Mitt Romney's likely abuse of the tax code to build a $100 million IRA has been drawing growing interest on the part of experts who want to figure out exactly how he did it. Without more information from the candidate that is impossible, so they are left to their own theories. I advanced the dominant theory based on reportage that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in my blog last week. That Mitt skirts the rules to amass a fortune is bad enough. Worse is how it reminds us just how broke we are as a nation when it comes to retirement.
Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economics in at the New School for Social Research, writes in a New York Times Op-Ed piece, "Our Ridiculous Approach to Retirement," "Almost half of middle-class workers, 49 percent, will be poor or near poor in retirement, living on a food budget of about $5 a day." The reason she posits, is that 75 percent of workers nearing retirement age have less that $30,000 in their retirement accounts. She chalks it up to psychology, suggesting that we are more like the grasshopper than the ant, or the chipmunk, or whatever it was, because we just can't focus on the future in the face of urgent competing needs in an era of overstretched (or no) paychecks. "