The Predictable Surprise: The Unraveling of the U.S. Retirement System

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Oxford University Press, Mar 1, 2012 - Political Science - 480 pages
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Social Security is in jeopardy, private pension systems have fallen apart, and workers are trying to save on their own for retirement with the stock market in the worst shape since the Great Depression. In The Predictable Surprise, Sylvester J. Schieber shows that forewarnings of the coming retirement crisis have been apparent for decades, but we have never mustered the political will to address the problem. This book explains how we have gotten into the retirement predicament and where we can go from here. Schieber, a renowned authority on this topic, provides a compact, insightful history of Social Security, pension plans, and other retirement options, highlighting both their original justifications and the point when things began to go wrong. He brings his discussion right up to the present morass and concludes with suggestions as to how we can reform our retirement system. Our situation is not hopeless, Schieber concludes, if we take on some of these issues and resolve them. If we do not, we will severely jeopardize the prosperity of younger generations.
 

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Contents

A Decade of Regulatory Schizophrenia
Good Intentions Gone Awry
Some Good News or
The Unfolding of a Predictable Defined Benefit Surprise
And Then a Predictable Defined Contribution Surprise
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Delivering Benefits and Providing Retirement Security
Retirement Income Security and Workers Residuals

Early Concerns Prove Nagging and Persistent
Moving to PayasYouGo Financing
A Deal Too Good to Last
Operations under PayasYouGo Financing
Conflict Consensus and Surprise
Sorting Out the Trust Fund Semantics and Realities
Policy Stalemate at the Demographic Divide
Understanding Social Security in Modern Times
EmployerBased Pension Provision
Employer Pensions Taking Root
Growing Pains for Private Retirement Plans
ERISA The Transition to a New Regulatory Regime
A Gold Watch Pat on the Back and More
Weve Killed the Goose Lets Gild the Eggs
Tax Benefits and Benefit Taxes
Retiree Health Benefits Misfortune or Malpractice
Truth and Consequences
The Fellow Behind the Tree
Securing the Social Security Foundation
Securing TaxFavored Benefits and Living Standards
Remembering the Future
Glossary
Notes
Index

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About the author (2012)

Sylvester J. Schieber is Former Chairman of the Social Security Advisory Board, and the author or editor of numerous books on various aspects of population aging and retirement.

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