Read a letter from the author of The Great Risk Shift.
Dear Amazon Reader,
Given what’s happening on Wall Street right now, you are probably feeling at risk. But have you stopped to think about why? Why are our personal finances so much more anxiety-producing today? The stories in the headlines are all about the financial crisis at the very top--among the big banks and Wall Street firms, the hedge funds and financial insurers--but the story I tell in The Great Risk Shift is about the slow-moving financial crisis that has crept into the lives of the rest of us as risk has moved from the broad shoulders of government and corporations onto the backs of American workers and their families.
Our jobs, our health care, our family finances, and our pension plans are all less secure--and the reason is pretty much the same across all these areas. We've seen major changes in our economy, yet little response from our corporate and political leaders. Indeed, the big response is--you guessed it--to shift more risk onto us. So guaranteed pension plans morph into risky 401(k) plans, traditional health plans morph into Health Savings Accounts--or no pension plan or health plan at all. Meanwhile, proponents of the risk shift call for partial privatization of Social Security and shifting away from employment-based health insurance to individually purchased, unregulated plans--all to put more of your skin in the game.
Make no mistake. Your skin is very much in the game already, and each of us has to step up to the challenge on our own and together. Acting alone, we can set up a sunny-day fund to put aside unexpected windfalls (rare as they sometimes seem) for future rainy days. We can also check out our private and public insurance options using the guidelines in the book. And with simple mortgages and pre-set savings, we can commit ourselves to do automatically what we have trouble doing optionally.
But I wouldn't feel the book was complete if it just said, "It's up to you," because, frankly, there's no way most of us can deal with these risks on our own. We need to "get mad" and then "get even," as I put it in the book, to put in place a new set of priorities. So read the book for a simple (I promise) health plan that can cover everyone, and which was the basis for leading candidates' plans in this year's presidential race. I will tell you how 401(k)'s can be truly made secure and predictable (really!) and how we can deal with the job insecurity that plagues so many.
The Great Risk Shift is an expose, a call to arms, and handbook for how we can get back to the basic idea that once made our middle-class strong: people who work hard and do right by their families should have a basic foundation of financial security to be able to confidently reach for the American Dream. I promise the book will change the way you look at your own financial situation and our nation’s choices. Please check the book out for yourself.
Jacob S. Hacker