The Great Retirement Con

The Origins Of The Retirement Plan

Back during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress promised a monthly lifetime income to soldiers who fought and survived the conflict. This guaranteed income stream, called a "pension", was again offered to soldiers in the Civil War and every American war since.

Since then, similar pension promises funded from public coffers expanded to cover retirees from other branches of government. States and cities followed suit -- extending pensions to all sorts of municipal workers ranging from policemen to politicians, teachers to trash collectors.

A pension is what's referred to as a defined benefit plan. The payout promised a worker upon retirement is guaranteed up front according to a formula, typically dependent on salary size and years of employment.

Understandably, workers appreciated the security and dependability offered by pensions. So, as a means to attract skilled talent, the private sector started offering them, too. 

The first corporate pension was offered by the American Express Company in 1875. By the 1960s, half of all employees in the private sector were covered by a pension plan.

Off-loading Of Retirement Risk By Corporations

Once pensions had become commonplace, they were much less effective as an incentive to lure top talent. They started to feel like burdensome cost centers to companies.

As America's corporations grew and their veteran employees started hitting retirement age, the amount of funding required to meet current and future pension funding obligations became huge. And it kept growing. Remember, the Baby Boomer generation, the largest ever by far in US history, was just entering the workforce by the 1960s.

Companies were eager to get this expanding liability off of their backs. And the more poorly-capitalized firms started defaulting on their pensions, stiffing those who had loyally worked for them.

So, it's little surprise that the 1970s and '80s saw the introduction of personal retirement savings plans. The Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) was formed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974. And the first 401k plan was created in 1980.

These savings vehicles are defined contribution plans. The future payout of the plan is variable (i.e., unknown today), and will be largely a function of how much of their income the worker directs into the fund over their career, as well as the market return on the fund's investments.

Touted as a revolutionary improvement for the worker, these plans promised to give the individual power over his/her own financial destiny. No longer would it be dictated by their employer.

Your company doesn't offer a pension? No worries: open an IRA and create your own personal pension fund.

Afraid your employer might mismanage your pension fund? A 401k removes that risk. You decide how your retirement money is invested.

Want to retire sooner? Just increase the percent of your annual income contributions.

All this sounded pretty good to workers. But it sounded GREAT to their employers.

Why? Because it transferred the burden of retirement funding away from the company and onto its employees. It allowed for the removal of a massive and fast-growing liability off of the corporate balance sheet, and materially improved the outlook for future earnings and cash flow.

As you would expect given this, corporate America moved swiftly over the next several decades to cap pension participation and transition to defined contribution plans.

The table below shows how vigorously pensions (green) have disappeared since the introduction of IRAs and 401ks (red):

(Source)

So, to recap: 40 years ago, a grand experiment was embarked upon. One that promised US workers: Using these new defined contribution vehicles, you'll be better off when you reach retirement age.

Which raises a simple but very important question: How have things worked out?

The Ugly Aftermath

America The Broke

Well, things haven't worked out too well.

Three decades later, what we're realizing is that this shift from dedicated-contribution pension plans to voluntary private savings was a grand experiment with no assurances. Corporations definitely benefited, as they could redeploy capital to expansion or bottom line profits. But employees? The data certainly seems to show that the experiment did not take human nature into account enough – specifically, the fact that just because people have the option to save money for later use doesn't mean that they actually will.

First off, not every American worker (by far) is offered a 401k or similar retirement plan through work. But of those that are, 21% choose not to participate (source).

As a result, 1 in 4 of those aged 45-64 and 22% of those 65+ have $0 in retirement savings (source). Forty-nine percent of American adults of all ages aren't saving anything for retirement.

In 2016, the Economic Policy Institute published an excellent chartbook titled The State Of American Retirement (for those inclined to review the full set of charts on their website, it's well worth the time). The EPI's main conclusion from their analysis is that the switchover of the US workforce from defined-benefit pension plans to self-directed retirement savings vehicles (e..g, 401Ks and IRAs) has resulted in a sizeable drop in retirement preparedness. Retirement wealth has not grown fast enough to keep pace with our aging population.

The stats illustrated by the EPI's charts are frightening on a mean, or average, level. For instance, for all workers 32-61, the average amount saved for retirement is less than $100,000. That's not much to live on in the last decades of your twilight years. And that average savings is actually lower than it was back in 2007, showing that households have still yet to fully recover the wealth lost during the Great Recession.

But mean numbers are skewed by the outliers. In this case, the multi-$million households are bringing up the average pretty dramatically, making things look better than they really are. It's when we look at the median figures that things get truly scary:

Nearly half of families have no retirement account savings at all. That makes median (50th percentile) values low for all age groups, ranging from $480 for families in their mid-30s to $17,000 for families approaching retirement in 2013. For most age groups, median account balances in 2013 were less than half their pre-recession peak and lower than at the start of the new millennium.

(Source)

The 50th percentile household aged 56-61 has only $17,000 to retire on. That's dangerously close to the Federal poverty level income for a family of two for just a single year.

Most planners advise saving enough before retirement to maintain annual living expenses at about 70-80% of what they were during one's income-earning years. Medicare out-of-pocket costs alone are expected to be between $240,000 and $430,000 over retirement for a 65-year-old couple retiring today.

The gap between retirement savings and living costs in one's later years is pretty staggering:

  • Nearly 83% of retired households have less saved than Medicare costs alone will consume.
  • One-third of retired households are entirely dependent on Social Security. On average, that's only $1,230 per month a hard income to live on. (source)
  • 34 percent of older Americans depend on credit cards to pay for basic living expenses such as mortgage payments, groceries, and utilities. (source

As for Medicare, the out-of-pocket costs could easily soar over retirement. The Wall Street Journal reports that the current estimate of Medicare's unfunded liability now tops $42 Trillion. Such a mind-boggling gap makes it highly likely that current retirees will not receive all of the entitlements they are being promised.

And the denial being shown by baby boomers entering retirement is frightening. Many simply plan to work longer before retiring, with a growing percentage saying they plan to work "forever". 

But the data shows that declining health gives older Americans no choice but to leave the work force eventually, whether they want to or not. Years of surveys by the Employment Benefit Research Institute show that fully half of current retirees had to leave the work force sooner than desired due to health problems, disability, or layoffs.

Add to this the nefarious impact of the Federal Reserve's prolonged 0% interest rate policy, which has made it extremely hard for retirees with fixed-income investments to generate a meaningful income from them.

The number of Americans aged 65 years and older is projected to more than double in the next 40 years:

Will the remaining body of active workers be able to support this tsunami of underfunded seniors? Don't bet on it.

Especially since their retirement savings prospects are even more dim. With long-stagnant real wages and punishing price inflation in the cost of living, Generation X and Millennials are hard-pressed to put money away for their twilight years:

(Source)

Public Pensions: Broken Promises

And for those "lucky" folks expecting to enjoy a public pension, there's a lot of uncertainty as to whether they're going to receive all they've been promised.

Due to underfunded contributions, years of portfolio under-performance due to the Federal Reserve's 0% interest rate policy, poor fund management, and other reasons, many of the federal and state pensions are woefully under-captialized. The below chart from former Dallas Fed advisor Danielle DiMartino-Booth shows how the total sum of unfunded public pension obligations exploded from $292 billion in 2007 to $1.9 trillion by the end of 2016:

(Source)

And the daily headlines of failing state and local pension funds (Illinois, Kentucky, New JerseyDallas, Providence -- to name but a few) show that the problem is metastasizing across the nation at an accelerating rate.

Affording Your Future

The bottom line when it comes to retirement is that you're on your own. The vehicles and the promises you've been given are proving woefully insufficient to fund the "retirement" dream you've been sold your whole life.

That's the bad news.

But the good news is that the dream is still attainable. There are strategies and behaviors that, if adopted now, will make it much more likely for you to be able to afford to retire -- and in a way you can enjoy.

In Part 2: Success Strategies For Retirement, we detail out these best practices for a solvent retirement, including providing 14 specific action steps you can start taking right now in your life that will materially improve your odds of enjoying your later years with grace.

For far too many Americans, "retirement" will remain a perpetual myth. Don't let that happen to you.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

We did our homework over the weekend; we did the research so we can tell you what is likely coming from Senate Democrats regarding President Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Based on our research and the anonymous people who have already come forward to talk about Coney Barrett's youth, these are the main shocking things you can expect Senate Democrats to seize on during the confirmation process…

A man has come forward under the banner of "#MenToo," to say that in second grade, Amy Coney Barrett and her best friend at the time, cornered him at a birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese and "injected him with a full dose of cooties." Which, if true, would obviously be disqualifying for serving on the highest court in the land.

Then there's a woman who says when she was nine-years-old, she lived on the same street as Amy Coney Barrett. She alleges that Coney-Barrett borrowed her VHS tape of Herbie Goes Bananas and did not return it for at least six months. And then when she did finally get the tape back, the woman says Coney Barrett did not even bother to rewind it. The FBI has interviewed at least two witnesses so far who say the tape was indeed not rewound and that it was very upsetting to the owner of the tape. Again, if true, this is troubling – clearly not the kind of integrity you want to see in a Supreme Court justice.

Apparently, in their elementary school days, they liked to drink milk – and lots of it.

The same neighbor also dropped a bombshell allegation about the drinking problem of Amy Coney Barrett and her closest friends. Apparently, in their elementary school days, they liked to drink milk – and lots of it. The neighbor says she "frequently" witnessed Coney-Barrett and her friends chugging entire cartons of milk – often Whole Milk, sometimes Chocolate Milk, occasionally both at the same time through a funnel.

Unfortunately, shooting-up cooties, injurious rewinding, and potential calcium-abuse are not even the worst of it.

A third person has now come forward, another man, and this is just reprehensible, it's hard to even fathom. But he alleges that in fourth grade, when they were around ten-years-old, Amy Coney Barrett and a group of "four or five of her friends" gang-GRAPED him on the playground during recess. He alleges the group of friends snuck uneaten grapes out of the cafeteria and gang-GRAPED him repeatedly in broad daylight. In other words, and I hate to have to spell this out because it's kind of graphic, but the group led by ten-year-old Amy Coney Barrett pelted this poor defenseless boy with whole grapes. He recalls them "laughing the whole time" as they were gang-GRAPING him.

He recalls them "laughing the whole time" as they were gang-GRAPING him.

Obviously, even if just one of these allegations is half-true, no Senator with a conscience could possibly vote to confirm Coney Barrett. When there is a clear pattern of destructive childhood behavior, it always continues into adulthood. Because people do not change. Ever.

Fortunately, for the sake of the Republic, Democrats plan to subpoena Coney Barrett's childhood diary, to see what, if any, insights it may provide into her calcium habits, as well as her abuse of illicit cooties and the gang-GRAPING incident.

We will keep you posted on the latest, but for now, it looks like Democrats will find plenty in the reckless pre-teen life of Amy Coney Barrett to cast doubt on her nomination. And if not, they can always fall back on her deranged preference for letting babies be born.

[NOTE: The preceding was a parody written by MRA writer Nathan Nipper.]

On the radio program Friday, Glenn Beck discussed the recent news that a primary source for the Steele Dossier — the document on which much of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation was based — had been investigated by the FBI for contacts with suspected Russian spies. Glenn also shared several previously unpublished texts and emails from FBI agents have recently been released.

According to a letter sent by Attorney General William Barr to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday, the FBI knew early on that the research compiled by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele relied on a "Primary Sub-source" that had been "the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his or her contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers" — but still used it to obtain warrants to spy on former Trump campaign-aide Carter Page.

But, it gets even worse. Now, new leaked texts and communications from FBI agents within the department at the time of the entire Russian collusion effort were disclosed in federal court filings on Thursday. According to the court documents, FBI agents purchased "professional liability insurance" to protect themselves in January 2017, just weeks before Donald Trump was inaugurated president, because they were concerned about the agency's potentially illegal activity during the Russia collusion investigation.

"Trump was right," one FBI employee wrote in response to then-President-elect Trump's Jan 3, 2017 tweet which read: "The 'Intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!"

Watch the video below for more details:

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Chief researcher Jason Buttrill joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to discuss an "explosive" new report released Wednesday by Senate Republicans on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Among other serious allegations, the 87-page report claims that "Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow," and the richest woman in Russia.

"The transactions discussed [in the report] are designed to illustrate the depth and extent of some questionable financial transactions. Moreover, the financial transactions illustrate serious counterintelligence and extortion concerns relating to Hunter Biden and his family," the report stated.

Jason suggested the Senate's findings provide additional evidence to back allegations of a money-laundering scheme, which Glenn detailed in a four-part series about Biden's shady connections to Ukraine. Learn more on this here.

"Laundered money is very hard to track to its finality," Jason explained. "I'm sure the Biden camp is really hoping that it just looks suspicious, but [investigators] don't ever find the eventual end point. But, if they do – and it's possible they already have – this is going to be explosive, very explosive."

Watch the video below for more details:

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Revolutions rarely happen overnight. The Left started laying the groundwork for November 3, 2020, the moment Hillary Clinton had to concede the 2016 election to Donald Trump. It was always solely about getting rid of President Trump — and there's a playbook for that.

Last week, Glenn Beck showed you the "Seven Pillars of Color Revolution" written by a former U.S. diplomat, which are the conditions that must be in place for a successful Eastern European-style "Color Revolution." The left seems to be pushing for a Color Revolution this election because they are using the exact same playbook.

In part two of this series, Glenn peels back the layers on the first four of these Color Revolution pillars to show you how they work and what the end goal is. And he reveals one of the architects of the playbook – a Color Revolution specialist, former ambassador, and former Obama administration official who is one of the key masterminds of this revolution.

Joining Glenn is political campaign veteran and BlazeTV host Steve Deace who says the polls that claim Biden is leading the race "are trash." We're being set up to believe that if Trump wins in spite of the polls, it must be an invalid election.

Watch the full video below:


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