How Franklin D. Roosevelt Once Saved America
With the New Deal For the People
Winning office in 1932, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt saved America from economic ruin. That was necessary because during the preceding dozen years greed had become rampant and there had been increasing corruption that ultimately and inevitably caused a stock market crash, bank closures, losses of people’s life savings, an economic collapse, and the Great Depression.
Those problems and crises had been caused or exacerbated by a long period of self-serving Republican rule, which had enabled and catered to the wealthiest few at the expense of everyone and everything else. And then, just as it has done again during the last 32 years, it brought near ruin to the country.
Fortunately, President Roosevelt not only saved the country, he saved millions of Americans from poverty, put millions of people to work, and in his third term he also won the Second World War. And he did all that by establishing much-needed reforms and regulations, including wage and price controls, and by putting millions of people to work improving the land, wildlife habitat, the watershed, the state and national parks, the infrastructure, the environment, and building great public works projects that were great investments that still benefit the country today.
But, Roosevelt had to overcome much, and learn much, before he was fully informed, inspired and able to do that.
Having been born into a wealthy family, and being a very likable and amiable fellow, he had led a privileged life. He was drawn to political life when his cousin Theodore Roosevelt was president, and he became deputy Secretary of the Navy and learned the ways of government, planning to seek the highest office.
But, when he was 38 years old, he was stricken and afflicted with Polio and left as paraplegic. And after he was paralyzed by Polio, Roosevelt went through a long period of time in denial, refusing to believe that he would never walk again. And during that time he also struggled with deep depression, but put up a brave front.
During that time, his wife Eleanor became politically active and learned to be an effective public speaker, keeping Franklin’s and the Roosevelt name alive in political circles. And at that time she was perhaps even more progressive than Franklin was.
Meanwhile, Franklin never lost hope that he could be cured, and he went to Warm Springs in Georgia, hoping that the healing waters would help him. He even spent much of his fortune on restoring the facilities and created a rehabilitation center there, enabling people with Polio from all over the country to come. And Franklin spent much time there, playing with children in the warm water. In Georgia and in Warm Springs he delighted in the people, especially in the children, and the children and all the people loved him very much. He was a bright light of hope, cheer, and good will, even while suffering internally.
Then, gradually, after he began to overcome his depression and became more resolute, and after he began to drive through the country in an automobile he adapted so he could drive it with hand controls, he began to really learn of the problems and the needs of the average people, the working poor, and the poor.
Roosevelt really cared about all the people, and he spent the time to seek them out and ask them about their lives. He was amazed at the plight of the working poor and the rural poor, and became deeply concerned. Consequently, he began to get interested in politics again in order to help them, influenced not only by his own experience of being disabled, but from learning firsthand of the plight of the disabled, the working poor, and the poor.
He worked amazingly hard to not appear as "crippled," and he succeeded in becoming Governor of New York in 1929, where he began to establish progressive reforms.
Then, after the stock market crash of 1929, the horrible economic collapse and crises, and the increasing Great Depression and increasing poverty and despair for tens of millions of Americans, he realized that private charities could not do what needed to be done. He realized that only government could fulfill the intent of the Founding Fathers to promote the general welfare of the people. And thus he became the Democratic front-runner because he was clearly serving the interests of all the people, not just the wealthy few.
During the presidential campaign of 1932, with most Americans suffering from the Great Depression, Roosevelt called for action by the federal government to rein in the greedy who had caused the economic crises, revive the economy, and address the suffering of those who were unemployed and in poverty.
Roosevelt was elected by a landslide, and in his first inaugural address Roosevelt reassured the nation that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." He proposed a New Deal for the people of the United States and promised he would use the power of the executive branch to address the economic crisis.
In his speech Roosevelt criticized Republicans and the banking and financial community for breeding a culture of greed during the 1920s that led to the economic depression. Declaring that "our greatest task is to put people to work," he proposed to use the government to revitalize the economy.
Roosevelt's address and his bold initiatives helped many Americans view the federal government in a new way—as the catalyst of progressive social change.
Now, because similar conditions exist today, Roosevelt’s view is extremely relevant once again.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address:
I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.
More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.
Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.
Hand in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products and with this the power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.
Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people's money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.
There are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States.
Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our international trade relations, though vastly important, are in point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in all parts of the United States——a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.
In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others——the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.
If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.
With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.
Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.
It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.
I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.
But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe. For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.
We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of the national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stem performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.
We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.
In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.
* * * * *
President Roosevelt did not have an easy time of it. The forces of greed and self-interest fought hard against him, and so here’s what he said later:
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power." — President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies, April 29, 1938
He said what needed to be said, which was very similar to what John Adams had said in 1776:
“Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men. Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require.” – John Adams, 1776
That’s why Roosevelt was a great president who saved the country, made it great, and left a great legacy.
Roosevelt’s Great Record and Legacy
As president from 1933 to 1945, Roosevelt established needed reforms and regulations, put people to work, and provided a New Deal for the American people which was designed to restore the real American Dream.
Many New Deal programs such as Social Security, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) were hugely helpful. For while President Roosevelt is well known as the president who won the Second World War, it was the New Deal domestic programs he established before the war that were even more important in the lives of average Americans.
The New Deal saved many millions of Americans from poverty, gradually raised the standard of living of the average American family significantly, made great long-lasting improvements all across the nation, and enabled the middle class to grow prosperous, large and great.
The WPA and CCC, for instance, put millions of people to work and produced many wonderful and immensely useful public works projects and state and national parks that are still used and enjoyed by the public today. Altogether it was a marvelous and worthy investment in people, in the infrastructure, in the country, in the environment, and in the land.
Roosevelt instituted remarkably successful wage and price controls as he implemented an economic plan which was part of a greater, comprehensive plan. It was efficiently and effectively organized and regulated, and it improved the military, agricultural, manufacturing, industrial and civilian conservation capacity of America. (And, when the time came, it enabled Americans to win World War II in less than four years from the day America entered the war.)
In 1935 President Roosevelt produced The National Labor Relations Act, which limited the means with which employers could react to workers who wanted to create or become members of labor unions, engage in collective bargaining, and take part in strikes and other forms of concerted activity to express or communicate their grievances and requests. In that same year the WPA was funded by the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act.
Of course, at that time wealthy right-wing Republicans accused Roosevelt of being a "Socialist," because they were as prone to deception and slander then as they are now. During Roosevelt’s first and second terms, angry bankers, businessmen and corporate executives tried to denigrate and destroy the New Deal, and they even got the U.S. Supreme Court to go along with them in that effort.
However, Roosevelt ignored the critics and naysayers and kept putting people to work improving the country and its infrastructure, bring electricity to millions of people who had never had it, etc. So, even though the very wealthy and privileged “upper class” hated him, the vast majority of Americans loved him because his New Deal produced wonderful results and tremendous improvements in the nation for all the people, and he gave them new hope and new rights and opportunities.
During FDR’s first and second term, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled extensively all across the nation, visiting the CCC and WPA projects and talking with many other people so she could report to Franklin what was going on in the real world. She wrote a column, gave press conferences, and was a staunch advocate for women, factory workers, tenant farmers, African Americans and others who desperately needed an advocate. And. being more progressive than Franklin, she often pressed him to move faster in making reforms than he felt he should.
In his second term, Roosevelt had overreached a bit, in terms of trying to get the Supreme Court to quit trying to be obstructionist, and he lost a lot of support. He had also been powerless to do anything about the rise of the Nazis in Germany and the aggressive, cruel military imperialism of Adolph Hitler, because most Americans had become isolationists following the First World War. They didn’t want to become involved in another large war. So Roosevelt was depressed and seemed helpless facing such powerful domestic and foreign enemies, and he even thought about retiring after his second term.
Thank God, after most of Europe had fallen into the grip of Nazi Fascism, and after Britain was under attack and stood practically alone against Hitler’s Military Empire, Roosevelt decided to run for a third term.
Then, because Britain was in grave jeopardy of falling to the Nazis, Roosevelt came up with a brilliant plan called “Lend Lease” to provide the British with planes, tanks, guns, etc., and they could return them or pay the U.S. back. And yet, there were many Americans that objected. And even Eleanor Roosevelt was not in agreement with him regarding the war in Europe, because she was deeply committed to the domestic New Deal programs to help American people. She, like so many Americans at the time, did not realize the grave threat the U.S. would inevitably have to face.
To add to the problem, Charles Lindbergh was fervently against American involvement in Europe. Lindbergh was a famous American hero for being the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane, and, since much has been written about the conflict between Lindbergh and Roosevelt, we should consider some significant facts about Lindbergh.
From 1936 to 1938 Lindbergh traveled several times to Germany to evaluate the German Air Force (and he loved Germany's fighter, the Messerschmitt, and he said it was superior to any other). In 1938 while he was in Germany, Lindbergh had dinner with Hermann Göring, and on behalf of Adolf Hitler Göring presented him with the Commander Cross of the Order of the German Eagle.
When Lindbergh’s visits to Germany were concluded, he wrote a memo to the British advising Britain and France to not act against Hitler. Then he went home to America and began organizing an "America First" movement, advising American isolationism and non-intervention in Europe. By 1940 he had became a prominent public speaker advising against acting against Hitler, and he spoke to huge crowds in Madison Square Garden in New York City and Soldier Field in Chicago. His speeches were heard by millions who heard him say that America did not have any business intervening in Europe to stop Nazi aggression and imperialism.
However, if Americans had listened to Lindbergh instead of Roosevelt, Hitler’s Third Reich would have succeeded, and America would probably be ruled by German Nazis.
Fortunately, American’s listened to Roosevelt, instead of Lindbergh. And in early 1941 Roosevelt spoke of fighting against fascism and for the spirit of America, while at the same mentioning fighting greed at home.
"The hopes of the Republic cannot forever tolerate either undeserved poverty or self-serving wealth. We know that we still have far to go; that we must more greatly build the security and the opportunity and the knowledge of every citizen, in the measure justified by the resources and the capacity of the land. But it is not enough to achieve these purposes alone. It is not enough to clothe and feed the body of this Nation, and instruct and inform its mind. For there is also the spirit, and of the three, the greatest is the spirit. Without the body and the mind, as all men know, the Nation could not live. But if the spirit of America were killed, even though the nation's body and mind, constricted in an alien world, lived on, the America we know would have perished." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
In September 1941, Roosevelt was provided some justification for fighting back against Germany, because a German submarine sank a U.S. Ship. They had been sinking thousands of British ships, and they sank the American ship because Hitler regarded the U.S. as weak, and no threat to his immense power. And, as was revealed much later, Germans sank the American ship because it was trying to provide some protection to a British seaplane that was trying to sink the German submarine. Still, that incident enabled Roosevelt to take some actions against German submarines that had become a danger to the U.S. Navy, even though most Americans were still against declaring war.
Then, in December 1941, Japanese Naval and Air Forces attacked Pearl Harbor, destroying many American ships and killing many Americans, and four days later Germany declared war on America. So Americans had no choice but to declare war and fight back.
Imperialist Japan had been aggressively expanding its empire prior to that, and the U.S. had taken several steps to try to quell the aggression (such as demanding that Japan get out of China, and establishing an oil embargo to try to limit Japan's fuel). But, since most Americans did not want to enter World War II, the U.S. was severely limited in its ability to deal with Japan or Germany. Consequently, when Japan destroyed the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, things looked very dark for America.
At first, the odds were terrible for the U.S. because it was dangerously unprepared for war, the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor had been destroyed, and things looked very bleak. Japan gained more and more territory in the Pacific, and Germany expanded its invasions and occupations further. But Roosevelt always rose to great challenges, and even in the face of strong odds he could instill hope and confidence in the people.
Amazingly, at the time there were some Americans who questioned America’s “failure” to detect and prevent the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. And even in recent years criticism has been revived by those who strive to destroy Roosevelt's legacy and slander him.
The critics have concocted a Pearl Harbor advance-knowledge conspiracy theory, which is based on the idea that President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other American officials had advance knowledge of Japan's December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
This conspiracy theory has been revived in recent years by right-wing individuals and groups (including right-wing Republicans, Libertarians, Reaganites, the John Birch Society, Tea Party extremists and others) who feel frustrated that they cannot completely destroy Roosevelt’s New Deal social programs, so they attack Roosevelt in any other ways they can. And recently they have even resorted to claiming that President Roosevelt provoked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor.
The U.S. government made nine official inquiries into the attack between 1941 and 1946, and a tenth in 1995 by a Republican controlled Congress. But at most all such "inquiries" have produced questions that we cannot answer, and they have served merely to sling mud for partisan political purposes.
The fact is that the history of World War Two is well documented, and there is no need to even try to summarize it here. But history tells us that Roosevelt’s leadership enabled the U.S. to conquer Hitler and the Nazis, and soon after Roosevelt died, totally spent, his Vice President, Harry Truman, finished the war with victory over Japan. And, even though Truman resorted to the use of a controversial atomic weapon of mass destruction to do it, America emerged as a superpower in the world, able to produce a huge, very successful middle class during the decades following the war. (And for more of that story, read the article on Ignored American History.)
The real story is important, because, unfortunately, there are some American revisionist historians or scholars who are still very critical of Roosevelt, and there are many books and Internet blogs and articles that claim that Roosevelt tricked Americans into entering World War Two and somehow caused Japan to attack Pearl Harbor so he could get America to enter the war. However, such critics are unfair and misleading, and they have a hidden agenda. In fact, most of those critics of Roosevelt are really right-wing ideologues who are against his New Deal programs, but have to try to attack him in other ways.
The full history and the facts of the matter show that even though Roosevelt did withhold the full truth about some things because it was expedient to do so, those critics are no doubt simply against Roosevelt generally, and probably because of his political will and intent.
The fact is that Roosevelt saved the country, not only from the military imperialism and despotism that Hitler would have imposed, but also from the economic crises that American Republicans had wrought during the 1920s, and from an unfair and inequitable culture of greed and self-interest that had exploited and even oppressed the working poor and neglected the poor.
Roosevelt's Legacy Attacked
Unfortunately, Roosevelt’s full legacy did not last very long. In fact, in the 1950s right-wing ideologues began attacking it, and by 1961 when moderate Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office, there was a very good reason why he warned Americans against the U.S. Military Industrial Establishment remaining so huge, fearing that it could be used for hegemonic reasons.
Succeeding Democratic President John F. Kennedy understood Eisenhower and agreed, but many Americans did not. In fact, immediately after Kennedy was assassinated, the U.S. Military continued its foreign activities and growth, and become actively involved in the Vietnam War even though Kennedy had been against it.
The fiasco in Vietnam woke up many Americans, but then, in 1981, the Reaganites and the “religious right” gained power. Since then there has been a steady erosion of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and ideals. Reaganite Republicans have been trying to destroy it, and they have steadily waged war on labor unions, workers rights and benefits, etc. And even Social Security has been put in jeopardy by their deceptive strategies.
Lies about Social Security have given many Americans the wrong idea about it. The truth is that through good economic times and bad, Social Security has paid every dollar owed to every eligible beneficiary. Furthermore, despite a shameful campaign of disinformation by the right-wing Reaganite Republicans, the Social Security Program, which is funded by the payroll tax, does not contribute to the deficit. Not at all.
In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund now has a $2.7 Trillion surplus. And, unlike the profit-making private sector corporations, businesses and firms, Social Security is operated with very modest administrative costs. So you should not listen to the lies about it that tell you differently, because the liars have a hidden agenda.
Despite the facts, and despite Social Security's popularity and overwhelming success, for the last 30 years the Reaganites have been trying to destroy it, and even now there is a ferocious and well-financed attack against the Social Security program. Many self-serving Multi-Millionaires and Billionaires are working hard to destroy or at least weaken Social Security and endanger the well-being of millions of Americans. And politicians on both sides of the isle are apparently resigned to the idea that the program is doomed, obviously because if lies are told often enough people begin to believe them.
The truth is that Social Security and the New Deal are very humanitarian programs, and they are based on universal spiritual values common to all religions, including Judaism and Christianity.
Before the Social Security was implemented, 50 percent of elderly senior citizens in America lived in poverty. Social Security reduced that number closer to 10 percent --- although things have gotten worse during the last 30 years because the cost of living keeps going up while Social Security insurance pays far less than is needed by most of the elderly who are insured by it, who have to depend on it.
That is shameful in a nation where about three million people who are the wealthiest one percent of the population get “welfare for the rich” (with all the tax cuts, tax loopholes, tax shelters and subsidies provided by corrupt politicians who serve their interests), while the those same politicians strive to cut Social Security and human services for those who desperately need it. But, even so, at least Social Security has made the lives of about 40 percent of our elderly citizens a little better than if would have been without it.
In spite of that, wealthy Reaganite Republicans are still trying to destroy the Social Security insurance program. For example, some of them want to "privatize" it and make it a profit-making insurance business, and some want to be able to "opt out" of the program so they just have their own individual retirement accounts and won't have to pay Social Security taxes. But, their desire is self-centered and not based on what is good for the country and all the people. And we should ask, why should anyone profit from your retirement insurance premiums (which is what Social Security taxes are)? And why should the rich be able to refuse to contribute their fair share to the common wealth for the common good?
Furthermore, we can make Social Security better with just a few adjustments. After all, according to the Social Security Administration, Social Security has had as much as a $2.7 Trillion surplus in recent years. And, again, because it is funded by the payroll tax and not the U.S. Treasury, Social Security has not contributed at all to the deficit.
To improve the program we should make sure that the elderly who do not have any private retirement income, for whatever reason, receive an adequate income. There is no excuse for allowing anyone to have to live in poverty or go hungry or homeless. We, the people, should guarantee a safety net for all our fellow Americans who truly need it, whether due to age, disability, injury, illness, or disease.
We should remove the payroll tax cap for those earning $250,000 a year or more. We should require everyone (especially Millionaires and Billionaires) to pay their fair share according to their ability to pay into the Social Security Trust Fund. After all, as it is, incomes of over $106,800 are exempt from the Social Security tax. Consequently, 94 percent of Americans pay Social Security tax on all of their income, but the wealthiest 6 percent do not. But they should pay Social Security tax on their full income.
Furthermore, the Social Security insurance trust fund should be considered as a pool of common wealth. People should be able to draw out of the Social Security trust fund only when and if they need to, and only if their private wealth is not sufficient to provide enough for necessary living expenses. The wealthy who do not need it for necessary living expenses should not take it. And, if we operated by that standard, there would always be far more than enough to go around, and those who truly need it would have an adequate income.
Of course, wealthy Republicans will object to that. They will no doubt ask, “Why should we pay into it and not be able to draw out of it?” But the question should be why not? Why should we not use the common wealth for the common good? Why should we not share and share alike, care for the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and the least of our brethren?
The answers are clear to those who are not corrupted by greed, self-interest and lack of concern for their fellow human beings in need.
However, realizing this will take a change of mind and attitude in many Americans, because Reaganite Republicans have been trying to destroy the Social Security program for the last 30 years. They falsely claim it is not sustainable. They want to scare Americans so they can make drastic cuts to the program, or privatize it so wealthy people can profit from it. They want to make everything for profit, when we should be making most things non-profit so we can just pay the actual costs without being charged more than necessary so wealthy investors can take all the cream off the top (as they have been doing).
Americans should realize that for the last 30 years Reaganite Republicans have been trying to destroy Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and his legacy, chanting the Reaganite mantra against “big government” and for “self-reliance,” and preaching the “Gospel of Prosperity” which claims the rich are blessed and the poor deserve their lot because they are merely lazy, distorting and turning the true values and principles of both Judaism and Christianity up-side-down.
Therefore, let us do the truly right thing. Let us act like we should, as decent, caring, conscientious humanitarians.
Let us not only restore the values of Jesus of Nazareth, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Let us also bring about a reformation that will restore true and universal spiritual values. And let us abolish even the presidential form of monarchy and instead finally establish government of the people, by the people, and for the people, by adopting The 21st Century Declaration of Independence, recognizing that Real Democracy Is Coming to the U.S. A.