Friday, July 30, 2010

Who profits when a soldier is killed over there?

THERE OUGHT TO BE a stronger word than "outrage". Besides the Tea Partyers have largely appropriated the word, leaving little room for the other side to spill their emotions all over the lot. So whatever the synonym for hyper-outrage is, shouldn't all of us turn to it for a report in Bloomberg Markets Magazine's September issue about how big insurance companies are fattening up on the life insurance payoffs for American soldiers killed in the never-ending Mideast wars?

The system was tearfully described to the magazine by Cindy Lohman, whose son was killed in Afghanistan:

She got a big envelope from Prudential Financial, Inc., which contained a letter advising her that it was holding a $400,000 life insurance payout for safekeeping as one of the agents of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The envelop also contained an item that, Lohman said, looked like a checkbook. Prudential said the money would be safe and would be placed in an interesting-bearing Alliance Account . Months later, when she tried to pay for a new bed with a Prudential "check". It was rejected. Why? The insurance money had been placed in a corporate account that was paying Prudential 4.8 pct. Mrs. Lohman's interest rate was one pct.! "I'm shocked," Mrs. Lohman told the magazine. "It's a betrayal. It saddens me as an American that a company would stoop so low as to make a profit on the death of a soldier. Is there anything lower?"

Many insurance life insurance companies are engaged in such practices.

Said the magazine:
In the past decade, these so-called retained-asset accounts have become standard operating procedure in an industry that touches virtually ever American: There are more than 300 million active life insurance polices in the U.S., and the industry holds $4.6 trillion in assets, according to the American Council of Life Insurers.
Meantime, while Wall Street is boasting of record profits, none other than publishing and real estate billionaire Mort Zuckerman was complaining loudly to Chris Matthews that the Obama Administration was forever "demonizing business." He became flustered when Matthews reminded of the profitable state of Wall Street these days.

So I would have to say to Mort, if all of this sounds quite"demonizing" to you, so be it. But Obama's demons obviously haven't depressed your fortune: According to Forbes, you were the 382nd richest person in America in 2006. In 2010, it ranked you 147th. With more than two years of Obama's demons tormenting the insurance companies and you, there's just no telling whether your ranking will be in the single digits.

1 comment:

PJJinOregon said...

I saw the article on Bloomberg's web site; I saved it and cross filed it under "Market Based Solutions" and "Best Business Practices". Retained asset policies are a euphemism for "take from the poor and give to the rich". The daily prayer of the American business leader is: "Greed is good. Give me more." And who says Bush43 didn't leave a legacy?!?