Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lost in Space?

Today, I start with a question: how did we get here? Where is here? I am referring to the current state of ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code with respect to employee benefit programs and compensation. Is this what the original framers intended? Are we better off now than we were back then? If we could start anew with perfect hindsight, would we create something that resembles what we have now?

I think the answer to each of those questions is a resounding no. The laws have been heavily influenced by successful lobbying efforts by special interest groups. Many have written to cure specific ills without any regard to the new ills that they might cause.

Recall what ERISA stands for -- the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. If there is one thing of which I am certain, that is not what ERISA has become. Perhaps a better name for the law would be PQCAETNE, but I'm not sure how you would pronounce that. In case you were wondering, PQCAETNE stands for Patchwork Quilt to Cure All Evils That Never Existed.

While I'm on today's rant, we can look at the names of some of the older pieces of legislation to perhaps explain how we got into the mess we are in today.

ERISA: Every Ridiculous Idea Since Adam
TEFRA: Things ERISA Forgot, Reagan Added

Thanks for reading. I'll try to be more informative next time.

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