On Social Security’s 81st anniversary, a reminder that it’s also a lifeline for children
One of the raps on Social Security is that it supposedly pits the older generation against the younger.
This seems intuitive — after all, retired Americans collect the benefits but those in the working population make all the contributions. The notion of a generational war has been pushed aggressively by (among others) Boston University economist Lawrence Kotlikoff, author of the apocalyptic 2005 book “The Coming Generational Storm” and of academic papers and newspaper columns in which he writes of “the terrible zero-sum nature of the generational game we are playing against our children.”
As we mark Social Security’s 81st birthday — it was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 14, 1935 — it’s important to observe that the program doesn’t pit generations against each other so much as bind them together. As an example, more than a decade of research has established Social Security’s role as the nation’s most important anti-poverty program for children.