Insurance companies; I have posted a number of social media rants about the insurance industry in my day, but I want to officially record in this space the total disdain I hold for insurance companies.
I can condense my argument into on simple statement; "It is our fucking money, you assholes, not yours!" This seems to be a concept that is completely lost on the insurance industry.
A bit about the history of the notion of insurance. The first forms of insurance were recorded by the Babylonian and Chinese traders. To limit the loss of goods, merchants would divide their items among various ships that had to cross treacherous waters. One of the first documented loss limitation methods was noted in the Code of Hammurabi, which was written around 1750 BC. Under this method, a merchant receiving a loan would pay the lender an extra amount of money in exchange for a guarantee that the loan would be cancelled if the shipment were stolen.
The Greeks and Romans introduced the origins of health and life assurance in around c. 600 BC when they created ‘benevolent societies’, which looked after bereaved families, as well as paying funeral expenses of members.
Life insurance, as we know it, can be traced to ancient Rome when the military leader Caius Marius created a ‘burial club’ for his troops, so in the event of the unexpected death, other members would pay for the funeral. Other leaders saw this was a good idea, and followed suit. This wasn't just done in the name of decency; the Romans believed that anyone who was improperly buried would become an unhappy ghost. It became essential for each person, regardless of social standing, to be buried correctly. Later, these clubs evolved to provide a stipend to the deceased’s family.
In 1688. Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House, a small shop on London popular with merchants, became the go-to place for shipping news and, eventually, marine cover. It was there that the modern concept of protection was born. In 1769, a group of underwriters formed a splinter group, New Lloyd’s Coffee House. It’s still around today, and it’s known as Lloyd’s of London.
Life assurance continued to evolve as people started to understand the importance of protecting their assets; the economic boom at the end of WW2 boosted sales of life cover. By 1976, 72% of adults and 90% of all married couples in the US all had life insurance, and therein lies a big part of the problem.
Suddenly, the insurance companies are holding, presumably for their clients, billions and billions of dollars in assets. While that money was sitting there waiting for someone to get in a boat wreck or die and file a claim, the thick-eyed green shaded accountants began talking about investing some of that money to make more money. They would basically set aside enough to cover claims based on statistical probabilities and invest the rest to make as much frigging money as they could. And it worked.
But a funny thing happened on the way to become a trillion dollar industry, they made a ton of money but our premiums didn't go down - they went up because the insurance companies were reinvesting their huge profits to get even richer. How rich?
The top ten insurance companies in America had total assets ranging from a paltry $299,000,000,000 ($299 billion) for State Farm to a whopping $940,000,000,000 (almost a trillion dollars) for Prudential Financial. What had started out as an insurance industry became a monolithic financial investment industry.
Naturally, the folks in the industry got very greedy and very protective of that pile of money. They naturally see claims by policy holders as a threat to that pile of money they now consider to be theirs and have made filing a claim and getting your money back when you suffer a tragedy exceedingly complicated and difficult. Your money has become their money in their minds and you are a low-life gold-bricker and miscreant simply trying to get a good payday out of them. Thus, their goal is to deny or engage in prolonged examinations of any claims presented to them.
Unlike banks, who also invest and loan money to make money, and where you can simply walk in, identify yourself and withdraw your money for any damn thing you want to spend it on, when it comes to the insurance industry, you will jump through hoops, be questioned like a suspect in the crime, have to learn a plethora of medical codes and other technical jargon and then most likely wait weeks and weeks for your claim to be approved, assuming they eventually approve your claim. What's with the delay? That money, your money, was in an investment and the longer it stays in the hands of the insurance company, they are making money off of you.
That's why I detest insurance companies. Remember those ancient Romans and Greeks who created ‘benevolent societies’, which looked after bereaved families, as well as paying funeral expenses of members? They have been replaced by CEOs getting paid 8-figures in compensation. In 2018, the top four CEOs were knocking down between $18,000,000, and $24,000,000 in compensation. Does anyone really believe they give a shit about some single mom Iowa with a kid who has cancer and is facing six-figure medical bills? Hell no! Their people are trained to hang on to all that money - your money - so it can continue to pay those outrageous salaries.
I do have to say, there are a few insurance companies that are better than I've described. There are a growing number of non-profit insurance companies covering most types of insurance, health, home, auto, etc. Check with Google and you'll get a bunch of hits. Be patient; don't grab the first one. Our company that covers our home and auto is Mutual of Enumclaw. Much like those ancient Romans and Greeks, it started as a co-op affair. In 1898, in the small town of Enumclaw, Washington, a group of residents joined together to create the Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company. When bad things happened losses were tallied and each member paid their respective share. It can be done, and it works well and rates are low. The trade-off is that they are tougher on high-risk insurance needs and avoid that risk.
We need better management of how insurance is sold and how it pays out claims, but with the insurance industry lobby wandering the halls of Congress, and making large campaign contributions, don't expect anything to change any time soon. Oh, things like universal healthcare and Medicare For All? Guess who's mucking up the works in getting that done?
You know what really burns my ass besides a flame about 30 inches tall behind me? Self-proclaimed patriots, typically of a conservative stripe, bitching and complaining about our government and wanting to make it go away.
We are the government, you dipshits! We elect the fuckers that are in there making policy. Unless, of course, you’re one of these brain-dead assholes who doesn’t vote and then start tweeting and calling in to talk shows to bitch about everything our government does.
If the government fucks up and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people like it did when the Orange Virus was in there, that’s our fault. We either voted that fucker in, or we sat on our collective asses at home because we didn’t like the Democratic choices. Either way, fuckers, we screwed it up!
And, when the government does good shit, like helping states after a hurricane or kicking in extra unemployment for the people who lost their jobs during COVID, we have the right to thump our chests a little and feel good about our government. We also voted for the ones that are making the excellent decisions for our country.
If there were no elections, just a fucking king appointing their successor, like the Republicans want to do, we would be royally fucked. And, yes, that is an intentional use of that adverb. No matter how you cut it, we own the government in a democracy, good, bad, and otherwise, because we have the power to shape what our government looks like and how it behaves through the people we put in there.
So, all you whiners, right, left, and middle, STFU! You are wholly responsible for any shitstorm that is pissing you off. Grow a pair... oh, and vote the next time you dweebs!
This is a long-standing “beef” with me. Why-TF do vegetarians want their vegetables to look and taste like meat? It makes no frigging sense. If you are against eating animals, why the hell do you want what is on your plate to look and taste like an animal.
That would be like an Atheist (me) going to church every Sunday! I mean, what the hell is the point? Now that I have that off my chest, it’s time for a review of the Beyond Meat Italian sausages.
The temperature was in the mid-80s (that’s Death Valley shit for us Seattleites), and I didn’t want to have to do a lot of cooking. Yes, I’m the designated cook in the home; fortunately, I love to cook and even harbored thoughts of being a chef when I was younger. Fortunately, I couldn’t afford to start a new career between banging out three kids and paying bills. The reason I say fortunately is, over the years, we know a lot of chefs and people in that industry, and most chefs work harder than a drug-dealer’s flunkies digging a tunnel under the border from Mexico to Arizona with temperatures in the triple-digits both above and below ground.
I’ve been cooking since I retired twenty years ago (with a four-year back-to-work break somewhere in the middle). Gale said she was going to retire from the kitchen when I retired from my career. Wait a fucking minute! She retires from the kitchen to the couch, and I retire from the office/factory to a hot kitchen! I think I missed a memo along the way.
I had roasted veggies I got at the deli and was looking for a meat entrée when I spotted the “BEYOND MEAT” section in the market (there should be some blockbuster music here, but I don’t know how to make that happen). I looked at some patties that looked impressively like ground beef, and then I spotted the hot Italian sausages. Hot and Italian works for me every time. That’s why I fell in love with Gale and told her she reminded me of Sofia Loren (Come on, we all have fantasies).
Home I went, puffed up like a Frigate Bird attracting a mate, after acquiring (if not killing) our meat... uh, substitute for dinner. I thinly sliced some onion and sautéed them in olive oil at home, then put them aside and plopped my weenies in the pan. They looked sort of like meat if you squinted a little. The instructions said to cook them on medium-high to high, so I set the Induction burner at 360℉, and they said to turn them frequently while cooking. The sausages sizzled, and the oil turned a kind of rusty color and was even a little gummy. I checked the package, and it shows that the coloring came from vegetables. Okay, so they made this stuff look bloody by putting beet juice in there, and the sugar from the beets explained the syrup in the pan.
The beet juice was the first clue that maybe I was cooking tofu. When I grabbed the sausage with tongs to turn them, they kind of squished a little. Jesus Christo! Link sausage isn’t supposed to have the texture of fucking mashed potatoes. But I hung in there, all the time thinking about some elk burgers I had in the freezer.
They were finally done after about ten minutes. I plated them along with the veggies and put the warm sautéed onions on the sausages, poured some wine, and we sat down to watch MSNBC and eat dinner.
What can I say? The weenies at Beyond Meat have produced something edible. The flavor was okay. The texture improved with cooking; you could eat it with a fork instead of a spoon, and as long as no one said the words Italian and sausage around you, you could pretend you were eating... something.
These marketing types need to get their shit together; they need to understand the word “expectations.” When you label something, people immediately have an expectation if the label is something they are familiar with. You know, like chocolate. If you call something is chocolate, it better not taste like fucking strawberries. An Italian dish is a favorite example of blown expectations. Pasta Puttanesca; follow the link to a good recipe. Oh, and read the story - that’s half the fun of Italian food.
So, let’s go to a restaurant with Puttanesca on the menu, and they omit the anchovies or use black California olives. There’s a good chance we’ll walk out and an even better chance we’ll never darken their fucking doorway again, and we’ll tell everyone we meet to do the same.
That’s what happens when you suggest one thing and then don’t meet people’s expectations. Don’t fucking call it meat in any shape or form. Call it Unbelievable Protein, or something like that. You fucking marketeers are making a fortune to fool us into buying your shit; earn your goddamn money! When I read “meat,” I’m expecting meat.
We finished our pretend sausages, and the siren of the veggie-meat industry will never again seduce me to try their products. When I want meat, I want fucking meat! When I want vegetables, I want vegetables. Can you imagine a carnivore demanding that the meat industry offer steaks that look and taste like asparagus?
How pissed off am I? I’m devoting an entire blog to venting my anger so that I can continue to claim the mantle of pacifist instead of shopping for weapons and showing up on the evening news.
My opening salvo, and what may well dominate this space in the foreseeable future, is the rude and slobbering idiots who are allowed to drive cars in our fair city of Seattle. This one has to do with stoplights and turn lights. You're driving along, and you see the light turn red a hundred feet ahead. You stop. Okay, I’m sitting there at a red light, maybe going straight and maybe in a turn lane. I’m the tenth or twelfth car in line.
I can clearly see the lights ahead, and I watch it turn green. I depress the accelerator just a tad in anticipation of moving and... nothing! Nada! The six cars in front of me are not moving. WTF! I know from experience that those dipshit traffic planners only have that light timed to let maybe six vehicles make a left turn or ten cars to cross the intersection.
Of course, that assumes that THE BRAIN DEAD, NOSE-PICKING TEXTING FUCKING MORONS AT THE FRONT OF THE FUCKING LINE ARE PAYING ATTENTION! I see maybe two cars make a turn or move through the intersection up front, and then nothing happens. I can see the goddamn pedestrian crossing sign counter going down - 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - I’M FUCKED! I’m turning beet-red. My hands are beating on the steering wheel; my BP is probably higher than the Dow Jones Average, all because some stupid bastard somewhere in front of me doesn’t know how to drive and certainly doesn’t give a shit about anyone behind them.
Come on, people! Would you please not keep testing my commitment to pacifism? Don’t start painting your fucking nails because the light is red; it will turn green in a matter of seconds. Pretend you are driving in the Indy 500 and keep your head up and your foot near the accelerator, damnit! Learn to drive or take public transit so I can holler at you morons collectively as the bus driver blocks all traffic!