"… a sad sense of disparity between us"

In keeping with the tradition of some, thoughts on the Fourth of July delivered on the fifth. These from 1852 are as relevant today as they were then – in ways you may find surprising. This particular section reminds me of the transition taking place in the insurance industry and current conversation about “cat bonds”(h/t CLS for the link)

Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference.

The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable.

The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth.

This next section – perhaps the best known – speaks to the recent Supreme Court ruling that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. Continue reading “"… a sad sense of disparity between us"”

Katrina fatigue? If you think you're tired…

Katrina fatigue was first mentioned, at least to my recollection, in conversation starting fall 07 when folks first began talking about the upcoming legislative session. Why the Legislature would be tired of Katrina is beyond me – but that’s a discussion for another day.

Katrina fatigue is the subject today and there’s more than enough to say – most of it written by or about Dean Starkman of the Insurance Transparency Project.

Starkman talked with the Mississippi Business Journal in March 2007 and gave the background for what has become Katrina Fatigue.

“The insurance industry was claiming its performance was exemplary post-Katrina,” Starkman said. “On the other side of the equation, there were claims of not just poor performance but widescale abuse of policyholders by the tens of thousands. What I thought was so interesting is that these weren’t just two slightly different spins on the picture. This is like two different planets.”

What he found remarkable is that there was no data to prove which side was right. All the data were problematic. For example, some of the insurance companies maintain that 98% of claims have been settled.

“All that means is that 98% of cases closed whether the policyholder was satisfied or not,” Starkman said. “It was just that they aren’t suing.

A little over a year later, those two different planets have never been further apart; and, the chief reason IMO is the media coverage of the insurance industry continues to make it difficult to know who to believe – and that, in turn, creates Katrina fatigue.

Starkman addressed the issue directly in The Trouble with Insurance Reporting and did it so well that I posted it as a permanent reference here on SLABBED by creating a new page, Perception, for the Insurance file (left sidebar) Continue reading “Katrina fatigue? If you think you're tired…”

Big story from the Bay stands in sharp contrast to NYT on Oxford

Like so much about post-Katrina Mississippi, the distance between the Coast and the rest of the State is more than can be measured in miles.

Bay St. Louis – AKA the Bay sits 14 miles west of Gulfport and 50 miles northeast of NOLA. Before Katrina, the Bay was listed in the book 100 Best Small Art Towns in America and considered one of the three best small art towns in America,” according to USA Today – and understandably so given the talented group of local artists.

Mississippi Gulf Coast, Scottish-born artist MP (Mary-Pat) Forrest presently paints outside her FEMA trailer ‘au plein air’ on her plywood patio. Her love of the Impressionists is usually reflected in her wonderful figurative paintings, however the ‘FEMA ‘ITCH & SCREAM’ in contrast and with apologies to Munch, expresses all our frustrations on the coast.

Dreams of a second life on Second Street:School may become arts center, a front page story in the on-line edition of today’s Sun Herald provided welcome news that not only had one of the Bay’s historic buildings survived Katrina; but also the possibility it could become home to local artists.

Second Street Elementary, with its masonry work and scrolled Spanish colonial architecture, is a cruel caricature of what it once was. The 82-year-old building has sat abandoned to mold and decay since Katrina, and the Bay-Waveland School District faces far more pressing needs than repairing a ruined old structure. Continue reading “Big story from the Bay stands in sharp contrast to NYT on Oxford”