What Makes a Rogue a Rogue?
Before we published this issue, we put the idea of a Rogue’s Gallery to our readers, to see who they thought some of the industry’s biggest adversaries are. We provided a roster of 20 candidates and got a lot of feedback that helped shaped who ultimately made the list.
I’m a new reader—my business is shifting from group to more personal/executive lines. And I’m used to industry publications taking a rightward slant. My reaction to your list was muted by the inclusion of Mr. Boehner. I also think Mssrs. Dodd and Corzine are corrupt. That said, I marvel at the reaction Barney Frank gets. Most of the time—Fox-ward leaning hysterical reactions not withstanding – his analyses of economic dynamics are correct and his policy approaches are as well.
Unfortunately, the national narrative is firmly fixed: Republicans = Pro-business; Democrats = Anti-business. The rage now is to blame Fannie & Freddie for the collapse. This ignores a national culture that doesn’t want to pay for the government it demands, and then cries “foul!” when things go haywire. To quote Milton Freidman (which believe me, I do sparingly) “Unregulated markets have no mind.” They also have no conscience. The ill-named “Tea Party”, the “Occupy” folks, and even Lou Dobbs are all on to something: they’re properly angry at a group of people who acted without a care for the social consequences of their behavior. But there is an underlying truth that everyone ignores: We’ve seen the enemy—and it’s us. Our business schools inculcate in our students the notion that money decisions are morally neutral. They are not. We’re now busy telling ourselves that “those people”—the ones who took “liar loans” engaged in morally hazardous behavior. But retirees knowingly take out all they’ve paid in within in three years, and only pay 24% of their current healthcare expenditures (I know—that one’s on your list.) And Fannie & Freddie defaults were lower than the private average. So, who’s the bad guy here? The narrative doesn’t work.
Anyway: The point I’m building to is that your list reinforces a notion I take exception to. We’re not, en-masse, virtuous victims of some small group of evil actors. We’re all complicit. I recently spoke to a businessman returning from an extended stay in Belgium. He said it was refreshing because their national pastime isn’t bitching and complaining. It’s time for all of us to look in the mirror, pay for what we take, stop bitching and get back to work.
Jeff Tyrakowski Quincy, MA
We may be our own worst enemy. Carriers, brokers and agents that refuse to evolve or make way for a new generation of professionals and a new way of operating in the business of insuring people, may be the thing that is keeping this industry from jetting to new heights. I often relate to the music industry, being a musician that watched iTunes tear it a new one (I anticipate Apple’s “Newsstand” to offer the same therapy to Print Media), and it seems to me that as soon as we see “iCover” or “SocialInsure” we will then see millions more buying insurance. They will buy important insurance like DI and Whole Life... but I’m sure pet insurance will spike as well.
Can the insurance industry meet the challenges of being capable of operating exclusively online? Instant gratification is becoming the expectation. Take the complexity, time and chore out of the consumer’s buying experience, and all will win.
Thanks for the great articles, Bill. Keep em coming.
PS. I hereby trademark “iCover” and “SocialInsure”.
Ryan Petersen Valencia, CA
Kathleen Sebelius is beyond reproach. I have yet to see a specific action—or inaction —on her part that even hints that she should be in this rogue’s gallery. The old days where we can just say to the public, “Trust us, we know what we’re doing” are gone gentlemen. And we have soundly earned that fate as an industry.
Why is Sebelius number three on the list instead of number one? Where is Obama? Even though Berwick must leave, why is he as a single payer advocate not on the list? Harry Reid is still around and even though the author does not like Boehner’s attempts to repeal and/or defund PPACA, Reid is the culprit for preventing anything to pass the Senate...I am not a Boehner fan, but the real obstructionism on the budget comes from Reid and of course the Obama White House who tarred the Republicans on that issue big time.
All Letters Welcome
I have taken the National Underwriter Life and Health magazine for years. Over the last few years I had become increasingly dismayed at the radical left tone of the magazine. The Editor was a very bright man, and no doubt, a gifted author. His lack of discretion, however, was unseemly and uncalled for. More than once, I thought to call and tender my subscription.
I am glad I didn’t. You have been much more balanced and honorable approach. Thank you.
On the content note, do you guys still do the “due diligence” articles that highlight who is doing what in each product area? I did enjoy that when it came out and haven’t seen it in a while. If, however, the loss of that came about because of the loss of the previous editor then it was a fair trade.
Please take this note as a word of encouragement rather than a dismissal of someone that is no longer with the firm. Your work is praiseworthy all on its own!
Jeffrey Myers Lebanon, MO
Bill Coffin responds: Thanks for the kind words, Jeffrey. There is a difference between trying to challenge one’s readership by writing something thought-provoking and simply getting on a bully pulpit. As part of our redesign, we definitely want to make sure that the content we produce isn’t just read by our fine audience, but that you, the reader, become part of the conversation by writing back with us. Let us know what you think! Kudos are great, but if we are off base or out of step, it helps to get called on it. And who better than our own readers? We welcome any and all letters; you can send them directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to hear from you!