Before this country even started, the great Patriot, Thomas Paine, proposed an old age pension in his book-length pamphlet, Agrarian Justice. He did this because it was logical to have an old age insurance for the population. A society without one was problematic. Their elderly starved to death. There are good historical accounts of what social services were like before they were provided by the government. Herman Melville’s, What Redburn Saw At Launcelott’s Hey, for example.
The original Social Security was not available to large numbers of black people. It took a few amendments to add them in. They were excluded because racist legislators picked jobs heavily populated by African Americans — domestic servant and agricultural worker — and excluded them from social security eligibility. Now, the span of one’s life makes the most difference for old age pensions like Social Security, so that puts low-income and black workers (often overlapping) at some disadvantage, because they have a shorter life span. In fact, one analysis finds that Social Security is a transfer of wealth from people of color to white people. Of course, this has numerous counterarguments. It might just all balance out in the end.
The percentage of the population invested in the stock market hovers at half with only a fraction of them actually earning much from it. The most cited reason for not investing is lack of funds, but people have other reasons. They don’t trust stockbrokers or mutual fund managers, for one. Imagine that. People don’t trust the market. The benefit of having a universal program is that you get universal investment. If you start to give handouts to only a few people, those people are degraded, as our targeted programs for poor people like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is. Once you target, you stigmatize, and then people reduce their support for the program to the point where the individuals on the program are living on a pittance, barely able to survive. Never let a universal program become targeted. It will lose its political clout and die on the backs of the people it was targeted to help.