THE OBJECTIVES OF RELIEF AND SOCIAL INSURANCE
In considering the development of a universal, comprehensive, and co-ordinated system of social security, the first question that must be faced is, What are the objectives to be attained? Examination of existing programs and the literature in the field discloses no well-defined consensus regarding objectives either among proponents of social security systems or among legislators. On the contrary, there are divergent and often conflicting points of view. At the outset of this chapter an effort will be made to enumerate, without detailed discussion, what appear to be the major objectives advanced by various groups. Then each of these objectives will be examined in some detail.
The major objectives advanced are: (1) to prevent any person in the country from having to exist in need or want; (2) to guarantee to each person or family in the country an income sufficient to provide a living in accordance with a standard deemed suitable by the legislature; (3) to keep the economic system functioning at something approaching a maximum level of production by redistributing part of the purchasing power through the social security system, (4) to use the social security system as a device to equalize the distribution of income.
The next chapter is to be devoted to a consideration of what constitutes need, a subject with respect to which there is wide divergence of opinion. In this chapter the term will be used broadly since the present purpose is to bring out the distinctions among the several major objectives just enumerated.
As was pointed out in the historical introduction to Part I, it has always been an accepted doctrine in the United States that relief of want from public funds is a necessary and proper