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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 25, 2011 / 21 Nissan, 5771

Even U.S. can't afford generous defined benefit systems

By Michael Barone




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The defined benefit is dying. Barack Obama is struggling to keep it alive, but it's apparent that it's something that even as bounteously rich a society as ours can't afford.

Yes, I know that "defined benefit" is not a common household phrase. But most people know what a defined-benefit pension is: It's when your employer promises to pay you a certain amount of money, pegged to your salary or according to some other formula, when you retire.

Some 30 years ago, most big employers had defined benefit pension plans. Some private-sector employees still have them, and many government employees do.

But a little-known provision of the 1978 tax law, section 401(k), authorized companies to offer defined contribution pensions. Instead of promising to pay workers specific amounts years later when they retire, companies would put certain amounts in an employee's 401(k) account.

The employee would own the money and choose among investment options. The money wouldn't be taxed until it was removed from the 401(k) account years later.

It's easy to understand why employers prefer defined-contribution plans: once they've paid the employee, they don't have any further obligation.

Many employees like them too. They have actual money, not a claim on some fund someone else is managing. They can move from one job to another rather than stay with one employer many years so their defined-benefit pension will fully vest.

Pensions are not the only defined-benefit system in our society. Social Security is a defined-benefit system: You pay money in and you get retirement benefits when you reach a certain age. Medicare is a defined-benefit system as well, though when you become eligible you may be surprised to find it doesn't cover everything: that's why elderly people buy Medigap insurance policies.

Many on the political left decry the disappearance of defined-benefit pension plans from the private sector and strive mightily to maintain them for public-sector employees. They argue that people with defined-contribution plans often don't save enough for a comfortable retirement or make bad investment choices.

They argue that defined-benefit plans and defined-benefit public policies provide you with absolute 100 percent security and eliminate all risk. Unfortunately it's becoming clear they don't.

The people who put defined-benefit plans and policies in place assumed there would always be someone able to pay for them.

There would always be enough new workers to pay for retirees' Social Security and Medicare. Benefits were raised on the assumption that the baby boom generation would produce a baby boom of its own. Oops. Birth rates near replacement levels, which we have now, are not enough. The ratio of workers to retirees is in inexorable decline.

General Motors would always be a big enough company to pay for the pensions and health benefits promised to hundreds of thousands of retirees. Turned out it wasn't.

Congress recognized the fact that both employers and employees have incentives to underfund defined-benefit pensions (it's more fun to spend the money now) and passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in 1974. But when companies fail, ERISA's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. doesn't pay the full amount of many private pensions.

Defined-benefit policies assume a static society. But we live in a dynamic society, and defined-benefit policies cannot keep up with constant change.

Social Security and defined-benefit pensions assumed that people wouldn't live very long after turning 65. Now we do. Medicare didn't provide a prescription drug benefit because prescription drugs weren't a big deal in 1965. It took 38 years before a prescription drug benefit was added in 2003.

Defined-benefit pensions are now mostly a thing of the past, replaced by defined-contribution pensions that place some risk directly on individuals rather than promising them full protection that turns out to be highly risky when big entities out of their control fail.

We need to adjust defined-benefit public policies to shift some short-term risk to individuals while reducing toward zero the huge systemic risk that exists now.

President Obama seems to believe we can shore up these policies by taxing high earners more. But there's not enough money there to keep things going as they are, and a big tax increase on high and middle earners increases the risk that our current sluggish economy will become the norm. That's not a risk worth taking.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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JWR contributor Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner.




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