Its almost embarrassing to say how much we have enjoyed these past 10 years of retirement because so many do not and will not have the wherewithal to do what we have done because of the 'theft,' if you will, of private pensions-- and some public pensions-- in the United States.
To be sure, tax-advantaged 401(k) plans have provided a means for millions of retirement savers to build a nest egg. More than three-quarters of employers use such defined contribution plans as the main retirement income plan option for employees, and the vast majority of them offer matching contribution programs, which further enhance employees' ability to accumulate wealth.
But shifting the responsibility for growing retirement income from employers to individuals has proved problematic for many American workers, particularly in the face of wage stagnation and a lack of investment expertise. For them, the grand 401(k) experiment has been a failure.
"In America, when we had disability and defined benefit plans, you actually had an equality of retirement period. Now the rich can retire and workers have to work until they die,"said Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist at the New School for Social Research who has proposed eliminating the tax breaks for 401(k)s and using the money saved to create government-run retirement plans.
Now that news really sucks. They are talking about my brother's future there, and maybe yours, or surely someone you know.
Sure we're probably more frugal than most. Jakkalbessie says most people we know would not stay in a $35 a night un-airconditioned plywood cabin in Costa Rica with the bathroom outside at night, or in a tent with elephants and hippos dining just outside as that middle of the night call for the toilet beckons. Nor would many even want a life like ours, with no TV, no new car (ever), etc.
Sure we were worried about becoming bankrupt when we each experienced hospitalizations and major health challenges but we had enough savings after insurance to pay our part of the huge bills and so far still have a little left over.
Of course if the Republicans and their Corpadem little buddies ever get their way in Texas we might loose our secondary insurance or have premiums increased to the point they will no longer be affordable. But so far we Texas teacher retirees have fended them off. The teacher health benefit fund is billions in the hole this biennium but so far the Republican dominated Texas House and Senate have issued pledges to make up the shortfall. Maybe they want to increase the base of senior voters by doing this without a fight. Maybe they are saving it to end of session as part of some Grand Bargain to further lower corporate taxes in TX. We will see.
Defending Government Pensions
So far we Texas Retired Teachers have also fought off efforts to privatize our fixed benefit pension, but other states have not been so fortunate. That is scary and the fat lady has yet to sing but ....
Climate Change and Retirement
And now we have the most recent Climate Change studies showing the shit going to get real much sooner than predicted, not to mention the possible further loss of our democratic control of protections and regulations through the Investor State Dispute Resolution revelations in the TPP.
Its a cold rainy day here in the desert mountains of Santa Fe, NM, so Jakkalbessie and I took a down day from a very active lifestyle and binged on DailyKos and other readings.
Following a link from one of those diaries got into this article
Could the carbon bubble ruin your retirement?
Remember the subprime mortgage bubble? The carbon bubble might be our next $6 trillion nightmare.
Read more: http://www.mnn.com/...
We have participated in some protest actions with 350NM and heard Bill Mckibben speak about divestment via live video feed at the UNM campus in Albuquerque.
Reading this article reminded me to got check and Teacher Retirement of Texas fund. Though Texas teachers rank down there with Mississippi when you take into account salaries, health benefits, and retirement benefits, the Pension fund is huge and does pretty well.
– With a market value of over $130 billion as of December 2014, TRS manages the seventh largest US public pension fund. The fund’s size enables TRS to pursue large attractive opportunities not available to a majority of the marketplace.
The new brochure and video should be an example for all states facing attack on government pension funds because it shows the benefits to local economies of each dollar spent on pensions.
Divestment Good For Pensions?
Was quite surprised to the that in bloody Texas only 3% was invested in Energy and Natural Resouces. And up until recently on a pure money basis that area was probably doing amazingly with all the mega profits raked in.
The Raiders of Your Lost Retirement: Carbon Bubble?
Could not find anything about divestment moves on the TRS fund like I found for other states. But the article surely makes the case for getting out of oil and minerals and into alternatives.
What is the carbon bubble?
Despite how it may sound, the term does not refer to a bubble of carbon dioxide gas. Instead, it refers to the idea that as the world gets serious about moving to a low carbon economy then we are going to have to leave a large quantity of fossil fuels in the ground. And leaving a large quantity of fossil fuels in the ground leaves companies that are invested in the extraction, processing, transport or use of those fuels — not to mention the individuals, banks and pension funds who are invested in those companies — vulnerable to the risk of "stranded assets."
In much the same way as the financial crisis of 2008 rendered huge quantities of home loans largely worthless, a new energy landscape could render investments considered prudent under one set of assumptions substantially less lucrative and/or not worth the paper they are written on if those assumptions prove wrong.
One would think that surely the oil and gas movers and shakers are on top of this and won't let it happen. But apparently they got so used to the megatons of profit they have made in recent years that they are not changing their business plan and hoping that the joy ride continues.
The article talks about how the Saudis have been spanking the tar sands frackers' butts by lowering the price , and also how the Saudis are getting into solar and may thereby contribute to a Carbon Bubble?
Adding to that complicated picture, there is much speculation that Saudi Arabia's role in keeping oil prices low is a direct attempt to throw a spanner in the works of tar sands oil production and fracking, thus preserving its market share in a limited-carbon future and maintaining the medium-term value of its less carbon intensive oil reserves. This school of thought gains added credence when you consider that the Saudis are investing heavily in solar power, and a Saudi Arabian solar company recently shattered records for the lowest-cost solar anywhere in the world. Could it be that the desert kingdom is crafting its exist strategy?
Surely, the fossil fuel industries are aware of this threat?
Whenever I talk about the carbon bubble, somebody usually pipes up that fossil fuel industries, not to mention the banks that finance them, employ some of the smartest minds in the world. Wouldn't they be aware of, and planning for, such an existential threat as this?
Hope you get a chance to read the article in full. Who knows, as the author argues, the dead ender fossil fuel plutocrats might not change quick enough and will tip up into another huge fail downturn of the world economy.
IF that happened, it would surely have an impact on our pensions and 401ks.
What to do?
>What can I do to protect myself?
As was pointed out in a diary here recently
Whether the carbon bubble deflates slowly or blows up with a bang will depend very much on how the world manages the transition to a low carbon economy, assuming we make that transition at all. (If we don't make the transition, the idea of a functioning economy becomes pretty much moot anyway.) Luckily, the same things that investors need to do to protect themselves are the same things that will help to encourage a managed (and manageable) transition. They look something like this:
Divest from fossil fuels: Whether it's an individual meeting with his or her financial advisor to reduce fossil fuel exposure, or a gigantic corporation like The Guardian Media Group divesting its £800,000,000 investment fund, the sooner we move our money out of the bubble, the smaller that bubble will be.
Advocacy groups like 350.orghave been at the forefront of building a global climate movement, providing a myriad of ways that you can engage on the local, regional, national and international level. Heck, even corporate CEOs are making their voices heard — demanding substantial climate action and severing ties with organizations who are standing in the way.
Invest in alternatives: It is not, of course, enough to simply take our money out of fossil fuels. The world needs energy. So we need to invest in the alternatives. That's why divesting from fossil fuels must be combined with investing in renewables, efficiency and other clean tech.
Walk the walk: Investment is just one piece of the puzzle. How we use (and don't use!) energy in our daily lives sends an important message to the markets about where our future is headed. So install solar panels if you can, buy green energy if it's available, turn off those (LED!) lights, ride a bike (when you're not driving your electric car), and support businesses who are committed to clean energy too.
Demand change: From voting for politicians who support a stable, low carbon policy environment to pressuring polluting businesses (and their backers) to mend their ways, what you do with your time and voice is as important as what you do with your money.
Read more: http://www.mnn.com/...
the President seems to be like some of the rest of us (hi, its me the frequent flyer!) , in denial about Climate Change with recent Administration actions showing this as so, his great recent speeches and his tepid deals with China nothwithstanding.
But really, what can we do to stave off this attack of The Raiders of Our Lost Retirement, this carbon bubble?
Guess me and Jakkalbessie will at least continue to work for divestment of fossil fuelsdeadenders and other transnational attempts at expanding their power through the TPP and TTIP while undermining our own economic well being. We also donated to Bernie Sanders run for the nomination and support his opposition to the corporate socialism that the trade agreements and tax breaks for big corporations . YMMV
Yes --- other countries have prospered at the expense of American workers.Shanghai, China - 1987 and 2013