Washington – It was 75 years ago today that President Franklin Roosevelt, the “Father” of the US Social Security System, delivered his famous “Four Freedoms” speech. Freedom of speech and religion were familiar freedoms. And, as the fascists marched across Europe and Asia, “freedom from fear” represented a natural longing. But Roosevelt’s list went further than any American leader had dared imagine when he proclaimed “freedom from want” – a healthy peacetime life for everyone in the world.
Just four years ago the US Social Security Trust Fund was on a course to run out of money as early as 2033. And, in the most technologically advanced epoch in human history, the world watched as tens of millions of children, women, and men died from starvation and easily treated diseases globally. On the surface, these two issues didn’t seem to be linked. But, in December of 2005, Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates were recognized by Time Magazine as “Persons of the Year” and the world was given a rare gift – a new definition for heroism.
Inspired by this example a vast global network of citizen-heroes grew over the past ten years. The first thing that became clear was that, to deliver a quality standard of living to everyone in the world, it would be necessary to reduce the huge amount of waste involved in producing a quality standard of living. Once the challenge was framed as driving down the cost and waste involved in producing a quality standard of living, the link between “freedom from want” and the Social Security Trust Fund crisis became clear.
Maximum Social Security retirement benefits were increased last year to secure long term political support for expressing all benefit formulas in terms of the lesser of the current benefit levels or a “quality standard of living” index (QLSI). While the QLSI will initially be substantially higher than the calculated retirement benefit level at $60,000 annually; Venture Happiness is projecting that we will drive down the annual cost of a quality standard of living to below $1,500 (in 2016 dollars) by 2036 – just a little over $4 a day.