Sometimes it’s easy to miss an event, so here’s a look back at the past week or so to help bring you up to date.
Wilson, shown in these undated photos,
Is retirement going to be a luxury for thirty- and forty- something workers? I increasingly think it will be, and a new estimate from investment giant Fidelity does nothing to dispel that.
A 65-year-old-couple retiring this year will need approximately $225K to cover medical costs in retirement, Fidelity estimates. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is in addition to the coverage available under Medicare, which may itself not be available when I and others retire.
The hypothetical retirees will still have to have enough money to live, either independently or in long-term care.
Perhaps what’s even more sobering than the estimate is its growth since 2002 — 41 percent.
The roughly 6 percent annual growth in the Fidelity projection about matches the growth of my 401K fund during a slow year. I know that doesn’t take into account contribution matching and interest compounding, but I think it raises a worthwhile point nonetheless.
And health care costs show no signs of flattening or decreasing.
Does paying for retirement terrify you as much as it terrifies me? Leave me a comment at http://blog.newsok.com/health.
- Creating an individual retirement plan
- Starting early and maximizing opportunities to save
- Assessing health status and becoming a smarter consumer of health care
- Determining details of any employer-sponsored coverage
- Understanding the financial impact of health care costs on Social Security income
Jeff Raymond, Medical Writer
The absentee voting booth at the Oklahoma County Election Board on Lincoln Blvd. appeared to be doing a brisk business this morning.
I dropped in to cast my first-ever in-person absentee ballot in advance of Tuesday’s sales tax vote.
If the penny sales tax passes, the money raised will be used to enhance the Ford Center in anticipation of the relocation of Seattle SuperSonics NBA franchise to Oklahoma City. A work assignment will take me out of town Tuesday, so I decided to cast my vote in advance.
I’m not sure what I expected, but when I walked in about 10 a.m. there was a room full of ballot boxes and a row of precinct workers just like a normal polling place.
The only difference, instead of looking up my name in a book the workers had me fill out a form before they gave me a ballot. I did take the time to read the long description of the purpose of the sales tax, then marked my ballot and ran it through the machine that counts it.
I noticed I was voter No. 92.
Other voters came and went as I completed the process, so it was evident the issue has generated some interest.
How did I vote? Can’t tell you. It was a secret ballot.
Business News Reporter
About 130 million taxpayers are expected to receive a check from the Internal Revenue Service in the coming months as part of the economic stimulus package designed to spur our lagging economy. For most of us, simply filing a tax return will result in the tax rebate. Those rebates will begin appearing in mailboxes and bank accounts in early May.
Some folks who have not typically been filing returns, particularly those whose income is in the form of tax-exempt Social Security or Veterans Affairs payments, also will have to file a return. The good news is that only a few lines of the form will need to be filled in to qualify.
The IRS Web site has a lot of excellent data on the rebate payments that is regularly updated.
This is a .pdf image of a sample form for Social Security recipients and others who have not been required to file returns in recent years, but need to file this year to qualify for the economic stimulus payment.
Here’s a video interview I did with Oklahoma City IRS Spokesman David Stell about the rebate payments.
This mp3 audio file is Acting IRS Commissioner Linda Stiff discussing the rebate program during a Feb. 22 conference call with reporters.
And here are several recent articles that ran in The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com:
If you have any questions, call the IRS at (800) TAX-1040, which is (800) 829-1040.
Did I miss anything? E-mail by clicking on my name below.
News Flash: Nearly 7,100 company-operated Starbucks stores across the U.S. were to close at 5:30 p.m. local time Tuesday so some 135,000 employees could go through about three hours of training.
My drive home every evening takes me by two Edmond Starbucks locations, so I checked them out to see what was happening at about 6:30 tonight.
Sure enough, the Starbucks at Broadway and 15th Street was closed, as was the one near Santa Fe on 15th. The Broadway Starbucks had something like a large trash can placed right in front of the door, as well as a car blocking the drive through.
At the Starbucks near Santa Fe, something was blocking the view into the store through the front door, although it was clear that employees were gathered and listening to a supervisor speak.
I stopped at the 15th and Santa Fe store and took a few photographs. I didn’t see any caffeine addicts pounding on the door begging for their coffee fix.
Business News Reporter
It was cold and rainy on Dec. 6, 1969, when Air Force One emerged from the clouds to land at the Fort Smith, Ark., airport. I was there, along with about 2,000 of my closest friends to welcome President Richard M. Nixon to Arkansas.
Nixon was on his way to Fayetteville to witness the Texas-Arkansas football game, but had to land about 60 miles south in Fort Smith because the Fayetteville airport runway wasn’t long enough to accommodate his aircraft.
Anyway, I was a sophomore in high school and begged my mom to let me take her car to the airport to see Nixon. I actually arrived before they opened the gates to the Air National Guard section of the airport about 9 a.m. Nixon’s plane didn’t arrive until about 11, so we had plenty of standing around to do.
A press plane landed about 20 minutes ahead of Nixon’s plane. Reporters came out and struck up some conversation with some of those around me along the rope barriers set up for the occassion. The Southside High School band was there to play “Hail to the Chief.”
I don’t recall Nixon making any kind of formal speech, but he came down the rope barrier shaking hands during the brief time he was there. When he got to within about six feet of my spot in line, Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller whispered something to him, which I assumed was about the need to head up to Fayetteville in time for kick-off of the game.
Nixon turned away and started to walk to the waiting helicopter, but several hundred disappointed well wishers let out a collective “awwwww.” Nixon turned around and came back and shook hands all the way down the line, including mine. I have pictures! He even took time to shake a few hands of the high school band members.
A couple of things happened that morning that I still clearly recall:
First, a reporter who stepped off the press plane complained of the cold weather and one of the folks waiting with me offered to sell him the stocking cap he was wearing. The reporter took him up on the deal and paid about $10 for the cap. I was impressed with his walking-around money.
Second, a man armed with a Kodak Instamatic climbed up on one of the barrels that held the rope barrier just as Nixon’s plane was pulling onto the tarmac. A sheriff’s deputy came running over and shouted for the man to get down. I’ll never forget the guy’s reply after he jumped off. He said “come the revolution, you are going to get yours.” (Although, I believe the deputy was already out of earshot) We had a counter-culture wannabe in the crowd!
Finally, when I got home my mom told me that a friend of mine called minutes after I left to go to the airport. His family had tickets to the big game, but his mother decided it was too cold and wet to sit in the stands. So he was calling to offer me the extra ticket.
RICHARD NIXON COST ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO WATCH THE GAME OF THE CENTURY IN PERSON.
I didn’t hold it against him.Almost 40 years later, that day remains one of my fondest memories.
I took this photo of Air Force One sitting on the tarmac in Fort Smith and had not seen the picture for decades. It showed up in my e-mail box Monday morning courtesy of my dad, who obviously ran across it while looking through some old photos.
His only comment: “Do you remember this?”
I certainly do.
Business News Reporter
The first thing I did after discovering a broken and smashed cell phone in a plain white envelope that came in the mail this week was to check my pocket.
Yes, my cell phone was still there.
Then I looked at the note included in the baggie of broke plastic. On first glance it appeared to be letters cut and pasted sort of like you might expect a ransom note to be written. It read: “Criminal evidence or techno-junk.”
Hmmm. I put on my Sherlock Holmes hat for a moment. Who? What? Why?
Then I turned the package over and I saw it for what it was. It was a pitch to attend a news conference on Friday at UCO about cyber security. The note on that side of the paper said: “Find out how AT&T is helping UCO become a national leader in cyber security and digital evidence. 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 15, 2008. Evans Hall Great Room. University of Central Oklahoma campus.”
OK, I’ll bite. Now I have to show up just to see what it’s all about.
Meanwhile, how do I dispose of all this techno junk?
Business News Reporter
The Project for Emerging Nanotechnologies has a question for you: Do you know a buckyball from a soccer ball?
If you can distinguish the two you just might win one of five free iPod Nanos the organization is giving away to visitors to its Web site. The organization has posted a five-question “Nano IQ” test and will randomly award the iPod Nanos to people who take the IQ challenge.
I took it, and, well, I did manage to get three of five questions correct. But I still qualify for the iPod Nano!
The Nano IQ test is part of a marketing ploy to publicize the Project’s redesigned Web site. The site offers nanotechnology education, industry news and coverage of nano business.
There is even a “Nano 101″ section that provides a definition of nanotechnology to help boost that all-important Nano IQ.
In case you are interested, here is how the Project for Emerging Nanotechnolgies defines the nanotech:
“Nanotechnology is the art and science of manipulating matter at the nanoscale (down to 1/100,000 the width of a human hair) to create new and unique materials and products.”
Sometimes it is referred to as an “enabling” technology that helps make products lighter, stronger and longer lasting.
Before you test your Nano IQ, here’s a little head start on the test. A buckyball is a new form of elemental carbon, similar in structure to a geodesic dome. You are on your own for the other four questions.
Business News Reporter
I wrote yesterday about the difficulty of finding things one can buy with a single quarter. The story was related to Monday’s issuance of the Oklahoma quarter, part of the U.S. Mint’s long-running program to highlight each of the 50 states through coinage.
Part of my research for the story involved using a couple of inflation calculators to compare the value of a quarter today and in the past. These things are actually kind of fun. Here’s a graphic that didn’t make the paper showing how much it would cost today to buy 25 cents worth of goods in the past. The timeline at the bottom of the graph runs from 1913 to 2005.
I bought two rolls of shiny new Oklahoma quarters during lunch on Monday, and those were the quarters that appeared in a photo on the front page of The Oklahoman today. But at the end of the day, I had a couple of pounds of quarters rattling around in my pocket. My kids only needed a few, so I started handing out the rest (and I sold a few to folks who wanted more than one).
So far, I’ve handed out about $5 worth of quarters and it’s fun to observe people’s initial reaction to the coin. In general, even people who didn’t vote for the scissortail flycatcher and Indian Blanket artwork find the coin to be attractive. The most critical comments I’ve heard are that the coin isn’t “Okie” enough.
In the past two days, I’ve handed quarters to colleagues in the newsroom and my wife and four kids. I even slipped one to Boone Pickens after completing an interview.
So, to amend my earlier story, handing out quarters is the best value I’ve found for the new coins.
The Dow Industrials have been as erratic as Britney Spears on her way to a child custody hearing. On Wednesday, the index of 30 of the largest U.S. stocks plummeted more than 200 points, reversed course and closed the day up more than 300 points. It was an impressive bounce, in a neck-snapping sort of way. But was it unprecedented?
Paul Kedrosky ran the numbers on his “Infectious Greed” blog, and determined that only one other trading day moved from at least a 1-percent loss to a positive close to produce a wider variance than Tuesday’s 625-point swing. That was a 701-point reversal on July 24, 2002.
But, as Kedrosky correctly points out, it’s all relative. A 600-point swing in the Dow sounds impressive, but the index currently is wobbling around the 12,000-point level. Ranking those dips and dives by percentage is a more accurate way to compare today’s volatility with that of other decades. And by that measure, Wednesday’s wild trading day is not even among the top 10.
Four of the six biggest percentage swings occurred from 1929 to 1937. The largest ever was a 12.9 percent move in October, 1987.
So the next time someone tells you the Dow is up or down 200 or 300 points, consider the percentages.