Chalk up one another big black mark against the
beleaguered 401(k). After 38 years, the state of Nebraska has recently jettisoned its version of the retirement plan, judging it a failure. It's too early to gauge the reverberations from the Nebraska decision. But it could mark the quiet beginnings of a backlash against the notion, popularized over the past decade, that ordinary Americans should put on money manager hats and assume responsibility for their retirement security. The Nebraska case shows the disastrous results of letting people manage their own retirement funds over the long term. The state began letting workers opt out of its traditional pension plan to invest in a defined-contribution plan back in 1964. By comparison, most company 401(k) plans have been in existence only since the 1990s. Until recently, a booming stock market has helped camouflage their flaws.