Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

U.S. Pays As Prudential Invests Troop Death Benefits


I saw this on broadcast news weeks ago. This story has a bit more background, but – Déjà vu.

The patriotism of the citizen soldier has been reduced to a profit center.

This country has lost it’s way. Citizenship has been reduced to a legal status. Communities have become virtual. For too many, the national motto has become: “In Gold We Trust”. or “Caveat Emptor.” We only partially speak the same language, using conflicting definitions at every turn.

When the Colonies broke away from British rule, we subtly changed the world. When we entered, WWII, we dramatically changed the world. But now, we have lost the grand uniting challenge. Our national character is beginning to reflect the character of our corporations, and that is a sad thing indeed. What is a nation of artificial persons, if not an unfeeling business model?

Do we send our sons and daughters to fight for the right to be bilked and defrauded by corporations? Or do we send them in harm’s way to defend the lives and rights and property of living citizens?

For too long, we have been devolving into a nation of plantation owners and carpetbaggers. The biggest buggy-whip economy in the world.

We are a nation divided. Divided by ideology, by purpose, by principle. Our national identity has become senile. We need to take a cold, hard look at who we want to be, and how we can realistically achieve it. Together. E pluribus Unum.

(Too over-the-top?)

After a service member dies in combat – including the more than 4,000 who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan – the Department of Veterans Affairs sends Prudential the full amount of each family’s life insurance coverage, usually $400,000.

Ninety-five percent of survivors paid by Prudential ask for lump-sum payments, the VA says. Since 1999, the company has sent out more than 60,000 Alliance Account checkbooks, instead of checks, covering more than $7 billion in death benefits when families asked for full payouts.

Prudential assumes the vast majority of mortality risk for the participants,” he says. “We also assume all of the investment risk.” He declined to elaborate on what the company’s insurance and investment risks are.
U.S. pays as Prudential invests troop death benefits

The problem is that this is not insurance. This is bookkeeping. This is the government outsourcing the payment of benefits to a company that is refusing to honor lump-sum payment requests so they can profit from holding other people’s money.

Terminate the contract. Open it to competitive bidding. Better yet, let the VA handle it. They have the greatest interest in doing it right.

Fraud and abuse like this is why the private sector needs regulation and oversight. It also shows why the government needs transparency, and the country needs a free press.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

‘After a service member dies in combat – including the more than 4,000 who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan – the Department of Veterans Affairs sends Prudential the full amount of each family’s life insurance coverage, usually $400,000.’

‘Ninety-five percent of survivors paid by Prudential ask for lump-sum payments, the VA says. Since 1999, the company has sent out more than 60,000 Alliance Account checkbooks, instead of checks, covering more than $7 billion in death benefits when families asked for full payouts.’

‘”Prudential assumes the vast majority of mortality risk for the participants,” he says. “We also assume all of the investment risk.” He declined to elaborate on what the company’s insurance and investment risks are.’

The problem is that this is not insurance. This is bookkeeping. This is the government outsourcing the payment of benefits to a company that is refusing to honor lump-sum payment requests so they can profit from holding other people’s money.

Terminate the contract. Open it to competative bidding. Better yet, let the VA handle it. They have the greatest interest in doing it right.

Fraud and abuse like this is why the private sector needs regulation and oversight. It also shows why the government needs transparency, and the country needs a free press.

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October 4, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DGA Files Complaint Against Fox News For Illegal Contribution To GOP Candidate


Broadcast networks have obligations under the “public interest, convenience and necessity” doctrine that include journalistic integrity in the news. This comes with the license for using the public airwaves. Cable networks are not bound by the same doctrine because they do not broadcast over the air.

As far as I can tell, the “Fox News” logo flashes on screen during all the Fox political opinion shows, including “The O’Reilly Factor”.

While I think that the Fox News Network is a mockery of broadcast journalism, I think this complaint is a little thin. Now that I have looked deeper, this was as much a fundraiser as an interview – and that’s just plain wrong. Soliciting funds has nothing to do with journalism, and the Fox viewers need that made clear to them.

Displaying a URL follows directly from displaying telephone numbers, and should be judged accordingly. The national culture is shifting to the presumption that everyone has access to the Internet, which is still a disenfranchising attitude toward those who don’t. But it is cost-effective.

I am more also concerned with their misuse of the news logo on the opinion shows, and a market-driven news model that panders to the views of the audience instead of informing them.

Democracy depends on a well-informed public, and market-driven news fails to support that.

Democracy is one thing that cannot be privatized.

http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/piac/octmtg/Krasnow.htm

http://www.wdfh.org/art_h.htm


Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

September 3, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Elections, Regulation | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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