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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Congressional Budget Office paper says don’t buy annuities

A working paper recently published by Felix Reichling of the Congressional Budget Office and Kent Smetters of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School concludes that most people should not buy annuities. This is a controversial finding bound to spark significant debate within the financial services community.

The annuity model is simple: You give up a portion of your savings to an insurance company in exchange for a guaranteed stream of payments for the remainder of your life. Gil Weinreich, editor-in-chief of ThinkAdvisor, an online and print publication family for financial advisers, interviewed Smetters to find out why he believes that’s not a good idea. He quoted Smetters as stating, “The average American should probably not annuitize any of their wealth.”

Smetters explained that it is in fact uninsured health-care shocks – the most common being disability while working or the need for long-term care while retired – that impact the usefulness of annuities more than anything else.

Here’s the logic: Suppose that you are retired and develop a medical condition requiring long-term care, for which you are not insured. If you had previously purchased an annuity, it would not be much help, because you now have the need for a lot more income than the annuity had been designed to produce. You could sell your annuity – there is a secondary market for this – but because of your medical condition, your expected longevity is reduced. As a result, the amount of cash you can get for the annuity will be lower, because its value is based on the expectation of its future cash flows. That’s just the opposite of what you need during such a situation.

Smetters went so far as to recommend that younger people actually “short” annuities.

“You can get a negative annuity by buying life insurance,” he said. “It is well known … that whereas an annuity pays me for living, life insurance pays me for dying. What happens when I get sick is that my life insurance increases in value. You can cash that out and get protection against uninsured expenses.”

Is there anyone who would benefit from an annuity? According to Smetters, “those who should buy annuities have already incurred health costs or are quite elderly.” Insurance companies can afford to offer such people annuities with larger monthly or yearly payments because there’s a higher likelihood they’ll die sooner.

Most advisers think of annuities as low-risk investments. But as Smetters pointed out, they are actually higher risk because they fail at exactly the times you need them the most: during health-care crises. The better alternative, he said, is long-term care insurance for older people and disability insurance for younger people.

I believe that annuities – particularly single-premium immediate annuities – can be a valuable part of a well-diversified investment portfolio. But Smetters and Reichling suggest that they should be used sparingly until you reach an age where the payments become significant.

To read the CBO working paper, visit cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44374_MortalityProbabilities-Reichling_2_0.pdf.

Artie Green, a Los Altos resident, is a Certified Financial Planner and professional investment adviser. For more information, call (408) 747-1222.

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