Fees should only be charged from gains, not from the portfolio principal

JEFF SOMMER, in the NYTimes article 'For Retirees, a Million-Dollar Illusion,' when discussing our material needs in old age, informs us that 'A MILLION dollars isn’t what it used to be.'

Occupy Government Oakland
This is what 30 years of Republican economic policy have wrought: lower taxes for corporations and the rich, union-busting, 401k plans instead of pensions, serial bubble-busting markets, capped by the great recession. America used to be a rich country. Now we can't afford to pay the help.

Isn't it time to give the country back to the people?

FSB Iowa
The number of responses to this simple factual article indicates the scope of the problem. Some of the responders never earned much, others saved carefully but lost in the collapse of pensions or the markets, others inherited, others had no families willing or able to help, others are relatively prosperous but even that's not enough under present conditions, others are prosperous but they worry anyway. Their responses reveal the fact that most older people in this country worry quite a bit about money, with cause.

The problem is the SYSTEM. I was fortunate to spend some of my teaching life in Denmark and France. Unlike me, my colleagues never worried about their financial future. They worried about their parents' health, their children's careers, or how they wished to spend their leisure time, but fear of the lack of money never entered their minds. They were free! Their reputedly burdensome tax rate was about 10% higher than ours. 10%! Think about it--full health care, child care, disability, unemployment insurance, excellent public transportation, good retirements, and no need to help your neighbor who can't get food stamps. . . .

This they did with less total income than the US and despite the ravages of two continental wars. This shows what a communal system with the will to provide for human needs can accomplish

Mr. Smith 2


By transferring trillions of tax dollars to the banking industry, the self-serving Fed has suppressed interest on savings, which in turn has inhibited spending, investment, and growth. This massive transfer of wealth to the 1% is responsible for the current recession (the coincident effect on jobs is shown at http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/keeping-up-not-getting-ahead), targets particularly the middle classes and seniors, and is a major factor in the time bomb of failing retirement plans for middle class savers who can't risk the stock market casino, despite the Fed trying to push them into it. Fed policy is also embedded with corollary events designed to transfer wealth to the 1% well into the future (for example fees and long-term interest payments), and has become a long-term structural impediment to middle-class retirement.

Why all the sour grapes in the comments relating to the retirement income of two civil service retirees? What's the difference in their benefit package and yours? It's likely that the more generous pension plan stemmed from collective bargaining--something that 's dying in this country because younger workers sneer at the concept of unions. Yet, they have a strong sense of entitlement.

Public employees are the most highly unionized segment of the US work force. Maybe that explains the fact that they enjoy superior benefits? Quit your covetous whining and stop forcing this country into a race to the bottom. Demand a defined pension and improved benefits for yourselves instead of carping about the injustice of people who worked hard throughout their careers leading a relatively secure, non-elaborate retirement.

If you want to criticize imbalance and injustice, turn your sights toward the bankers, politicians, and 1%ers who want to render the middle class obsolete by brainwashing you that a civil service pension earned (not bestowed ) after a career if hard work is immoral. Being able to retire at a reasonable age with sufficient assets should not be a luxury.

“The bottom line is that people at nearly all levels of the income distribution have undersaved."

I disagree. In order to save one needs to have enough to save. I grew up middle class (one parent was a teacher) yet we saved, went on vacations and had enough to get by.

With the demise of pensions and with the majority of income going more and more to just the uppermost few people have less and less to save - yet need to save even more. Add in a bad economy, harsh times and that's what is seen today. It will only get worse with union bashing and even fewer pensions.

The US is rapidly heading towards a 21st century version of feudalism, with corporate overloards and an ultra-rich oligarchy.

Hipolito Hernanz Portland, OR
The way we compensate investment management firms is totally corrupt. Fees should only be charged from earnings, not from the portfolio principal. They can and do charge fees for the privilege of losing your money.

d. lawton Florida
Most workers do not have "professions", they have jobs. They are not the bosses, they do not make the decisions, they have no say in their hours or working conditions, and the US is a worker abusing country and culture. That's why people in their late seventies and eighties CAN'T continue working, and your ideas are completely unrealistic.

Josey Michigan
So my money was in iras, and group funds, both were wiped out to less than a $3,000. balance. I was downsized, and out of work since 2009, my husband has been on 32 hour weeks at work, and his ira is worth less than $1,000. a year for years worked, as a large chunk of it was lost in 2008.. How can we possibly follow all these saving for retirement suggestions? We are really struggling now to make ends meet. We live simple, no credit. I garden, can food, sew, cook from scratch, very basic life style. The future is bleak and we have no options except to watch it all play out. Trillions of dollars of retirees money was lost in 2008. Yet that is ignored nothing has changed, so how can our kids be sure they won't get ripped off by the banks as well???????

thebigmancat New York, NY
Wow - I never thought of working past 65! Because nobody over the age of 45 can get hired as anything but a greeter at Wal Mart. When will SOMEONE debunk this retire at 70 nonsense?? Unless you are an attorney or a famous writer, you're on the ice floe by 65 at the outside. More like 55. Please NY Times - give me a break already!

Realist New York
I am curious, what planet do these writers live on. I am 59 and even thou all my friends worked hard and did not live it up like myself we don't even come close to having a 1 million in the bank. for us it will be work until we drop dead, no retirement.
So because of 30 years of trickle down wealth we are worse off than our parents even thou we did the right thing. the stock market and banks made sure that we would never make enough off our savings. When i was kid in the 60s i could have a saving account that earned 6% interest and your telling me bonds make 2.2% what a joke. we were robbed.

FunnyAboutMoney Private
Some of us are not crazy about the prospect of working until we drop in the traces.

If you're happy in your job, be our guest!

Oh...btw...baby boomers may be needed, but in the current age-hostile atmosphere in the US, you may be sure we will not be hired. An academic laid off at 64, I tried to land jobs that ranged from "looks like the job description was written with me in mind" to hilariously menial. Finally one dean admitted there was no chance his or any other college would hire someone of may age into a full-time position with a living wage. It would be nice of all us old bats and buzzards could get work, but reality is different from nice. Alas.

Shirley Abbott Tomkievicz New York, NY
I worked ten years past 65.. Had no pension or 410K from my job. Did have IRAs, funded by me. I used Vanguard and Fidelity and followed all the rules for conservative investing, being assured that if I was a good little girl and followed the rules, I could count on 5% safely. Got taken to the cleaners by the bankers in 2008. Pulled out just in time to save a bit. Without social security I would be in real trouble. Now I keep reading ads and getting mailings urging me to trust the same sharks. With what is left. The market is an excuse for picking the pockets of small investors.

GinaB North Carolina
I've been poor my whole life. I am relatively highly educated, having put myself through the University of Michigan for a BA in English and then on with an MFA from Western Michigan University. I am single, childless, and have few family members. Not the most popular gal in the universe or even a room, I might finally be able to buy a house in about three years. That house is all I will have and savings and the 6% that's taken from my pay for a pension and so on. Not a million, nothing close, and alone I will remain (I can tell by now, age 47). The United States isn't my favorite country in the world because I don't come from a normal family or upbringing and therefore I've felt rather unaccepted here my whole life (I've lived in other countries for a try). I've never fit it or felt secure here. More often I have felt judged and alone, still I am educated, hard working, but honest to a fault. And as I write this I realize not one word matters. None of this matters. Slowly we become more invisible until finally we're gone. And like memories this million-not-even-close can't be taken with.

the right way?

carrobin New York

Having come to New York at age 24 to build a career in the publishing field, I have few savings and a very small pension at age 69. Fortunately, a few years in the editorial side of a financial firm helped to boost my social security in the long run, but only a larger-than-expected inheritance from my father gave me some hope of coping with retirement. I'm now working as a temp at a publishing company and can't afford to stop working without giving up most of the perks of living in Manhattan--but I'm not ready to return to the sultry doldrums of South Carolina, either. I don't know how anybody can afford to "retire" these days.

ed g Warwick, NY
The rule of one is usually the proof that this rule is bogus.

Americans like every other group are moved by the story of the success of one and ignore the fact that many multiples of that one case were failures.

Try to think of it this way: if everyone could be a success at making money, that is we all were millionaires, then the new level of poverty would be having a million.

The answer is not accumulation of wealth beyond any reasonable need but public policy that everyone is deserving, entitled and due a minimum regarding opportunity, resources, housing, employment, jobs, retirement, etc.

And that there is a moral, economic, social and ethical point where those having more than that point (i.e. $5,000,000) must yield it for the common good.

Unrealistic? Unfair? Unchristian?

Of course should you accept the rules of the games defined by sociopaths who are like the mentally directed hoarders seen on TV. Making money, especially excessive amounts of paper with pictures of dead presidents is unethical, undemocratic, poor economics and sinful.

Not sure an alternative is needed? Then justify the condition of the world and most of the six billion or so lost souls crawling around on the surface of this rock called earth.

We don't need royalty via blood or wealth. And we don't need to be forgiven for something called sin. We need equality and respect and a new direction to correct the horrors of powerlessness and poverty.

York ME kittery ME
What a laughable article this is.

Bernanke has utterly destroyed the bond market.....1-3% returns now? "Tapering" is going to destroy the value of bonds out there. Holders will be wiped out.

All done to herd people into stocks....which Bernanke has succeeded in kiting to the moon...great. What happens to these folks when the markets "correct"? Wiped out.

Oh, cash, yeah, great.....the great Bernank has now started a currency war worldwide with the constant printing......what happens when the great Bernank panics and prints more? What happens Ben?

Not to worry tho, right? You and the gang of six big TBTF banks are busy ramming thru floating rates for Money Market funds, and controls on withdrawals when panic sets in.....so you can wipe those folks out as well......

And precious metals.....you guys took care of those with the manipulated smashing of the metals market in early April.....a ton of paper but no metal. Complete farce. But hey, you scared the American public away from this one last safe haven here! And the really wealthy are getting to sock metals away at rock bottom prices.

And that's what counts? Right Ben?

You, Mr. Bernanke, have it absolutely locked for them. So the real interesting article would have been about what you plan to do after you leave the Fed early next year.....back to Princeton, or a lovely corner office somewhere that you have to show up at just once or twice a year.....

NYT....its time to start writing the truth.....

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