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Like fashion, housing poised to come back

If you hold onto your old clothes long enough, they'll come back into style someday.

Wondering how much longer I'll have to hold onto my pair of bell-bottom pants, I happened to pick up a 2006 edition of David Bach's book, "Start Late, Finish Rich." This book is an absolute classic when it comes to dispensing practical financial advice. It's aimed at middle-aged people who feel overwhelmed by financial pressures -- people behind the eight ball who have a sense that time is running out.

Full 401(k) disclosure has been long overdue

I'm always dumbfounded at the extent to which company owners and managers responsible for 401(k) plans succumb to "status quo bias" when they could be dramatically improving a retirement plan.

Thanks in part to my testimony back in Washington over the years, the luxury of doing nothing may be fleeting. New disclosure laws will force the vendors of 401(k) services to disclose what they are being paid and what they are doing for the money, decisions greatly affecting the nation's $3 trillion worth of 401(k) money.

Americans not on track to retire comfortably

"Reality bites!" This choice of words would describe the recent Harris Interactive study of retirement preparedness on the part of most Americans.

According to a recent study commissioned by Wells Fargo, the average American is, at best, about 20 percent of where they should be -- given their age -- on a track to a reasonable retirement financial goal.

In spite of what might be real, this survey indicates that most people -- 58 percent -- are confident that everything will turn out just fine.

Oakland's fire and police pension needs rescued

I was shocked, shocked to learn that Oakland's retirement plan for police and firefighters hired before 1976 was now, according to Mayor Jean Quan, "about half a billion dollars short."

The root of the problem -- actually there are several roots -- stems from the promise, back in 1951, that the retirement benefit would be 68 percent of whatever today's employees are receiving in salary for the same jobs. Right off the bat, that strikes me as being a little imprecise.

Budget cuts aplenty in military spending

Look to the right as you approach Oakland International Airport and you'll see a huge advertisement covering the side of a hangar.

The ad is from a jet engine company attempting to talk some sense with regard to military spending. The ad makes the point that the JSF (Joint Strike Force) fighter plane costs as much as 52 engines of the fighter planes it replaces. The new F-22 Raptors, of which we citizens now have 185, have cost us $356 million each, including development costs.

Health care repealers don't have viable fix

I might feel more sympathetic to calls for repealing health care reform if I had any sense at all as to what was going to replace it.

I certainly don't want to go back to the bad old days of premiums doubling every five years (killing jobs) and millions of uninsured patients walking into emergency rooms and getting what (for them) was free treatment that the rest of us effectively paid for.

Wall Street plays both sides of U.S. politics

Trapped in New York by the sixth worst blizzard in city history gave me time to stew in my own juices after reading Charles Gasperino's "Bought and Paid For -- The Unholy Alliance between Barak Obama and Wall Street."

Watching shoppers stream out of places like Sacks Fifth Avenue left me asking what happened to the recession. Then, I remembered. There really hasn't been a recession on Wall Street. They made as much money in 2009 as they made in 2006 -- courtesy of an American taxpayer bailout. But who let it happen?

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