Prior to Social Security, the majority of the elderly died in poverty, even on the streets. Now, they
Prior to Medicare, they either brought their families down with spiralling medical costs or got no treatment. Medicare was implemented because there wasn't such a thing as private health insurance for the elderly - private health insurance companies didn't offer such plans because they knew that there's no profit to be made there.
I don't know about you, but I'm glad none of those things are true anymore.
I don't know where you get these "facts," but those things aren't true anymore, because they weren't true before SS/Medicare.
"The majority of the elderly died on poverty, even on the streets"? Are you joking? Where do you get this kind of goofy revisionist myth?
Before social security, there were a number of safety nets for the elderly. One, folks SAVED for their retirement. Two, they relied on their family, particularly their CHILDREN (the social "contract" used to be that you raised your kids and they helped to take care of you when you aged). Three, there were religious organizations, neighborhood associations, guilds, charities and other voluntary institutions that looked after various constituencies.
Social security was enacted by taking advantage of a very unique, specific and particular historical episode, the Great Depression, which was brought about by many things, including international situations of the day, but not by lack of Social Security. During this time, there was a temporary spike in poverty at all levels of society, not just elderly.
What made much of this poverty go away was NOT SS, but in actuality were 1) WWII, which resulted in massive employment (men in the military, women in the war industry) and 2) the subsquent massive economic boom in the U.S. (and later W. Europe and Japan). This American boom also led its economy to account for half of the World GDP at point.
Poverty reduction (whether elderly or young) is not achieved by taxing productive work (payroll tax) and reallocating as the government sees fit. It is achieved by economic growth, which happens under capitalist, competitive market economy.
I might add that even if you do not subscribe to all this, SS is in serious trouble due to the demographic shift. There are fewer young workers while those in the retirement age group are larger in number and growing faster (higher lifespan). The payroll tax exacted on the young, productive workers are being used to support those who retire now. Eventually (the exact time is up for debate), there will NOT be enough money to "pay out" for the retirement of the current group of young people. It is, in concept, exactly identical to a pyramid scheme.
The ones who pay into the system later get screwed.
Every responsible retirement planner will tell you not to count on social security for your retirement.