The NY Times’ Thomas Friedman recently unleashed another bout of inanity, this time arguing how we live in an Exciting! New! Flat! World where if we’re clever we have the capability to maximize our self-potential by channeling the spirit of Chief Big Data Cloud. Or something. A key linchpin of this Exciting! New! Flat! World? 401(k) retirement plans.
This would be funny, except too many people take Friedman seriously.
I’ve been through this before, but it apparently bears repeating–all of the 401(k) retirement plan’s gall can be divided into three parts:
1) Giving wealthy people a tax break for something they would have done anyway. From the Carter era on, there has been a lot that going around.
2) Looting pension funds. By shifting employees over to 401(k) plans, it allowed leveraged buyout operators to loot the pension funds for assets.
3) Pumping up the stock market. Between poor overall performance from the early seventies, followed by the Volcker interest rate hikes, not a lot of money was flowing into the stock market. This was viewed as a way to fix that.
This is not a technological change, just predation, rent extraction, and rules-fixing by the wealthy.
Same round world as ever was.
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