Social Security: The Promise to All Generations

by Jennifer James McCollum

Vintage Social Security Poster: John's First Job

Vintage Social Security Poster: John’s First Job

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Later that day, the Washington Post proclaimed that the Social Security Act was the “New Deal’s Most Important Act…Its importance cannot be exaggerated …because this legislation eventually will affect the lives of every man, woman, and child in the country.”

Vintage Social Security Anniversary Poster

Social security was once consider a promise to all generations. In our old age, we’d be be able to stay afloat. If we became disabled or a spouse or a parent died, we’d have a safety net.

Vintage Social Security Anniversary Poster

Generation X is the first generation to receive statements from the Social Security Administration highlighting failures in the program.

Vintage Social Security Anniversary PosterMy yearly statements for the last several years have informed me that if something doesn’t change, Social Security will not be able to pay a dollar on the dollar to future generations.

So, what was once promoted as “old age security” and “old-age insurance protection” is now leveraged as a pejorative. Social security is now an “entitlement.”Vintage Social Security Posters

Vintage Social Security Poster

That has always been a curious term to me, because it is also a word frequently used to describe the collective persona of younger generations, particularly Generation Y. Millennials are often described as having “entitlement issues.” That feeling or belief that the world owes you something and you don’t have to give anything to get it.

Star Trek Social Security

In 2011, the Social Security Administration launched a public service campaign with a Star Trek theme called Boldly Go. It starred Patty Duke and George Takei, which makes me wonder. Who will they put on a Social Security poster for Generation X? I vote for the Kaboom Cereal circus clown; however, Boo Berry or Life Cereal’s Mikey could give him a run for his money.

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