Opportunity, security, volatility

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Daniel Gross, one of my favorite columnists around, had a great New York Times piece over the weekend explaining why voters are so resistant to changes in Social Security. In the end, Americans suffer enough income volatility as it is:

The factors that functioned as internal shock absorbers for families have weakened. And so, too, have external buffers. Over the last three decades, the percentage of workers covered by defined-benefit pension plans and employer-provided health insurance – guarantees that provide ballast for fluctuating incomes – has declined. Add this to the trend of rising volatility – especially for people in the lower and middle income levels – and it’s easy to understand the reluctance to transform a government program that guarantees seniors an income.

The whole piece deserves a look. It’s also worth noting, as Mark Schmitt explained nicely last week, that income security doesn’t need to be incompatible with opportunity. Social Security doesn’t make people lazy or dependent, it doesn’t stifle growth or creativity—if anything it boosts opportunity by allowing many people to move from job to job without fear of losing their pensions. There are ways to create an opportunity society without watching the majority of Americans fall prey to the vicious income swings and devastating shocks that Gross so clearly describes.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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