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Here's my two cents worth in reply to the post on USPA&IRA. Like others who have posted here I've got some venom stored up for USPA&IRA. If you're not interested in a negative point of view, you might as well skip this message.

I'm one of those who bailed after three years in their "plan." I'm convinced that the ONLY reason that USPA&IRA pushes the Fidelity Destiny II plan or the other fund company's broker sold front loaded fund is that they provide the most payoff for the sales rep. Period, that's all. I know all their sales reps are former military but I can't understand how they sleep at night knowing that they are fleecing those who followed in their footsteps.

The dollar cost averaging argument and the obscene front load to "keep out speculators" are an afterthought to support their foregone conclusion that the product they push is good for you, the "bright and honorable military officer who is too busy defending our country to properly educate himself about the terribly complex world of financial markets."

Every rep with which I had contact lavished piles of flattery on me and my noble profession to win my confidence and trust. There was no doubt in my mind that they were as interested in my financial welfare as the bar girls are who wait at the pier for the Sailors and Marines to come down the gang plank.

Everything I've stated above is open for debate. Now for the factual information. USPA&IRA hawks the Fidelity Destiny II fund like the snake oil salesmen of their ancestry sold pharmaceuticals. EVEN IF THEY REFUNDED EVERY PENNY of the load on that dog, the DESTINY II ONLY BEAT THE S&P 500 (by very small margins) FOR THREE OUT OF THE TEN YEARS FROM 1988-97!! Tell me how in the hell this is a good deal for anyone except the salesman? I'm ecstatic that I took the trouble to look at the historical figures before I held onto "the plan" until 2002 and found that Destiny II had failed to beat the index half the time. The fund manager, who will remain nameless here, could not find which way was up during the greatest bull market in history, and he's one of the most influential managers at Fidelity.

When I wrote my USPA rep to say that I was less than pleased with what I was learning about the performance of his favorite fund, he did not even write back to try and refute the facts.

The total returns were NOT EVEN CLOSE. As I recall the figures, the Vanguard Index 500 was up over 300% during the same period that the Destiny II fund appreciated only 225%. One might attempt to refute those returns by taking the position that dollar cost averaging would have improved the returns. Don't go there. I computed the returns using monthly share price appreciation to duplicate as closely as possible the effect of monthly payroll deduction investments. Dividends? More than offset by the cap gains tax paid on the churning of the portfolio.

When I showed the historical performance of the Destiny II to my SgtMaj, who had recently been suckered by those slick talkers, he almost left work early to cash in his chips that very day.

I take pride in the fact that not a single Lieutenant or Staff NCO that has ever been in my charge has been taken to the cleaners by USPA&IRA. When it comes to serving the military community, USPA&IRA ranks right up there with the pawn shops, tatoo parlors, and check cashing services that you find outside every base or port in America. Remember, it's never too late to benefit in the long run from getting out of Destiny II.

Semper fidelis
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