Firestorms and Stories

When I got home from a quiet dinner with my husband at a favorite local restaurant, I did the usual and looked at news headlines, checked my email and now checked my blog.

Sometimes I write in to news publications, when something piques my interest.  Slate did tonight with its piece on the proposed “Robin Hood Tax” of 1% on any financial transaction, all to go to the government.  The protesters at the NY Stock Exchange and over the nation seem to be demanding this and actually trust that the money will go back to the people via our government.  I opined that anything the government regulates costs the people money. If businesses incur expenses, these are passed off to the consumer.

If TARP money is given out by the billions, it doesn’t go to help consumers or thwart foreclosures of families or small businesses, it goes to the bank or insurance company and stays right there, earning interest or giving Ferraris.

I caused a bit of a firestorm by asking if when I get $40 from my ATM, will I be charged that fee in addition to others, like B of A’s new ATM fee (I do not bank with them).  I got a stern “no” before others started weighing in.

Then I got a lecture about how government and businesses pass their costs and regulations on to consumers, which was my point at the outset.  I said that I’ve written legislation that affected many millions of people and don’t need to be lectured to.  A response came back that if I just wanted to come home after a long day, why did I choose to read a political piece? This person needs a copy of the Constitution. I’m allowed to read political pieces.

* * *

This brings me back to me as an avid college grad who went to an interview at the Legislature and was asked, “Do you know insurance?”  No.  “Are you familiar with McKinney’s (law books)?” Who’s McKinney?  That was a Friday.  On Monday I had the job.  Sixty-two experts in various fields from health care to the environment, banking and insurance.  Then there was the grab bag committee that I got a year in, but that’s another story.

I was insurance/assistant.  The regular analyst was on maternity leave and there was a steep learning curve, which I relished.  A sense of camaraderie was there that I’ve never felt anywhere else.  I spent so many hours there that these people were my family.

One month I sent in my regular car insurance payment back home to my agent, usually 4-5 days in advance to make sure the mail got there in time.  I was notified via mail postmarked the 2nd that my policy was cancelled for non-payment.  I checked in with my bank and they said the check had been cashed on the 2nd. My certified mail receipt said my check had arrived on the 1st.

By that time I knew that our State had a 15-day grace period.  I called the agent and he wouldn’t talk to me, unusual because my father was a bigwig in town.  I tried several times then even his “secretary” wouldn’t talk to me.

That night I was at a reception and wouldn’t you know it, the State Insurance Commissioner was there as well.  He asked how I was doing and I explained the situation. I saw the grin on the face of this former insurance lobbyist, turned regulator.  He told me to call his office in the morning with the name of this agent and the company and assured me he would deal with issue personally.  He relished the opportunity to right this wrong.

That day I got an angry call from my former insurance agent, demanding to know how I knew the insurance commissioner and how could I do this to him.  Then I recieved an apologetic call saying that my policy was reinstated and paid in full for the month (he’d already cashed the check before cancelling).

* * *

So do I read political pieces to write them out? Perhaps.  But I’ve always been for the little guy.  You can tell because I’ve been a Buffalo Bills fan all my life.  That’s all Buffalonians have to look forward to in the winter, a tailgater with some wings.

A shy child, I came out of the woodwork starting in late high school when I was voted a team leader by my peers, through college and afterwards.  One might say I was a late bloomer, but once I’d achieved and education and started on wisdom (which took longer) my voice was heard.  Once my editorials were printed on paper in the NYTimes, as Letters, not features, that let me know I wasn’t alone in my beliefs about freedom, equality, and a really great sesame bagel with Nova and cream cheese and red onion and capers, with a little lemon.  Cheers! Dee


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