Recently I have been reflecting on social security and its perceived benefits to society by acting as a safety net for retirees and other at risk families. I am increasingly questioning whether the notion of governmental insurance programs like social security are social and/or secure.
To begin, the idea of sociality is that a group of people come together and cooperate because it is in their best interest to promote each others welfare. Every society and culture is founded upon this notion. At its core, socialization allows individuals to become more human by cooperating with one another, not by withdrawing and separating. Unfortunately the effects of governmental insurance programs have been to separate people from those who are most interested in their success.
By turning to governments to fill needs in times of crises, people are actually made less social and relationships are destroyed as family coherence breaks down and the nuclear and extended family increasingly neglect their responsibility to care for their families needs (1 Timothy 5:3-4). Some may argue that my payment of taxes for such programs is proof of my concern for their welfare. Is that so? Show me when you visit these needy and neglected people. I have spent time in the retirement centers and those on social security are the neediest and loneliest of all people. Sending money is not the same are strengthening social bonds. Furthermore, the social function of the church is destroyed by taking from the church their God appointed place as those who care for the orphan and widow that others aren’t caring for (1 timothy 5:5).
This is not to say that a government system can’t coexist with a strong family and church social structure, the Amish are evidence that it can. What it does say, however, is that it is increasingly unlikely that in the midst of widespread government insurance for a family and church system to stand up and maintain integrity in caring for those under their care. Increasingly, denominations large and small, across the theological spectrum have encouraged their clergy not to opt out of social security claiming it is morally sound. Is it morally sound to destroy the social fabric of society for a few dollars?
That leads to my second thought. Is social security secure? As birth rates fall, and the older generations age, their are only three options for providing the required funds needed for the promises governments have made:Reduce the benefits these insurance programs pay, Tax the younger generations more, Inflate the currency. Historically, ruling authorities do not survive when they reduce benefits, and while taxing the younger generations may be a temporary solution, it cannot be a long-term sustained solution. As birth rates continue to decline, tax rates must increase in such a situation and there is a threshold which will inevitably be reached before revolution or black-markets take over, thus crippling the system even more. That leaves the third option, as the option most governments including our own have taken: Inflate the currency by printing more money. However this tack, actually penalizes the very people government has set out to help. As fixed income elderly and those in need, the very act of causing inflation is insecure, instead of secure.
Thus social security is neither social, nor is it secure for those who most need help. The answer, return to the primacy of the nuclear family and allow them to maintain as much of their income as possible in order to care for those the Word of God calls them to care for.
For a great book on the interrelation between governmental pensions, prosperity, population and family see
Juurikkala, O. (2007). Pensions, Population, and Prosperity. (Acton Institute:Grand Rapids, MI)