In Nancy Altman’s 2005 book The Battle for Social Security: From FDR’s Vision to Bush’s Gamble, she opens with the story of how after 9/11 “the families of virtually every worker who perished that day were entitled to benefits under the program.”
In millions of conversations AARP held in 2012, Americans said they want Social Security and Medicare to be there for their children and grandchildren. And for millions of children, Social Security is the only thing that stands between them and poverty because they’ve lost a parent at too young an age or because they are taken care of by their grandparents. According to the Social Security Administration, about 4.4 million children receive Social Security benefits because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired or deceased.
But columnists and hedge fund managers in elite publications continue to consider the case for generational warfare, a false story most beloved by those who want to pay less in taxes. Americans of all ages reject the concept that generations are at war with each other over shrinking resources. Older Americans want to age with economic stability, and want the same for their children and grandchildren.
The small group of individuals who would like us to believe that Social Security ought to face cuts for the sake of our children may continue to push this message but they’ll also continue to bump up against the truth. According to Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik in a column he wrote about the sham of “generational theft,” when you “Put the numbers together and you discover that spending by governments at all levels in 2008 came to about $1 trillion on seniors and $936 billion on children. In other words, very close to 1 to 1.”
Just as Social Security remains crucial for older Americans, it also remains as an important piece of economic security for American families. AARP’s CEO Barry Rand may say it best in his latest column on this issue when he says “We need to focus on helping people of all ages attain long-term health and financial security and live their best lives, not argue over who is hurt or helped more.”
As Rand also points out in his column, nearly 6 million children live with grandparents and 7 million children live in households that depend on Social Security to support the family. Grandparents, parents, and children who have a meal together might argue about things at the dinner table but they also depend on each other. Those who would have us believe the eldest have taken from the youngest have misjudged the character and the truth of the strong relationships we share between generations.
The argument that generations are at war for resources continues to surprise those who have love and respect for all generations. But such a silly argument loses traction each time it bumps up against the truth and whenever we hug a loved one from a different generation.
Also of Interest
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- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
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