2017 BOOKS

The Pension Red Alert

By JL Yastine 

The men and women of Iron Workers Local 17 literally built Cleveland's skyline.

If you happen to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, catch an Indians game at Progressive Field, fly into Cleveland's airport, drive across its bridges or visit the convention center...

The members of the local union built the steel spines of all those structures and many more.

And what might they receive as thanks for a hard and dangerous job well done?

Looming cuts in their pension benefits.

Welcome to the first of many such battles in the great American pension rollback of 2017 and beyond...

In order for pension plans to stay solvent and meet their payout obligations to retirees, they need steady, low-risk investment returns of around 7% to 8% a year.

Those rose-tinted assumptions might have seemed perfectly reasonable 20 years ago when interest rates and economic growth were a lot higher.

But, as we all know, that's not the case now.

Imminent Danger of Insolvency

The pension problem is a "great disaster in waiting." But for Cleveland's local union of about 2,000 active and retired ironworkers - the waiting is over.

It's here, now.

The ironworkers' pension plan administrators said the fund was in "imminent danger of becoming insolvent."

You can figure out the math yourself when I tell you that the local union has roughly 700 active members, but almost twice as many retirees.

So later this week, the entire membership, active and retired, will vote - and face an excruciating choice:

  1. Save the fund by approving an average 20% reduction in their pension benefits... some members would face much bigger cuts - as much as 50% to 60% in some cases.
  2. Reject the proposed cuts - and watch their pension fund run out of money by 2024.

This will be the first-ever test of the Pension Reform Act, approved by Congress in late 2014. The bill allows proposed cuts in "multiemployer" pension plans (an ironworker, for example, might work for numerous contractors and developers over several decades of work) to be put up for a membership vote if there's a danger of a pension fund's insolvency.

Neither of the above choices is a good one. Which would you choose?

Open the Floodgates

The scary thing is, according to data from the U.S. Treasury Department, there are five other multiemployer pension funds asking for government permission to do the same thing, and no doubt dozens more waiting in the wings

"This could just open the flood gates," was the way one pension rights expert put it to the Washington Post regarding the ironworkers' pending vote.

And what about the federal government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC)?

The PBGC, after all, was created in 1974 to serve as a backstop for private pensions.

But the "guaranty" part comes from private companies that pay an insurance premium (roughly $27 a worker right now) into the PBGC so the agency can meet any and all pension insolvencies in the future.

At least that's how it works on paper.

The problem? The agency says it needs more than $60 billion to cover the expected tide of insolvencies over the next decade. Congress would need to hike companies' PBGC insurance premiums by more than 300%!

Good luck there.

It points out a stark fact that we talk about again and again here. Whether we're talking about gold, overseas real estate, international stocks or a second passport - they all represent ways to reduce uncertainty and risk to your wealth. As the ironworkers' pension problems show, there are no "guarantees" in the financial world.

A veteran investor and longtime financial journalist, JL Yastine is a contributor to Sovereign Investor Daily. He also serves as editorial director, focusing on creation and development of new products and editorial resources that will help the Society's members "be Sovereign." Read more at The Sovereign Investor Daily.


Reasons Why Women Should Use This Product

By Nick Shutts  

While maca powder can offer benefits for both men and women, it is a good source for women to keep their bodies healthy. Women need different elements than men and this can be a wise choice to ensure you can stay as healthy as possible. Use it as a source of prevention so you don't have to go through various ailments and treatments. If you already have health concerns, it helps.

There are many ways to benefit from the use of this product. Adding it to food or creating a drink out of it each day can help with feeling better and getting the most out of your day. It can be a way for you to avoid serious health concerns and to keep the quality of life you enjoy as you get older.

Increases Libido

Women tend to have a lower libido than men, and it can make relationships a struggle when it comes to that part of it. The use of maca powder can increase both libido and pleasure during sexual activity. Some women feel they are just too tired for sex due to work, kids, and other responsibilities. This can help you to get in the mood and look forward to sex again.

Some women struggle with becoming pregnant, and it can be upsetting and cause an array of issues. The use of maca powder can help to increase fertility naturally. It can be expensive to go to a fertility clinic and it can make you uneasy to go through those procedures. Give this a try first and see if it can make a difference for your chances of a pregnancy.

Improve Mood

Life can be full of stressors, daily routines, and feeling that you just can't get it done. You don't want to be angry or unhappy. Depression can affect people from all walks of life due to chemical imbalance. The use of maca powder for women can help to improve mood by regulating those chemicals. It can be a solution that doesn't involve expensive medications with harsh side effects.

When you feel good mentally, everything is easier. You are able to enjoy time with friends and family. You can focus on work and other tasks. Your memory will improve too and that can lower the risk of Alzheimer's as you get older.

Increase Energy

Avoid sugar and caffeine as a way to get yourself more energy through the day. When that sugar is gone, you will hit a low and have to do it all over again. This can also result in extra weight due to the calories. The use of maca powder can help you to have more energy all day long but still be able to sleep well at night. Sugar and caffeine can interrupt your sleep patterns.

Menopause with Ease

A woman's body goes through significant changes during menopause and they can last for months or years. Who wants to feel the ups and downs that long? The use of maca powder can help to get those hormones in balance. As a result, you are less likely to suffer from the many symptoms and effects that can reduce your quality of life for that duration of time.

As women get older and go through menopause, they have an increased risk of problems with their bone density. The bones can become brittle and they may develop osteoporosis. This product can help the bones to remain strong and healthy. They are less prone to experience a fracture or a break. This one simple change in your daily habits can make a huge impact.

You will always find plenty of wonderful and healthy items for you to pick from at our Grape Tree retail stores. For your convenience, you can also shop online at http://www.grapetree.co.uk and have your items delivered. New products are added all the time to meet your needs. We make it affordable and convenient for you to get the best products available. We are diligent about the ingredients in the products we offer so you can feel confident about them. Not only do they taste great, they also help you to achieve your overall goals for your well-being and dietary concerns.

9 Useful Garage Door Safety Tips

By Brain Kreston

If a home were a book, an electric garage door would be a quiet and insignificant character - barely noticed day to day as it obediently responds to demands.

This might be the case in most homes, but not one in which both a teenager and a senior citizen are learning to drive at the same time. In this case, an electric garage door can become an object to outfox for the youngster and a source of trepidation for the "oldster" - and an object for both to misjudge and miscalculate.

Life has rarely been routine since my daughter and mother decided it would be "cool" to go through driver's education together. As they bond over studying the rules of the road - and I add up the damage to my garage door from their assorted mishaps - I've laid down what might be called the "Rules of the Garage."

Some of these safety tips are born from experience; others were provided by one of the few garage door companies that care about its customers' safety. Collectively, they have become a new family mantra, recited quickly before one of them - the main characters in our daily family drama - even thinks about grabbing the car keys:

1.            Ensure the outdoor garage lights are on at night - and if they're not, proceed oh-so-slowly up the driveway. Leaving the lights on often requires a planned family effort, but it's worth it, especially if you have a dark-colored door that can appear to be open at night.

2.            Wait until the door is fully open before pulling in the garage or pulling out of it. It's easy to misjudge the height of a vehicle, especially when you're in a hurry. And the second or two you think you're saving before the door is fully open is not worth the ensuing cost of damage to the vehicle - and the higher car insurance premium that can follow.

3.            Always look back twice when pulling out of the garage. Even before shifting the car into reverse, look behind you. Then look again to ensure that the door has fully opened before proceeding.

4.            Purchase a garage door with a motion sensor. Here is a lesson many homeowners learn the hard way - with or without new drivers in the house. Like a watchful mother/daughter, a sensor detects trouble; it senses movement around the door and rolls it right back up to prevent an accident.

5.            Consider painting the inner door a light, reflective or even a slightly fluorescent color. Here is another lesson straight out of the School of Hard Knocks. If you're resistant to the idea, try to remember that no one will see the offbeat color except the people who routinely pull a car out of the garage. You might be sold on the idea when you see how brake lights illuminate the door, providing an extra degree of safety.

6.            Keep fingers and gadgets away from the cables, pulleys and springs on a garage door. What appears to be an "easy fix" can belie a more complicated repair, which should be left to the professionals who have the proper tools - and expertise.

7.            Purchase a sturdy door for your garage. This quiet and insignificant character has a funny way of taking center stage, pointing up the wisdom in investing in a durable door. One made of aluminum or steel can withstand repeated use - and the occasional ding.

8.            Reserve one spot in your car for the door opener of your garage, and keep it there always. Failing to do so could find you fumbling to find the opener in the dark. In a distracted state, with your car in drive but with your foot on the brake, your car could inch forward and - you guessed it - ram the garage door. While you're at it, hide the opener in a console or the glove compartment so that it is not visible to potential car and house thieves.

9.            Keep your door in peak condition. Like other electronic devices, a garage door that starts to make loud banging, creaking, or squealing noises is a door that is literally crying out for repair - and again, only for a reputable garage door repair service company.

Naturally, accidents happen even when people are careful. But you can go a long way toward keeping people, cars, and your garage door safe by putting these sensible tips into high gear. One family - with two newly minted, licensed drivers - found out the hard way.

A Guide to Dealing With Carpet Stains

By Clive Donnison

To confidently offer a hygienically clean environment for our homes and businesses we need to be best-versed in how to achieve clean carpets. The level of cleanliness of our carpets dictates our true ability to know that the environment is safe. Particles, dirt and dust are absorbed by carpets as this forms their primary function. This ability is, however, not limitless.

Professional carpet cleaning is a provision that holds the answers to achieving the deepest-cleaned carpets. The assistance needed can be tailored depending on the level of built-up dirt or staining. Carpet stains are so wide-ranging that there are so many techniques and products that support the removal of any particular stain. The likelihood is that a stain will need an entire process to ensure it is fully removed and will not reappear.

This leads seamlessly onto the first consideration for carpet stains. Re-occurring spots are extremely difficult to deal with. It is too frequently acknowledged that stains can be thought to be fully removed, only to reappear at a later date. This may mean that the stain was oily or not completed removed due to the stain type.

Different types of carpets may also play a role in the successful removal of a particular stain. The best-available advice for such issues would be to ensure that the correct cleaning formulations are selected to suit your carpet material and pile. It is important not to scrub the carpet fibres as this will likely damage it. It is also vital that the area is rinsed thoroughly as any remaining residue will likely promote re-soiling.

The second consideration is the way in which the stain should be removed. Firstly it is important that any excess is removed prior to cleaning the carpet. Any excess left on the carpet will inevitably be worked further into the fibres. Whether you identify a liquid or a food spillage, it is always advisable to scrape or blot up the surplus.

The third consideration is to always work from the outside of the stain, inwards. Use of the correct techniques will play a pivotal role in the overall success of stain removal. Using this method will improve the likelihood of full removal. Constant use of a blotting motion, rather than scrubbing will also make sure that your carpets remain undamaged and will last much longer.

The fourth consideration is the requirement to identify a local, specialist carpet cleaner who can offer the assistance required to care for your carpets. This provision offers true value for money as their time-served knowledge can be used quickly and efficiently to remove carpet stains. Their comprehensive provision will be fully tailored and will range from an overall deep clean to individual stain removal and routine care.

The above information has been collated in order to offer support and advice when considering caring for your household carpets. A routine maintenance programme will eliminate any stress related to daily care. Your chosen professional will be on hand to offer tailored services throughout the lifetime of your carpets.


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