A miserable twist of the knife: Americans are increasingly defaulting on pension loans, and the taxman and plan manager make money out of it all.
The 401(k) plan is a contribution-based pension for employees. Many such plans allow loans, often with restrictions as to their purpose (e.g. for college fees, medical expenses or housing); but Leo Kolivakis relays reports of an estimated $37 billion in annual defaults, as the great financial crisis continues to claim victims.
The worst of it is, when the borrower defaults, income tax is charged on the loan - plus (often) an extra penalty (presumably to the benefit of the plan manager):
"This can take you from a $6,000 loan to a wipe-out of $10,000 from your 401(k savings) ... and this is happening to people at the very worse times of their personal and financial lives."