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What Is Georgia's Insurance Commissioner Up To?

Monday, 06 May 2002 12:00 AM

Is it grandstanding? Is he just trying to make a nationwide name for himself? Is there higher public office in his dreams?

Many of you have heard what is going on in California. Jane Fonda's ex-hubby, California State Senator Tom Hayden, decided that he wanted to stir the pudding a bit on the idea of reparations for slavery. He got a law quietly passed in California that requires insurance companies doing business in that state to look through their records to see if they ever wrote a life insurance policy on a slave.

Now, bear in mind, California was not a slave state. Hayden just wanted to see what companies now doing business in California were doing in the Southern states about 160 years ago.

Now ... here comes Oxendine. He, as he puts it, wants to see what "the lay of the land is." He has done in Georgia by edict just exactly what Jane Fonda's ex did in California through legislation. He wants insurance companies doing business in Georgia to report on whether or not they ever insured the lives of any slaves.

I thought about this matter the entire weekend … and tried to come up with one rational reason why any insurance commissioner, essentially a law enforcement official, would want to find out if an insurance company wrote a life insurance policy on the life of a slave over 150 years ago.

I can only come up with two reasons. One would be research for the purpose of writing a historical research paper. I doubt that this is the motivation behind Oxendine's demands.

The logical conclusion would be that Oxendine is setting the groundwork for some nature of punishment for the "guilty" insurance companies. Nothing good can come of Oxendine's edict. Only division. Only retribution against law-abiding companies doing what was perfectly legal 160 years ago.

Look – nobody's arguing that slavery was right. It wasn't then and it isn't now in the countries of Northern Africa where slavery is still practiced.

Fact is … each and every person listening to me right now can trace their ancestry back to someone who was held in bondage. Not all slaves in the United States were black; some were white. Not all slave traders and slave owners were white; some were black.

It's not as simple as white Americans paying money to black Americans for the supposed sins of our ancestors.

There is not one shareholder, owner, employee, customer or agent of one insurance company who had anything to do with writing a policy on the life of a slave who is alive today. If Hayden in California or Oxendine in Georgia succeed in forcing insurance companies to pay millions or billions of dollars in fines for the actions of an agent 160 years ago, it will simply constitute a tax on today's employees, shareholders and customers.

A new twist that may explain why some politicians are giving the idea new life.

No longer are we talking about government payments to individual descendents of slaves. Maybe some folks have come to the realization that such a plan would simply be too divisive and politically dangerous.

Now the idea is to go after companies that might have participated in any way in the economics of slavery. Right now it's the insurance companies. That's just the beginning. Give it a few moments' thought. How far can this concept be extended?

After these companies have been singled out and bludgeoned into compliance, where does the money go? To the descendents of slaves?

Nope. That's not the way it will work. The current plan is for the plunder to go to various nonprofit and civil rights organizations, which will then use that money to fund programs for the benefit of those who were so irreparably harmed by slavery. And just what organizations would these be? Why, organizations like Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition!

Can you just imagine how many illegitimate children and mistresses Jackson could support with the hundreds of millions of dollars that could come to his various organizations?

Reparations? How about SHAKEDOWN!

Are you a bit confused by the conflicting news stories you've been reading? On the one hand you hear that the recession is over and that our economy is growing once again … and growing strongly. So much for what Class Warlord Tom Daschle likes to call "The Bush Recession." The other story is that unemployment is up to the highest levels in years.

Nobody would blame you if you scratched your head a bit on this one. How can the economy and unemployment be growing at the same time? Obviously someone is not telling the truth here, right?

Now ... here's what you don't hear if you rely on your local or national television newscasts. You don't hear just why the figures for unemployment will go up as an economy moves from recession to growth once again.

Simply put, it's because some people who have not been working for a while have become encouraged by the news of a growing economy and they're once again out there looking for a job! While these people were sitting at home, not drawing any unemployment insurance, they didn't show up at all in the statistics. As soon as they move into the job-hunting market and make their search for a job known to the government, they become one of the "unemployed." In other words, they count.

Maybe some of the talking heads think that if they tell you the full story here, you might not be inclined to think that Bush is doing a bad job of handling the economy.

Front page of today's Atlanta Constitution. Karen Taylor lives in Alabama. Karen is black. She doesn't particularly like the phrase "Heart of Dixie" on the Alabama license plate. That's her right. So … she uses a piece of tape to cover the slogan. Karen is stopped by a cop for speeding. She's given a ticket. Then the cop decides to give her a ticket for covering the "Dixie" word on her license plate.

Sorry … but what a jerk! No harm, no foul. The number is still there. The date sticker is still there. The functionality of the license plate wasn't affected one bit. Why the ticket? I suspect it's just some cop throwing his weight around.

Let's find him another career.

Last week I told you about the Turner Broadcasting boss who said that it was "stealing" for someone to tape record a program and then fast-forward through the commercials.

Well ... the same thing has now come to newspapers. A Dallas newspaper is sending cease-and-desist letters to people who put links to their news stories on the Internet. The theory? It's wrong because it allows people to view the news stories without looking at the advertisements. That, they say, is stealing.

… goes to that couple married on a roller coaster in New England. Maybe you saw them on CNN this morning. First we have the groom … smacking gum while he kisses his portly bride. Speaking of the bride, I particularly enjoyed her CNN interview. It, like, went, like, something like this …

"I like saw this thing about like roller coasters when like I was a like teenager and like I like decided that I like wanted to like be married on like a roller coaster."

For their honeymoon they're going to rotate the tires on their home.

Some Fulton County commissioners aren't particularly happy with Fulton County tax assessor/collector Arthur Ferdinand. He's done too good a job of making ALL Fulton County property owners pay their property taxes – including the black ones. It's just fine when the rich folks are forced to pay their taxes, but it's another matter entirely when the collectors start knocking on the doors of constituents of State Rep. Douglas Dean and Queen Emma Darnell.

The solution? Make Ferdinand's position an elected instead of an appointed one! That way the tax collector will think twice before he makes these people pay their taxes.

Dean introduced the bills into the Georgia General Assembly to make this happen. The bills have passed. They are on the desk of Gov. Roy Barnes right now. Will he sign them? You bet he will. When it comes to pandering to the electorate, Barnes knows which side of the fence his bread is buttered on.

On this day in 1937, so the story goes, the Hindenburg burst into flames at the airport in Lakehurst, N.J. Problem is, never happened. That film you've seen time and time again of the exploding and burning Hindenburg was really a short subject made for movie theatres by Gerald Kikkoman, the heir to the great Kikkoman soy sauce vending machine fortune.

He made a model of a mythical dirigible and named it the Hindenburg. He stuffed the model with cotton soaked in kerosene, hung it over a table-top model of an airport and set it on fire. Folks at movie theatres watching the short subject actually thought they were watching a newsreel … and the myth of the Hindenburg was launched.

A front page headline in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution read: "Atlanta air still among the dirtiest."

So, is it true? Check out the following from Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

Three years of data on ground-level ozone cite the numbers of days when metro Atlanta exceeded the federal ozone levels. We were bad 23 days in 1999. Naughty 10 days in 2000, and we only exceeded the limits just three days in 2001. Sounds like improvement to me!

There are some new federal regulations coming up which will measure non-compliance days. Under those not-yet-implemented regulations, Atlanta would have had 67 non-compliance days in 1999 … and 20 in 2001.

Sounds to me like things are getting better. Why won't the papers report this?

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Is it grandstanding?Is he just trying to make a nationwide name for himself?Is there higher public office in his dreams? Many of you have heard what is going on in California.Jane Fonda's ex-hubby, California State Senator Tom Hayden, decided that he wanted to stir the...
Monday, 06 May 2002 12:00 AM
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