Jun 8, 2013

Was Social Security Originally Designed In A Racist Way?

     Brad Plummer writes in the Washington Post about an argument that the Social Security Act as originally passed was designed to exclude most African-American workers. This was supposedly done to gain the support of Southern Democrats in the Congress. This was accomplished by excluding agricultural workers and maids, the most important occupations for African-Americans in the South at the time.
     The counter-argument is that agricultural workers and maids were excluded for reasons of administrative feasibility and that Southerners in Congress at the time expressed no strong views on the subject.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some history concerning workers & self-employed subject to social security taxes (http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2010/2a1-2a7.html ) It is a stretch to find racism incorporated in these provisions.

It is more relevant to discuss why the self-employed & government workers & certain other categories of EEs were excluded for so many years. However, more financially & practically reasoned discussions do not fit into certain political narratives that seek out victimhood.

items from the link mentioned above on ssa.gov website: Table 2.A1 Covered employment and self-employment provisions, by year enacted

All workers(EEs)in commerce & industry (except railroads) under age 65 in the continental United States, Alaska, & Hawaii & on American vessels. (Covered after 1936.)

Age restriction eliminated.

Regularly employed farm & domestic EEs. Nonfarm self-employed (except members of professional groups). Federal civilian EEs not under a federal retirement system. U.S. citizens employed outside the United States by American employers. Workers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (effective 1/1/51).

Elective by employer State & local government EEs not under a state & local government retirement system. Termination permitted 2 years after giving notice if group has 5 years of coverage when notice is given.

Elective by employer & EEs - EEs(other than members of the clergy) of nonprofit organizations (upon election by employer, each current EE given a choice as to coverage; new EEs are covered). Nonprofit organizations permitted to terminate coverage 2 years after giving notice, if the organization has 8 years of coverage when notice is given.

Railroad EEs with less than 10 years of service, for all benefits. (After Oct 1951, coverage retroactive to 1937.)

Farm self-employed. Professional self-employed except lawyers, dentists, physicians, and members of other medical groups (taxable years ending after 1954). Additional regularly employed farm & domestic EEs. Homeworkers.

Elective by employer & EE State & local government EEs (except fire fighters & police personnel) under a state or local government retirement system (coverage provided at state's option; a majority of the eligible EEs must vote in favor). See above (elective by employer, 1950) for termination rule.

Elective by individual Members of the clergy & of religious orders not under a vow of poverty.

Members of the uniformed services on active duty or on active duty for training. Remainder of professional self-employed except physicians (taxable years ending after 1955). Farm landlords who materially participate in farm operations.

Interns. Self-employed physicians (taxable years ending on or after 12/31/65). Tips for employee tax only.

Federal EEs —Hospital Insurance (Part A) program only, effective 1/1/83.

Federal EEs newly hired after 12/31/83, including executive, legislative, and judicial branch EEs, & also including those hired before 1/1/84, with a break in service lasting more than 365 days. Excludes reemployed annuitants hired before 1/1/84.

Legislative branch EEs hired before 1984 who were not participating in the Civil Service Retirement System on 12/31/83.

Members of Congress, the president, the vice president, sitting federal judges, & most executive-level political appointees of the federal government.

EEs of nonprofit organizations.