BEWARE SUCKY SECTION 529 TUITION PLANS!

Thanks to David Maymudes and several others who forwarded the link to this important Slate story (via MSNBC.com). It shows the outrageous fees many state tuition plans charge, and concludes – as we did as long ago as March 17, 2000 – that Utah probably has the best plan. (The good news: You’re no longer stuck in a bad plan forever. Most 529 investors should now be able to switch plans as often as once a year.) For more on saving for college, go, as always, to savingforcollege.com. Lots of good stuff there, including its frequently asked questions. But it’s interesting to note that the site’s ‘5-cap’ ratings (as in caps and gowns, with five caps the best rating) seem to take no account of the investment expenses weighing down a plan’s potential performance – even though this is probably the most important consideration of all. Arizona‘s Waddell & Reed option, which the Slate story notes has preposterously, unconscionably high fees, rates the same four caps as neighboring Utah‘s rock-bottom-expense plan. (Incidentally, thanks to Less Antman and Joe Hurley for teaching me about all this in the first place.)

ERIC HOFFER

Ted: ‘By all means read the books of Eric Hoffer. His first three are pithy, insightful little books about fanaticism that are accessible and readable. However, you should be aware that he was an atheist who believed that life was meaningless. He was also an intellectual descendent of Machiavelli. If you look closely at that essay you linked to, there is no concern about Justice, merely about hypocrisy. But the question of hypocrisy is very much double-sided. I once spoke to a former longshoreman who knew Hoffer and he told me that when Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed Hoffer went around saying ‘good riddance!’ I don’t have corroboration for that, but his contempt for King does come through in his later books. He did write that Elijah Muhammad was the better realist. Hoffer was not anti-black, he just thought that the civil rights movement around King was sickly. It is the same mindset with which he wrote that essay you linked to. Hoffer had great admiration for the Jews but I have doubts whether the Jewish moralists of the past would have admired him.’

 

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