Number 987

William Shakespeare, in the play Julius Caesar, declared that “a coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste death but once”.  By my calculation, many of the Republican members of the US House and Senate will soon be reaching their quota.  I’m absolutely positive that one of our Ohio Congressman is on Number 987.

I was in Washington DC last week.  I attended meetings, took part in some lobbying, and spent hours as a tourist wandering the Halls of Congress.  A tourist.  The doors to the House and Senate buildings were guarded and everyone entering passed through a metal detector.  Like other tourists, I had paper and a pen.  I didn’t see a single tourist armed with zip ties, bear spray, or any form of weapon.  You aren’t surprised.  You know the difference between a tourist and a terrorist, a law-abiding citizen and an insurrectionist.  Tucker Carlson believes that his audience doesn’t.

Speaker of the House (Lucky 15) Kevin McCarthy has given 40,000+ hours of security footage from the January 6th insurrection to Tucker Carlson of FOX.  Mr. Carlson, with the help of some carefully edited tape, is now trying to convince his audience that they didn’t see what they thought they had seen on live TV on January 6, 2021.  Tucker claims that it was a crowd of meek tourists who somehow found themselves in the Capitol that day.  The Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is not having any of this.  He very publicly denounced Tucker Carlson and McCarthy’s foolish gesture.  McConnell and his leadership team stood by the assessment of the Chief of the Capitol Police.   Where are the cowards in the Republican controlled House?

Was it an act of cowardice to cower in the House Chamber as the Capitol police held the rioters at bay?  NO!  Were the Members of Congress who reached for gas masks or were rushed down back stairwells to safe rooms cowards?  Absolutely not!  Now if these people roaming the halls were, in fact, meek tourists, then yes, the fear the Congressmen exhibited would have been unfounded, perhaps even silly.  Was your Republican Congressman standing by the door of his office to welcome these tourists to Washington?  Did your Republican Senator offer the QAnon Shaman a special tour of the Senate Chambers?  Of course not.  That would have been foolish and dangerous.  It is your Congressman’s silence now, in the face of dangerous propaganda, that is the real act of cowardice.

Your local Congressman’s office will be quick to counter that this representative of the people is an attorney, a former prosecutor (common stepping stone to Congress), and shouldn’t be expected to address every issue.  Ignore the weasel words.  I get their weekly emails, newsletters, and fundraising letters.  There are lots of pictures with policemen and local sheriffs. And to this day each one of these snivelers can describe in vivid detail the riots in 2020 after George Floyd was handcuffed and killed by a Minneapolis policeman.  These Congressmen’s outrage is both palpable and totally safe.  Standing up for the United States which means taking on the former president who fomented an insurrection, the vandals and thugs who overran the Capitol, the members of their own party who facilitated the attack, and the media that is whitewashing the affair takes a measure of courage foreign to these members of Congress.

And so these cowards die another death.  After 8 years of Donald Trump, I’m guessing we are up to number 987.

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – Winter In DC – David L Cunix

 

The Other Side

The river was wider than anticipated.  Not deep.  I was never in any real danger of drowning, or at least I didn’t think so.  But I didn’t realize how far it was to the other side.  And now, with the shoreline within reach I can turn around and see, for the first time, how far I’ve come in the last year or so.

I wrote an essay this past August that included my death.  It wasn’t morbid or predictive.  The story was a fantasy that included aliens and robots and leaned heavily on The Truman Show and Brave New World.  My editors were not amused.  Not only did I not publish post, but I also stopped writing.  Death, not physical and certainly not mine specifically, but death, the end of things as I knew them to be, was a constant theme for me in 2022.  It has taken until now to understand that.

I was forced to confront major issues in 2022:

  • Was I prepared to be alone for days at a time?
  • Could I accept that insurers, in today’s environment, would dare to provide cable company levels of service and customer care?
  • Could I ignore our elected and appointed leaders and retain my faith in this country?

As I said, these were my issues.  Feel free to dismiss them if you’d like, but I now realize what a struggle they presented to me.  It was as if each added another foot or two of water to the depth of the river I was crossing.

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Jeff Bogart and I moved into an office on Chagrin Boulevard on October 13, 2000.  I teased him for years that the only reason I agreed to share space was so that I didn’t have to eat lunch alone.  Truth, my biggest motivation to having an office partner was so that I didn’t have to eat lunch alone.  We hung out through four locations and twenty-two years.  When we had time we would talk sports, politics, and music.  And because we were two separate businesses we could afford a full-time secretary.  Did we need a full-time secretary throughout the year?  Maybe, but it gave me one more person in the office.  It is a zoo here during Open Enrollment when I may have 7 or 8 clients in here per day, but during the rest of the year it can be very quiet.  Too quiet.

It has been about ten months and I am adjusting.  Ari, my part-time secretary, has already been exposed to more rock and roll history, presidential politics, and insurance than she ever wanted to know.  G-d knows what she’ll retain or how she’ll explain this gig after she’s moved on.  The new office has begun to feel like home.  That is important considering how many hours I spend here each day.

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Insurance companies are businesses.  Their first priority is to make money.  But there are two types of insurance companies.  MUTUAL companies are owned by their policyholders.  Technically they function for the benefit of the people who have purchased insurance policies from them.  STOCK companies are owned, and function for the benefit of, shareholders.  This does not mean that a mutual company will necessarily do a better job of providing customer service or paying a claim.  The health and life insurance portions of the insurance industry have been more client focused than, for example, your car insurance carrier.  I’ve been doing this 44 years and never had an experience like the one I detailed in my March 28th post, Exhausted.

The insurer, a company known more for its name than for the products it writes, left a permanent mark.  And though this insurer is far and away the worst I’ve ever dealt with, 2022 had other insurers choosing to disregard the needs of both the clients and the agents who serve them.  One company “forgot” to tell either the agents or the clients that it was no longer including Pediatric Dental in its individual health plans.  But that company has a history of communicating with us on a need to know basis, and oddly enough, we never need to know anything until we catch them.  Another company, one known for its internal chaos, had to be reminded that they can’t cancel a client just because they, the insurer, made a mistake.  It took 40 minutes on the phone today, but everything is OK now.  This is stupid shit.  Totally unnecessary.  It weighs on us, the agents that follow through and keep the insurers in check.  Alone it is just another day.  When you are waist high, these issues can seem like you are being pulled under.

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 It was July 6th, only a couple of days after the horrific Highland Park shooting, and rightwing media was trying desperately to spin the story.  The bodies had yet to be buried but the right was trying to find a way to portray the shooter, a troubled young man that should never have been able to purchase guns, as a transvestite since he disguised himself as a woman to escape from the scene of the crime.  I listened to one of my friends explain that the shooter had to be a liberal since Trump supporters all love this country and would never shoot up anything.  I can’t make that up.  And though political violence is not strictly a phenomenon of the extreme right, to deny it is a feature of today’s FOX / OAN / Bannon War Room mentality.

I was led to believe that we chose our leaders.  Gerrymandering has proven that our elected officials often choose us.  And that is why I have always had more faith in the Senate and, to a lesser degree, the president, than the U S House.  The whole state elects a Senator.  That faith can quickly be eroded by the likes of a Tommy Tuberville or Ron Johnson.  Ohio has had Senate leaders as well as guys who seemed to make Ohio better with their absence.

We are facing huge issues as a country.  Are our current crop of elected representatives up to the task?  I honestly don’t know.  It took 15 votes and some of the ruling party to nearly come to blows to elect Kevin McCarthy the Speaker of the House.  15 votes!  We were on vacation in Punta Cana wondering what kind of country settles on the likes of Kevin McCarthy for this important a position.  And the Republicans didn’t have a second choice!  My beach book was the January 6th Report.  I only got halfway through.  It was too depressing.

I want to believe.  I want to feel that the people we send to Congress will, eventually, focus on the good of our country.  Sure, they have to argue for awhile about drag queens and CRT, but I have to hope that our real concerns will be addressed.  I’ll be in Washington in a few weeks.  I’ll let you know what I see.

*          *          *          *          *

 The river was wide, but I really do feel that I have reached the other side.  Little things like celebrating my birthday with friends and at Shul, playing racquetball again this past Sunday, and even baking a cherry pie helped me to find solid ground.  And if you find yourself wading across a river, I hope that you, too, will reach the other side soon.

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – With Snorkel Gear – David L Cunix

Consequences

Mitch McConnell loves to remind Americans that elections have consequences.  He only believes that when the Electoral College and a handful of nearly empty states gives Republicans both the presidency and the Senate.  Then it is the time for tax breaks and court packing, but not governing.  It seems odd to me that the Republicans have been adept at running on particular issues over the last decade, but totally unprepared to legislate and govern once given power.

The obvious example is health care.  The Republicans voted over 60 times to dismantle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  They successfully kept their base engaged and raised a lot of money.  Did they have a plan? NO!  An alternative?   NOPE!  In 2017 they came within a couple of votes of destroying our health care system.  Would you really want Ted Cruz or Rand Paul to play chicken with your access to health care?  We were perilously close to a disaster.  Two years later the Republicans of Texas attempted to drag the rest of the country down to their level of health care.

Abortion is another example.  Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier were anchoring FOX’s election coverage in November 2012.  Their analyst was “Bush’s Brain”, Karl Rove.  The three of them were shocked and frustrated by the exit polling and refused to accept the results.  The majority of those polled favored smaller government, but the Republicans were losing.   Smaller government on FOX means limited business regulation and lower taxes.  Kelly and Baier were surprised that Americans voters were concerned about the Republican’s interest in intrusive social legislation.  Americans were voting to keep Republicans out of our bedrooms and doctors’ offices.  Now that the 2022 Dobbs decision has overturned Roe, are the Republicans prepared to govern?  The answer is NO.  A lot of effort was invested to legislate religion and a version of morality without any concern to the consequences of the legislation.  Rape? Incest? The life and health of the mother?  The normal procedures post-miscarriage and/or still-born?  Fifty years of campaigning and fundraising, but little effort to think this all the way through has left us with a pending health care disaster.

Social Security has become a new Republican talking point.  Sunday’s News-Herald included an editorial from Ramesh Ponnuru, an editor of the National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.  Mr. Ponnuru can’t hide the efforts of Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) to force Social Security to be re-authorized every five years.  Sure the idea of a grandstanding Senator holding hostage the rent and food money of millions of senior citizens might seem scary to most of us, but Mr. Ponnuru is unconcerned.  Not to be outdone, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has proposed an annual vote.  Again, Mr. Ponnuru wants us to know that “Republicans are not plotting to undermine Social Security”.  And he is probably right.  The Republicans just want to run on the issue of “government mandates”.  They want to raise funds from their big donors, keep their base riled up, and hopefully never have to actually do anything.

And if, accidently, Social Security suddenly ended and millions of Americans were left unprotected?  Like Mitch McConnell said, elections have consequences…

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – The Cost Of Indifference – David L Cunix

Right Track / Wrong Track

 

The results are in.  The most recent AP – NORC (National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago) poll reveals that 85% of Americans say that the country is headed in the wrong direction.  Finally, something we can agree on.  But why, why do we think the country is going in the wrong direction?  There you will find little agreement.

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Are you unhappy about the economy?  Are you unhappy about the inflation that was predicted by those who opposed the Trump tax cuts and the artificially low interest rates of the last administration, the inflation that resulted from the stimulus checks of 2020, or the inflation from last summer’s American Rescue Plan?  Or is the current economy the inevitable result of COVID, Ukraine, or the unseen pendulum that swings from one direction to another?  I don’t know.  I’m not as nervous as I was in 2008, but I’m not comfortable.  It is more than understandable that you might not be, too.

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There were 4th of July parades around the country today.  Most featured elderly veterans, marching bands, and local politicians passing out candy to the flag-waving children lining the streets.  Highland Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago had a uniquely American twist, a gunman with a high powered weapon.  So far six are dead and dozens injured.  As I write this the “person of interest” a 22 year old has been arrested.   At a parade!

The Congressional Research Service defines a mass shooting as an incident where four or more people were shot.  This does not include the shooter as one of the victims.  By that definition we have had over 250 mass shootings in our country this year.  Where do you feel safe? The grocery store?  School?  A place of worship?  How can you think that we are going in the right direction when you and your children aren’t safe at a parade?

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Many of the Justices on the Supreme Court, especially the newest ones, are convinced that they know the intent of the men who wrote our Constitution in the late 1780’s as well as those who drafted the post-Civil War 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.  They KNOW their intent.   I find this interesting in that none of these Justices would have been confirmed had a few Senators known THEIR intent.   Did the nominees lie to Senators Collins and Manchin or did they just tell the willfully naïve what they wanted to hear?  Are these sins of omission, commission or just successful politics?  Even our “Ends Justifies The Means” crowd on the political right can’t feel too good about this.

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Part history, part philosophy, and in truth, a large part BS, we engaged in a discussion.  When did / will America peak?  Some said that we have yet to reach our full glory.  They predicted that the US would be even greater and more important.  Others thought that we had already hit our top.  I’ve participated in this conversation since the early 70’s and my position remained unchanged.  I think we peaked in the late 1950’s.  We were still riding the high of World War II.  The Marshall Plan showed that we could help countries devastated by the war.  We had yet to fully commit to the disaster that was to be Vietnam.  Unions and the GI Bill were helping to create a powerful middle class.  We had problems, mostly self-created, with equality, but we were starting to acknowledge them.  Now, 50 years since those dorm room discussions, I’m more convinced than ever that we are past our peak.  I might have been wrong in my earlier assessment.  In a recent conversation I said that I might have been off by a decade.  Perhaps we peaked in the late 1940’s.

One thing is for sure.  When the Supreme Court is filled with activist judges trying to impose their religious beliefs on the country; when you are worried about fueling the car and feeding your kids; and when you don’t feel safe; it is impossible to say that we or our country are on the right track.

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – Wrong Way – David L Cunix

Still Trying To Live In The 3 1 5

Like many of you, I am still trying to process the events of the last couple of months.  As a country we have suffered from mass shootings, the revelations of how close we came to losing our form of government, and the recent rulings from the Supreme Court.  There are violent wars at home and abroad.  Below is a post from January 2012 entitled Living In The 3 1 5.  I think this is a good place to start our conversation.

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The time has come to aggressively pursue moderation.  It is time for us, the majority of Americans, to assert our right for representation in the statehouse, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and even in the White House.  It is time for us, the members of the 3 1 5, to elect one of our own.

What/Where is the 3 1 5?  It is right here.  It is the middle.  On one extreme are those with faith in faithlessness and an almost slavish devotion to science.  This extreme can be represented by Pi or 3.14.  The other extreme sees the invisible hand of their G-d in everything, right down to the yardage gained by their football stars.  They can be represented by the New Testament verse 3:16 from the Book of John.

3 1 4 on one extreme.  3 1 6 on the other.  Me?  I’m living in the 3 1 5.

I watched the Republican debates this past week.  Four men vying for the most powerful position in the world were fighting over which was least likely to hunt down elderly illegal Mexican women who are busily making cookies and tacos for their grandchildren.

Of course, the grandmother debate was a welcome break from the usual discussions of abortion, Obamacare, and the bombing of Iran.  Thursday was the 19th debate.  Even my Republican friends have stopped watching.

So Friday night I caught Real Time with Bill Maher.  Mr. Maher has made a fetish of attacking people of faith.  On last night’s show he assailed Mitt Romney for donating heavily to the Mormon Church and taking the appropriate tax deduction.  Mr. Maher would like to reduce faith in a higher power and all religion to believing in a talking snake.

We, the 3 1 5, are under siege.  It may be easy to laugh at Rick Santorum, a former US Senator who is running for President, Vice-President, or the part of Milhouse when The Simpsons finally come to Broadway, but there are people voting for him.  He may have won the Iowa Caucus.  And as much as he would like to limit the government’s regulatory involvement in business, he and his fellow Republican hopefuls wish to insert their religious beliefs into our personal lives.

The Democrats are far less concerned with our bedrooms.  In fact, the bedroom, or our interpersonal relationships, may be the only area they don’t wish to regulate.  My other blog, Health Insurance Issues With Dave, has discussed the government’s overreach into the payment and delivery of healthcare.  Another issue is the recently passed Dodd Frank legislation that was meant to prevent another 2008 style meltdown.  Yes, we needed more government oversight.  Unfortunately, we shot past more and went all of the way to excessive.

In an effort to correct one party’s excesses we elect the other side and get blindsided by their excesses.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  We in the 3 1 5 suffer from whiplash as one extreme or the other gets their moment of power.

Do we, the 3 1 5, have a presidential candidate?  None come to mind.  Perhaps you could name a prospect or two?  It is time for us to give this some thought.  Stuck in the middle of a large lake, we are in a row boat with one oar.  We aren’t moving forward.  We won’t, we can’t, until we acquire a second oar and learn to use them in tandem.

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May and June 2022 have been horrific.  The 3 1 5 may be a goal, but I don’t know that where it is and I don’t know if we can get there.

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – Afternoon In America – David L Cunix

Are You Lonely Tonight?

 

Two Scenes From The Not-To-Distant Future:

1

Four white-haired gentlemen enjoying breakfast at McDonald’s were approached by two individuals, a man and a woman, both in business attire and carrying briefcases.  The man addressed the diners while the woman opened her laptop.

“Good morning gentlemen.  I am agent Rogers and this is agent Moore.  As per Ohio Representative Bill Dean, we are here about Ohio House Bill 675 signed into law by Governor DeWine on August 15, 2022.   This will take just a few moments.  We need your name and the name of your Medicare Supplement company.”

As Bob reached into his pocket to find his insurance card, a young mother rushed over to the table.  “These two aren’t government agents.  They’re insurance agents.  I saw them here last week.”  Rogers, the insurance agent, started to protest that they were allowed to solicit Medicare Supplements at public places and even McDonald’s.  Bob noted that this might be legal, but it certainly isn’t right.

2

The elderly couple pushed their shopping cart through the parking lot.  Just as they opened their trunk, a young man rushed up to their car.  It took a moment or two for the couple to fully grasp the situation.  Finally the woman spoke up.  “Thank G-d you’re just some skeevy insurance agent.  We thought you had a gun.”

 

This could be our future if the State of Ohio passes House Bill 675.  This isn’t a large bill.  It will only take you a couple of minutes to read it.  Ohio Representative Bill Dean (R-74) is the bill’s sponsor.  I plan to provide a copy of his testimony to every client who complains to me about insurance agents bothering them at their homes or at dinner.  Some of you might think that I am exaggerating the risk.  Is the State of Ohio encouraging insurance agents to accost us?  This is from Representative Dean’s testimony:

The current rule, Ohio Administrative Code 3901-8-09, prohibits virtually all agent-generated communications with potential clients unless it’s through direct mail or if the potential supplemental insurance client is already a business client. Here are a few examples of how restrictive the current prohibitions are:

  • An agent calling fellow members of a 65+ group at his or her church about purchasing supplemental insurance; 
  • An agent sending a Facebook message about interest in purchasing insurance to someone they graduated from high school with 50 years ago; 
  • An agent approaching a group of seniors enjoying their coffee at McDonald’s and asking them if they’re interested in chatting about supplemental insurance.

Unless the agent has an existing business relationship with these potential customers, all of these interactions violate the current rule in place.    Representative Dean wants to change that.

I’m 67.  I get all of the solicitations from out-of-state call centers.  Most of them are illegal but somehow beyond the reach of the Ohio Department of Insurance.  It is annoying to have my cellphone ring at 7 AM on a Saturday morning.  We (seniors) may not have to answer the phone, but we do have to see who is calling us.  It could be important.  It might be a sick friend or family member.  We need less people hounding us, not more.  We don’t need someone knocking on our door, approaching us in a restaurant, or tracking us down in a parking lot.  Representative Dean thinks that Ohio’s seniors are being deprived of important purchasing opportunities.  And he must think that we are lonely.  Are you?  Are you lonely tonight?

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – It’s A Trap – David L Cunix and Ari

They Love Me In Spain

I have two blogs.  You are reading Again? Really?  My first blog, Health Insurance Issues With Dave, started a year earlier.  Some of you visit both sites.  Some read only one of the blogs.  Since the other blog deals specifically with the American health care system, you would think that the readership would be limited to U.S. residents.  That’s what I thought.

My blogs contain links to source information as well as to songs to lighten what can sometimes be a very serious subject.  Since some of the topics on the insurance blog may appear several times, say, for example, the Texas lawsuit that was designed to destroy our health care system,

I often link to previous posts that may have already covered the topic.  About eight years ago I started to notice pingbacks from a site in Eastern Europe.  My blog was being lifted, word for word, and being posted on another website.  Why?  I can only imagine that they were adding content in the hopes to sell ads.  There was nothing I could do.  This went on for a few months until they tired of me and found the work of some other unsuspecting blogger.  Now the website stealing my blog is located in Spain.

The Eastern European site lifted my blog and posted it without changes.  I recently followed the pingbacks to a site based in Spain.  The Spanish site runs my blog through a translator to Spanish and then back to English!  The picture was me, but the post was now called Well Being Coverage Points About Insurance With Dave.  Some of it still makes sense.  Some of it is pure gibberish.  There are still links, but it would be foolish to click on them.  And, what is really crazy, the blog appears to have lots of readers.  I have always wanted to visit Barcelona.  Could you imagine what it would be like to be stopped in the street and greeted by one of my “readers”?

I may joke about my new found fame in Spain, but this is a more serious subject for those outlets that post content as part of their business.  My most recent insurance post dealt with Senator Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) effort to prevent the Biden administration from resolving the Family Glitch, a problem within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  My research led me to an excellent article from Justin Backover of WFMZ TV.  The station is in Allentown, Pa.  I could read his article on the station’s website or FIVE other sites.  The other websites fail to mention either Mr. Backover or his employer.  They simply lifted some or all of his content and are now selling advertising based on his efforts.  Do they get away with it?  Sure.  Who knows where these websites are based?  And their cookies are now in your system.

I have no idea how to address this plagiarism.   Since I don’t sell advertising and these posts are simply for our amusement, it is hard to say how I am being hurt by this.  But it is wrong.  And all the fame I may acquire in Spain or Lower Slobbovia isn’t worth it.

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – In Lower Slobbovia – David L Cunix

Hostile Environment

The business owner was very clear.  Frank (name changed) wanted the very best health insurance package I could find for his company.  This was about twenty years ago.   This growing business was a tech company located in greater Cleveland.  He already had over 50 employees, mostly office and warehouse workers.  What he needed was computer talent and he had to convince these high-skilled tech workers to relocate from California to Cleveland.  He had tried to offer competitive salaries, but it wasn’t enough.  He hoped that by offering great benefits, too, they might ignore Ohio’s social climate and come to Cleveland.  Domestic partners, including same sex, needed to be covered.  His goal was to create an oasis here in Cleveland.  He was pitching life-style.

Can a business hide the ugliness outside its doors?  How hard is it to attract and retain good employees when a business is located in an unwelcoming city or state?  How many tax breaks does it take to get a business to locate / relocate to a hostile environment?  We are about to find out.

Due to COVID, we now know that lots of employees, especially tech, can productively work from home.  And home can be anywhere.  Is that a long-term solution?  The taxes may be cheaper in ________, but do you want to live there?

As states rush to change laws that effect any number of personal issues, we are about to see if an employer can create a private oasis within a hostile environment.

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – Future Home Office – David L Cunix

 

Exhausted

I couldn’t decide which was more important, to be emotionally or physically exhausted.  So I went with both.

To be clear, I’m fine.  The family is fine.  Business is great.  My issues are external, many of which are beyond my control.  Understanding one’s frustrations and pain points doesn’t always make the process easier.  At some point I have to work my way through all of this and hope to put these and my clients’ issues behind me.

I

I mentioned last month that I was beginning to slow down, my first steps to transition my business.  One of the first steps was to move my small group business to partners Carol Fyffe and Angela Elias.   The next step was to secure a new smaller space in my current building now that Jeff is retiring.  I got that done earlier this week.  Now that that has been accomplished, all I need to do is line up the guy to do the wiring, the movers, the phones, the internet, and all of the rest of the stuff that makes an office an office.  I’m looking forward to the day when my To-Do list has less than ten key items.

II

I have been an agent for over 43 years, long enough to have been in the business when insurance people ran insurance companies.  I met insurance executives and CEO’s in the early years of my career.  I recall them bragging about the claims paid, especially the large and difficult ones.  But insurance companies are now run by MBA’s and bean counters.  Now they are judged by their return on investment.  I’ve been fighting with an insurance company since last July.  My attorney would freak out if I mentioned their name, but I will make sure that neither I, nor any of the agents I mentor, will ever sell one of their policies again.  I have only sold a few.  I have learned that their system is designed to make claims payment difficult if not impossible.  My internal contact wrote, “I apologize that process hasn’t been easy. Unfortunately, we do not have a case management team here.  I will forward your feedback to upper management.”  I begged, pleaded, and shamed the insurer and its flunkies to no avail.  And the insurance company won.  They took the client’s money right up until the day he died and never paid a penny.  I truly regret ever writing the policy and I can only hope that the widow contacts Ohio’s Department of Insurance.  And if they do, I have copies of all of the emails detailing every roadblock the insurer erected.  How can you not be effected by this?

III

She was waiting for the warm embrace of her friends, and it never came.  She told me that her friends abandoned her, as if her husband’s mid-life crises was as contagious as COVID.  Worse, with COVID the worst that could happen is that you die.  She lived and was forced to experience the loss of her family, her community, and her financial standing.  And as devastating as all of that may be, no one cares!  How dare she complain when families are being torn apart in Ukraine or, closer to home, millions of Americans would change places, in a heartbeat, to suffer her suburban lifestyle?  We talked about the friends that never come, the support that only comes from within.  It is hard to find yourself on an island, ALONE.  Gosh it is disappointing to turn around and find that the people who counted on you have suddenly gone silent.  I suggested that she cut her losses and move on.  Don’t stand by the door or wait by your phone for those friends to show up.  There are no guarantees that you emerge stronger.  It is time to build a new community.

IV

Henry Kissinger once said, ““I formulated the rule that the intensity of academic politics and the bitterness of it is in inverse proportion to the importance of the subject they’re discussing. And I promise you at Harvard, they are passionately intense and the subjects are extremely unimportant”.  Smaller, less impactful organizations engaged in more frivolous, less important subjects can be far more intense than Harvard.  Worse, they seldom have any cachet or even a sweatshirt.

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – Sweatshirt / No Logo – David L Cunix

 

 

 

Bridging A Gap One Book At A Time

Our first vacation last year was ten days at Secrets Cap Cana, a beautiful resort in Punta Cana.  This was January 2021, months before we could get our first shot.  The pandemic was raging across the globe.  We were advised at check-in that the guests did not need to wear masks anywhere on the property.  “We wear masks, not you.”  Our health was valued.  The employees?  Not so much.  This was not a race issue.  All of the guests, black or white, roamed the resort without masks.  And so did we, except when we interacted with the staff.  Walking into restaurants, talking with a concierge, or at the front desk, we always wore a mask.  We really weren’t worried that we were going to give any anyone COVID.  It was more a matter of respect.

We spend so much energy dividing ourselves into groups – race, color, religious, class, etc…  Much of this is designed to make us feel that our team is superior to another.  And if the wrong people get into power, that grasping for superiority can be codified into laws with horrible consequences.  The memories of the Holocaust, though almost 70 years ago, are still fresh.  U.S. slavery impacts our politics daily, and the lives of the decedents of the former slaves on a more personal level in ways the rest of us cannot comprehend.  And that brings me to this year’s beach book, “Born A Crime” by Trevor Noah.

Trevor Noah, the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, is a gifted storyteller.  His book tells his story, his childhood in South Africa.  It is both shocking and, at times, hilarious.  Since his father is white and his mother black, he was, literally, born a crime.  It was illegal for the races to mix.  How serious a crime?  It was dangerous for young Trevor to been seen with his father in public.  Both of them could suffer serious repercussions.

The first step in reading Born A Crime was to accept that a government could create and administer such a horrific system as Apartheid in our modern world.  Worse, you have to understand that these race based laws were instituted AFTER World War II.  Young Trevor’s exploits were certainly interesting, but it was the environment in which he lived that made his and his mother’s adventures both possible and necessary.  And yes, he did get pushed out of a moving vehicle.  His mom jumped.

I had difficulty making sense of the inhumanity of the South African regime.  Luckily, I know some people who emigrated to Greater Cleveland from South Africa.  I asked two of them, separately over a couple of lunches, about this book.  Both had read Born A Crime and had found its descriptions accurate and the specific stories plausible.  As one friend noted, “He didn’t Hollywood the story.  It is not exaggerated.”   This, of course, led to me asking what each of them knew and when did they know it.  Both explained how the government controlled their access to news and information, this was before the internet, and that they lived in a bubble.  One of my friends then explained why he and his family left South Africa.  He said that once he understood what was really going on, he had to leave.  He didn’t want to raise his children in that system.

It is funny because I think that I grew up in a similar bubble.  There were huge gaps in my education.  And if certain politicians have their way, entire states will enforce limitations on what can and cannot be taught to our children about issues of race, religion, and discrimination in our schools.  There will not be a gap.  It will be a chasm.

So I urge you to read Born A Crime.  Read it to be entertained.  But also, read this book to become part of the team that makes certain that this book can’t be written sometime in the future about life in the United States.

Dave

www.againreally.com  

Picture – It’s Not A Crime To Enjoy This, Yet – David L Cunix