May 21, 2014

“How to get people saving in America again? Obamacare for retirement accounts”

As RI Red writes in his email, “what could possibly go wrong?”  WaPo:

Here’s an accepted fact: Retirement is broken for most Americans.

The traditional defined-benefit pension plan has all but disappeared, leaving most with just a 401(k) plan through their employer — and only half the country has those at all. Since people stay in jobs for much shorter periods, they end up with pots of money stashed in different places, unless they have the capital and financial savvy to manage their own private account.

Translation:  “c’mon. We all know most Americans are but hairy, obese, consumerist infants.  So let’s stop pretending they can make reasonable choices.  No worries, though.  We big brained betters are going to affix the drool cups to these morons and make sure they don’t poke themselves in the eye with copper piping they’ve stashed away for the apocalypse.

So we should find some better way to nudge people to save on their own, right? Well, encouraging homeownership is one way to do that; it’s a forced payment you have to make every month towards a concrete thing that you can borrow against or liquidate down the line. But it’s also risky, and maybe you can’t or don’t want to buy property. So, maybe there are ways to get landlords to make saving easier for their tenants instead.

There’s a more simple idea, though: Just roll them all into one gigantic savings plan. That’s it, one step, no hassle, done.

It really is that easy!  And all you need give up is every last bit of your own decision-making, your free will, and your liberty — all for the price of an enlightened nudge toward security and Utopia!

A couple of weeks ago, Connecticut took a big step towards doing that, by mandating a study to assess how private sector employees could automatically be added to a retirement savings plan administered by the state, unless they intentionally de-enroll. Studies strongly suggest that participation rates increase when programs are opt-out rather than opt-in, so this could have a dramatic effect on those who’ve never set up accounts at all. And by creating a big pool, it allows the state to take very low management fees, which can be an obstacle to doing it on your own.

This is, of course, perfectly in keeping with what the founders wanted for you:  the state will suck you in unless you actively seek out the correct bureaucrats, fill out the right paper work, and demand out of their designs for you.  Under which circumstances your likelihood of being audited by a politicized IRS will no doubt magically increase.  Look, if you want to opt-in to some government retirement plan, fine. Go for it.  The way the government prints money, they’ll likely give you money back — though with the currency significantly devalued.  Me, I say no. And I shouldn’t have to opt-out to say no.  Instead, because I haven’t actively sought out the government’s help, they should just assume my answer is somewhere on the spectrum of “no thanks” to “get bent, assholes.”

Sound familiar? The concept is kind of like the Affordable Care Act, or at least its state-level predecessor in Massachusetts, which is supposed to achieve cost savings and cover a lot more people by asking everyone to join in.

Yes.  And it has been a disaster.  But then, this isn’t so much a pitch as it is preparing the ground for this being forced upon us — why should we have private control or free-market control over our money when the government can hold it for us (LOCKBOX!)? — one of the inevitable maneuvers of a federal beast who’s been told that what it said wasn’t a tax really is a tax, and so the unconstitutional bill they passed is, in fact, constitutional.

All of this sounds to me like some late night infomercial, so I’m just going to cut short the quoting of more propaganda disguised intelligent “wonkish” discourse and say this:  stop nudging me.  Or rather, stop pushing me.  Because what you keep calling a nudge, I’m beginning to take as a forceful shove backed by bureaucrats that are increasingly armed and partisan.

And when a bunch of people like me who are being shoved decide we don’t wish to be shoved anymore, the bureaucrats doing the shoving — for our own good, natch! — had better be prepared to have us act like the knuckledragging bitterclingers they already believe us to be.

Live free or die.  And most certainly, don’t tread on me.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 11:35am

Comments (17)

  1. This is obviously the first step before mass confiscation of 401ks and IRAs begins. Gotta get the money from somewhere and hey, it’s not fair that you worked for 30-40 years and judiciously saved while others were maxing out and then charging off their credit cards.
    What, you think your hard-earned money belongs to you? WHY DO YOU HATE THE BROWN PEOPLE?!

  2. “If you’ve got a retirement account — you didn’t build that. Government made that happen”

    And that voracious piper will demand his payment someday.

    I expect that the first casualty will be making Roth IRA’s subject to some tax, for the fairness. sarc>

  3. The government thinks a lot like my deadbeat sister. As long as I have any money, she will not behave as if she is broke.

  4. I thought this sounded familiar because it is Social Security. And that already went bankrupt.

  5. I imagine geoffb and Physics Geek are correct: they will start by taxing Roths, and then go after all 401Ks and IRAs. I think it was last year that the first rumors of that surfaced.

    I need to rent a backhoe to dig a bunker in my backyard, for me and my money. Actually, the priority order is me, my wife, my dogs, and then my money.

  6. I know I’ve said this before, but…
    All I want is my money back. I was suckered into this when I was still a miner and I should not have to honor a contract I wasn’t told the details of. So I want my money back. They don’t have to give me interest on the money just writew me a check for the full amount.
    Hell. They don’t even need to pay me back in money. I’ll take just about any government owned asset. Land even. I’ll even let them choose.
    What could be more fair.

  7. Am I the only one looking at this and imagining a room full of D.C. bureaucrat/Democrat apparatchiks, politicians, and special interest bundlers from, say, the green energy “industry” sitting around a table telling themselves what a win-win it is to invest all those savings in a new solar powered windmill perpetual motion dynamo?

  8. Leme guess, John Corzine is first in line to run this …fund?

  9. @Scott, they actually started floating the idea of seizing 401(k)s and IRAs back in 2009. I remember, because I started a new job then (my first after years of contract work), and I decided to skip the 401(k) savings because I didn’t want it to be seized. Better off just shoving it in a mattress.

    It died down for awhile, but came back last year. I’m sure it’ll be a plank in both parties’ platforms by the 2016 conventions. :-/

  10. And by creating a big pool, it allows the state to take very low management fees, which can be an obstacle to doing it on your own

    Well sure, because the state is always so efficient with tax payer money.

  11. And they have managed your money so well so far.

  12. The management fees will be low, sure, but I don’t think we an afford the bonuses.

  13. What, you think your hard-earned money belongs to you? WHY DO YOU HATE THE BROWN PEOPLE?!

    Hard earned money, obviously not. Hard money? You betcha!

  14. how private sector employees could automatically be added to a retirement savings plan administered by the state

    Uh…isn’t that what used to be called “Social Security?!”

  15. Mueller says May 21, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I’d be willing to write off the loss if they’d just stop taking any more of my money.

  16. Uh…isn’t that what used to be called “Social Security?!”

    You poor, naive hobbit. Social Security is closing in on a hundred years old and the law was written in a form of English nobody speaks anymore (consisting of complete sentences and proper punctuation — how quaint!).

    Besides which, it doesn’t catch all that surplus money all those rich people — you know, the ones that still have jobs — are able to squirrel away because they make so much more than they need.

  17. Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps if the government would stop inflating our money, tucking money away in an ordinary old savings account would be a viable option for retirement.

    I mean, heck, if the house is paid for and the car is paid for, not like it takes that much money to maintain a household.