During the Great Depression of the 1930s, most elderly people had little means of support. Job-based pensions were rare. The Townsend movement - a proposal to pay everyone over age 60 $200/month (a vast sum at the time) - began in California and spread across the country. It became the radical alternative to the Social Security proposal in Congress and indirectly helped enact Social Security as the more moderate plan. For more info on California's various pensionite movements, see Mitchell, "Pensions, Politics, and the Elderly" (M.E. Sharpe, 2000).
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