Business: Pensions: Pitfalls in the Fine Print

IN the Depression '30s, a lanky South Dakota doctor named Francis Townsend won the backing of millions of elderly Americans with his plan for $200-a-month pensions for everyone over 60. Today his scheme, which most economists once dismissed as a crackpot idea, seems almost conservative. It has been upstaged by a combination of Social Security and private pension plans that offer retirement income to workers as a matter of course. Still, the difference between plans and payoffs is often painful. Many of those who lost their jobs during last year's recession and this...

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