America’s Retirement Crisis

Published on Steve Lendman Blog, by bog owner, March 13, 2013.

Decades of class war leaves most Americans nearing retirement woefully unprepared:

  • Since the mid-1970s, real wages haven’t kept pace with inflation. Benefits steadily eroded. High-paying jobs disappeared. Improved technology forces wage earners to work harder for less.
  • So-called “free” markets work only for those who control them. A handful of winners benefit at the expense of most others. Conditions get progressively worse.
  • Wealth disparity extremes are unprecedented. Neoliberal harshness force-feeds austerity when stimulus is needed. Public needs go begging.  
  • American inequality is institutionalized. Bipartisan complicity assures it. Class war rages. America’s social contract is targeted for destruction.
  • Both sides agree. They support giving bankers, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites greater wealth at the expense of most others.
  • A May 2012 Employee Benefit Research Institute EBRI study highlighted America’s retirement crisis. American workers face trouble.
  • The percentage of those expecting to retire after age 65 increased to 37%. In 1991, only 11% expected to do so.
  • One-third of US workers expect to retire at age 70 or older. Growing numbers expect never being able to do so.
  • Over two-thirds expect to work at least part-time past age 65. At the same time, health and economic crisis conditions keep many of them from doing so.
  • Nearly one-third are woefully unprepared. Their savings are less than $1,000. Many others have nothing in reserve. Around 60% have less than $25,000.
  • Fewer than half of working Americans calculated how much they need in retirement. About two-thirds feel they’re behind schedule preparing for it.
  • Only 14% believe they’re adequately prepared. Only one-third have defined benefit plans.
  • Few understand retirement healthcare costs. Medicare is eroding as treatment expenses soar.

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  • Recent retirement policy changes contribute to growing inequality. Washington grants at least $80 billion annually in tax breaks to encourage 401(k)-type accounts.
  • Benefits go largely to upper-income households. The system is rigged for them. It’s done at the expense of most others.
  • Those earning $200,000 annually and contributing 15% of pay to retirement savings reap an additional $7,000.
  • Workers receiving $20,000 and contributing the same percentage get nothing. They don’t earn enough to qualify. Others earning $50,000 get about $2,100.
  • Workers in defined benefit plans face uncertainty. They’re underfunded and eroding. Benefits are frozen and disappearing.
  • Public pensions have similar problems. They’re being looted. They’re targeted for eventual elimination. They may be gone in another decade or sooner.
  • Most households today have few options. Government scoundrels target them. Austerity substitutes for help. Dire conditions are worsening.
  • One worker spoke for others. He’s aged 60. He thought he’d be comfortable in retirement. In 2002, he was laid off. “People talk about a lost decade,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been through,” he stressed.
  • He spent the last 10 years struggling. He was in and out of low pay/poor benefit/part-time contract jobs. He drained his savings to get by. Doing so excludes retiring when he planned.
  • Growing millions suffer similar hardships. Nothing is done to help them. Bipartisan harshness substitutes. America’s future looks grim.
  • Power politics replaced fairness. Corporate empowerment and privilege are institutionalized. Wealth is disproportionately shared. Ordinary people are exploited. Growing millions are left high and dry.
  • America is rife with corruption and gangsterism. The criminal class in Washington is bipartisan. Kleptocrats run things. They’re complicit with corporate crooks. Poverty, unemployment, hunger and homelessness are at near record levels.

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See also Stephen Lendman, USA, on OpEdNews / en.wikipedia, and on World People’s Blog.

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