Private Insurance vs. Public Life

January 8, 2010

by Michael Foley

The Grange Hall in my little community is one of two venues where community groups can rent a room or a ballroom for their activities.  There’s a commercial-grade kitchen under construction, with high hopes that it will serve as an incubator for locally based small food businesses.  But the insurance industry has its claws even into these eminently civic purposes.  Non-profits, small businesses, wedding parties, even little groups of friends have to prove they have a million dollars in liability insurance just to walk in the door.  Why?  Because a single serious accident could cost the Grange its building.  And it’s insurer wants to see, every year, the insurance certificates of every entity that rented Grange facilities.

We tolerate this situation because it is the way we pay for medical care.  Yes, it is primarily a matter of how we cover the inevitable expenses of an accident or serious case of food poisoning or, God forbid, another outbreak of Legionnaires Disease.  Liability insurance, of course, also covers loss of livelihood resulting from such injuries, the pain and suffering experienced by the victim and his or her family, and penalties for gross negligence.  It represents, in short, the complete privatization of public welfare and even basic police functions. Read the rest of this entry »