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Russ,
Your message came through right before I responded to the previous one. Thanks for the word on taxes. I do understand that the 457b account is only a deferral of taxes. But you give good advice on the capital gains issue; that's one thing I didn't think of, and it makes the stock vehicle (if held long term) even more attractive.

And no, I have no illusions that a total stock market index fund is going to make me 15%. I'm optimistically aiming at 15% only for my own value stock investments (sure, that's optimistic, but see my last post), not for my index fund investments. Personally, I don't think the overall stock market is going to do very well for the next ten years. I think we'll be lucky if it achieves even a 5% average. I think the recovery from the bubble is going to to take a while, regardless of analysts who say that valuation levels have returned to normal.

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