James W. Russell

Social Insecurity

401(k)s and the Retirement Crisis

Beacon Press 2014

New Books in EconomicsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network May 20, 2014 Ellis Jones and Jerry Lembcke

Jim Russell is a sociologist and it was his encounter with the hidden realities of his own 401(k) retirement plan that touched off his...

Jim Russell is a sociologist and it was his encounter with the hidden realities of his own 401(k) retirement plan that touched off his crusade to demystify for himself, and then others, just what was at stake in the options presented by private and public retirement plans. In Social Insecurity: 401(k)s and the Retirement Crisis (Beacon Press, 2014), he puts into plain language for ordinary Americans the arcane terminology used by retirement-fund managers, and uses his own real-life experiences to build an empathetic bond with anxiety-laden readers.

Russell moves seamlessly between the personal and political, the present and past, the domestic and global. The holism of his sociology is Russell’s strongest suit. With admirable succinctness and clarity–this is economics for the-rest-of-us–he recounts the Chicago-school economics that spawned the right-wing privatization movement. He then situates in the emergence of neoliberalism the corporate campaign to move billions of dollars from American pension accounts under pubic and labor union control into private hands.

Turns out, the privatization of pension funds is not just an accompanying feature of global neoliberal strategy but the bull’s eye of the target, ground zero of the attack on centrally planned economies like Chile’s under Allende, and the former Soviet Republics.

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