What Are the Potential Benefits of Universal Access to Retirement Savings?

Executive Summary Excerpt:
Workers in the United States are being asked to take responsibility for their financial well-being in retirement now more than ever. What used to be considered the foundation for building a secure retirement — Social Security, employer-provided pensions, and personal savings — has been weakening for decades as traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans have been replaced by a defined contribution (DC) system of savings that was originally meant to supplement, not replace, traditional pensions.

Most employers today that have retirement plans only offer DC options. This shift over time from employer-provided pensions to DC plans has put greater responsibility on workers to make complex savings and investment decisions that will affect the amount of money available in retirement. Americans who have access to retirement savings accounts often do not save enough to maintain their quality of life in retirement.

Making matters worse, while employer-sponsored retirement plans have become the primary way private sector workers build retirement savings, employers in the United States are not required to offer retirement savings plans. Today, there are an estimated 57 million private sector workers (46%) who do not have access to a plan through the workplace (see Figure ES.1). These access gaps are inequitably distributed, affecting more small businesses, and with larger gaps
among lower-income workers, younger workers, minorities, and women.

For several years, there have been discussions and proposals in the United States about how to expand access to ways to save for retirement. If we look internationally, there is usually little debate about the value of universal access to retirement savings, and several countries require employers to provide a retirement savings option for their employees. With all workers covered, differences can be found in the design of such options to achieve the levels of savings needed to boost income in retirement.

Universal access to retirement savings options would give all workers the opportunity to save, and evidence from other countries, from individual states, and from private sector plans suggests that many would begin to do so, especially when encouraged using default options, such as automatic enrollment. Workers would benefit from the increased savings and the additional income in retirement. At the same time, the economy benefits from stronger savings, investment, and economic growth, and the nation benefits from a reduction in fiscal pressures to support an aging population lacking sufficient retirement income.

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composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.

RAVE (IRCAM 2021) https://github.com/acids-ircam/RAVE