Thursday, January 12, 2012

Firing Insurance Companies, Choosing Leaders, and Stuff

Willard Mitt certainly did commit a rather nasty gaffe the other day when he made the rather thoughtless claim that he “Liked to fire people.” He was, it is true, referring to Insurance companies, but many focused on his use of “liked to” rather than on the particular context. He did say he “liked to” fire people when they didn’t give good service, and whether he was referring specifically to Insurance companies or not, doesn’t really matter. What crossed my mind about this, however, is wondering if he has ever had any personal experience with Insurance companies. It is not clear to me just how easy it might be to fire your Insurance provider. I suppose if you are speaking of car insurance or house insurance, and they didn’t treat you well, like charging you too much, or being slow to respond to claims, or something like that, you could probably fire them and find another company. You would have to be remarkably optimistic to believe you could find another company that would be any better, any cheaper, or any more efficient. When it comes to health insurance, however, you are confronted with a more serious problem. I suppose if you were in excellent health, had no claims or anything, and you wanted to fire one company and find another you might easily be able to do so. But if that were the case why would you necessarily want to change in the first place? But let’s say, you do have a health problem, especially a relatively serious health problem, and your company doesn’t want to honor your claim, on whatever grounds they could find, what makes you think you could fire them and find another company that would do better? I suggest this would probably be impossible, so for all intents and purposes, you really couldn’t realistically fire them expecting to do any better. You might “like to” fire them, but grim reality would be staring you in the face. I suspect that Romney has never in his life ever had to deal directly with an Insurance company.

There is an article today on The Huffington Post by Ann Lee, “Meritocracy in Democracy,” that I found of great interest. She suggests that the United States might learn from the Chinese system when it comes to choosing leaders. In China, leaders progress up the chain of command on merit, that is, they have to prove themselves as competent and qualified to move up the leadership ladder by demonstrating repeatedly over time they have the interest of the citizens and the nation at heart and the ability to lead. But what a stupid idea! No, not the Chinese merit based system, the idea that the United States would learn anything from them. This is the United States, after all, the greatest nation on earth, the finest democracy ever, the shining beacon on the hill, the nation everyone envies, the one that goes around the world telling everyone else how to behave. There is no chance we would learn anything from China (previously “the heathen Chinee,” nowadays Communists). We like our own system much better, where any moron can run for any office, especially if they have or have access to money. Where you can be appointed to high position simply by being loyal to who is in charge. Where people like Herman Cain, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, and others of that ilk can seriously be considered candidates, at least for a time. We are not about to learn anything from the European socialists with their welfare states either. How disgusting that in some of those countries health care is free, a University education is basically free, and people are known to be much happier and more content than we are. No, no, no one is going to tell us how to do things, we know we are far superior, exceptional, great, wonderful, the highest standard ever for social, political, and cultural life. We are not even supposed to consider anything that comes from a foreign legal system as our system is the absolute best when it comes to jurisprudence. Ethnocentrism, false pride, and delusion… the American way.

Being currently involved with two different Insurance companies I am reminded of something I have said before but I believe deserves repeating. This has to do with what I believe is the myth of government incompetence. We hear repeatedly that government just can’t do anything right, that we can’t allow government to control things like health care because government is basically inferior to the private sector. I guess I must be a remarkable exception to this belief because in my relatively long life I have found the exact opposite to be true. I have had almost unbelievable trouble with all kinds of private enterprise: different insurance companies, banks, telephone companies, University administrations, and so on. I have NEVER had any serious trouble with any governmental agency: the Post Office, Social Security, Medicare, the IRS, Passports, Public Schools, whatever. In my opinion, in any comparison I can think of, the government has treated me consistently much more efficiently, fairly, and promptly than any private company ever has. Either I am either a remarkably exceptional case or the incompetence of government is simply a myth that somehow never seems to go away, another urban legend or fairy tale that gets passed on from generation to generation like the alligators in the New York sewer system.

In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.

Ambrose Bierce

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