Well I Done Got Old

It’s official. In the words of Buddy Guy, “Well I done got old.” In a moment of bitter sweetness, I got my first Social Security (SS) check this week.

I could have received it 4 ½ years ago, but decided to wait until full retirement age, 66 years, 6 months. For the rest of my life, I will get paid by the government on the second Wednesday of the month, minus Medicare insurance.

According to the government earnings site, starting in 1972 when I paid in $228, I allowed the government to keep $210,073. Then my employers kicked in another $214,492, totaling $424,565 over 50 years. Imagine the amount had I been able to make interest off that money.

SS was originally the brainchild of Dudley Leblanc in his failed 1932 attempt for Louisiana governor. Edwin Witte, known as the father of SS, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, used Lablanc’s idea to develop the concept for federally funded pension plans in 1934. It was then pushed through Congress by Frances Perkins, the Labor Secretary in the Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet in response to the Great Depression. At that time, poverty rates for senior citizens exceeded 50 percent.

The SS Act was enacted on August 14, 1935, during Roosevelt’s first term in office. He established the President’s Committee on Economic Security, using the infamous Keynesian Economics as part of the New Deal. This was the first time this country had established federal assistance for the elderly, identified as Title 1. Also hung on the New (Raw) Deal was Title 111 for unemployment insurance, Title 1V for Aid to Families with dependent children, Title V – Maternal and child Welfare, Titel V1 – public health services, and Title X for the blind. I wish they had established a Title for pleasingly plump good-looking truckers too.