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THE MEANING OF SOCIAL SECURITY By A. J. Altmeyer Here in the United States the swift pace of progress paints dramatic contrasts; but however times may change, one purpose is constant--the American people are always striving for the kind of life that will assure to themselves, and to their families and to their neighbors, a chance to make their own way in the world. This is the goal of what we now call "social security." The name is new and the great national enterprise for which it stands is recent. But, in the words of President Roosevelt's message to Congress on June 8, 1934: "Our task of reconstruction does not require the creation of new and strange values. It is rather the finding of the way once more to known, but to some degree forgotten, ideals and values. If the means and details are in some instances new, the objectives are as permanent as human nature. "Among our objectives I place the security of the men, women and children of the Nation first. "This security for the individual and for the family concerns itself primarily with three factors. People want decent homes to live in; they want to locate them where they can engage in productive work; and they want some safeguard against misfortunes which cannot be wholly eliminated in this man-made world of ours." For this, the frontiersman, with his musket and axe, cut a wilderness trail and set a stockade about his log house. For this sons and grandsons cleared the fields, fought drought and flood, and labored with plow and scythe to plant and harvest the rich promise of a new land. For this, those who have followed them down to our own time, sell their strength, their intelligence, and their will-to work in the cities and market places of mass industry, adding man power to machine power to continue building a new and richer word. Even in pioneer times people found that one man or one family could not always assure their own security single-handed. Some needs were common to all and could be better met together than alone. Some dangers threatened every one alike and could be conquered only by the united action of all concerned. For this, the frontier struggled to maintain its thin line of forts and its militia of soldier-citizens. For this, the first settled communities organized local governments--to safeguard property from theft and fire, to survey roads, to build schools, to quarantine contagions, to care for those who were in want, and to perform such other community tasks as time and circumstance should require. For this, isolated settlements sought greater strength by coming together in Colonial Commonwealths and, gaining their independence, into a union of States. For this, the founders of the union set forth in its constitution the common purposes of the new nation--and among them were "to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, and to promote the general welfare." And for this in the 1930's we have called upon our Federal Government as a nationwide partnership of all its people to extend our common defenses against insecurity. The insecurities most families face today are the result of economic risks--want and despair when job and wages stop, dependence in old age, hardship for children left without a breadwinner. And our definition of social security is in line with these needs: in general it means the economic well-being of all the people; in particular it describes a nationwide program of protection and prevention, undertaken through the established channels of government, and directed against specific hazards, mainly eco- 5