Social Security Comments
The religious community strongly supports Social Security and celebrates this 70th anniversary. Why is this a religious issue? Our faith makes it clear. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, "Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” In the Book of James it’s written, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” Jesus himself said, “Woe to those who devour widows’ house,” and he remembered with great respect, the widow’s gift in the temple of two tiny copper coins.
In the Biblical world and for most of human history an elderly person or a child or a disabled person with no family was certain to be destitute, and grinding poverty was a death sentence. The prophets of the Bible and leaders of the
70 years ago, the USA made a huge step toward fixing the problem of grinding poverty among the elderly, the disabled, and children without families – it established Social Security -- one of the most successful anti-poverty programs in all of human history because of these principles: It was mandatory, it was based on earnings, it was universal, and it was protected for all time against inflation.
Here’s just how successful it has been. In 2004 the combined programs of Social Security provided benefits to 48 million people including retirees, survivors, and eight million people living with disabilities. Survivor benefits supported more than five million children. Without this basic income security, over 50 percent of women and 40 percent of men over age 65 would likely be living in poverty
In April, a group of 16 religious communities met in
- continue to reflect the highest moral values of a compassionate society
- assure the fulfillment of basic human needs for all participants in times of need
- build upon the present structure, assuring equity, fairness, and progressivity
- balance revenues and expenditures over time and assure future generations will not be unfairly burdened by this generation's debts
- Social Security must remain the third leg of 3-legged stool -- promote private savings and employer-provided pensions -- in addition to Social Security.