Link Roundup, 4/10/2017

From Scientific American: A climate proposal from Republican elder statesmen has James Hansen’s approval.

From Texas Monthly: Does Beto O’Rourke’s campaign against Ted Cruz have a chance?

From The Atlantic: A fraud-riddled vitamin industry shows us what’s wrong with market-based healthcare. By the way, the same structural flaws are endemic in school choice theory.

From Bloomberg: Private equity vultures are circling the entire retail industry.

From Nautilus: Excellent long-read on the connection between consciousness and matter.

From The Washington Post: The great rightwing grift that made Steve Bannon wealthy.

118 Comments

  1. This guy says what I think about large businesses vs consumers.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/04/12/our-economy-is-a-hellscape-for-consumers-the-united-flier-is-the-latest-victim/

    “We live, work, shop, and travel under a system of grossly asymmetric power relationships, in which consumers sign away most of their rights just by purchasing a ticket and companies deputize themselves to enforce contracts with hired goons.”

      1. Interestingly, NJ Governor Chris Christie is calling for a cessation of bumping paid, booked passengers. In NJ, 70% of all flights out of Newark, a major airline hub, are United. Evidently this is a big problem there. I expect we’ll see some legislation that narrows airlines ability to bump paid passengers – ESPECIALLY – when it’s for their own employees.

      2. Not Bobo but I do agree with the sentiment of the article. With the exception of business and first class passengers (or, in this instance, other airline employees), economy (which I use “when” I fly) is a constant gig. There are 4 major carriers in the US which works pretty well for the airlines.

        All passengers want reasonable regulations for safety and efficiency. This situation was poorly handled. Here’s what they could have done to avoid the spectacle that occurred.

        1. Adjustments by airlines regarding over-booked flights should be made prior to boarding in the waiting area.
        2. Price incentives for de-planing should be fully offered when there are no volunteers at lower levels. In this case, United’s cap was $1350/passenger yet they only went to $800. Why? (This info was shared by a veteran airline employee.)
        3. When a plane is fully booked and boarded, any changes to convenience the airline to seat their (non-paying) employees should be made only if there are compensated volunteers. Alternatively, these flight staff should be booked on another carrier or, the flight crew dispatched from a different hub. You don’t convenience oneself at the expense of paid, boarded passengers.
        4. Regardless, no one should ever be roughed up as this man was, regardless of his refusal to deplane especially when all other options had not been exhausted. This was a power play. Eye witnesses with video phones documented the entire episode which will undoubtedly cost United a great deal more in reputation and litigated settlement than handling things as in items #1-3.

      3. Heard on “Marketplace” earlier this week, a line from the old Fram oil filter comercials “You can pay me now, or pay me later.” United was inexcusably stupid not to first raise their bid. Everyone will have some price that will incentivize them to give up the seat, and they also didn’t have to make the offer to just that one guy either. No way that would have cost as much as the PR nightmare and the pending lawsuit. If they’re not hopelessly stupid, they’ll settle that one quickly and quietly.

      4. FP – Spot on. Idiots.

        Y’know what happens when you take a good airline and cross it with a stupid airline? You get a big, stupid airline.

        But thinking more about Bobo’s comment, I think there is a decent regulation possible. Prohibit involuntary deplaning of a lawfully boarded passenger, except for reasons of weather, maintenance, safety, or other events beyond the carrier’s control. Obviously, vomiting, excessive flatulence, etc. fall under the safety category.

        The airlines would scream bloody murder over this, but you have to ask yourself, “Why?”

      5. Well I imagine and hope that now the max bump fee is known we have established a floor rather than a ceiling and other things, such as lodging etc, become part of the bargaining process. This is an economic issue and equal knowledge makes a better functioning market.

    1. For me, it’s not just the airlines, even though American Airlines stripped me of the reward miles I earned after traveling hundreds of thousands of miles on their planes. Our initial contract said they couldn’t, wouldn’t do that. And yet they did.

      I think mandatory arbitration as a part of telecommunications and internet contracts are a sin.

      Some deeds by corporations are so awful a lawsuit is appropriate.

      In the past, Chris proposed an insurance requirement for gun owners. Why? Because if consumers fail to comply, an insurance company can make your life very expensive, maybe even unlivable in terms of how we live now.

      That’s how powerful they are in comparison to ordinary consumers. And we all know it.

      To me, that’s a crushing imbalance favoring corporations over individuals. Call my views populism, if you must. But individual citizens deserve more consideration.

      1. Trump zeroed out the federal budget $0 for indigent defense. There are lots of ways to control outcomes.

        http://www.defendlegalaid.org/

        US AG Sessions is talking about ending federal oversight in local communities with high police/minority problems. Says the federal government shouldn’t be involved in local affairs, yet, he’s fine with reaching down into local municipalities that are trying to work with their immigrant issues and threatening to pull federal funds if they refuse to detain undocumented persons without federal warrants – which are supposed to accompany any detention. There are so many ways in which the powerful can make life difficult for ordinary citizens.

      2. IMO, the prime purpose of government is to shield citizens from undue power. Obviously, this includes corporations. The judiciary, in particular, is a first line of defense here. Which is why Samuel Alito and Neal Gorsuch (and to a lesser extent Thomas and formerly, Scalia) are such disasters. They will side with corporations over individuals every time.

      3. How about the “crushing imbalance of power” that exists between government and the Individual? Anyone ever attempt to go head-to-head with the IRS? Of regional taxing authorities? Do you think you get a public defender for that?

        Look – imbalances exist between individuals and big corporations – *and* big government. Anyone who believes that any large organization has “your best interests” at heart, is just… well… painfully naive. Make corporations bigger, and they get worse. Make government bigger, more invasive, and more powerful, and so does it. You can pick your poison.

      4. True, Fifty, any large organizations can squash individuals. But I think corporations have a profit motivation that leads to direct conflict of interests vs. individuals where I don’t think there’s an equivalent motivation with government. In any case, the judicial branch is uniquely set up to avoid any such conflict of interest, with lifetime appointments and such. Which is one reason for my claim that the judicial branch has a special role to play as protector of rights for minorities and individuals.

      5. SCOTUS is supposed to function just as you suggest, Creigh. But look at what happened with Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland? The process for S.C. is only good if MOC respect it. The process of nomination is supposed to be the leavening factor; instead, it was terribly abused. Otherwise, when it “used” to work, it could. Now with the filibuster gone from the voting process, SC nominations are going to become even more political.

      6. You’ll be happy to know that common sense (and cents) has reared it’s head, and United has issued this new regulation:

        “United Airlines, after violently kicking a man off an overbooked flight so some employees could get somewhere (and reaping the public relations rewards when video of the incident went viral), announced a new policy that would not allow employees to bump passengers from overbooked flights which were already boarded. A spokeswoman told The Times: “We issued an updated policy to make sure crews traveling on our aircraft are booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure.” [The New York Times]

    2. And this:

      A mortgage company wants el presidente favorito to fire the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      And today’s Justice Department says?

      Okay.

      Ordinary individuals are up against corporations that both need them and hate them. I don’t see how that works out well for the individual.

      1. Richard Cordray, who has led the CFPB, has done an outstanding job. Recall the Wells Fargo debacle where they were opening new savings accounts without permission in order to inflate stock prices and quarterly earnings reports? CFPB was the agency that tracked this practice for years and got them in court. The agency has not only succeeded in its mission, but it has made the federal government a lot of money in the process….guess it was too successful and involved too many “big” boys. Republicans have hated anything that Elizabeth Warren touched, and this was her baby from the start.

  2. Trump and Bannon’s appeal to right wing nationalists is taking a well deserved hit from the recent Syria/Russia event. Regardless where one comes down on the president’s decision to bomb Syria, succeeding events do not accrue to America’s benefit – nor, sadly, to the Syrian people. The adulation of military hawks and those frustrated and appalled by Assad’s brutal regime regrettably overlooks the bigger problem: Russia’s strategic interests and involvement in Syria. Trump may now begin to understand the complexity of foreign affairs and why the Syrian situation has been so difficult to resolve. Putin is clearly drawing his own lines and used Russia’s veto to send that clear message.

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/12/politics/assad-syria-sarin-gas/index.html

  3. Whats Wrong with Market Based Health Care…hmmm seeing a lot of stories like this from Tennessee http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/health/2014/04/29/rural-hospital-brownsville-set-close/8493475/

    I try to stay away from this topic especially now that I am no longer at Columbia University Physicians and Surgeons…but places like West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and my god Texas suck our first year students right out of the system for locum tenems stints only to lose them to bad immigration policy…but you gotta keep them brown folks out.

    1. It makes no sense. What’s really sad is the total lack of empathy or understanding by those who make the rules and set the budget for the struggle that the poor and elderly face because of health policy. Lawmakers should be required to do a stint under the same conditions that residents do in teaching hospitals. Surely one day these MoC will decide to take a serious look at the experience of other industrialized nations who are achieving better outcomes for less than half the cost. We are a very spoiled people in so many ways.

    1. Interesting. Public art is not something I give much thought to.

      I prefer private art. That way I can display whatever I want and not have to answer to anyone.

      When I think of examples of public art in Houston, I think of it as “someone else’s art,” not mine.

      1. It doesn’t surprise me that you feel that way :-), Tutt.

        Me, I think public art — the creation of it, the evaluation by selectors and viewers, the placement — help define a city. What would NYC be without the statue of liberty? 🙂

        At the recent art car parade, the multitudes of smiling, laughing faces just blew me away. It was joyous! This once-a-year event reveals an aspect of Houston’s personality that may surprise those who view the city as focused solely on growth and business.

      2. I don’t reject public art. For some reason it just doesn’t resonate with me. I may pass by it every day but I don’t really see it. It’s like it’s part of the woodwork.

        Now, I DO feel unity and camaraderie with my fellow Houstonians when it comes to our sports teams. 🙂

      3. I also love learning about the history of Houston, going through the older neighborhoods and imagining the type of people who used to live there, checking out old buildings and cemeteries and the history behind them, the history of street names, bus routes. I collect old phone books and college yearbooks. To me THAT is art.

        I also love discussing Houston history with my fellow Houstonians, especially the elderly ones.

      1. That’s all it took, to see the name. I normally think “that white thing on the corner.”

        Also, the name gives an idea as to what the piece of art is trying to convey, because it’s not clear just from looking at it.

        Thanks for that.

      2. I grew up in and still live in the Heights, and interestingly, it’s my boyfriend who likes looking at the works of art currently on Heights Boulevard. I just shrug my shoulders and instead admire the architecture of the stately homes.

  4. Here’s a lengthy article about how historians mis-read conservatism in America.

    Last paragraph:

    Future historians won’t find all that much of a foundation for Trumpism in the grim essays of William F. Buckley, the scrupulous constitutionalist principles of Barry Goldwater or the bright-eyed optimism of Ronald Reagan. They’ll need instead to study conservative history’s political surrealists and intellectual embarrassments, its con artists and tribunes of white rage. It will not be a pleasant story. But if those historians are to construct new arguments to make sense of Trump, the first step may be to risk being impolite.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/11/magazine/i-thought-i-understood-the-american-right-trump-proved-me-wrong.html

  5. I certainly won’t defend United Airlines here–what they did was indefensible–but amid all of the outrage and indignation, can we spare a little feeling for the 8 year old killed in the school shooting in San Bernardino?
    What does it say about us that our reaction is on par with “another day, another dead student”. As if this is the new normal.
    Maybe the lack of concern is that the incident was “only” a case of domestic violence transported to the workplace. Would it have mattered more if the shooter had been inspired by Islamic terrorism?
    Think about it. Meanwhile, I’m off to my teaching job…

  6. It occurs to me that there’s a parallel between types of investment accounts and political parties.

    Some people like the full-brokerage experience with lots of professionally given advice and they and don’t seem to mind the fees if they feel they are getting good service and receiving a regular check.

    Some people like big government. Despite the inefficiencies, waste and higher taxes, they feel that cost is worth it if it helps specific groups of people.

    Some people like low cost brokerages. They feel that financial advisors that charge high fees are not worth it and that they can keep more of their money if they do some research on their own and keep expenses low by investing in index funds.

    Some people like small government. They feel that the government is wasteful and inefficient and does a lousy job managing tax dollars and that the country would be better off if the government spent taxpayers’ money more wisely and let them keep more of their own money.

    I belong in the last two categories. I wonder if there is any correlation between big brokerage and big government types of people and small government and low cost investing people. (Although I see that Bobo and Creigh are probably like me as far as money management is concerned. Are both of you big government voters yet tightwad investors?) It might make an interesting study.

    1. I like big government when it is needed and when it does its job well. Roads, bridges, other infrastructure; health care; public safety – FDA, EPA, FEMA, FAA, NIH, Defense, USCG, public education, national security, national and state parks, public radio and television – to name a few. I do not like either the government OR a business to waste money – mine or anyones. I do like the cost efficiencies that government offers for services that are needed by large numbers of people – I also believe in self-directed investing and have managed to do a pretty decent job in this regard. I concur with Creigh’s advice on index funds, ETFs, and age-driven investment vehicles – ex Schwab’s Intelligent Fund.

      There is no one size fits all in anything. But, I’ll say this – all those folks who want small government – pass on receiving social security and medicare or medicaid. Why add to the problems of our country when you don’t believe in large government?

      I do not object to paying taxes but want my tax $$ efficiently spent on areas of need.

  7. Profile photo of EJ EJ

    That Nautilus piece went off the rails quite quickly.

    Intuition is nothing but the physics we learn before the age of twelve. The problem is that our experiences are very weird: we’re stuck on the surface of a ball of rock orbiting a G-class star. We’re neither so small that we experience quantum effects, nor so large that we experience relativistic effects. As a result our intuition is severely limited, and holds us back when we start asking about things outside of its sphere.

    Consciousness is probably a similar case. I don’t know, I’m not a neuroscientist or a philosopher of mind.

    1. I think that sometimes we have to suspend our disbelief in order to ask questions, to explore possibilities. I don’t consider that a waste of time or energy, as long as we remain “conscious” that these are only possibilities, that we remain open to being corrected. The Nautilus article was simply exploring a possibility.

  8. The “great” Deepak Chopra must be clapping his forelimbs and barking like a seal after reading the Nautilus piece.

    Well – after all, the question, “What is it like to be a [insert a noun here]?”, is central to the question of consciousness. The article states, “Electrons and other particles can be thought of as mental beings with physical powers…” But it turns out that we can answer the question in some cases. For example, what would it be like to be a photon born of a dying primordial star, and travelling to its ultimate destruction in a detector aboard the Hubble telescope? Wouldn’t that photon experience, over its 10 billion or so years of travel, the formation of galaxies, supernovas popping off in the distance, great nebula blossoming and collapsing, and star systems forming? No. It ‘would be ‘like absolutely nothing’.

    The somewhat surprising fact is that from the photon’s perspective, its emission from the primordial star and its detection by the Hubble would be *simultaneous events*. What does this mean, exactly? It means that no time, *zero*, would be experienced by it in those 10 billion years of travel. So how can it, by any rational definition of consciousness, be conscious?

    Sorry, Deepak.

    1. Before anyone categorizes me as dismissive of philosophy as a knowledge form, (and I do not, out-of-hand dismiss it), its extension beyond the grasp of its practitioners can lead to misleading conclusions. Richard Feynman once said that, “Scientists need philosophers about as much as birds need ornithologists.” There are those who cross the disciplines, but they are few and far between.

      1. Fifty, I thought of you the other day while listening to The Engines of Our Ingenuity on KUHF radio. A quote dating back to the 1950s by a certain scientist was cited, that said more or less (and I paraphrase): Scientists do themselves a disservice, waste their precious time and energy, etc, by consorting with people not as smart as they.

      2. I think that for the scientist it can be a waste of time and energy, having to explain things to us common folk, to defend things to people who have trouble understanding, and therefore it can be a disservice to the study of science itself, since it may hold back some accomplishments.

        On the other hand, it’s good for the rest of us to learn from such smart people, and in the end it’s good for the study of science, so that it can be imparted to the masses and not just to a privileged few. Also, it’s good for the privileged few to get outside their bubble, to see another point of view, even if it’s wrong. I think it’s important for them to know what’s out there, to know what’s being said.

      3. Tutt – I have Lienhard’s “Engines” book in my nightstand.

        But I take huge issue with that guy from the 50’s. Science is a social enterprise. The best of it is funded by all of us. The very idea that ‘scientists’ should think what they do should not be communicated to the very people that pay their salaries is utterly appalling.

        Einstein himself, a guy who discovered some of the most complex and counter-intuitive ideas in history, is said to have pointed out, “You don’t really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” The communication of what’s happening at the leading edge of discovery is critically important to public engagement in science. The roles played by Lawrence Krauss, Brian Greene, Neal De Grasse Tyson, and many, many others is the outreach absolutely critical to our future.

      4. I agree. Neil deGrasse Tyson has done more to bring sophisticated scientific concepts to average people than most scientists – and, with a great sense of humor. So – I am in favor of scientists engaging with ordinary people if they have the attitude and communication skills of a Tyson. I would imagine that Tyson would be the first to acknowledge that there is much that he learns from ordinary people, as well, whether that is true or not. He has that sense of humility.

      5. Neil – Sorry for autocorrect for misspelling your name.

        The failure to communicate effectively with the public has without question had a role in the various forms of science denial we see today.

      6. Mime, when I was in high school I was a straight A student except when it came to science classes, in which I usually got B’s, which made me think I was a “failure” when it came to science, and that experience sapped any interest I might have had in studying the sciences beyond high school. How silly of me.

    2. There is a legitimate distinction between skill in a subject, and interest in it. The subjects in which I was far less than proficient were legion, but my interest in them, particularly of late, well exceeds my expertise. Just last night, sitting at the kitchen table, Mrs. Ohm and I discussed the Double Slit Experiment. Now Mrs. Ohm is a CPA, and my no means a scientist – but – the implications of that simple experiment on the nature of the reality of our universe should be interesting to everyone. Quantum Mechanics is one of those topics that just puts people off. When presented poorly by ‘experts’ it’s intimidating to the vast majority of people, no matter how ‘smart’. Further to the discussion with mime, these ‘experts’ do us a disservice obscuring completely understandable principles with jargon, and feigned certainty.

      1. Well, that’s fair enough. But what if I told you that everything you see isn’t really ‘there’ in a very real sense – that the stuff that makes up everything doesn’t exist in the ‘here and now’, but is ‘smeared out’ in space and time. Measure where it is, and you can’t know where it’s going. Or that particle of light I mentioned above experiences no passage of time in 10 billion years. These things are intrinsically interesting, and not really ‘scientific’, per se.

      2. I am interested in “science” when it’s mysterious and rather abstract, when it deals with the nature of reality and time, when it borders on philosophy. I do find physics fascinating.

        But I don’t have much interest in biology or chemistry. Too “concrete.”

        I do like geology, and learning about what happens to the earth over time.

      3. If you ever garden, biology would become more interesting. If you ever develop a chronic health condition, I’ll bet you’d have greater interest in chemistry. Sometimes interest is relative to need vs natural affinity.

      4. Mime, I do find the process of aging fascinating.

        I am 51, but when I look in the mirror I somehow see the same person that I’ve always been, ageless, and I still “feel” young.

        But people call me ma’am. 🙂

      5. I hate gardening, but I grow hops. In fact, I am buying some additional rhizomes to take up with us on the ‘migration’ on Saturday. My need for them trumps my aversion to dirt and sweat. On the other hand, brewing is positively fascinating, though the results are sometimes “uncertain”. 😉

      6. I’m sorry to those of you who don’t find biology interesting.

        Some of our great current moral dilemmas revolve around biology. Having a grasp of the science behind them would be helpful.

        Use of stem cells…yes or no?
        How about those GMO foods?
        We are on the verge of a mass extinction of species. Should we care?
        Rare diseases–spend the money to investigate them or don’t bother? What if the person was your kid?
        The environment….how does it work, and what is its value?
        All those chemicals we are pumping into our waterways, how could that go wrong? Maybe the fish LIKE being on Prozac.
        If we could save a bunch of money by having fewer obese people, should we punish them for bad life choices? Is it just bad life choices, or is it something else? What makes people obese anyway?
        And so on…

    1. I’ve read numerous well documented reports on the frighteningly small savings and liquidity of people close to and in retirement in the US. The *American Dream* of home ownership has taken precedence and stagnant wages and the Great Recession of ’08 put many middle class people under water. This reality makes the solvency of the existing programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid ever more important to millions of people. It also speaks to why repeal of the ACA has been so difficult.

      1. Retirees buy houses with mortgages theses days. That’s just crazy, and a reflection of how obsessed our culture is with the idea that “homeownership is the road to wealth”. It has been for people in the right places, but the road has led other places in most of the country.

        A new trend that’s going to be problematic for homeowners is the collapse of retail. The US has 7 1/2 billion square feet of malls, and visits have dropped by half recently, and are continuing to fall. That space isn’t going to be abandoned permanently, as it’s well located with good transportation and services. Convert half that space to residential and you’ve got room for about 4 million more people – years of growth in the housing stock, already essentially backed up and waiting to be used. Further, the redevelopment could easily intensify land use (malls typically have gargantuan parking lots), providing even more space, and there’s a lot more non-mall stores also facing trouble that will probably also eventually end up converted. It’s just not a good idea to bet your retirement on a edge city tract house.

      2. Think of the possibilities for our seniors! Mostly single-level spaces with wide central halls, equipped food courts, (forget the climbing areas), work in some doctors’ offices, clinics, dentists, golf cart transportation with links to public busses, exercise and theater options, and you’ve got a centrally located facility ripe for retrofit! All those surburban homes they vacate then create downward market pricing and younger families can afford homes and save more for retirement…….

        Why, not?

      3. I love re-purposed large buildings. It makes so much sense for HCC to convert shopping malls rather than build something new.

        UHD’s main building is a re-purposed mercantile building. My 90-year-old neighbors remember it fondly. It was designed for the amassing and distribution of goods; a railroad carries freight right under the building. Apparently the original building owners were bankrupted by the great depression.

        In contrast, after a hospital corporation changed its mind about operating an existing multi-story modern hospital in Spring Branch, they just tore it down. That was a few years ago and it’s still an empty lot. It hurts me to think of the floors and floors of rooms with bathrooms that could have housed so many with a little adaptation.

      4. I resisted the trend to buy the biggest house you could get a mortgage on. Put most of my spare cash in stock mutual funds. For a while that look like a mistake until the real estate crash in the mid 2000. Right now rentals in Orlando are very high. But there is a lot of retail space. I wonder if another crash is coming?

      5. Profile photo of EJ EJ

        I’m fascinated by the look of dying shopping malls. When I was a child I used to play in abandoned buildings and building sites; but that was in an unfree country where retail was very tightly restricted.

        Ironically, the old DDR leadership would probably have leapt at the chance to make anti-capitalist propaganda out of pictures of dead malls. This isn’t just because the DDR leaders were vultures, but because they basically misunderstood capitalism. It’s not an end-goal, but a process. Capitalism built the malls when people wanted them. Capitalism is killing the malls now that people no longer want them. Rather than trying to change humans to fit our architecture, we let our architecture change to fit our lives.

        What a glorious thing.

      6. EJ and Jeff,

        I changed my cover picture on Word Press to one of an Ohio mall undergoing demolition. I took the photo on one of my trips to see my parents a few years ago. From what I could see on my last trip, the mall was replaced with a combination of discount stores and restaurants.

    2. More fleecing:

      The Obama administration created a rule to protect millions of American workers saving for retirement. President Trump has delayed this so-called fiduciary rule, which requires financial advisers to put consumers’ best interests ahead of their own.

      http://www.npr.org/2017/04/10/523241920/5-things-to-know-about-trump-s-delay-of-financial-advisor-rule

      It’s a minefield out there. Recently I looked into getting a financial advisor. I certainly got little formal training in these matters in high school and college. I have a lot to learn.

      Right out of the box, the guy suggested a fund run by people who advertise their ‘innovative’ research methods that allow them to move as quickly as the market does.

      Like I haven’t read — repeatedly in the past several years — that actively managed funds are more likely to under perform passively managed accounts. And the cost of all this hopping around? 2% for the fund managers, 2% for the financial advisor.

      What crappiola.

      1. Given Trump’s outright refusal to divest himself from access and knowledge of his business operations, and the conflicts of interest exhibited by Ivanka and Kushner, not to mention Price, and others – why would we mere mortals expect any protections for our meager investments?

      2. For all it’s worth … when my husband early-retired, we deposited his pension lump sum with a Vanguard advisor. So far, we’ve been happy.

        I talked to the Vanguard advisor recently about making an IRA contribution for 2016 to reduce last year’s taxes. She told me that Vanguard Target Retirement 2015 fund would mimic what she was doing with my husband’s account and recommended it for me. (My husband’s IRA contribution went into the rollover account already managed by the advisor.)

        Disclaimer: I am not used to managing any money other than my family’s. I’m only noting that Vanguard has low fees and I am also interested in what some of the others on this blog are doing as far as retirement investing.

      3. What others on this blog are doing about retirement investing…..

        Contributing to Democrats who will repeal the elimination of Medicare gap coverage, will not replace employee contributions to social security with government revenue which can and will be cut, who will support improvements to the ACA and/or replacement with better health coverage versus the AHCA which increases premium and deductible costs for older people (those nearing retirement in 50-64 age range), will continue to expand Medicaid for those who qualify, will protect the air I breathe, and the land and parks I love and hope to visit before I die, who will respect the importance of diplomacy over inconsequential bombing, who will protect public broadcasting which I listen to and watch, who will protect our waterways from pollutant discharge and maintain CO2 emission caps, will support as needed local consent decrees between communities and law enforcement to make the justice process more fair, who will develop a pathway to citizenship without expelling children/Dreamers who are in America from childhood, who will stabilize financial markets through sound administration and not roil it from day to day with tweets and knee-jerk actions….

        That’s what I am doing to protect the money we have already saved since neither of us can work anymore. Protect what we have, contribute what is right as citizens of America, and inject more certainty into markets, not less. That’s what I am doing.

      4. Bobo, you want index funds, or maybe something like Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio. Vanguard has some good low-cost options too. What you should be aiming at is keeping up with the broader market. What you don’t want to do is to pay a lot for advice of dubious value, or high fees.

      5. Interesting article that explains how one of Paul Ryan’s tax reform ideas could impact those who are in retirement. It’s part of his border import tax plan which will increase costs most for seniors living on fixed incomes. Of interest to you, Bobo is the paragraph that suggests planning that needs to be done in anticipation of this tax change. The income from this tax is crucial to paying for tax cuts for the wealthy and tax reform. Its passage is not assured as it will be hotly contested.
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/04/10/the-seniors-who-could-be-in-for-a-rude-awakening-if-paul-ryan-gets-his-way-on-taxes/?tid=hybrid_experimentrandom_1_na&

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