‘Sink or swim’ ethic in America

Tamachi, Shizuoka

Regarding Robert J. Samuelson’s April 16 article “Look at Social Security for what it is: welfare,” unfortunately millions of retired Americans depend upon Social Security payments for survival. Because the concept of “lifetime employment” is virtually unheard of in the United States, we do not often have the ability to save for retirement over the course of a lifetime as the Japanese do.

When an American works, one of the mandatory taxes that is deducted from the paycheck is for this fund, along with taxes that fund the old-age health care plan Medicare. Should these benefits be removed, then clearly the taxes on said benefits should also be eliminated. However, what is happening is that the U.S. government is utilizing money from the Social Security fund for other purposes. This is essentially misappropriation of funds.

There is little to no societal obligation toward one’s elderly outside of the family in Western society. I believe that if the U.S. and other Western nations adopted a more “socialistic” attitude toward society things would be better. There is far too much emphasis on individual liberties and needs, which has had a detrimental effect on American society.

As a capitalist nation, the overall mentality of American society is that a person either “sinks or swims” — only those able to succeed and be self-sufficient are worthwhile as individuals — so people like the poor, the elderly who have no family and the mentally incapacitated are seen as burdens. I feel that this is wrong, but many Americans believe that it is fundamentally against what the U.S. stands for to have more government involvement in the form of government-mandated health care and social aid.

I feel that a more community-centered attitude is better for society as a whole. Most Americans, however, feel that anything that smacks of socialism is, by default, anti-capitalist and therefore contrary to the “American way of life.”

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

sarah moreno