Monday, August 16, 2010

Retained Asset Accounts: Gibberish for Highway Robbery?

In a recent NPR story , we heard the voice of a father entitled to death benefits because his son was killed in the line of duty in Iraq or Afganistan. The man complained about the so-called “retained asset accounts” held by insurance companies instead of distributing the proceeds earned by the ultimate sacrifice of their loved ones in wartime.

The father noted the obvious: that insurance companies profiting from war dead is downright disgusting. The feeble rationalization from the insurance company was that this practice, which provided a checkbook to the beneficiaries, constituted “a convenient service at a time of emotional duress, and gives grieving families one less issue to deal with.” Hunh?? One less issue -- like, uh, a huge pile of cash? -- this was going to ease their emotional distress?? Until checks were written to deplete the account, the insurance company could invest the proceeds of this hard-earned (jeesh!) government benefit and make some dough.

Why is it OK for massive profit-taking in all the many realms in which it occurs? This obscene practice suggests that anything that can be quantified can be profitized, and that this is OK. Watch out! When you join the ranks of the unemployed in Colorado, please be advised that your meagre benefits would be reduced for fees charged against the major bank credit card that will be issued to provide your benefits---in a manner similar to the War Dead Insurance scam described in the NPR story. If you want the benefits, you not be given a choice to receive a lump-sum payment; and you'll have to withdraw the money through your bank after they deduct a fee if you wanted to use the money to, say, pay your (probably overdue) mortgage payment. Deducting the fee from all the unemployed throughout the State of Colorado undoubtedly provided a rather hefty sum to the bank, along with the use of the money of those who drew against it over time, in effect, reducing the amount of unemployment benefits available to help you off-set your lack of a paycheck.

And the disgust at our over-amped capitalism doesn’t really stop there. Why should someone profit from the fact that your home is freezing cold in winter? That your neighbor is unemployed? That you want to watch your TV? That your grandmother has been stricken with cancer?

If you think these questions are thoughtful, perhaps you should rethink your willingness to work for what you deserve.