What do Rabban Gamliel, Hillel and Ben Zoma have in common? Aside from all three appearing in the Passover Haggadah, all three weighed in on Social Security, an American institution that marked its 80th anniversary last week.
Rabban Gamliel was onto F.D.R. millennia ago. Does anyone really think that this country’s 32nd President was really concerned about Americans, once they retired from the work force? Come on! One need not have a degree in history to know that when President Roosevelt concocted the Social Security program, he did so for self-serving purposes. Social Security was President Roosevelt’s attempt to jump start a flagging economy. If Mr. Roosevelt could induce those above the age of 65 to retire through financial reward otherwise known as Social Security, he could now open up those very same employment positions to others, thereby creating more jobs for the masses desperately searching for work. Roosevelt’s scheme was a great success! Add to that a World War that this country entered a little over 5 years later and the Great Depression was a thing of the past, as American industry went begging for workers.
That’s why the sagacious Rabban Gamliel warned us to beware of rulers, because they act friendly to the masses only when it suits them (the rulers).
You don’t have to be an economist to realize that the Social Security is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. At this very moment, there are those who will die behind bars for doing pretty much the same thing that the United States government has been doing for decades…. taking money from Peter to pay Paul. Is it any wonder why speculation is rife that Social Security will soon bankrupt itself, after taking tens of thousands of dollars, if not more out of paychecks of the average American, who has virtually no say in the matter?
Depending on one’s political bent, a cogent argument can be made whether it is the responsibility of the government to concern itself with the financial well-being of its citizens, come retirement. Perhaps this is why Hillel rhetorically asked: if I don’t look out for myself, then who will?
And even if one believes that one’s financial well-being upon retirement is the responsibility of the government, it can further be asked whether it should it be within the purview of the government to involve itself and effectively assume the role of banker for its citizens as they work towards retirement, giving the citizens neither a role nor a choice in that decision?
If the government were genuinely concerned with the financial welfare of its citizens upon retirement, then why has there never been a single word of encouragement from the government along the lines of “a penny saved is a penny earned”? Believe it or not, the government, any government can have a big impact on the behavior and attitude of its people. The obsession that the overwhelming majority of Israelis have with regard to water conservation came about because of the constant haranguing of the government. If the Israeli government can weave water conservation into the very fabric of its culture, then the American government can do the very same when it comes to conserving or saving money for retirement. Over the years Americans have been justifiably so very proud of their “can do” culture. Shouldn’t that very same culture inculcate in Americans a “can do” attitude with regard to putting aside a little from every paycheck for retirement years? Shouldn’t our nation be turning its lonely eyes to Ben Zoma who taught us that real men are able to conquer impulse spending for that which they never needed in the first place?
Perhaps the very fact that there were no fireworks in Washington to celebrate the 80th anniversary of what was once perceived to be a great innovation on the part of a great President says it all.