THE GRAYING OF AMERICA: Retirement and Why You Can't Afford It by James A. Jorgensen

THE GRAYING OF AMERICA: Retirement and Why You Can't Afford It

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Every pension plan--including Social Security--is threatened when the number of active workers fails to grow as fast as the number of pensioners,"" asserts the author of this latest indictment of private and government programs. Sooner rather than later, Jorgensen charges, the stipends due retirees will not be available because of administrative irresponsibility and inflation as well as adverse demographic trends. (By the turn of the century, it appears, a mere three workers will be on the job for every citizen in retirement.) Congress is accused of recklessly liberalizing eligibility requirements and okaying over-generous improvements in benefits--e.g., payouts indexed to the CPI--for Social Security recipients. The picture is scarcely brighter in the private sector. There, says Jorgensen, billions of dollars' worth of unfunded liabilities exist, owing to unrealistic assumptions about inflation rates and sub-par investment results by institutions managing pension-plan assets--plus, in many instances, sponsors' efforts to finesse employees out of as much of their deferred compensation as possible. Nor has reform legislation helped. Following the 1974 passage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, thousands of companies terminated their plans to avoid onerous compliance and disclosure requirements. An insurance man who specializes in retirement and employee-benefit programs, Jorgenson covers much the same ground as Bruno Stein did in last year's Social Security and Pensions in Transition. But his text is somewhat more accessible, thanks to his use of case studies which bring to life the ""mournful numbers."" And he offers commonsense suggestions for salvaging the situation, including: statutory approval for Social Security benefits to be paid from general-revenue funds; separation of Social Security's retirement plan from its welfare programs; and a crackdown on pension-plan sponsors who deal in false promises. Whether or not one agrees with all his premises, Jorgensen's position is well taken and well put.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Dial