In the midst of the financial chaos enveloping Wall Street and threatening the economy of the nation and world, it is hard to think of much else. But it is worth a moment to recall the quite serious debate about partly privatizing Social Security that absorbed national attention just three years ago.
As I wish happy birthday to the Social Security program, I think of my maternal grandmother who died in 1993 at the age of 101. Grannie received an annual letter from the Social Security Administration to verify her continued eligibility for monthly checks. My mother and I chuckled as we proudly put the forms into the return mail on her behalf; Grannie puts the lie to the proposition that African Americans don't benefit from Social Security because of their shorter life spans.
My maternal grandmother was widowed in 1936, the year after Social Security's birth. After the death of her husband, grannie did what she had to do to support her three children: domestic work and taking in both laundry and borders. Although her hard work was never acknowledged by coverage under the Social Security program, her late husband's work was, and she was able to receive a modest benefit check based on his year of covered employment.