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Gas tax could pay off country's debt

Sooner or later, the amount of money we'll be spending on bailouts will begin to impact the quality of life for retirees. Those of us who would otherwise have received lower income taxes, higher social security, better healthcare, cheaper drugs, more community programs, and even cheaper greens fees at public golf courses will feel like we're being "nickled-and-dimed" to death... literally.

Time may be right for thinking small

The term "diminishing returns to scale" comes to mind when I think about the extent to which huge financial institutions have been wiped off the map. Their management teams, at every layer, just couldn't resist the amounts of money they made by looking the other way. The size of huge companies, like Merrill Lynch and Citibank, make it too tempting for too many people to always be thinking, "What's in this for me?" There's no incentive to waste mental bandwidth over concerns about the future of the organization. Less than 400 people brought down the 83,000 employees of Lehman Brothers.

Don't give up on 401(k) plans

Here's another solution looking for a problem. Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor, has managed to get some traction for her new retirement savings concept that would call for doing away with the tax benefits of 401(k) plans. Her book, "Now We're 64" has been touted by various shows on National Public Radio. As if that weren't enough, the New York Times published her op-ed piece on the subject. Now, it's been reported that Congressmen are taking the concept seriously.

Long Term, We Won't Be Left Behind

I don't think the current economic malaise is a canary in the mineshaft signaling the "End Times," as some religion-oriented economic web-sites have proposed. More secular economists have predicted a recession like we had in the early 1980's. If so, a review of the past and its effect on the stock market could offer a glimpse into the future.

401(k) money can offer a lifeline

WHEN my daughter recently moved out of her San Francisco apartment to go to New York for graduate school, she went on Craig's List and sold everything she and her roommates had used to create that home in the city. They got what seemed like thousands of dollars for stuff I would have taken to Goodwill. Even their little coffee maker and some kitchen utensils went on the block and out the door. Buyers even came and did the heavy lifting.

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