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Crunching numbers on long-term care insurance

After trying without success to collect what I think is about $10,000 still owed on my late mother's long-term care policy, I finally wrote to the chair of the board of the company that provided it. My question concerns the whereabouts of benefit checks that were processed, but never cashed back in early 2011. All I have asked for, repeatedly since March of this year, have been photocopies of those checks to see where they were deposited -- if cashed at all.

State-sponsored retirement plan looks good on paper

It may come as a complete surprise to learn that the state of California is going into the 401(k) business. It has to be true because it was in the newspaper. This new program is not to be confused with new state employees being shunted out of retirement plans and into a 401(k) look-alike. It is for the 6 million private-sector employees who are currently not offered any plan. Could this be an idea whose time has come, or just a futile effort on the part of state government?

Safe investment bet: Balanced no-load funds

Many of us are still in the grip of analysis paralysis when it comes taking the next step with our money. Traumatized by the current volatility in the market caused by flash crashes -- not to mention the complete collapse of the financial markets a few years ago -- there is still a broad segment of investors who are crouched in their bunker of money market funds. Statistics indicating the flow of money out of stock mutual funds indicates that the number of these investors is growing.

Ideology won't fix Medicare

My summer vacation in Maine was interrupted by the birth of our granddaughter in New York on Aug. 19th. The exhilarating event left me thinking about what kind of a world our little Clio Bogart will be living in over her next 90 years or more. It's interesting to consider what her life will be like if Mitt Romney is elected and begins a Republican dynasty stretching far into the future, as envisioned by supporters.

Gambling on taxes not good business

Spooked by the specter of the year-end tax cuts' demise? Cheer up, because it was once much worse.

The book "L.A. Noir" by John Buntin offers a true story of mobsters and their tax problems coupled with the explosive growth of California during the '50s and '60s. The epic battle between gangster Mickey Cohen and a newly reformed Los Angeles police force involved hit-men who, in those days, murdered with impunity and rarely spent much time in jail because, as law enforcement saw it, "they were just killing each other."

Diversify investments to reduce risks

High-frequency computerized stock trading dominates more than 70 percent of all stock market volume today and is disadvantageous for us "little guys." Rapid trading distorts market pricing when our favorite mutual funds decide to buy or sell a major position in a stock. They are forced to buy higher and sell lower than would otherwise have been the case five or 10 years ago.

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