Pensions were a concept that came into existence during WWII.

401(k) was the darling of the '90s when businesses wanted to get out from having to be responsible for guaranteeing payments to their retirees.

Relying upon the stock market to provide for retirement should have been seen as potentially disasterous for anyone with more sense than a gnat. It has now been shown to be exactly such a disaster - and the future problems for those in their 50s and 60s is troubling.

Before Social Security, retirement DID NOT exist for 90% of the population. They either:

(a) worked until they died; or

(b) if unable to work due to health or age, then they

(i) went to the county poorhouse or

(ii) were supported by their younger relatives.

And that, for all those far right-wingers who blather on about saving for retirement being the sole responisblity of the individual WAS the reality and it meant that unless they were in at least the upper 10% in income (now over $120,000 in household income), they too would never have retired.

Social Security was created to get the older workers out of the workforce and decrease the supply of workers; and to so so in such an manner as to spread the burden of the elderly across all the younger workers rather than leaving it to the immediate family. That solved the problem of one worker trying to support his/her paretns. in-laws, grandparents and a few aunts and uncles while the neighbor on one side only had to support 1 or 2 elderly relatives and the neighbor on the other side had no living elderly relatives.

Telling households to 'save more' is akin to telling someone they really should try to fly off the roof of a 20 story building. FOr most, it simply can NOT be done. The median household income is around $50,000.

Try running the numbers on what households are 'supposed to save' each year according to the talking heads. Households are supposed to save enough each year to pay for their children's college so figure $7000 per child. Then they are suppose to ante up for their healthcare - say $6000 for 50% of the cost of the average family plan. Then they are supposed to spend 31% of the gross income on housing. Then they are supposed to save for emergencies and have an equivalent of 1 year of income set aside. Then they are supposed to save for retirement so call is another $7000 a year and they might end up with $280,000 over 40 year ....

Run the numbers for yourself. Using the 'advice' of the talking heads and taking the usual costs of utilities, car insurance, a car, healthcare, necesities, the median priced house at $180,000 and the required income is in excess of $150,000 - that is about the top 7 1/2% of the US.

So what are the other 92 1/2% supposed to do, eh? They simply do not have the income to save and pay everything they are "supposed' to do.

It may be necessary to completely rethink the idea of privately funding retirement for the vast majority.

— AnnS, MI

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