Social security: "Since the end of the 1960s, the erosion of the founding principles"

Online Desk | February 3,2017 | 3:25 pm

The sociologist Colette Bec returns to the history of the "Secu", on the occasion of the release of the documentary "La Sociale" in which she sheds light.

Gilles Perret devoted two of his previous documentaries to the program of the National Council of Resistance ( Walter, retour en résistance , in 2009, And Happy Days, in 2013). Still in this same vein - historical and militant -, the director now signs La Sociale, theaters since November 9.

The film recounts the 70 years of Social Security, born in 1945 and developed under the impetus of the Communist minister Ambroise Croizat. Before undergoing a "crumbling of its founding principles", according to Colette Bec, professor emeritus of sociology at the University Paris -V-Descartes, specialist of the question, who sheds light in the documentary.

What is the main difference between Social Security as it exists in 2016 and that of 1945?

Colette Bec: There are many differences, but there is one that seems to me to be essential: there has been an erosion of the founding principles since the end of the 1960s. The deficit, of which we speak a lot these days, and almost became a chestnut tree For years. He was already at the origin of the reform of 1967. This reform is, in my opinion, the first stone of an essentially accounting approach, which gradually relegates the social and social goals of Social Security to second place.

From then on, there will be less and less debate about the place of social security in society, rather its place in the economy. This is the omnipresent theme of the "hole" of the Social Security and the significant substitution of the term "charges" to that of "contributions". This logic has only increased since then. It has helped to destabilize and delegitimize the two pillars of the social state, namely labor law and the social security system.

Before the existence of Social Security, which institutions fulfilled this function?

The question of protection is obviously well before 1945. It is present throughout the nineteenth century, at the heart of the "social question". This situation of pauperism shows that the freedom proclaimed in 1789 does not keep its promises for a very large part of the population which is on the margins of survival, in a situation of social inferiority or even subjection. This persistence of the social question and the problems connected with it makes the failure of liberal doctrine manifest as a conception of living together, incapable of making society.

It is the Third Republic which gives a first political answer to this problem. It posits that there is no freedom without security and no equality without solidarity. It implements the latter principle through what can be described as a draft social protection policy. Among the great laws of that period, besides the school laws, three great laws of assistance were enacted, attempting to articulate the individual and the community.

What are these three major laws?

The law of free medical assistance (of 15 July 1893) is considered as a loan to patients recovering their capacity to work; That of the service of assisted children (June 27, 1904) as an investment in the children who will soon cooperate in the common work; Finally, the law of assistance to the aged, infirm and incurable (of July 14, 1905) as the payment of a debt to persons who have already worked.

These laws reflect the link they create between the citizen and the nation. They will be followed by insurance laws of 1910, workers 'and peasants' pensions, and especially the law of 1928-1930 creating compulsory social insurance, but only for employees in industry and commerce.

When it was created, how was Social Security an innovation in relation to these earlier laws?

The aim of the above-mentioned laws was limited to protecting the most vulnerable categories in the world of work, whereas the ambition of the Social Security project is quite different: it is a matter of "solidarizing" the whole of society. Pierre Laroque, the first director of social security [one of its founders with the Communist minister Ambroise Croizat] , spoke of a policy of redistribution "tending to modify the distribution that results from the blind play of economic mechanisms" .

Thus thought, the "Secu" was to take place in a general political project: to organize rationally a just and solidary society. It was to be a central part of this new democratic course by contributing to the emancipation of individuals, the increase in life expectancy, and the massive decline in infant mortality. It is in this sense that it can be described as an institution of democracy, an institution that has profoundly transformed our society.

What is the future for Social Security in a context where the public sector is being privatized?

Difficult to say . There is certainly a widespread satisfaction of a "rescue" of the "Secu" by an anticipated reduction of the deficits. But we are careful not to specify the modalities - the situation of the hospital and the mobilizations of the nursing and medical staff of the last days should however invite us ...

But above all, there is the risk of a real reorientation of the founding principles of the system. First, a process of dualisation of the system that has been at work for some time. This is reflected in the development of a separate sphere, a real sphere of poverty management (social minima, working poor ...) alongside the always effective protection of statutory workers.

Secondly, there has been an increasingly strong implementation of a second component of the system since the 1970s: complementary insurance. Didier Tabuteau [head of the "Health" chair at Sciences Po] showed how the reimbursement of current care is between 50 and 55% at the present time, even though in 1980 it was 80%. This explains why the "complementary" has become a necessity for access to care .

This amounts to a de facto reduction in the protection of the weakest: a significant proportion of the French population is not complementary, which virtually excludes access to care. And this also creates a genuine protection market in which the fundamental good of health is brought back to the rank of merchandise, the patient becoming a customer. A market in which compete mutual societies, insurance companies and complementary provident institutions.

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