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Alternative to 401(k) plans not in your interest

So, there I was last Thursday on WNYC radio, the public broadcasting station of New York City, where I was rebutting the recent Time magazine article that called for "retiring the 401(k)" because of the latter's apparent failure. I can't beat these people off with a stick. On Brian Lehrer's show, I was pitted against Stephen Gandel, the author of the cover article that was riddled with errors and half truths.

Regulations help keep bankers honest

"Death panels" for institutions "too big to fail" sounds like a good idea to me. The concept was voiced by Barney Frank in describing what Congress has in store for the financial services industry. We should have remembered the last experiment with unfettered free markets when we deregulated the Savings and Loan industry. Over 3,500 executives went to prison. Fortune magazine ran a hilarious two-page spread with hundreds of tiny mug shots.

Health care solution by one reader

Last week's health care column triggered a flood of e-mail from readers. Most agreed that something needed to change, and they cited their specific frustrating examples in dealing with the prevailing system.
Those few happy with the status quo don't have much sympathy for the 45 million uninsured, but they are forgetting one thing: It's not the same 45 million from year to year.

Health care costs fuel reform call

I was stunned last week to learn that the health insurance premium my company pays for my wife and me (we're in our 60s) is $1,827 per month. What am I getting for $22,000 per year? Not even a death panel. It's a $2,200 deductible plan with a stop-loss of $4,400 for the two of us combined. This is through Blue Shield, which is still operated as a nonprofit.

Good, bad and the ugly of Kaiser

My new Aussie puppy reminds me of the dog-training book, "Good Dog, Bad Dog." Meanwhile, the flood of e-mail after my column on Kaiser Health suggests that it's time for a book "Good Kaiser, Bad Kaiser."

If you want to see the fur fly, say something good about Kaiser.

Plenty of people were quick to disabuse me of the thought that Kaiser was vastly improved as a result of all that money they have been making. Several pointed out instances of sloppy, inattentive care and misdiagnosed illnesses. A few of these stories sounded horrendous and inexcusable.

Retirement Boot Camp now begins

To spend or not to spend? Do we enjoy life to the fullest and accept what it costs, or do we save for retirement? We can try to build up those retirement coffers still further, but what if we get hit by a bus?

All that parsimony and grinding self-sacrifice might be for naught. Maybe there's a case for instant gratification and then letting the chips fall where they may when real retirement rolls around. On the other hand, if we create a self-imposed Retirement Boot Camp of sorts for at least some period, rigorous discipline for a few years may allow us to eventually have it all.

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