Old People Still Want Their ‘Ham and Eggs’

A 1930s California Campaign Set the Stage for Today’s Debates Around Aging, ‘Entitlements,’ and Debt

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 …

Can Society Afford to Hail a Ride in a Post-Prop 22 World? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Can Society Afford to Hail a Ride in a Post-Prop 22 World?

Without a True Safety Net, Gig Workers Suffer as Ride-Sharing Companies Cling to a Broken Business Model

What would a safety net look like for gig workers at Uber, Lyft, and other companies of the internet-based economy?

It would provide health insurance, naturally, and a retirement plan, sick …

Eduardo Porter and Cynthia Greenlee | Zócalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Has Racism Shaped the American Economy?

Eduardo Porter and Cynthia Greenlee Discuss Institutional Failures and a National Lack of Empathy

What is the relationship between American economics and American racism, and can it be severed? How will systemic racism, past and present, slow our emergence from the current downturn? New …

How a Long Beach Doctor Created Social Security

The Angry Retiree Wrote the Letter That Helped Establish the Great Depression's Most Enduring Program

Long Beach, California, is known today for its terrific aquarium, for the Queen Mary, and for being the hometown of Snoop Dogg. But its greatest contribution to the United States …

My Modest Retirement Is Not Bankrupting America

Retired State Employees Like Me Aren’t Living It Up, But We’re Getting By—Which Is More Than You Can Say for the Next Generation

I’m a Boomer or close enough, born in December 1945. My parents, who grew up during the Great Depression, told me that financial security, especially in retirement, was the most …

No Woman Retires Elegantly

We Are All Helen Gurley Brown, Minus the Money

The concept of “retirement” is as foreign to me as size zero. I’m a young boomer who came of age in the midst of the Women’s Movement. Real women, I …