How did Americans learn the value of being paid in retirement?
If you’re an American, you’ve almost certainly heard of Social Security. But you probably haven’t heard of its predecessor, the Townsend Plan, advanced by a Long Beach, California doctor named Francis Townsend.
Social Security—and the ways we think about work, aging, and retirement—owe much to the Townsend Plan and its California roots. Its history is worth revisiting today, as a premonition of politics in an aging world.
The idea behind the Townsend Plan, drafted in 1933, was for the federal government to …