01/11/2010 10:59 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Survey Lies. The 401(k) Still Needs Fixing

The Investment Company Institute, the trade group for mutual fund companies, released a survey about 401(k)s Friday that suggested the nation's de facto retirement plan was working just fine, thank you very much. The survey's title, "Enduring Confidence in the 401(k) System," left little doubt as to where the survey takers stood on the effectiveness of the plans, and indeed, the poll's results suggested that 401(k)s enjoy a level of support that would make Kim Jong Il proud: Some 91 percent of respondents with 401(k) plans had a very or somewhat favorable opinion of them. And in a not-too-subtle warning to the Obama Administration, which has been exploring 401(k) reforms that include annuitization, the survey reports that 97 percent of participants support the idea that "Retirees should be able to make their own decisions about how to manage their own retirement assets and income."

Oh, please.

The ICI's self-serving survey does not mean that 401(k)s have been fine all along. It does not prove that any attempt to make them more adequate or equitable or safer would be political suicide. Let's look. Come on, ICI. Survey all you want. The 401(k) system is still broken. We need a creative conversation about how to provide income adequacy for Americans after work, not a survey that insults our intelligence.

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