness, unemployment, or disease. Let’s build a better world together, with workers—whether unemployed, employed, semi-employed, laid off—at the helm. The problems that we as a class face (the 99%), will only and can only be resolved by us, the working class. To quote one of our local ancestors, the eminent publisher Calvin Rolark, “If it is to be, it is up to me!”
Rick Tingling-Clemmons is Business Manager, Gray Panthers of Metropolitan Washington broken hockey stick. Dylan was shot through the heart.