Government does for us collectively what we cannot do individually. \nIn 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law an economic security plan that provided assistance to low income families, the unemployed and seniors, protecting them, he said, from the hazards and vicissitudes of life. \nSocial Security retains today its stated purpose of 65 years ago: a commitment to provide economic security to seniors. The government is responsible to safeguard against misfortunes that cannot be eliminated.\nChange and innovation, as with any long-standing system of economic assistance, are needed to protect Social Security's future reliability and solvency. It is with today's young people in mind that Vice President Al Gore has proposed private retirement accounts and tax credits to match an individual's own savings. \n"I am proposing a plan to give families the real help they need to build better lives for themselves and their children," Gore said. "My plan for private savings and investment is very different from what others have proposed in this election. It doesn't come at the expense of Social Security. It comes in addition to Social Security."\nThe retirement accounts, called Retirement Savings Plus, would go beyond Social Security's guaranteed benefit. The accounts would be based in the private sector and not managed by the government. They would build on the solid base Social Security now provides, while allowing one to invest more in his or her retirement, without any chance of losing benefits in poor economic times. \nRoosevelt's plan to assist the elderly in 1935 was in response to a poor economic situation. To allow, through private investment, the potential for people to lose those benefits would nullify the purpose of Social Security. It should be there for seniors when they retire, regardless of their luck, or lack thereof, on the stock market.\nPrivate investments should be in addition to, not part of, Social Security. They should be encouraged, as Gore's plan proposes, allowing seniors the potential for a better fiscal situation upon retirement. \nUnder the current system, everyone gets by on a basic guaranteed benefit. Gore's plan allows for savings and investment, with tax savings, on top of that base benefit. Republican plans for partial privatization of Social Security take away that guarantee and open up Social Security to the ups and downs of the economy. \nWith the strong economic situation we now enjoy, it might sound good to allow individuals to invest their benefits in the stock market. But, the markets can, and do, go down. The Republican plan would create winners and losers. \nWhat happens to seniors who retire when the economy is in a lull or, worse yet, a depression? When they most need the financial assistance now provided by government, it might be much less than what they would get today from Social Security.\nGore's Retirement Savings Plus plan, however, provides for flexibility and increased investment, while maintaining the base benefit of Social Security. Young people would have a lifetime to enjoy the plan's retirement savings program, building on their base benefit without risking it in the process.\nRoosevelt said in a 1934 message to Congress, "Security was attained in the earlier days through the interdependence of members of families upon each other and of the families within a small community upon each other. The complexities of great communities and of organized industry make less real these simple means of security. Therefore, we are compelled to employ the active interest of the nation as a whole through government in order to encourage a greater security for each individual who composes it."\nGovernment, through Social Security, helps ensure we will be secure in our retirement. Let's not allow risky Republican schemes to take away that security.