I understand the US has something similar in the form of those famous 401(k)'s, be it that apparently this form of retirement savings seem to be mostly employer sponsored plans, whereas our 'pensioensparen' is a wholly individual undertaking.
Well... for the time being the money hungry Belgian State seems happy to let us take care of ourselves. In the US however...
Yesterday I stumbled, via Protein Wisdom, on a very interesting column by Newt Gingrich and Peter Ferrara in Investors.com, titled
CLASS WARFARE'S NEXT TARGET: 401(k) SAVINGS
By Newt Gingrich and Peter Ferrara
Posted 02/17/2010 06:52 PM ET
"You did the responsible thing. You saved in your IRA or 401(k) to support your retirement, when you could have spent that money on another vacation, or an upscale car, or fancier clothes and jewelry. But now Washington is developing plans for your retirement savings.
BusinessWeek reports that the Treasury and Labor departments are asking for public comment on "the conversion of 401(k) savings and Individual Retirement Accounts into annuities or other steady payment streams."
In plain English, the idea is for the government to take your retirement savings in return for a promise to pay you some monthly benefit in your retirement years.
They will tell you that you are "investing" your money in U.S. Treasury bonds. But they will use your money immediately to pay for their unprecedented trillion-dollar budget deficits, leaving nothing to back up their political promises, just as they have raided the Social Security trust funds. This "conversion" may start out as an optional choice, though you are already free to buy Treasury bonds whenever you want. But as Karl Denninger of the Market Ticker Web site reports: "'Choices' have a funny way of turning into mandates, and this looks to me like a raw admission that Treasury knows it will not be able to sell its debt in the open market — so they will effectively tax you by forcing your 'retirement' money to buy them."
Moreover, benefits based on Treasury bond interest rates may be woefully inadequate compensation for your years of savings. As Denninger adds, "What's even worse is that the government has intentionally suppressed Treasury yields during this crisis (and will keep doing so by various means, including manipulating the CPI inflation index) so as to guarantee that you lose over time compared to actual purchasing power."
This proposal follows hearings held last fall by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., of the Ways and Means Committee focusing on "redirecting (IRA and 401k) tax breaks to a new system of guaranteed retirement accounts to which all workers would be obliged to contribute," as reported by InvestmentNews.com..."
Powerline Blog has some very sound remarks too:
"In other words, the government will allow you the "opportunity" to give Washington your savings, in return for which the government will give you unmarketable T-bills or other unreliable promises to pay some minimal rate of return. The program likely will be "voluntary" to begin with, but that makes no sense--you can buy T-bills in your retirement account any time you want. So the only possible point is to make the exchange mandatory. The government steals your savings in exchange for an IOU.
Will it happen? Clearly the Obama administration, inspired by Argentina, is exploring the option. Today, we have the first administration in American history that aspires to be a banana republic. But can they get away with confiscating millions of Americans' savings? I doubt it. Because first on the list of those who have accumulated wealth in reliance on the laws governing private savings accounts are lawyers. Most people don't realize it, but even lawyers of modest ability typically have, after three or four decades of diligent savings, seven-figure retirement accounts. (This is one reason why influential Democrats don't care whether Social Security goes bust. They wouldn't dream of depending on it.) Lawyers are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party; public employee unions are more important in some ways, but they are junior partners in the Dems' coalition.
If the Obama administration were to announce an intent to confiscate Americans' retirement savings, the howls that would arise from lawyers (and others, too, of course) would be deafening. I don't think the administration could get away with it. Which doesn't mean they won't try, as the current efforts by the Departments of the Treasury and Labor indicate.
Still, others disagree. Earlier today I learned that a relative on Wall Street has stopped accumulating funds in his retirement accounts precisely because he thinks they may be confiscated by the Obama administration. Instead, he is acquiring untraceable, tangible assets--gold and silver--that the government won't be able to steal without a physical search of his property..."
Over here in the United Socialist Repooplicks of Belgistan we have enough to be wary of, but I think I can manage some li'l advice to Americanos. It's a Flemish saying: "Als de vos de passie preekt, boer pas op je hennen." Translation: "When the fox preaches compassion, farmer watch your hens".
Don't let these crooks and thieves put their claws on your retirement savings. Let them find other ways to fill their bottomless pits.