Social Security was not the idea of Dr. Francis Everett Townsend

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Although I agree that the movement in to Social Security was a need in the country during the Great Depression to dignify the elderly and get them out of their job, out of the breadlines and into retirement, Dr Townsend was not responsible for the move by FDR into Social Security. Quoting Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. in The Politics of Upheaval, "The Townsend agitiation had nothing to do with the initiation of the New Deal social-security policy. Roosevelt established the Committee on Economic Security in June of 1934, when the Doctor was unknown outside Long Beach and before there was a Townsend club in existence. Though the treat of the Townsend Plan no doubt speeded the passage of the Social Security bill and assured the inclusion in it of old-age insurance, that bill passed two months before Townsend considered that his own movement 'had developed to a size sufficient to justify our calling a national convention'" (40-41).

Thank you Thom for opening my eyes to Dr. Townsend and his movement. The grassroots style of the movement, and the rejection of economists facts and figures is very similar to the tea party movement today.

damondm's picture
Sep. 14, 2011 5:15 pm


Btw, social security is in no way a Ponzi scheme. It's more akin to a bond that we can't cash in until we're in our sixties. A Ponzi scheme requires somebody skimming off the top.

Dano45's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

If it is not a Ponzi scheme, why is it a complete rip off for everyone that is donating money to the to the pot right now? And the younger you are, the worse it is.

Run the numbers. Take what you put in every year, double it to account for the employer match (in 2011 the employer match was actully more than what you donated becasue of the tax break), then give yourself a yearly rate of return equal to the US T Bill rate. Then compare that lump sum to what your benefits will be. In my case I would have over 2 million dollars in my account, instead I can expect to get a whopping $28,000 a year! Which would you rather have?

The only difference between Social Seurity and a Ponzi scheme is that those who sign up for a Ponzi scheme actually have a choice. The only choice I have is to move to another country.

And yes, there were people skimming off the top. Those were the early recipiants of SS. There is a documented case of one person who made one payment into the the system when it was set up, then collected benefits for the rest of his life. What a deal!!

That's exactly how a Ponzi scheme works, first in you got it made. Join late, you get screwed. Everyone puting money into the pot right now got screwed big time.

mauiman58's picture
Jan. 6, 2012 5:45 pm

"The next time you hear someone say Social Security will run out of money, know this: FICA can and should be eliminated; the tax on benefits can and should be eliminated; the benefits themselves can and should be greatly increased – and Social Security will not run out of money unless Congress and the President deliberately withhold funds." says Mitchell in

–Monetary Sovereignty for Young People, Part 4. Social Security « #Monetary Sovereignty – Mitchell

Mitchell explains how money works.

pshakkottai's picture
Jul. 11, 2011 10:27 am

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