Term Paper: Social Security Today the History

Pages: 6 (2395 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Economics  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Additionally, the majority opposed raising the age for benefits, increasing taxes, or having the government invest in the stock market.

What the Polls Say

According to the polls at pollingreport.com, many more Democrats were against privatization than were Republicans. This is probably because Democrats historically have more trust in the government to protect people and provide security, while Republicans traditionally are against any kind of government support for the individual in trouble or any form of financial interference. Independents were about halfway in-between, because independents can lean one way or the other. Another reason why more Republicans might have supported privatization is because Republicans are generally much more sympathetic with business interests, and that would be very good for big business.

Variations in the Polls

There are some very minor differences in reported opinion between many of the polls, which may be accounted for as sheer chance dependent on the polled population and the time of day or month that the poll was taken. For example, a poll largely taken during the day on a monday might have reached more unemployed or elderly people while one taken in the mid-afternoon on a Saturday reached more workers. It might also be a function of some minor cultural event. For example, a movie or tv show may have just highlighted the issue prior to one poll, or an economic downswing in the market that morning might have worried people who sat on the fence about the issue. People tend to be very easily influenced.

Some of the differences in poll results, though, appear to be based on the way a question is phrased. For example, a poll that focuses on individual responsibility by asking "Do you approve or disapprove of...allow[ing] individuals to divert part of their Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts which they could personally invest in the stock market for their retirement?" had 54% of those polled say that they approved, and 40% disapproved. However, a poll that addressed the issue more realistically by giving added details such as "Some people say this is a good thing because it is possible to earn a higher rate of return in the stock market. Others say the stock market is too unpredictable to trust it with Social Security funds. What do you think? Do you approve or disapprove of allowing younger workers to divert their payroll tax money from Social Security into private investment accounts?" had only 38% positive response and 55% negative response. Yet these two polls were only a few months apart, and conducted by the same company. This probably reflects a difference in the way the question was phrased, and the fact that it encouraged a thoughtful response instead of one based mainly on instincts or party-line thinking.

How Important is this Issue?

Social Security is a major issue, and in some elections it has been a voting issue. Today, however, there are a lot of other things to worry about that may be more pressing, such as the war on Iraq. Polls show how America feels about the importance of social security when voting for a president. All through the polls taken nationwide in 2004 regarding top voting issues and most pressing concerns, Social Security was considered such a low priority that it was generally not even mentioned. When it was mentioned, polls consistently showed that only 2-4% of respondents said that they would consider it to be a voting issue. However, only two years ago this was not the case. In 2002, 11% of those polled considered Social Security to be a voting issue. In 2004 the most important issues were the economy and the war in Iraq. This distinctly shows that both the youth of today and those that will be retiring soon know that what happens today is likely more important than what is possibly going to be a problem in forty years.

My Opinion think Social Security probably needs to be reformed slightly. I think that it should be easier to get on Social Security disability (there is currently a five-month waiting period for all applicants, and most applications are repeatedly rejected) so that the elderly who are physically incapable of working can retire, however, the minimum age for retirement without disability should be higher. I think that the government should consider investing in private stocks with higher returns, but should only do so in lieu of other corporate welfare. Additionally, I think that immigration of young, able-bodied workers should be encouraged, and that American corporations who out-source their work should still be required to pay social security taxes for overseas employees (though those employees should not themselves be taxed) so that there will be less benefits to out-sourcing work.


Bartlett, Bruce. " Social Security Problems Accelerating" Idea House, 1997. http://www.ncpa.org/~ncpa/oped/bartlett/dec397.html

Daly, Marc. "Understanding the Social Security Debate" FRBSF Economic Letter 99-20; June 25, 1999. http://www.frbsf.org/econrsrch/wklyltr/wklyltr99/el99-20.html#subhead4

DeWitt, Larry. "Brief History" SSA Historian's Office. http://www.ssa.gov/history/briefhistory3.html

Dreyfuss, Robert. "The end of Social Security as we know it?" Mother Jones (Online), 1996. http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1996/11/dreyfuss.html

Issue Guide. "Social Security: People's Chief Concerns" 2004. http://www.publicagenda.org/issues/pcc.cfm?issue_type=ss

PollingReport. http://www.pollingreport.com

SSA (Social Security Administration). "A Brief History of Social Security Pamphlet" 2000. http://www.ssa.gov/history/reports/briefhistory.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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