This research paper is aimed at examining the importance of the Social Security Act which was adopted in 1935. This topic can be better examined with the help of both primary and secondary sources. This approach can show how people, who lived during this period, could perceive this event.
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Yet, it is also necessary to understand how this law is assessed by modern historians. Overall, one can argue that this legal act signified the origins of the welfare state in America; moreover, its inaction changed the economic role of government because this institution began to act as the re-distributor of wealth in the society.
To a great extent, this event continues to have significant implications of the contemporary American society which guarantees certain economic welfare to the citizens. These are the main arguments that should be examined more closely.
It should be mentioned that the Social Security Act was enacted at the time when America was profoundly affected by the Great Depression. It deprived many people of their revenues. At that time, millions of people lost their employment, and in many cases, they were on the verge of starvation.
Moreover, homelessness became much more widespread in the country. In contrast, the Social Security Act was aimed at assisting those people who could not support themselves.
The text of this document can be regarded as the excellent primary source that can throw light on the intentions of policy-makers who attempted to create the model of state that could better ensure the welfare of the citizens.
From the very start, the authors state that the main purpose of this law is to “provide for the general welfare” of people (The Social Security Act, 1935, par. 1). They focus on the specific populations.
For instance, one can speak about old people who cannot earn their living (The Social Security Act, 1935). Moreover, this legal act was supposed to benefit those individuals who could not find employment at that time when many businesses went bankrupt (The Social Security Act, 1935).
Additionally, the legislators attached importance to the needs of children, especially orphans. It is possible to argue that legislators wanted to protect those citizens who were more vulnerable at the time of economic crisis. On the whole, the adoption of this law can be viewed as an important landmark in the history of the United States.
At that moment, the government assumed some responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. More importantly, it imposed some obligations on businesses. To a great extent, this law shaped the functioning of the state for a long time.
Moreover, this legal act signified the departure from the principles of the laisser-faire economy which was favored in the past. The government had to become an arbiter that was supposed to protect the interests of vulnerable groups. This is why the Social Security Act should not be overlooked by economists or historians.
Overall, the Social Security Act received different assessments. For instance, one can speak about Alf Landon who made the famous speech I Will Not Promise the Moon (1936). This politician criticized this law because in his opinion, it could not significantly contribute to the welfare of American citizens.
He believed that this law imposed a heavy burden on employers and employers (Landon, 1936). More importantly, this politician argued that taxpayers’ money could be used more ineffectively (Landon, 1936). The main arguments of Alf Landon are based on the premise that American citizens may not necessarily receive the intended benefits of this legal act.
Instead, they should be allowed to use this money independently (Landon, 1936). His opinions were shared by many entrepreneurs who believed that the government infringed on their economic and political rights. This primary source is of great value because it shows how the Social Security Act could be perceived by some Americans.
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However, Alf Landon represented a particular political agenda that had its strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, his assessment of the events may not be accurate. On the whole, this speech can be helpful for understanding the nature of political debates that could be held in 1935. This is one of the points that can be made.
It should be taken into account that the Social Security Act could have had even more profound implications for the functioning of the U.S. government. Originally, legislators intended to include a provision according to which every unemployed person was entitled to the job in the private sector (Rose, 1989, p. 63).
However, this omission was eventually excluded because this requirement could intervene into the existing labor market (Rose, 1989, p. 63). More important, this policy could significantly reduce the productivity of labor (Rose, 1989, p. 63).
So, it is important to remember that this law raised the level of expectations that American could set for the government. Such an author as Nancy Rose (1989) discusses the origins of this law. This secondary source is valuable because it provides a valuable analysis of how the government tried to consider the interests of various groups.
This issue is also examined by Jill Quadango (1984) who shows how the policies of the government were influenced by corporations that could influence the work of legislators. This author argues that the leading American companies attempted to mitigate the effects of the new social policies on their performance (Quadagno, 1984).
The representatives of these interest groups did not want the government to intervene in their economic activities since this intervention could undermine their economic performance (Quadagno, 1984). So, one should not suppose that every citizen was willing to embrace this law. These are the main issues that should be taken into account.
On the whole, this discussion shows that the Social Security Act proved to be a vital milestone in the social history of the United Stated. To a great extent, it marked the beginning of the welfare state. At that moment, the government changed its attitude toward the development of economy.
In particular, the state began to redistribute wealth among the citizens of the country. The sources that have been identified are useful for analyzing this event. To a great extent, they illustrate some of the responses to the law. In contrast, secondary sources can show how a particular event can be evaluated by historians and economists.
The use of these sources can help a person gain a more comprehensive idea about the influence of the Social Security Act. On the whole, the adoption of this legal act dramatically changed the political and economic landscape of the United States. These are the main details that should be singled out.
Landon, A. (1936). I Will Not Promise the Moon. Retrieved from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/8128/
Rose, N. E. (1989). Work relief in the 1930s and the origins of the social security act. Social Service Review, 63(1), 63-91.
The Social Security Act. (1935) Retrieved from https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=68&page=transcript
Quadango, J. (1984). Welfare Capitalism and the Social Security Act of 1935. American Sociological Review, 49 (5), 632-647.