There once was a political operative who loved to tell crowds he had a simple way of explaining to children the difference between Republicans and Democrats.
“Republicans get up and go to work,” he would tell his son. “Democrats get up and go down to the mailbox to get their checks.”
This man not only talked to his son about Republican values, he went into public-school classrooms and talked about them as well.
That man is Jim Greer — the same Jim Greer who, as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, just threw a nationwide hissy fit, claiming that the classroom is no place for politics and Barack Obama’s “indoctrination.”
One Seminole County mother, Barbara Wells, remembers the day Greer spoke to her son’s sixth-grade class. “My son said he made some sort of Hillary Clinton joke,” she recalled.
But you know what? Wells didn’t pitch a fit.
She didn’t call up the local TV station to scream about Republican indoctrination.
Instead, she advised her son: “Whatever you are told in life, remember there are two sides to every story.”
In fact, Wells didn’t even think much about Greer’s foray into her son’s classroom until she saw him on TV complaining about Obama.
There’s no longer any question: Greer is a hypocrite.
It isn’t a trend exactly sweeping the nation, but some parents are throwing “Swine Flu” parties so their children will intentionally be exposed to the illness. Doctors warn parents these parties can be extremely harmful to children. Some parents say they believe if their kids are exposed to the H1N1 strain early, they’ll only come down with a more mild case.
This is why the accommodationist strategy is doomed to failure. There is no gentle demurral from religion that will not offend someone — even fun songs about science are expected to pretend that angels are real.
After the mortgage business imploded last year, Wall Street investment banks began searching for another big idea to make money. They think they may have found one.
The bankers plan to buy “life settlements,” life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash — $400,000 for a $1 million policy, say, depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to “securitize” these policies, in Wall Street jargon, by packaging hundreds or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell those bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die.
The idea is still in the planning stages. But already “our phones have been ringing off the hook with inquiries,” says Kathleen Tillwitz, a senior vice president at DBRS, which gives risk ratings to investments and is reviewing nine proposals for life-insurance securitizations from private investors and financial firms, including Credit Suisse.
“We’re hoping to get a herd stampeding after the first offering,” said one investment banker not authorized to speak to the news media.
And from the “what could possibly go wrong” department:
Indeed, what is good for Wall Street could be bad for the insurance industry, and perhaps for customers, too. That is because policyholders often let their life insurance lapse before they die, for a variety of reasons — their children grow up and no longer need the financial protection, or the premiums become too expensive. When that happens, the insurer does not have to make a payout.
But if a policy is purchased and packaged into a security, investors will keep paying the premiums that might have been abandoned; as a result, more policies will stay in force, ensuring more payouts over time and less money for the insurance companies.
“When they set their premiums they were basing them on assumptions that were wrong,” said Neil A. Doherty, a professor at Wharton who has studied life settlements.
Indeed, Mr. Doherty says that in reaction to widespread securitization, insurers most likely would have to raise the premiums on new life policies.
So, in effect, they’ve found another way to transfer cash from citizens to their own pocket.
“To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.”
- Cardinal Bellarmine at Gallileo’s trial, 1615.
“E pur si muove!”