Thursday, December 10, 2009

James W. Russell on the Great Retirement Rip Off

Talk Nation Radio for December 10, 2009
James W. Russell on the Great Retirement Rip Off

See part one and part two uploaded December 18, 2009 for a full hour on this topic.

"You can get out of a bad mortgage by refinancing, OK? But you can't get out of a bad retirement system. That's very strange. It's a form of financial serfdom, that I even wonder if it's constitutional." James W. Russell, author of six books including, Class and Race Formation in North America and Double Standard: Social Policy in Europe and the United States. See books page here.

Produced by Dori Smith
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Part two
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More from James W. Russell as he puts the retirement fund crisis in context with other financial problems such as the financial and health care crises. Also journalist Morton Mintz, Sr. Adviser at the Nieman Foundation's Watchdog Project, on the $47,345,946 made by Aetna CEO Ronald A. Williams over just two years.

The great thirty-year experiment in 401(k) and the like—403(b), 457, IRA, etc.– financed retirement has failed. Even before the stock market crisis of 2008, the signs were everywhere that very few workers would be able to accumulate enough wealth through these accounts to insure retirement financial security. As a result, most are looking forward to–or rather becoming resigned to—working longer and seeing their standards of living dramatically decline when they do retire. They will become increasingly dependent on their adult children if they have any.

Up until 1980 each generation of workers since the nineteenth century had more retirement security than the previous one. Now each has less. This U-turn in retirement security joins wage stagnation and rising inequality as fundamental class issues facing working people.

We look at this national retirement crisis and the response of some state workers in Connecticut who are seeking to fundamentally reform their retirement plan.

Scholar James Russell has become a much sought after speaker because he took the time to research problems within Connecticut’s state employee retirement system, and has defined some practical solutions that go beyond Connecticut’s problems. He is the author of six books, including Class and Race Formation in North America, and Double Standard: Social Policy in Europe and the United States, and he has written for Monthly Review, The Nation and The Progressive Magazine.

He is a professor in the sociology department at Eastern CT State University in Willimantic, Connecticut, and runs the Latin American Studies Program there. During the early 1990s he was a Fulbright Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City.

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