When President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced Social Security to the American people, he described it as "a return to values lost in the course of our economic development and expansion." A return to values indeed. Our Social Security system, which celebrates its 80th birthday this year, was founded in the 20th century, yet the concept of a national program of Social Security benefits dates back to the founding of the nation. Founding Father Thomas Paine published his pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, in 1797. There, Paine proposed old-age and disability benefits, funded by a tax on estates. In Agrarian Justice, Paine makes the compelling case that the fruits of our great wealth and productivity are most beneficial when they are used to support economic security and dignity for all Americans.
This new edition of Agrarian Justice includes a Foreword by best-selling author and Social Security expert Nancy Altman. The Foreword highlights how Social Security embodies the values animating our nation's founding and the ideas set forth by Founding Father Thomas Paine in Agrarian Justice.