Americans collectively are losing billions of dollars a year out of their retirement accounts because they're paying excessive fees, according to researchers studying thousands of employer-sponsored retirement plans across the country.

The rearchers say part of the trouble is that many employers that offer 401(k) plans to their workers are outgunned by financial firms that sell them bad plans loaded with hefty fees. That's especially true, they say, for small and midsize employers that don't have much financial expertise in-house.

In 1933, Washington state had an income tax. So what happened?
Illustration by Drew Christie

We had an income tax once in Washington state.

It was during the Great Depression, and a lot of people were down and out.

People were so excited about the income tax that they voted twice. First, they changed the state constitution to allow the tax. Then voters approved the tax – 70 percent in favor.

High Risk Awaits Immigrants In Alaska’s 'Ballard North'

20 hours ago
Salahaldin Adam, outside the Trident North plant in Cordova. Adam is showing the swelling on his right hand, which he hurt after just a few weeks on the job.
KUOW Photo/Alex Stonehill

In Ballard, a human resources manager for Trident Seafoods talks to a room of people hoping to be seafood processors – warning them of the dangers of the job.

SEAN CASADY, HR DIRECTOR: "You need to be able to stand on your feet for up to 16 hours a day in cold and wet conditions."

Sonny Nguyen outside of the auto parts store he owns in Dutch Harbor (Unalaska). He’s a refugee from Vietnam who came to Seattle in 1976 and then went to Dutch Harbor where he’s lived on an off for 30 years.
KUOW Photo/Alex Stonehill

The yard in front of the CARQUEST Auto Parts store on this remote Alaskan island is crowded with old cars.

Sonny Nguyen, the store’s owner, keeps them because it can be faster to grab a part from the front yard than to get it shipped out here. Nguyen first came here in 1977.

Silme Domingo, left, and Gene Viernes, right, were murdered at a union hall in Seattle. It took a determined group of people to find out the murderers.
University of Washington Digital Archives

On Monday, June 1, 1981, Seattle’s KIRO TV reported a shooting in Pioneer Square.

KIRO: “The shots were fired right around a quarter of 5 this evening, shots that apparently were not heard by anyone else. The two victims were inside the union office.”

'Ballard North': East Africans Take Money Trail To Alaska

20 hours ago
Abdirahman Shire in his dormitory room. Room and board are free or cost less than $15 a day for seafood processing workers (depending on their contract and from plant to plant).
KUOW Photo/Alex Stonehill

A few years after Abdirahman Shire moved to the U.S., he found work at a Tyson Foods chicken factory in Kentucky.

That’s when he got a call from a friend, another Somali guy he’d known in a refugee camp in Uganda.

Like all business owners, farmers want to get paid for their work. Sometimes, that work creates problems for the environment, so regulators are advancing the idea of creating environmental markets to allow farmers to make money off of their conservation practices.

Under plans in development, farmers could generate environmental credits by farming in ways that store carbon, filter out water pollution, or preserve wildlife habitat. Those credits could be bought, sold, and traded by companies that need to balance out their own emissions or pollution.


David Hyde spoke with News Tribune reporter Kathleen Cooper about two proposals to hike the minimum wage in Tacoma that are on the November ballot.  

Jeff Bezos, founder of
Flickr Photo/Ali Asaria (CC BY NC 2.0)/

David Hyde speaks with Ashley Stewart, reporter for the Puget Sound Business Journal, about Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' dip in the Harvard Business Review's ranking of top executives.

The average American eats hundreds of pounds of meat every year. But after years of putting more and more meat on our plates, it seems we’re starting to see a slow-down.

Dietary recommendations are shifting as we learn more about what’s healthy to eat. American shoppers are taking new information to the grocery store and making new choices at the meat counter.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Kristofor Husted of Harvest Public Media reports that U.S. livestock farmers are listening.

When you drive the new expressway to the airport in the Chinese city of Luliang, you are as likely to come across a stray dog as another vehicle. When I recently drove it, a farmer was riding in a three-wheel flatbed truck and heading in the wrong direction. But it didn't matter. There was no oncoming traffic.

Taking on Wall Street makes for good politics in the Democratic Party. And several of the candidates at Tuesday night's debate had tough words about big banks. That was particularly true of former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Although he didn't say so directly, O'Malley suggested several times that consolidation in the banking business was a big factor in the 2008 financial crash and that the U.S. economy remains vulnerable because of it.

Captain Dave Stauffer of Island Tug and Barge steers a cleaner tugboat these days. No longer is the Duwamish river tracked with exhaust from tugboats leaving behind diesel. Still, problems remain with the health of the people who live nearby.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Tugboat captain Dave Stauffer used to reek of diesel.

“It’s just the smell of a boat,” Stauffer says. “Just like standing by a fire, you’re going to get some of that smoke on your clothes.”

Stauffer’s wife also grew used to the smell. “She’d say, ‘That’s the smell of money,’” he says.
Flickr Photo/Soumit Nandi (CC BY NC ND)/

David Hyde speaks with Todd Bishop about why Amazon (is rumored to be) opening a brick and mortar store in Seattle, and how he got his hands on some blueprints. Also: the device that could save Microsoft.

Christina Lomasney, CEO of Modumetal
Courtesy of Modumetal

Imagine a highway guardrail crafted from a new kind of metal that doesn’t rust. Or a car that you design yourself one day, is delivered to your door the next and weighs a fraction of what current vehicles do.

The first exists, thanks to a Seattle startup called Modumetal. The latter … well, that might take a little longer, CEO Christina Lomasney told KUOW’s David Hyde.