by Mike McCune —
The Employment Benefit Research Institute finished a survey of working Americans during the closing days of March. It reported the ‘startling’ fact a mere 13% of working Americans are “very confident” when it comes to having enough financial support to retire.
To those of us in fly-over America this is not a ‘startling’ fact, it is reality. The fact the survey’s conclusion was ‘startling’ does more than anything else to demonstrate graphically the disconnect between government and its friendly markets with Main Street America.
For the folks at EBRI it was devastating to have to report that more than twice as many Americans (28%) reported they “were not at all confident” about their ability to retire. That number is more than three times higher than it was just three years ago.
And the economy is recovering?
The question then for EBRI was why, in the most prosperous country in world history, are almost 7 of every eight American workers lacking confidence when it comes to retirement?
Many pointed to the quickly rising cost of living and the sudden surge in healthcare and long-term care costs as the major factors in their ability to retire as their mothers and fathers did.
The headlines over the record-setting performances in the stock markets is hiding reality: America is heading for a worse financial crisis than it faced in 2007. This crisis will make beggars out of 70% of the population.
One of the illuminating problems comes from the Federal Reserve’s early release of FOMC data. There was little interest in the latest U.S. bond sale but the minuscule interest yields didn’t scare everybody away. The Federal Reserve considers this as a great sign of no inflation and used it to promote the fact its’ policies are working.
Uh, I’d like the Fed to read workers’ concerns about the rising cost of living.
This is the root of the disconnect. Washington, not having to buy food or energy or housing with earned dollars–only stolen ones–sees no inflation, speaks no harm and hears no danger. Reminds a body of the three monkeys learned about in grammar school only these baboons are in charge of our financial well-being.
What the working class knows that political elite doesn’t seem to know is the fundamentals of business used to make this the most prosperous country in history are now ignored or so badly skewed as to make other deductions faulty as well due to the heavy interference from Washington.
Examine the budget deficit, toss in the unfunded liabilities of our government (liabilities which stretch into the $100s of trillions for every American’s current life-expectancy) and examine our debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio. America is sick. If we were in the Euro Union, we’d be in line with Italy and France, Greece and Cyprus, Ireland and Spain and Slovenia and Portugal for the alms the IMF hands out. We’d be facing tougher austerity programs than anybody else because we are in worse shape.
This problem cannot be solved overnight. This is going to take some extensive long-term, personal care (another one of the cost factors cited by the workers as a concern.)
There are steps we can take to slow the advancement of the illness.
1) Immediately remove the Fed’s ability to print money. The Fed is printing a trillion dollars a year ($85 billion a month) just to purchase Treasury and mortgage bonds. That’s in addition to the annual budget deficits Washington is running.
2) Stop credit extensions of all types. This will hurt but it is a sure cure and America will know where the bottom is very quickly so we can start digging out of the debt hole we are in. Once we begin to get a handle on debt, a true recovery can ensue.
3) Reduce reliance on banks. One of the reasons the government is pushing for direct deposits of Social Security checks, tax refunds, etc. is not that it costs more, which it does, but so that Americans cannot escape the snare that is inherent in every bank. Americans stand to lose trillions in the upcoming crash. By mitigating the effects by reducing reliance on the government’s banking system, many more American workers might feel ‘in control’ which might boost their confidence.
Before any steps can be made to reduce the 87% number who are not confident in their retirement, those individuals have to take the steps to prepare themselves.
That preparation will take work. That preparation is dependent upon the workers looking to themselves. That preparation will include facing the reality the dollar will be worth only the benefit you can get from burning it for heat or wiping up after nature calls. Any preparation not based on that simple understanding will be doomed to fail.
Unfortunately for the American worker, he or she is not considered “too-big-to-fail.” If anything good came from the 2007 financial meltdown it is in the EBRI’s survey. Americans have lost confidence in themselves and that is why they have lost confidence.
This country was founded on independence ideology. This may give us the opportunity and wherewithal to find it again.
“I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”–Thomas Jefferson
Data for today’s Rant came from Money Morning’s “2/3 of America to Lose Everything Because of This Crisis” on 4-11-2013 and Moneynews’ 3-27-2013 article “87% of Americans ‘Not Confident About Retirement’