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Will Facebook Do an About-Face on Its Puny 401(k) Policy?

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The internet is abuzz with Facebook's decision to buy WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion -- the highest price paid for a startup.

However, there has been little or no buzz about Bloomberg News/Businessweek's recent findings that Facebook offered no matching contribution to its employees' 401(k) accounts in 2012 and 2013 -- or that Whole Foods' match is only a measly $152 a year based on a formula of 15.2 percent of the first $1,000 that workers contribute.

Their excuses? A Facebook spokesman told Bloomberg that it decides each year whether to make a contribution and plans to provide a match later in 2014. A Whole Foods executive told Bloomberg that its employees get to vote on what benefits they prioritize -- and they apparently think that store discounts and paid time off are more valuable than a benefit that enables workers to not have to work until their seventies or eighties.

Wow. So basically we have a perfect storm of rich companies deciding to stick it to their employees, who either figure it's better to stay silent than raise hell in this stressful economy -- or don't realize that the longer you put off saving for retirement the more likely you can't. While AOL's about-face on its original decision to switch from regular-paycheck 401(k) contributions to once-a-year contributions is refreshing, it doesn't make up for the fact that most 401(k) plans are not adequate no matter how frequently you get the money, given that the employer contribution is only equal to 3 percent of pay compared to 8 percent of payroll for a pension.

The inconvenient truth is that most of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's generation are not only NOT rolling in dough, they can barely make ends meet. A recent Wells Fargo study of millennials between the ages of 22 and 32 indicated that 87 percent didn't have enough money to save for retirement -- 81 percent were paying off other debts, most likely college loans. Because of these loans, fewer of them are able to qualify for mortgages -- which isn't just bad for the mortgage industry but bad for millennials since a home is a major retirement asset.

As columnist Anya Kamanetz observes in her book, Generation Debt, thanks to student loans, credit card debt, the changing job market and other factors, the millennials are the first American generation not to do better than their parents.

So while I'm grateful that progressive Senators convinced President Obama not to shrink our already-puny Social Security system to trim the federal deficit, we need a do-something policy that's going to restore retirement security for the 99 percent.