By Richard V. Burkhauser
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Extra info for A Challenge to Social Security. The Changing Roles of Women and Men in American Society
From a familist perspective it seems odd to take any account of marriage without further recognizing that marital unions are the basis for the important social functions that families perform. Because marriage Concepts Underlying the Current Controversy 33 ordinarily fosters commitments to childbearing and parenting, a familist views marital status as a convenient tag for ascribing benefits based on all contributions of family members, including home work as well as market production. In this view, earnings sharing and self-financed homemaker credits are undesirable because they are tied exclusively to market work contributions.
A pure individualist might assert complete indifference about how people choose to relate themselves to other adults or to children. Presumably such a choice is freely made as a way to maximize one's own utility given one's income. Hence, a transfer of income from a single person to a married person at the same income level will not increase total utility any more than a transfer from a non-car-owner to a car-owner. The earner is seen as the appropriate taxpaying and beneficiary unit, and the dependents who presumably share his or her earnings are irrelevant to tax and benefit policy.
The NIT sketched here would go further than SSI toward making the individual the beneficiary unit. Concepts Underlying the Current Controversy 35 P R E C E D E N T S FOR R E C E N T P R O P O S A L S Some of the proposals discussed here have been considered before and rejected. In the early thirties, Dr. Francis E. Townsend proposed an Old Age Revolving Pension Plan with a flat payment of $200 per month for every citizen 60 years of age and over, to be financed with a 2% sales tax. This popular approach to a demogrant for the aged remained topical until the early fifties, but never was favored by any congressional committee.