Legal scholar Karen N. Tani has published one of the most original and provocative papers in years on one of the most important pieces of legislation in American history—the Social Security Act of 1935.
(Note: For the first time, a Democratic president has just launched a proposal to cut Social Security benefits. This is quite momentous and I’m not ignoring it. But please keep in mind that the history of this program is complex and operates on many levels. I’m highlighting this in the p[resent post. I’ll have more to say on Obama’s historic move soon.)
The Social Security Act was a huge bill, cobbled together in an astonishingly short period of time, and yet it was the culmination of nearly 30 years of thinking about social insurance and the role of government by an ideologically disparate army of scholars, social workers, economists, politicians, lawyers, and actuaries. The whole story of how it came about has still not been written.
Tani, in the Yale Law Journal, asks whether the Social Security Act wasn’t at least partly an exercise in nation-building. Among other things, Continue reading Social Security as a National Unification Policy