Will We The People pay the price for greed? | AspenTimes.com

Will We The People pay the price for greed?

John Colson

Theres a sleeping king cobra in the global financial bushes, and when he wakes up and rears his head were all in for a rough time.While this is not news, my real concern here is what this might mean for the U.S. health-care industry, which is umbilically tied to that ultimate evil beast of the corporate jungle, the insurance industry.Let me explain, if I can.The snake in this fable is the raging subprime mortgage mess, a tangled web of lies, greed and blind faith in the myth that we truly can get something for nothing.Theres lots of blame to go around here, as we watch families lose their homes, companies lose their investments, and the world lose its mind. I certainly place a large part of the blame on predatory lending practices, coupled with an eagerness to earn quick profits on the collective part of the nations banks, mortgage brokers and other financial institutions. But the victims in this debacle, the people who let themselves be trapped in a financial dead end and are now screaming for help, are culpable as well.It all started back when the Federal Reserve Bank slashed interest rates to stem a national and even international financial panic over the dot.com bust, around the turn of the millennium.With all that easy money floating around, mortgage lenders got the idea of enticing the insolvent and the stupid into signing up for ridiculously low-interest loans that balloon after a certain period, or with rates that ratchet skyward after a few years.It should have been apparent to any thinking being that the targets of these lending practices, mainly people with poor or no credit, people unable to qualify for traditional home financing, would have a hard time dealing with the balloon payments, adjustable-rate-mortgage hikes and life itself once the true cost of all this finagling became known.But the blinders were on tight the gleam of quick and easy money was blinding lenders and borrowers alike and the results are still crashing down around us as banks go belly-up, mortgage firms look desperately for bailouts, and the talking heads twitter about a potential recession or even a depression.All this is not news, though the repercussions of this rampant idiocy are not yet known and may not be for years, even decades.Leaving all that aside, though, it occurred to me that the insurance industry, which has a nasty stranglehold on our health-care system, might be badly exposed to harm in all this. Insurance companies take our premiums and invest them, and there are hints from analysts that an alarming percentage of insurance company investments has been in the subprime mortgage world. Coupled with the investment issue is the likelihood that there will be lawsuits against CEOs, CFOs and money managers galore coming out of all this. And insurance companies carry policies insuring these high-level corporate types against just this kind of claim, which means the insurance industry stands to take a double hit.Not that I would mind seeing the insurance industry get its comeuppance.On the contrary, I firmly believe the insurance industry with the for-profit health-care cabal and the lawyers have quite ingeniously and quietly built a health-care machine that makes them fat and bleeds the rest of us to near death, all in the name of the One True God of the United States: profit. For this, I sentence them to roast in hell for all eternity.But there is a problem. If the insurance industry gets sick, we all know who will pay the bills to make it better, in the form of rising premiums, government bailouts and other tricks. Thats right, we will. The people. You and me, the middle-class wage earners who prop up this depraved house of cards we call our nation, however shakily.So, once again, We The People will most likely take it in the shorts while the ruling manager class floats serenely above us, dangling from golden parachutes that were made possible by laws and regulations written by attorneys and corrupt politicians at the behest of the wealthy elite.Sheesh. Shakespeare might have had the right idea when he advised that we should first kill all the lawyers, though there are others who should be included in that advice. But, anyway, we ignored the advice. And look where it got us.John Colson can be reached at jcolson@aspentimes.com.


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