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on December 8, 2011
This is an important book for all Americans to read. Read this to understand why the whole notion of having a pension is disappearing for the American worker while at the same time the Pay for CEO and upper management is exploding beyond anything once conceivable. The author does a great job explaining some very difficult concepts that allow the reader to follow the theft of working American pensions.

This book will boil your blood at time, but you never listen to another news report about why a company can't afford to pay the promised pension benefits without understanding this is just a theft!
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on July 29, 2014
Gives details about what the majority of us know, or prefer not to know. As a person who currently is a 'pensioner' it gives pause for thanks from me, with sense of much caution and concern for the future, for myself and everyone who is not fully in control of any money put away for retirement. Probably should be read most by those least likely to do so, anyone 17 years of age and up. Of course, I come to my attitude as a baby boomer and recent retiree who once thought our government worked 'for us' common citizens and that even in the business world there was a sense of fairness. Anyone believing that today is living in a fools paradise.
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on November 8, 2011
Good data, lots of it true, however doesn't delve into other areas which should be considered. For example, yes, while the pensions were overfunded, partially due to the 90's bull market there were real issues for corporations with having that much of a cash balance in the pension plan. It made them takeover targets, and many companies found themselves in that position. Part of this problem was the government, Congress took aim at "overpaid" executives and said that salaries over 2 million wouldn't be deductible...so what happened? Check Forbes website, almost every Fortune 500 CEO salary is precisely or very near $2 million...the compensation as a result became more highly focused on stock options, the obvious problem there is that changed the executive incentive and they are more easily manipulated. Not good, cure worse than the disease. I do take issue with the rant on employees not participating or saving enough in their 401K's...that's a personal decision (assuming you can afford it...and if you buy a new plasma 55" TV instead of saving that's your fault).

This whole mess, leaves me thinking one obvious thing...NO ONE can be trusted to look out for YOUR money and your best interest but YOU!!! Not the government, not the employer, not the regulators (who are very readily captured). ONLY YOU. The government should end 401K's, end these corporate pension plans controlled by the corporations (with adjustable "promises"), and increase IRA's....let employee pre-tax contributions flow into IRA's (which are custodianed at the bank/brokerage of the employee's choice) - controlled by the employee. Lift the limit to 25K per year, and adjust that for inflation+1%. Allow employers to contribute not based on matching employee's contributions but based upon salary, but those dollars are immediately vested and in the control of the employee - just like any cash bonus. And cap the employer contributions so that no highly comp person gets more than 3x the median employee contribution.
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on October 15, 2011
I recommend everyone read this before the Tea Party takes over and bans the book. The captains of industry have done more to harm America than a hundred 9-11 events. Seems that over the last couple of decades they spend an inordinate amount of time, energy and lobbying to raid your retirement fund and limit what you can do about it. And for some really great news... if you work for one of the companies that have a 'dead peasants' insurance policy on all their employees you are worth much more to your employer when you're dead than alive. What is the goal of all this activity? Executive bonuses. How's that for 'compassionate conservatism?' Use the search terms 'dead peasants insurance' in Google to find many links on this subject.
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on December 16, 2011
This book describes what to some may be all too apparent in American society. The concept of democracy faces a fundamental threat wherever a nation of people are governed by those who can be bought and sold, and matters of law fall at the feet of those who are ever drawn to the rewards offered in the service of elites. This is the nature of capitalism in the modern age. The concepts of the criminal conspiracy and syndicate have achieved new heights in an era in which they can be legitimized with sufficient influence over government, which is, given the example of governments in the U.S. in the era of prohibition in the United States, too old a lesson to believe that it has not already been learned.

The United States struggles to remain at the front of a global wave of development at the same time that it plunges headlong into rampant, corporate, criminal indulgence on a massive scale manipulated by mega-corporations that dwarf the governments of many states in terms of annual incomes and that have little reason to maintain any "national" identity. There are no "corporate citizens" in America, merely corporations that find it convenient to tap the resources of the United States and its population. After all, in a democracy, what is criminal except that which one group proclaims to be wrong in official terms, and others are able to right within the limits of their means? (Even then, contemplate how far one judge went, in the Microsoft anti-trust case, to undermine the decision in the case through a blatant, televised, public proclamation, and the real situation relative to the courts within the United States becomes clear.)

Where pensions and retirement funds can be translated, under the law, into large masses of cash that corporations can perceive as being, at least from their perspectives, disturbingly, both within but, somehow, beyond their grasp, in a nation controlled by a for-profit legal system in which ERISA laws do not permit the awarding of punitive damages to the aggrieved, the cash in untapped retirement funds will ineveitably roll downhill into the pockets of those individuals who have established themselves as corporate powers and "fiduciaries", and in particular, into the pockets of those too incompetent to turn a profit in the current global market and disposed instead to raid their employees' retirements to prop up their credibility as parties worthy of the massive pay offered to America's dark CEO "princes" compared to their global counterparts. The nature of the evolution of a society under such dark "princes" wielding the influence of mega-corporations is irrevocably defined.

What banks did with dubious investments that virtually no one, somehow, seems to have understood (at least at the level of criminal culpability) and that has led to a massive loss of employment within the United States, while those controlling such banks remain, over the long term, in most instances, not merely unscathed, but, in the upper echelon, well rewarded, the retirement heist accomplished elsewhere, all in an environment in which laws were changed to legalize theft by the servants of the dark, corporate "princes" via their Congressional servants. As one such corporate power asserted, corporations are not responsible for maintaining their employees (living or retired) standards of living (unless, of course, they are in the E-band). To quote another such power: "What's the point of being a big company if you can't act like one?"

One of these speakers was eventually, if briefly, imprisoned. The other is an advisor to the current U.S. administration in this era in which big companies are saved but millions of individuals are left unemployed, in which the common members of retirement funds must do without the security of dollars invested in stock backed pension funds when corporations are permitted to declare bankruptcy then quickly regain their footing, rendering their old stock worthless, and in which no one in Congress, in light of these problems, has, in decades, cared enough to stand up and provide a credible solution, rather than just another opportunity for corporations to use a for-profit legal system to enrich themselves through the leverage provided by the power of knowing that legal expenses beyond the capacities of individiual employees to bear will discourage any opposition and do so only at the cost of the common employee's capacity to retire in security, all concealed in convenient, and recurrent, political lies. If you need more to grasp what I have said, or simply seek the documenting evidence, read this book.
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on May 18, 2016
Haven't completed reading this yet, but it's a real eye opener as to what really goes on in those "benefits" meetings at big companies. If you haven't noticed yet, benefits like health care and retirement are being reduced at companies all over. This book gives the behind the scenes detail. A must read for anybody who thinks they'll be taken care of (financially) after retirement. This should be given to college students, new employees, and up, as a reminder to save wisely and regularly if you expect to retire in comfort.
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VINE VOICEon April 21, 2015
When this book was recommended I went in skeptical. A lot of conspiracy theorists out there. But then things started to fall in place.

First off written by a Wall Street Journal reporter. Then the detail of the heists by big (and lesser known) named companies and how they have (and still do) take away retirement benefits. Took me pause to consider I'm sitting on a future health account when I retire and how easily it'll be to take that benefit away when the time comes.

Shake my head. If you read one book this year this should be the one.
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on November 22, 2011
Everything you thought about Corporate America destroying the American dream for the middle class is captured in this wonderful book. It is a must read for anyone with a social conscience. It is the initial shift of financial risk from the employer to the employee. It depicts the calculated destruction of fully funded health care plans and retirement plans for employees and retirees by deceitful strategies - all for the purpose of building profits and bonuses for executives.
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on October 22, 2011
Despite the negative lastdinosaurs of this page, please rush out and buy this book if your pension and retiree medical were stolen by a corporation, especially one. You won't regret it.

Ellen Schultz is a hero to every little employee and retiree who had their lives damaged by the corporate greed and thievery of the 1990s, especially those whose lives were ruined in 1999. She documented exactly what was going on when the corporations, especially one, were telling people 'but you DO want a portable (aka a CB plan not worth anywhere near what the annuity pension was) pension, DON'T you?' and the sad little employees were nodding their heads, because they thought 'but X corporation wouldn't do THAT to me, would they'? Well, they did, and some of us knew it in 1999.

Others didn't, and went quietly like lambs to slaughter. So, those of us who knew what was going on - the biggest impact, of course, was the theft of the long promised lifetime (NOT free, but lifetime) retiree medical, not protected by ERISA as the formula-reduced annuity pension was - appealed to the IRS and the Senate (one brave employee in particular) and the news media and took to the internet, much to the chagrin of the corporations, one in particular.

So, the corporations, one in particular, hired corporate apologists - those very same who are here bashing Ellen's book, as they are paid to do - to badger and harass the posters at the web sites of the corporation, one in particular. The union movement, silently heard about for decades, gained steam and then fizzled like a wet dish rag on a radiator. Sad, that.

The years went by and despite the very heroic victory of the Senate hearing and the lawsuit of one brave individual, nothing whatsoever changed. The sheeple went back to their desks and did what they were told, and mainly they were told to keep quiet. When the oldsters started getting fired, they again bleated on the boards, but to no avail.

So, now that the corporations, especially one, are almost made up exclusively of youngsters and frightened old people waiting to get a severance package, the corporations, especially one, are sitting back at their desks with a great big smile on their faces, waiting for their platinum parachutes made possible from the plundered pension money of thousands of employees with ruined futures. Only now are some of these former employees realizing that their pensions have been thrice reduced in size (no, the same formula changes were not applied to the SERP pensions) and the former lifetime retiree medical now FHA (a scrip medical plan much like the company store of the miners of old) will run out before these sad little retirees are eligible for Medicare.

Ah, yes, greed IS still good. Thank you, Ellen, for confirming what many of us have known since 1999. Sadly, even if you wrote the book in 1999, there would still have been nothing done by the slaughtered sheeple.

Just in case you're still an employee and don't believe what the old people are telling you occurred in 1999 thanks to the doublespeak of the corporations, especially one, read this book. Every single word is true.
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on November 4, 2013
Retirement Heist is an excellent book by Wall Street Journal reporter Ellen Schultz on a subject not often examined--how corporations plundered pension funds.

In this book she investigates how the retirement benefits of millions of Americans vanished over the last two decades as imaginative corporate accounting practices massaged balance sheets, and shady legislation was put in place giving corporations the ability to use employee pension funds as private treasure chests for mergers, acquisitions, and spin-offs. The result was thousands of corporations reapportioning funds set aside for retirees, and retirement benefits written out, gone forever.

Schultz exposes why so many corporate pension funds were raided, how it was done, who lost, and who profited by it. She provides readers with an in-depth analysis of each step along the way.

This is an important book for anyone who expects to retire, whether with a pension or not.

Ellen Schultz does an excellent job of explaining the technicalities of complicated economic practices and policies in an interesting and informative manner. Yes, at times, it can become a tad dry, but it’s well worth your time to push through. You’ll definitely come away with a new understanding of an old problem, and probably resolve to keep a tight rein on your own finances as well.

Awesome work.
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