The slogan atop the official website of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is the quote “Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our citizens . . . ” It can now be revealed that the ellipsis replaces the words “unless the Governor’s in a hurry.” As has been widely reported [Google news query], Gov. Corzine’s official SUV was involved in a traffic accident on April 12, along the Garden State Parkway near Atlantic City. Despite his state’s strict, “primary violation” seatbelt laws, Corzine was riding in the front passenger seat without using his seatbelt. In addition, the state trooper-driven SUV was traveling 91 mph in a 65 mph zone when it was clipped by another driver who swerved to avoid a third vehicle. (See Many hope Corzine will become leading seat belt advocate, Newsday/AP, April 19, 2007). The driver had his seatbelt on. Corzine was thrown into the rear of the vehicle and was seriously injured by the impact; he is slowly recovering and was the only person injured in the accident.
Note: Corzine was purportedly late for a meeting between Don Imus and the defamed Rutgers U. women’s basketball team. NJ law allows police officials to exceed the speed limit for emergencies, but I don’t think any reasonable person would consider this an emergency or 91 mph to be a reasonable speed under the circumstances. Also, I’ve got to tell you: when I’m a passenger and the driver is speeding over 75, I always doublecheck to see that my seatbelt is securely fastened.
“Seatbelt Laws . . . What Next, Comrade?” (from victorystore.com )
The lessons to be drawn are too obvious to belabor, but I’m in full agreement with the New York Times editorial “A Government of Laws and Seat Belts” (April 19, 2007), which says “Whether you’re an ordinary citizen or the chief executive of a state, traffic laws cannot be considered optional — for your own safety and the safety of all those traveling around you.” and “Political leaders have a responsibility to set an example for the public.” Corzine, a liberal Democrat, doesn’t even have the excuse of being a die-hard libertarian engaged in civil disobedience against seatbelt laws (see our prior post). Corzine top aide said the Governor should be given the customary $46 ticket for violating the State’s seatbelt laws. We shall see.
I’m surprised that yesterday’s Insurance Journal article, “As Injured Gov. Corzine Recovers, N.J. Asks, ‘Why No Seat Belt?’” (April 19, 2007), doesn’t mention that irresponsible seatbelt scofflaws raise all of our insurance premiums with their unnecessary, additional injuries. See this quick explanation from RiskProf‘s Martin Grace, in a Comment to an f/k/a posting. Jon Corzine might ask himself how his seatbelt habits jibe with his goal of More Accessible, More Affordable Health Care for New Jersey (5/23/2005), and his seatbelt advocacy as a US Senator.
she reminds me
to fasten my seatbelt
. . . . by michael dylan welch
HSA Brady Contest; a glimpse of red: RMA 2000
Thanksgiving snow storm –
a seatbelt protects each
she eyes his wrinkled shirt —
a seatbelt saves
………………. by dagosan
the big cat sleeps
in the same seat…
with the doll
………………………… by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue
Speaking of New Jersey, irresponsible politicians and Prof. Grace, Martin’s quickie posting “The New Jersey Legislature is Made up Rocket Scientists” (April 17, 2007) led me to check out the linked NYT article abstract: New Jersey Diverts Billions, Endangering Pension Fund (April 4, 2007). If you love tsk-tsking over bad government check it out, along with the longer version of the story still available online from the Trentonian/AP, “New Jersey pension system could face $175 billion deficit” (April 5, 2007). Former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine made cleaning up government an important part of his gubernatorial campaign. Here’s a related excerpt from The Trentonian:
“Last year Governor Corzine told us he was going to put a stop to the pension fund shenanigans once and for all, and we took him at this word,” said Assemblyman Joe Malone, R-Bordentown. “But while he did end the practice of not making contributions to the fund, his administration apparently has continued to cook the books to artificially prop up the health of the system.”
who knows where
their money’s been
scent of the marsh
how much we make
of a little warmth
on the highway
everyone has passed me
clouds, moon, and stars
…………………………………………….. by John Stevenson
“on the highway” – Hermitage, Vol. 2, 2005
“early spring” – Geppo, Mar/Apr, 2005
“who knows where” – Reeds, No. 3, 2005 (haiga)
at least bar assoc. . . . . .
Speaking of incorrigibles, insurance and rocket scientists, the American Trial Lawyers Association has managed to irk me yet again. Their hypocrisy over the standard contingency fee is, of course, my worse problem with ATLA (see, e.g. prior post), as it often takes money unjustifiably out of the pockets of their clients to enrichen the lawyers. Their silly and presumptuous public relations ploy of changing ATLA’s name to the American Association for Justice is also galling (see D&E, Overlawyered and LegalBlogWatch), as is their twisted use of Abraham Lincoln as their poster boy (prior post). Now, as I discovered yesterday at the NPR Talking Justice weblog forum, ATLA/AAJ is blaming the insurance industry’s partial exemption from the antitrust laws under the McCarran-Ferguson Act [15 USC 1011, et seq.; MFA] for the woes of the victims of Hurrican Katrina. In a posting titled “Stacking the Deck: A Closer Look at McCarran-Ferguson” (April 13, 2007) AAJ’s Josh Goldstein gives a sketchy hsitory and description of MFA and asserts:
“The result has been arbitrarily high insurance premiums and a stubborn unwillingness on behalf of the companies to provide policy holders with the sort of assistance they often desperately need. This particular tragedy played out on the national stage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But it often has proved true in the handling of other, less publicized, disasters.”
“Under the present system, giant insurance companies, like Allstate and State Farm, can legally collude to fix prices, a chilling practice that serves as the very definition of anti-competitive conduct. McCarran-Ferguson also opens the door to agreements that assure policy holders don’t receive appropriate compensation in the wake of instances like Hurricane Katrina. And they can even divvy up areas, with one company agreeing to avoid areas monopolized by an alleged competitor.”
I’ve been for reform of the MFA exemption, which applies to “the business of insurance” when regulated by state law, for twenty years (and in fact drafted the FTC/DOJ proposal for MFA reform that was adopted by the President’s Commission on antitrust exemptions in 1978). However, I can see no way that removing the insurance industry’s partial antitrust exemption would have helped Katrina victims. For a more realistic picture of what reform of McCarran-Ferguson can and can’t achieve, see the Comments to this post at George Wallace’s Declarations & Exclusions website.
In addition, Goldstein has forgotten to mention that MFA specifically continues the applicability of the Sherman Act “to any agreement to boycott, coerce, or intimidate, or act of boycott, coercion, or intimidation.” [Sec. 1013(b)] This makes his “divvying up areas” scenario a little farfetched — as does the fact that many states have passed statutes that apply their own antitrust laws to insurance companies. [This Cato Institute study by Professor Patricia M. Danzon concluded: “The practical import of the antitrust exemption has been eroded in recent years as courts have narrowed the definition of the business of insurance and broadened the definition of boycott and as an increasing number of states have subjected the industry to state antitrust law.” Danzon also found no evidence of harmful price fixing.]
Talking Justice is a very interesting place for the exchange of ideas, but for it to work the participating organizations need to take responsible, knowledgeable positions.
spring snow . . .
in the pet store
you can tell
it was a snowman
…………………………………………….. by John Stevenson
“spring snow” – Hermitage, Vol. 3
“Palm Sunday” & “Easter rain” – Pilgrimage, 2006
p.s. Whether or not you agreed with it, you probably enjoyed our blurb two days ago (via The Psychiatrist Blog) about the positive correlation between intelligence and excessive body hair. A clarifcation is in order (and not just because I have neither a hairy back or arms): The story is not new, but was reported in the London Independent on July 12, 1996, under the headline “The hirsute of higher intelligence.”