Talking personal finance with Helaine Olen: Parts 3

We continued our conversation about personal finance.

Parts 1 and 2 can be found here.

Here we discussed the inherent shortcomings of 401(k) accounts, and why the New School’s Teresa Ghilarducci has been called the “Most Dangerous Woman in America.” I lament the public sector’s failure to properly finance its retirement obligations, which undercuts the political case for professionally-managed defined-benefit pensions.

We also discussed how the current system of tax-favored savings vehicles favors the affluent. I discuss my favorite subject: Me. We discussed how my own family righted our financial ship after a crisis using strategies that less-affluent Americans could not realistically emulate. . We tend to judge people as individuals when they respond to adversity. Yet the individuals and families most able to weather such crises are often those in the most advantageous situations.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.