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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Message the 0.1% Might Not Like (but the rest of us would)

Are you angry about the increasing inequity of income and wealth in the Western world, and especially in the USA? Does it piss you off that our Galtian Financial Overlords have privatized the profits from crazy pyramid schemes with convoluted financial instruments and socialized the losses from their risky bets? Are you tired of playing heads-they-win/tails-we-lose?

I think I have a way to get back a little of the money they stole it from us, while also publicly making it clear what we think of them. And not only is it legal, but they've been using the same technique in their corporations for years, and never could understand why we objected to it.  Well now they'll know, and so will you if you go below the cut.

For years now, corporations have been taking out life insurance policies on their employees, with the corporation as beneficiaries.  They've done this not just for the key executives like the CEO and COO, as you'd expect, but also for arbitrary middle and lower managers, and even ordinary workers. Often the insurance payout to the company far exceeds all retirement and other benefits to the family of the deceased, and neither the employee nor the family ever knew about them, and they can't benefit from them even if they did know. Aside from any arguments about fairness, that does seem a little ghoulish, doesn't it? And you have to wonder if the chance of gaining so much money from the death of an employee doesn't raise a conflict of interest with the company caring about the health and welfare of its workers.  Not that they'd do anything to shorten an employee's lifespan, of course.

I propose to turn this around on the rich and powerful.  We should establish an organization to purchase  life insurance policies on members of the oligarchy that rules the USA, rich and powerful (and preferably old) people like the Koch brothers, John Boehner, Jamie Dimon, and so on. Shares of each policy would then be sold just as lottery tickets are sold now, for instance by taking out large ads in newspapers and on political blogs.  Just for example, and not suggesting that these numbers should be used in an actual lottery, suppose that each policy is for US $10 million, and one thousand shares are sold for each, with each shareholder paying 1/1000 of the premium.  Part of the premiums will go to  handle administrative costs, advertising, etc, and part could be invested to fund future operations; the rest would pay for premiums for the policy from an insurance company; once the lottery has taken out a number of policies it should be able to negotiate better prices with the insurance carriers based on volume of business. Then when the insured person dies, each shareholder gets US $10,000 (before taxes).

Consider the advantages. Some people get to pay some money and get back (possibly after some years) still more.  The insured get a message from their beneficiaries about why they're valued (or rather why their deaths will be valued), and to some extent the system gets turned to the benefit of the 99% for a change.

I think this proposal could work, and I would really like to see it tried out, so at least one member of the American kleptocracy gets the message. If you have ideas on how to implement it, or want to help do it,  post a comment here on my blog or on my streams on G+, Facebook, or Twitter.


Lee said...

Much as I love this idea, my husband suggests that we do not, in fact, have insurable interest ( in the people in question, making theoretically easier for us to take out a contract on them in order to get our pay-out. But I still think it would be a lovely, lovely plan and I would totally put money into it.

Bruce Cohen said...

Unfortunately, I think your husband is right (see the next posting on this blog for details). Too bad, it was my second-favorite political strategy, after "Eat the Rich!".