People and Process in Social Security

By Karl De Schweinitz; American Council on Education Committee on Education and Social Security | Go to book overview

5. MINIMUM AND OPTIMUM COMPETENCE

The public stake in protecting the economic security of individuals extends beyond ensuring their physical survival. Well-being in a democratic society must include the individual's maintenance of his capacity for independent functioning. General security requires that individuals be shielded against hazards that may undermine this capacity or thwart its development. Good public policy demands that opportunity for individuals to carry their personal responsibilities be the more carefully safeguarded because these personal responsibilities are of such a nature that no external organization, public or voluntary, can undertake them with equivalent adequacy and economy.

-- GRACE F. MARCUS1

THE CLAIMS PERSONNEL in the insurances and the public assistance workers, in order to perform their part in the process through which the Social Security Act is translated into benefits and related services, require a special organization of personal qualities and skill. They must, to start with, be able to live and work within the environment and through the use of the facilities that characterize large administration. In government, as in big business, the individual does not rent his office, buy his pencils, purchase his streetcar tokens, make his travel reservations. Instead of stopping in a store as and when he happens to pass by, he gets what he needs by way of requisitions and forms. This involves more foresight and planning than is necessary in a small enterprise. There

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1
Grace F. Marcus, The Nature of Service in Public Assistance Administration, U.S. Social Security Administration, Public Assistance Report No. 10 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1946), p. 6.

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