401 – 401 = 0

The 401(k) is simply another method purpose-built so that Wall Street can skim more wealth from workers – and it has worked spectacularly for this purpose while leaving workers much less well off.

The typical worker age 55 to 64 had just $54,000 in a 401(k) in 2010, according to a new report by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, and households with workers in that age group had $120,000 in retirement savings on average, if the money rolled into I.R.A.’s was included. That $120,000 is less than one-fourth the savings recommended by many retirement experts. Moreover, the center calculated, that $120,000 would provide an annuity of a paltry $7,000 a year.

Most Americans younger than 40 will never be able to retire. Most will work till they drop. This is the society we’ve created, and a result of the choices we’ve made. There’s probably no way back now, either.