The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Columns

August 12, 2013

Reflecting on 78 years of Social Security

There are special moments when people look back and evaluate a life or an era: birthdays, class reunions, holidays, anniversaries.

Time is, after all, simply the stringing together of a number of events, some small, others significant. These events can speed by quickly, but each one can have an effect on the greater whole. A lifetime of seemingly mundane events can pass in what seems like the blink of an eye … until one looks back to examine them and realizes just how much has filled the space.

When I think about Social Security on the eve of the program’s 78th anniversary, I am amazed by what a significant difference it has made, one event at a time, one person at a time. Over Social Security’s long history, every single monthly payment has made a difference to an American somewhere. But when you string those payments together, it’s remarkable what a huge and positive effect Social Security has had on the people and economy of our nation.

Social Security has been a cornerstone of our nation, touching the lives of almost every American at one time or another, for 78 years. It’s the most successful domestic program in our nation and, arguably, the world.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on Aug. 14, 1935, he said, “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.”

The same can be said of the current information age, with our rapidly evolving digital revolution and periods of economic instability. Social Security is a safety net cast to help those who need it.

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