What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Just Doesn’t Get It—His Job, That Is . . .

by Ana Maria

Some have said that I may be too cozy with the industry I regulate. Those who make these charges have never offered one fact where I have not held [the] insurance industry accountable to the laws of Mississippi that I am called on to enforce.

–George Dale Speech at the Neshoba County Fair,
video courtesy of John Leek and Cotton Mouth Blog

After 32 years sucking out money at the government teat, after over three decades in the job, George Dale doesn’t know his job. He is supposed to effectively, efficiently and faithfully carryout the duties of insurance commissioner. That is not just following the letter, but also the spirit, of the law. The point of his job isn’t to be the government paid lobbyist for the insurance industry. Voters wouldn’t put up with that nonsense. The industry has plenty of its own money to pay for lobbyists.

The point of the insurance commissioner is to protect consumers from the ravages of a market that would rip us off blindly if we let them. Andddddd, it is to create a level playing field for the businesses who are insuring our homes, offices, and non-profit organizations as well as local, state, and federal government assets. Unfortunately for us here in Mississippi, Insurance Commissioner George Dale is like their good neighbor, his always on their side. That’s right, the insurance industry is in good hands with George Dale.

When it comes to his job, George just doesn’t’ get it. I think to help him understand the errors of his ways will require breaking it down a bit. Let’s try to spark in him a vague memory of the point of his job.

1. “They made me do it!”

George Dale claims that the corporate big wigs in the insurance industry force him to burden Mississippians with massive jumps in the cost of insurance. The usual talking point for an insurance company is that they will take all their toys and go home if George doesn’t give them the obscene rate increases they are demanding. Dutifully, George drinks the kool-aid the industry gives him, and then he spits out this garbage.

“One important aspect of my job is to maintain a marketplace for the sale of insurance.”

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale, 2003

News Flash, George. It isn’t the only or the primary aspect of your job. The key question is this. To whose benefit do you maintain that marketplace? Your demonstrated bias is to maintain the marketplace for the benefit of the insurance industry itself and its apparent insatiable lust for obscene amounts of profit.

However, you are supposed to maintain a marketplace for the sale of insurance that is fair and equitable to all insurance companies AND that benefits the public. A HUGE difference.

Don’t give me that poppycock that it won’t do any good if an insurance company pulls out of the state. What is this? Government propping up of business? If companies can’t make their obscene profits here, fine. Let ‘em go. Don’t let the door hit ‘em, you know?

2. “Come right on in! We have your office all set up.”

George, you are supposed to protect the hen house from the foxes, not roll out the red carpet and invite them to set up shop inside your govern-ment office. Immediately following hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in our history, you allowed an insurance industry PR flack to set up shop inside your government office.

When you did this, George, you betrayed the very people depending on you to protect them from the foxes in the insurance industry.

3. “Don’t’ be ridiculous. I’m supposed to be good friends with Industry lobbyists and hire one of their big time lawyers to be my own attorney.”

George, you are supposed to be regulating the insurance industry, not becoming good friends with its big time lobbyists or hiring a big industry attorney as your own lawyer. No, there is no law specifically prohibiting this. However, there is something mighty unethical about it. It doesn’t take a college graduate such as yourself to see that this creates a C-O-N-F-L-I-C-T of I-N-T-E-R-E-S-T.

Yet, all you said about hiring Greg Copeland, an attorney who is a longtime lobbyist for the insurance industry, is “I don’t see any conflict.”

George get your eyes checked, honey. You aren’t seeing the smut that is squarely on the end of your nose. In fact, George, you called this big insurance lobbyist "a good friend." You are not paid to be good friends with the industry. You are paid to protect us from the insurance industry’s propensity for not doing right by us.

Since you see no conflict with it, George, why don’t you just go ahead amd campaign specifically citing your chumminess with an industry big wig.

Vote for me! I’m good friends with an insurance industry big wig lobbyist. I will protect the insurance industry from silly fools who think their family and business budgets ought to come first. Remem-ber . . . a vote for George Dale is a vote for big insurance!

Could these be the reasons that Forbes Magazine reported this horrible fact about insurance rates on your watch?

Mississippi, dead last in [per capita] income, is the sixth most expensive place to insure a house.

See, your job is to be a referee so that there is a level playing field that does not benefit one company over the other, that makes it fair for all companies to compete, AND that ensures the public is PROTECTED. The main reason your job exists is because if left to its own devices, the insurance industry is unfair to its customers such as home and business owners. These are YOUR constituents. However, you think your job is to protect your favored corporations. You have missed the boat, George.

Your job is to protect all the folks in the state who own homes and businesses as well as educational facilities. And let us remember that every government agency and non-profit needs insurance, too. That is OUR money going into paying the insurance on the courthouses, jails, public schools, etc. When you approve inappropriately massive increases in insurance rates to protect a company or set of companies that you favor, you demonstrate that have lost your way and forgotten the job you had been elected to do.

You are one confused public official, George. Your job is about the public interest, not your personal interest.

You let the insurance industry co-opt you. They didn’t make you. You did this to yourself.

Heck, even the Mississippi State Supreme Court has so much as stated that you’ve abandoned your post, gone AWOL when it comes to regulating insurance companies.

These days, George, you are whining about trial lawyers who represent the very constituents you’ve long abandoned, lawyers who are the champions for the policyholders you’ve long abandoned. Come to think of it, because you haven’t done your job, you’ve become the trial lawyer’s best friend. Way to go, George. Way to go.

Return to A.M. in the Morning! Home

No comments: