November 30, 2012

Formula 401(k)

Hatched by Korso

Whilst perusing the web as I am wont to do, I came across this interesting statistic:

Total U.S. retirement assets were $18.5 trillion as of June 30, 2012, down 2.0 percent from $18.9 trillion recorded on March 31, 2012. The decrease in retirement assets was driven by the drop in corporate equity values—for example, the S&P 500 Index fell by 2.8 percent in the second quarter. Retirement savings accounted for 36 percent of all household financial assets in the United States at the end of the second quarter of 2012.

So retirement issues were down a tick, but that $18.5 trillion is still a whopping amount of money. Now, consider this story just recently published in Time magazine:

Everything including the sacred mortgage deduction is on the table as lawmakers wrestle with the fiscal cliff, a year-end avalanche of scheduled spending cuts and tax increases. With a combined $10 trillion sitting in IRAs and 401(k) plans, retirement accounts make a juicy target. Some of this money has never been taxed, and under current law never will be.

To maintain this savings incentive the government “spends” $100 billion a year in the form of tax breaks to those who stash money in these kinds of accounts. Now, a new study suggests this tax incentive does little to change saving behavior. Some lawmakers, no doubt, are wondering: Why keep an expensive tax incentive that does not incent?

Finally, consider the amount of U.S. national debt. Best estimates put it somewhere around $16 trillion and getting bigger every day. So if we boil it all down to the basics, we have the following situation:

  • $16 trillion debt.
  • $18 trillion in privately held retirement accounts.
  • Congress taking "another look" at the tax laws.

Anybody else getting that sick feeling?

Think about it: Washington could use that money to wipe out the debt in one fell swoop! Of course, it would entail them nationalizing the retirement industry, appropriating all those funds, and then replacing them with IOUs -- kind of like what Social Security does today. If you think that idea sounds far farfetched, you need only consider this: the federal government has already nationalized medical insurance through Obamacare, not to mention the trillion dollar student loan market. Why should retirement present a problem?

And talk about a double-bonus! Not only would the feds have total control over your retirement funding, if you kick off before you get a chance to burn through all the money the government would get to keep it (again, exactly like Social Security works today). And thanks to the Independent Patient Advisory Board set up by Obamacare, you can bet your booty that those death panels will have even more incentive to hustle people off to their eternal reward as quickly as possible. It's a win-win all around.

Welcome to Barack Obama's brave new world. I'm not saying it's gonna happen -- but with the way these guys work, I wouldn't be surprised.

Hatched by Korso on this day, November 30, 2012, at the time of 10:20 AM

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