This intrigued me so I did a little investigation. Social programs, while pretty much always existing in a very limited form the the US really began to grow as a national policy in the 1930's with FDR and then took off in the 1960's with LBJ.
Originally Posted by The Wyrd of Gawd
I pulled up a graph of the historical division of wealth in the United States and when FDR took office and introduced Social Security the wealth of the "99%" of Americans declined from about 68% to about 64% until basically the start of WW II. Starting with WW II which drove an artifical economy based upon war time spending (i.e. the standard of living actually went down because of rationing) the wealth of the 99% started going back up (because they couldn't spend their money on anything) until it reached about 72% in 1950. Then it declines again back down to about 68% in 1965 where the Vietnam War seemed to boost the economy once again until we reached 80% in 1975, or the end of the Vietnam War.
From there we've basically been on a down hill run with minor bumps along the way. Today were at about 65% of the total wealth belonging to the botton "99%" of the population which is roughly equivalent to where we were at during the depression under FDR but we're still on a downward trend as of about 2008 which is the last year shown on the chart.
With the anticpated inflation that't soon to strike because of the record amounts of borrowing by federal government and the net decline in average wages since 2008 things aren't looking very well.
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