Misleading on the misleading about Social Security “some measure of protection”

I’m 100% for defending Social Security. It’s a vital program. Like it or not, the reality is that most Americans will need it in their old age and many even before.

It can easily be made sustainable even improved, if politicians would tell the truth and do their job managing the program; they aren’t and they haven’t for decades.

To make matters worse some Social Security advocates are not above misleading and worse trying to take Social Security beyond what was intended and creating unrealistic expectations instead on focusing on solvency and gradual improvement changes. These are the people who also outrageously characterize the SS trust as a surplus which it has never been.

Take a look at this recent statement in support of Social Security. It creates the impression that it’s purpose is to provide income equal to a full standard of living for life. That statement was Roosevelts early politicking in favor of some social insurance program, not the policy describing today’s Social Security.

Social Security was never intended to allow individuals to maintain their standard of living by itself and until the last few years, was never thought of in that way. We seem to be in a rewrite history mode. Note that at age 65 the average household income is about $80,000. (Median $54,124). I use household income because SS is a family benefit. Although average is reflective of both high and low incomes, it still reflects what SS would be required to provide to fully replace standard of living incomes, which, I think you will agree, is ridiculous. Imagine what taxes would have to be to do that.

After your read the following be sure to read the next quote from Roosevelt upon the signing of the Social Security Act. As you can see, there is quite a difference.

In 1931, years before signing the Social Security Act of 1935 into law, then-Governor of New York Franklin D. Roosevelt described his policy preference for wage insurance that provides, when wages are gone, “not merely…a roof over head and enough food, to keep body and soul together, but also enough income to maintain life during the balance of their days in accordance with the American standard of living.”

Social Security was designed as wage insurance. Its goal has always been much more expansive than the alleviation of poverty, or even its prevention. The system’s purpose is, and always has been, to replace wages so that people are able to maintain their standards of living in the event of retirement, disability or death.

Nancy Altman

Source: Forbes. August 26, 2019 Republicans Are Pushing Myths About Social Security – To Justify Their Demands For Benefit Cuts

The above is simply not true

Now read this:


Today a hope of many years’ standing is in large part fulfilled. The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, has tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last.

This social security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens who will reap direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old-age pensions and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health.

We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.


  1. Social security along with other hot bottom issues like global warming, immigration and health care are chiefly known by the electorate through sound bites, tweets and instagrams.

    Too few have any knowledge of the subjects. Despite the oceans of information on any and all subjects, the majority of citizens do not take advantage of what is readily available. There was a book written in the 80’s with a cruelly accurate title, “Amusing Ourselves to Death”.

    Still true.


  2. Easy? “… It can easily be made sustainable …”

    I think not.

    Once more, with vigor: Until we amend the law to preclude Congressional actions designed to buy votes of today’s older Americans by promising more benefits than Congress is willing to charge current taxpayers (where each generation is required to fund its own entitlements), these entitlements will never be properly funded, sustainable. And, so long as Congress can shift the burden by applying taxes on individuals who cannot vote today (future taxpayers and future, as yet unborn generations) to buy votes from today’s older Americans, these entitlements will never be properly funded.

    I’ll support “sustainable” but only where it is preceded by actions that take away from Congress their ability to promise more benefits and shift the burden to other generations.


  3. I always thought that social security was so the widows would not be penniless and being dying in the streets. The act gave a death benefit to bury those who did died. As I was googling looking for that quote, I went to the one of the many SSA.gov websites (now I can’t find it again) but it explained the history of the Act. What I didn’t know was the Social Security Act of 1935 was originally 10 programs, 9 which get administered by the states, the 10th was the OASDI, which is gives most retirees their benefits after retirement. The 9 were various welfare programs, aid to the blind, unemployee insurance, etc.

    The site also explain the programs original intent between “social welfare” and “social security” programs. Mostly in the 1930’s welfare was charity and security was insurance such as retiree benefits and unemployment benefits. There was no shame in getting the “security benefits” since you paid into the funds. Since then, the Act has been changed a number of times without the proper funding.

    The term welfare has since disappeared and any aid is termed as required financial security confusing the issue even more today. Today there is no shame for welfare and in fact it is viewed as an entitlement. Generations have grown up on welfare and expect it. (I believe that people who truly need it should use it and those type of people are usually too proud to take it).

    Then comes along people with agendas to muddy the water even more to get what they want or elected.


  4. Nancy Altman… author of the piece. Co-founder of social security works.
    Fake news and opinion from the socialist echo chamber.


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