Sunday, August 27, 2006

Like a Bad Frontier Neighbor, State Farm Is Not There.

Time for a lyric-change in those ads, though they aren't alone in ripping-off their clients. If Americans know anything, it's this: insurance companies are the bane of our daily-existence, and they'll do anything to get out-of-paying on a claim. Why? They aren't regulated-enough, you dumb Libertarians. Right, you say you want "pot-legalized" as bait, but you're really just Republicans, so push-off. "We don't want any regulations," goes the usual conservative/libertarian line, an ideal rooted-in the 19th Century's most criminal-tendencies. If only there were a frontier again--so I could rob you without any penalties, and do whatever I wanted to with the water-supply. Ah, and the lynch-mobs that were everywhere. Yes, we really should return to the days of the Old West mining-towns, where there was no law-and-order, and a glance could get one killed. Ted Nugentland. Miltias. Anti-immigrant hysteria. What utter-crap. I think Americans are smarter than this. The majority of Americans won't vote Libertarian, because they know they represent a social-breakdown. They're just another type of crook.

The Good-news from the AP: We have two-whistleblowers at a subcontractor of State Farm who are claiming pressure was being applied to make engineers reject disaster claims. There was even a template-document that they inserted into the decisions. Anonymous since March of this year, high-profile lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs has revealed their identities in his case against insurers dodging Katrina-claims (mostly in Mississippi, the forgotten state in all this). The sisters resigned abruptly after the announcment. I know, it's hard-to-believe that insurers would try to used backdoor-methods like illegally coercing engineers (employees/subcontractors) to side with their predetermined-decisions. But, the insurance companies know nobody in Washington is watching-them with the GOP controlling all-three branches of the Federal government--at least until something as epic as Katrina exposed those polices for what they really were and are. You have to be hopelessly-naive to think business will ever police-itself. Whistleblowers prove it:

That startling admission — and their subsequent resignations — ended a risky charade. The Rigsbys say they spent months collecting reams of internal State Farm reports, memos, e-mails and claims records before they gave them to Scruggs and state and federal authorities.
The sisters, who managed teams of State Farm adjusters, say the documents show that the insurer defrauded policyholders by manipulating engineers' reports so that claims could be denied.
"I think we've given him the smoking gun," Cori Rigsby, 38, told The Associated Press during a recent interview at the home she shares with her sister near Ocean Springs. (AP)

The cowboy pundits are indirectly arguing that we should return to the days of unregulated-industry where people died in factory-fires, like the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Businesses did whatever they wanted, and fraud was rampant 100-years-ago. There were no-regulations for fire-safety in the workplace, and there often were no-bathrooms for employees. Fire escape ladders were uncommon. Garment workers usually worked 14 hours-a-day, 60-72 hours per-week, but Americans in other industries worked as much as 16 hours-a-day. The seamstresses were locked-inside the multi-storied Asch building in New York City, and had to jump to their deaths from the 10th floor, often in-flames. Bodies literally piled-up on the pavement in-front of the shirtwaist factory, and outrage grew rapidly in New York and spread nationally.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire fueled the labor movement in ways that were unimaginable before the fire, and even aided in the later push for the NLRB in the 1930s. There are numerous examples of these excesses in our history by employers, but even a crooked administration like George W. Bush's cannot control everyone and everything in the Federal bureacracy, and many safeguards are remain-intact in Bureau mandates and legislation. It's stunning that we're hearing American food-purity is terrible again, 1oo-years after Teddy Roosevelt created the FDA, it's like a new-chapter in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. It's just more fallout from deregulation. Deregulation is not-working, and it never will for the little-guy (except getting an FM-license!!). Neoliberal Congressional Democrats of the 1990s also bear the responsibility for these deregulation-trends. Bill Clinton was less a "labor President" than Richard M. Nixon.

Since 1994, the GOP has proven that government doesn't work when they're in-office, but to their chagrin, there are still many people in the bureacracy who believe in serving the public. They have done-their-best to make these public-servants' lives difficult under their governance. Why else do you think all these leaks are happening, and happening with a frequency that is almost a daily-occurrence? Why else pass-laws that punish government whistleblowers, while we still don't know everything about the outting of Valerie Plame? The right would have us believe that we live in a "Hobbesian universe" (every-man-for-himself), which is a distortion of Hobbes's argument for why we have a social contract, and why we have laws. It's a circular-argument. But, if you look at their lives, the GOP's politicos certainly live them like barbarians.

We've watched too-many movies where the "hero" kicks some ass (all illegal today). I know, if only we could all be outlaws again, raiding farming-communities, and leaving the dead scalped so it looks like Indians did it, but no-dice (don't try this at home). And I've heard people don't usually fall-down instantly when they've been shot, they scream and bleed a lot, which is messy (definitely, never try this at home, please). Nope, not even in Montana or South Dakota, it won't wash to be an outlaw anymore. The frontier is a legacy Americans need to leave-behind forever. The "rugged-individuals" were trying to survive a historical-accident that allowed lawlessness to thrive on the frontier, and because-of that, it don't make em' heroes. Most of them were the cause of the nightmare that was the Old West. Eventually, we all have to come to town and build a society, a person at a time. The person that says rugged-individualism is the American-way doesn't believe in the social contract (, and that makes them criminally-minded. Ask-yourself: What is a society for? It should be an easy-answer. We banded-together to survive, and we agreed to respect the rights of eachother so that there is a social-peace. When society abandons people, this contract has been rejected, and chaos is not-far-behind. When State Farm cheats a family out of a legitimate claim-settlement, they kill society one policy at-a-time.