Financing Economic Security in the United States

By William Withers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I PUBLIC POLICY IN FINANCING SECURITY

THE GROWTH and persistence of widespread economic insecurity in recent years present one of the most critical problems faced by modern society. Its existence may threaten social stability as well as perpetuate want and suffering. Hence its effects are not confined to those who are economically insecure, but are felt in all levels of society. The financial questions related to its treatment are crucial ones. Because of the protracted and extensive character of economic insecurity in the United States, the National Government has for the first time been forced to assume a share of the great financial burden involved. Recognition of the national character of the problem began in 1932 when Congress enacted the Emergency Relief and Construction Act, and culminated in 1935 in the enactment of the Social Security Act, which provided for heavy national taxation and the accumulation in the Federal Treasury of a forty-one-billion-dollar reserve fund for the support of the aged alone. Inevitably, certain fundamental questions arise: Can we afford such large expenditures? How much can we afford? From what sources should the funds be derived? How should they be distributed among the needy? What type of financial administration should be established for these funds? Basically, the answers to these questions depend on understanding the security problem and how it affects public and private finance.

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