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Debate requires broad solution

The controversy surrounding immigration has me thinking about the ways that our immigration policy affects those of us who are retired or approaching retirement.

I'm sympathetic to those wanting to come to the United States because my grandparents arrived from Finland, landed on Ellis Island and promptly had all of their luggage stolen.

401(k) key to south-of-the-border retirement dream

To attend a family wedding and do some surfing, we flew to Costa Rica last week and landed at the town of Liberia, where the American CIA had built an international-class air facility back in the early 1980s. At that time, the United States needed a substantial airfield in order to secretly supply the Contras with weapons during the civil war in neighboring Nicaragua.

While on this trip, I was told that there are hundreds of CIA-funded airports throughout Latin America, built with our tax dollars to support various insurgencies.

Bush missed mark on Social Security

Joe Kelley stopped by my office recently to interview me for a paper he is writing on Social Security. Joe is a senior at a local high school, headed soon to a top college in California.

We talked about President Bush's statement in a recent news conference that his 58 percent increase (to $8.9 trillion) in the national debt was the result of the additional cost of Social Security and Medicare.

Someone needs to tell the president that Social Security is totally independent of the national debt.

Retirement planning woes? The system defies rational thinking.

If you're annoyed at retirement plan results enough to want to sue someone, the fiduciaries of the plan will need to be faced in court. Fiduciaries include the officers of your company as well as the trustees and advisers they have appointed to operate the plan. But, before calling your attorney, let me give you some free legal advice:

Monte Carlo concept can help navigate a 'perfect storm'

Television's steady drumbeat of James Bond reruns prompted me to think about Monte Carlo and the value of "perfect storm" simulations used in investment analytics.

When it came to naming one of the more sophisticated tools for managing money, the choice of "Monte Carlo" was unfortunate, because it conjures up the wrong image for an inherently valuable concept.

I dusted off my understanding of Monte Carlo simulations with a trip to Lafayette -- the Switzerland of the East Bay, so named because of its heavy concentration of money management firms.

Secret to investing success found in simple strategies

Resisting temptation is the single most demanding task for the "buy-and-hold diversified re-balancers" that make up the bulk of us successful amateur investors.

When we read those newsletters from all the managers that crow about how well their strategies have worked, the temptation to chase yesterday's performance is even greater. We start thinking about how much money we would have had in our own accounts if we had only listened to even one of those guys.

Consider your needs before switching to a Roth 401(k)

A guy walks into a bar where he was told there was a talking dog that's an expert on retirement plans.

He asks the dog if he should do a conventional 401(k) or a Roth 401(k.) The dog goes, "Roth! Roth!" In disgust, the guy walks back out thinking that the dog is just barking.

The dog then turns to the other bar patrons, and, clearly annoyed at the interruption, continues to share his thoughts on the subject as follows:

Rescind unfair drug program

In 1988, Congress voted for a prescription drug benefit to be added to Medicare. A few months later, when the full magnitude of the cost became apparent, they rescinded the vote and the program was relegated to the dustbin of history.

This demonstration of fiscal responsibility was reflected in the cutback of many government spending programs at the time. Welfare as we once knew it, the legacy of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, was brought to an end by President Clinton and a responsible Congress. In the waning years of that administration, we began to enjoy a budget surplus.

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