Mean Words About Insurance


The entire insurance industry is based on the simple premise that there are any number of ways to rob somebody without sticking a gun in their face.  Over centuries of thievery, insurance people have mastered every one of them.  To call insurance companies shysters is an insult to shysters everywhere.  Here are a few things everyone should know about insurance.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I’ve had insurance in one form or another for most of my life, so I am well-versed in the wiles of these swindlers.

Insurance Agents — These are magical people who are literally everywhere when they’re trying to sell you insurance but suddenly vanish off the face of the earth after you buy it.

The Policy — This a mind-baffling 60 page document written by a cabal of blood-sucking lawyers.  (No, not all lawyers are bloodsuckers, but the 99% who are give the others a bad name.)  Its express purpose is to legally deny everything the salespeople (agent) ever said to you — including “Good morning.”

Deductible — This is a sneaky way of saying “We’re always going to keep some of the money we owe you, because — uh — we can.”  Nobody has ever given me a satisfactory reason why the “deductible” even exists.  What is its actual purpose?  Or how do I, the customer, benefit from having a “deductible?”  Want some serious John Oliver grins?  Phone up your insurance company and ask them to explain the “deductible” to you.

Claim Form — This a mind-baffling 60 page questionnaire written by a cabal of blood-sucking lawyers.  (No, not all lawyers are bloodsuckers but the 99% who are give the others a bad name.)  Its express purpose is a) to prove you’re a lying, cheating criminal or b) to frustrate you to the point of gut-splattering suicide.

The Payout — Should catastrophe actually befall you, get ready for a trial by fire.  This ordeal will include (but will not be limited to) a mountain of paperwork, months of argument, 19 emails, 27 telephone calls, 8 hours on hold, a letter to your political representative, a formal complaint to the Board of Trade, and thousands of dollars to your own blood-sucking lawyer.  Then, at the precise moment you’re seriously contemplating homicide, suicide — or both — the insurance company will offer you a minuscule amount of money (minus the “deductible”) for your trouble.  This will be an insulting fraction of what they promised you when you bought the damn policy, but a word of advice.  Take it — or they’ll start the whole process all over again.

So what’s it all about:

What is Insurance? —  Insurance is a bet you make with a nameless, faceless, soulless corporation that something terrible is going to happen to you.  Every month, you ante up a sum of money (called the premium.)  This “premium” is held by the insurance company, and if you happen to avoid disaster for 30 days, you lose the bet and the nameless, faceless, soulless corporation gets to keep your money.  This little exercise is repeated — month after month, year after year — until you either go broke, get sick, die or your house burns down.  Thus, weird as it sounds, every month that life is good, you lose the bet and lose your money.  But if your life does go to hell and you finally win the bet — you still lose!

DISCLAIMER:  This is satire, and I am sure that there are plenty of insurance companies out there who are honest and trustworthy — but like unicorns, leprechauns and howling banshees, I’ve never seen one.

Two Weird Ways To Make Money

moneyMoney isn’t everything, but it sure as hell is ahead of whatever’s in second place.  I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor — guess which one I prefer.  To that end, here are two weird ways to make a ton of money out of the New Economy.  The first one takes a lot of skill, but the second one just takes a little imagination and a lot of chutzpah.

Video Games — Of course, there are the traditional ways to earn money with video games — testing them, entering tournaments etc., etc. — but there’s also this semi-legit marketplace out there.  I heard about it from a World of Warcraft addict.  What he does is play World of Warcraft, like, all the time.  He builds different characters, adds powers and weapons, collects piles of Warcraft gold and like that.  (I’m not a player, so I don’t really know what’s involved.)  Anyway, once he advances to the upper game levels, he sells all his virtual stuff to other gamers (who maybe aren’t as good as he is, or just don’t want to put in the hours) so they can play at the higher levels.  The beauty is he gets paid serious money for this — real money.  Apparently, there’s a huge demand for this sort of thing and, according to my buddy, it works with most video games.  But think about it!  There are people in this world who are actually paying other people to play games for them.  Personally, I kinda think this defeats the whole purpose, but who am I to judge?

Selling Useless Crap on the Internet — These aren’t scams.  These are real products, available on the Internet, and people have paid real money for them.  Things like UFO Detectors, DVD Rewinders and Dehydrated Water (just add water.)  There’s also Rocky Mountain Morning Air, Ghosts In A Bottle, Unicorn Farts and Leprechaun Kisses.  More than a few people are selling dirt — by the spoonful.  There was a guy who took a photograph, turned it into a million pixels, sold the pixels for a dollar each and — yes — he literally earned a million dollars.  There was another guy, in Canada, who took an ordinary red paper clip and starting trading it online.   Eventually, he ended up with a three bedroom house! But my very favourite is Nothing.  That’s right : you can buy a little plastic bag full of Nothing on the Internet for (I think) $4.95 plus shipping and handling.  P. T. Barnum was right.

These are only two examples of what is going on in the New Economy, but in our brave new world, it looks to me as if your financial future is  limited only by your imagination.


Black Friday: Who, What and Why?

black fridayToday is Black Friday, the ultimate orgasm of North American conspicuous consumption.  By close of business today, millions of people will have spent billions of dollars on tons of crap they couldn’t possibly need.  Not only that, but consumer debt will take a measurable leap skyward, as most people will be spending credit card money they don’t even have.  And why do we do this?  Because we have to.

It’s very fashionable these days to decry our consumer society, but I’ve noticed that the same people who are always yipping about how “Money can’t buy happiness” usually have an abundance of both.  Obviously, money can’t buy happiness — but let’s get real — it certainly takes the sting out of any bad mood I’ve ever had.  Likewise, it’s pretty hard to be genuinely joyous when your only leisure activity is lying awake at night, worrying about how to pay the rent.  I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor; take a wild guess which one I prefer.

Let’s put this thing into perspective.  Black Friday isn’t about money or shopping.  It’s way more primeval than that.  Black Friday is the hunt.  Trust me, if you scratch the 21st century off those folks camped out in front of WalMart, you’ll find a pack of spear-waving Cro-Magnon, on the prowl for mastodon.  They may have traded in their pointy sticks for an American Express card, but so what?  Grog the Caveman, wearing a sabre tooth tiger pelt, and Morgan the Media Consultant, playing with the latest iPhone, are basically the same person — separated by a few millennia of history.  It’s all about prowess.  Both of them are telling the world, “Hey!  I am a successful Homo Sapien.”

Across the length of human history, the rules haven’t changed that much.  We might all mouth the civilized platitudes (“Money isn’t everything,” etc.) but at the end of the day, successful people usually find a way to tell the world about it.  Whether it’s a solid wall of sound stereo system or an ancient, esoteric salad ingredient, the rest of us know who’s making their way in the world.  And that’s why Black Friday exists.  Bargain hunting is hunting, and loading a 60-inch TV into the back of your SUV is no different from dragging a woolly mammoth back to the cave.  So conspicuous consumption be damned!  Shop ’til you drop, North America!  It’s in your DNA.