2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Student Review, November 8, 2002
This review is from: Social Security in the 21st Century (Paperback)
Social Security in the 21st Century
Social Security in the 21st Century offers many different intuitive looks into today's social security system. The authors of this book gave a complete view of social security based on three different categories. The book began with an overview of social security, followed by some issues that are affected by social security. Such issues include means testing, old age, and the possibility of social security running out of funds. Finally, the book discussed where social security should go in the future, whether it involves massive change or staying with traditional methods.
The first couple chapters gave a great overview of social security, including the development of social security in the United States. Chapter one gave insight into strengths and weaknesses of the social insurance approach. This approach encompasses old age, survivors, disability insurance programs, hospital insurance, and unemployment insurance. The book provided good insight into how the programs based on social insurance are the largest component of the United States social welfare system. Chapter two provided a good basis of the historical development of social security in the United States. The book's history of social security in the U.S. gives a complete description as to why social security was developed. Discussing the history of social security along with where it was when the book was published provided a good bridge into the next couple of chapters.
The middle chapters dealt with current issues that are affected by social security. Means testing is one of these issues that the book stressed as very important. The old approach sought to restrict public benefits to the poor simply based on their financial status. In contrast, the new approach seeks to reduce benefits to higher income persons by an income test applied through the tax system. The author provides valuable insight as to why the new approach should be implemented because social security will be unable to meet its commitments to baby-boomers and those in old age if it is not. This obviously is a very important current issue involving social security, and the book provides extensive knowledge on the topic.
The last few chapters gave us two views on the future of social security. The first dealt with establishing guidelines for how future reform should proceed by getting back to basics and examining fundamental principles. As the book says, future reform will need constant review to ensure that social security will be there tomorrow so that all future generations can benefit from it. The second view states that since the system has never missed a payday in 60 years of existence, it should stay in much the same form based on the same principles. These two views make it easy to understand why the future of social security is such a controversy among Americans.
In conclusion, the many different authors provided a comprehensive overview of the past, present, and future of social security. It was helpful as a reader to have diverse viewpoints of different authors on social security, instead of one biased author towards his/her own beliefs. This made the book much more interesting to read.
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