The Worship of Sports in America

Simply put, Americans take sports way too seriously.

How The Middle-Class Got Screwed (Video)

A most simplistic explanation of how the economic problems of the middle-class has become an actual threat to their well-being.

Why I'm Not A Democrat...Or A Republican!

There is a whole lot not to like about either of the 2 major political parties.

Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning Cartoons?

Whatever happened to the Saturday morning cartoons we grew up with? A brief look into how they have become a thing of the past.

ADHD, ODD, And Other Assorted Bull****!

A look into the questionable way we as a nation over-diagnose behavioral "afflictions."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

ADHD, ODD, & Other Assorted Bull****!

Last week, there was word in the news that there has been a marked rise the number of children diagnoses with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD On Rise Among Minority, High-Income Families").  The implication is that this rise in diagnoses of this accepted disorder reflects the recognition that many challenging behaviors exhibited by children nowadays can be explained away. But does clinical intervention explain away many negative behaviors in children?
Let’s face it…America is a blame-oriented society. During the last 25 years or so, we’ve come to routinely blame either some perceived and “foreseeable” circumstance or other individuals for anything that occurs that results in some real or imaginary harm to us. As soon as something happens—a vehicle crash, a spilled cup of hot coffee, or an intended compliment taken as a harassing statement—we’re burning rubber away from the scene of the perceived slight, headed to the nearest lawyer’s office. Our ultimate goal is to seek monetary redress for the irreparable “damage” to our egos, sensitivities, or the infliction of some highly subjective (and questionable) “pain and suffering” on our lives.
Aside from replacing baseball with a new favorite American past time—suing—such insane thinking has resulted in a new ethos among Americans. We have grown to attribute what happens to us on circumstances rather than our own individual short-sighted judgments or actions. This is a phenomenon that I have witnessed among America’s youth, day in and day out for the last 15 or so years that I have been working with them. And the most tangible example of this devil-made-me-do-it mentality are the results of our nation’s clinical health professionals over-diagnosing neurobehavioral “disorders” such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
No, I’m not a clinician as such. However, growing up in a time period where such “disorders” were not known or even identified as such, it’s hard for me to accept their validity as bona fide maladies. Back in my day, “hyperactivity” (as symptoms strings related to such currently acknowledged behaviors was called) was dealt with by the influence and coercive power of a social ethos that both reinforced self-discipline and responsible parenting. Back then, children who couldn’t seemingly sit still for some reason were not indulged with some new-age “understanding” of their “condition;” they were told to “sit down and stop moving.” And because most other children were told the same thing and reared in the same manner, the individual desire within these children not to stand out in such comparatively more rigid social times because of their behaviors was enough—more or less—to keep their actions in check. General thinking of the time helped to mitigate these issues to a great extent.
Parents, for the most part, were governed by a variation of this same socially-powered sense of responsibility when it came to raising children with these issues. This is to say that parents were more cognizant as well as sensitive to the potential stigma of being considered a “bad parent” by allowing their children to run amok in school and around the community. In the home, such rambunctious behaviors were oftentimes considered a sign of disobedience toward parents…and which simply wasn’t tolerated by parents who were both compelled and duty-bound—also by force of social expectations—to correct such behaviors (notice I said behaviors, not “affliction”).
True, there had always been some level of empirical medical science that validated the reality of some children having a “hyperkinetic disorder” as early as the 1960s (as ADHD was called back then), it was more or less identified within the realm of constant physical movements. Later, other “symptoms” were added to this phenomenon, giving it something of a psychological dimension. Now, verbal and cognitive impulsiveness were added alongside motor impulsiveness as a component of the condition, which lead to the belief that combined, these “symptoms” were related to behavioral issues. The new string of “symptoms” attributed to ADHD soon qualified it (somehow) as a medical diagnosis.
When Adderall and other psychotropic drugs were introduced in the 1990s to combat this now-recognized “medical/psychological disorder,” it sort of let parents off the hook for certain behaviors exhibited by their children. Not only did drugs provide a quick fix alternative to rambunctious and oftentimes out-of-control behavior that was at one time addressed by direct parenting, but gave many parents a medical validation of their children’ behaviors. And needless to say, children were just as eager to adopt an excuse for why they would choose to engage in such behaviors. And living in a blame-oriented society, both children engaged in behaviors excused by ADHD and their parents have seized upon this “out” as a means of justifying their actions and lack of responsible parenting, respectively.
The same dynamic plays out even more when it comes to ODD—the three-dollar bill of clinical diagnoses. In fact, as I work with kids questionably labeled with this get-out-of-jail free card, I often find myself asking, “What’s the difference between a child who has ODD and a spoiled brat?”
As a current case manager, former long-term substitute teacher, and older adult who remembers a time when those around me were not engaged in behaviors that could be written off as some form of neurological impairment, the hardest part of my position is to work within the parameters of (some) diagnoses I simply don’t agree with. While granted, I come across some children who’s behaviors definitely indicate that there is some crossed wires somewhere in their gray matters, many others are just the victims of (a) diagnosis that’s used as a general categorization of misbehaviors that our post-take-them-to-the-woodshed society is not willing to concede as being just another bratty kid in need of more direct parenting…and an occasional hickory switch to the their backsides!
I see my fair share of children who throw tantrums and hissy-fits whenever their parents tell them “no,” as well as those who seem to give Oscar-worthy portrayals as a deaf person when it comes to telling them to do something. For the minority among these children whom I would classify as being accurately diagnosed as having disorders along these lines, the drugs do make a great difference in their behaviors. But for many other kids whom clinicians decide to slap these labels on, I find it enables these children’ negative behavior, providing them with yet another excuse not to comply with (parental) authority. Furthermore, it absolves parents of responsibility for their children’ behaviors, as well as burdens teachers—already overwhelmed with other children and related-responsibilities—with having to deal with bad kids that medical “professionals” had decided are “learning impaired” and therefore, warrant special dispensation when it comes to expectations of learning.
The problem I have with ADAH, ODD, and other fairytale-like beliefs when it comes to our children’ behavior is that the criteria for making such assessments are totally subjective; they are defined entirely in terms of their symptoms, not in terms of some malfunction of the body. This is to say that a diagnosis of either of these imaginary afflictions are not based on objectively measurable factors, such as chemical imbalances or MIR scans of know behavioral maladies like chronic depression and schizophrenia (yes, I know about scans that "seem to indicate differences in the brains of ADHD children, but like the "gay gene," this is nothing more than uncorroborated medical speculation in children where the conclusion of ADHD is made simply by a doctor literally looking at them). They seem to be predicated more on moral judgments of social expectations.
Take for example criteria for diagnosing a “case of ODD.” Among the list of “symptoms” which indicates the presence of this “disorder” are: “actively defies often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules;” “often deliberately annoys people’ “is often spiteful or vindictive,” and so forth. Hell, that doesn’t sound a disorder to me…it sounds like Macaulay Culkin’s character description of “Kevin McCallister” from the Home Alone movies! The logical implication of this insanity is that if a child were exhibiting these characteristics toward home invaders instead of his/her parents, they would be applauded as rightfully “resisting criminals.” But since such behavior is at odds with teachers, parents, and other authority figures familiar to said child, it’s “recognized” as a “disorder.” Yeah, right.  Isn’t it funny that ADHD and ODD are characterized by unusual negative behaviors rather than unusual compliant behaviors?
As it stands, the over-diagnosing of these issues—I believe—are the result of a combination of changing social trends (i.e., emerging and competing schools of thought on how to raise children), the stronger emotional influence of the media, and the advancements in medical technology and research. I believe these to be valid factors contributing to the rise in diagnoses of both ADHA and ODD…when applicable. However, trying to validate a child’s negative behavior by giving it a clinical “cause” is license to children that that they have the right to defy parents and teachers…that there is a “valid” reason why they engage in such behaviors. In a sense, those who take this path of jaded and questionable thinking would be right, but not in the way they think. If everyone involved would go back to the levels of universal responsible parenting, along with the power of conformity when it comes to rearing children, the number of children and teens over diagnosed with these issues would dramatically shrink!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Beyond The Political Spectrum Now On Tumblr

I am proud to announce that Beyond The Political Spectrum is now on Tumblr.  The reason for this expansion is because the picture/video-based social networking sight provides the advantage conveying political and social commentary (in brief) using visual imagery, and more up-to-date news of relevant happenings affecting America and the world (click here for the link: Beyond The Political Spectrum Tumblr). In providing this extra source of news and information to my regular and new readers, I just want to say thanks to those who's interest in my blog for inspiring me to add this additional feature.
And remember: we don't have agree about the issues, but we are all required to think about them before arriving at (at least a semblance of) truth!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Guns…Let’s Use Some Common Sense!

A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece ("Gun Control...No! Responsible Gun Control...Yes?") about the need for the rational regulation of guns; not one based on leftist fear-mongering or right-wing “any-gun-should-be-available-no-rules” insanity! My suggestion was that access to guns by qualified citizens (excluding non-felons, ex-felons, and crazy people) should be based where a citizen lives, and the proportion of threat to their environments. Under this regime, the citizens of shooting galleries like Chicago (my hometown) would not be prohibited from purchasing and owning weapons to defend themselves, while those who live in gated communities—where police protection is fairly effective—would not be allowed to own arsenals of military-style weapons…the conspiratorial perception of a “tyrannical government” notwithstanding.
Somewhere in the fight about gun rights, both sides have chucked all level of reason aside in validating their point-of-views. Take for example the interpretation of the Second Amendment. Most supporters of open-ended gun ownership love to invoke the Constitutional provision allowing Americans the means to protect themselves with guns. However, many also seem to forget that the Second Amendment was written during a time when the existential threat to American liberty was real, not imagined…and was written as such. In case those of you who use the Second Amendment to defend you “right” to gun ownership have forgotten, the text reads:

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Despite the many ideological interpretations over the years, it would seem that the right to keep and maintain guns was based on the ability of the citizens to mobilize in the face of a threat to the union. Yes, that right was extended to gun ownership in times of relative peace, but those who ignore this fact also ignore the implication that gun ownership is not absolute; it can be regulated in much the same way as liquor consumption and voting by age. Also, saying that gun ownership is an absolute right also ignores that the U.S. Constitution also has other provisions, some of them far out of date. Consider the Third Amendment:

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

The rights and provisions of the Constitution are supposed to be flexible to accommodate changing times, customs, and beliefs. If an Amendment that has no bearing on our daily life can be out of date, so possibly too can one we hold in such high esteem. The caveat here is that that defenders of the right to keep and bear arms have to be open to the flexibility of gun ownership…it is more of a privilege than a right, one which our government affords us and should be as flexible with the times as much as any law of the Constitution.
However, many on the left have allowed their fear of guns to shatter what little reason there is in crafting reasonable social policy not predicated on knee-jerk reactions. Consider what happened last week in at a Pennsylvania community’s elementary school.
A 5-year-old kindergartener was suspended for 10 days for “making a ‘terrorist threat’” using (insert gasp) a small, Hello Kitty automatic bubble blower loosely-shaped to resemble a gun. According to news reports, “The kindergartner…caught administrators' attention after suggesting she and a classmate should shoot each other with bubbles.”

Such idiotic policies are the administrative variation of mandatory sentencing in our public schools. “Zero-tolerance policies” leave no room for the application of common sense, of the individual judgments of those who are required to enforce such policies (just 2 weeks ago, I myself was headed to court with a client, and was turned back at a metal detector because my barely-an-inch-long fingernail clipper set off the device, and a brief lecture by guards about how such “weapons” were prohibited).
People should be allowed to own guns for protections, but the debate of gun ownership and regulation, where it intersects the debate between security and policy, seems to have been flooded with an incredible amount of anecdotes, bumper-sticker statements, knee-jerk reactions, and ideological rhetoric from both sides of the political aisle…and all devoid of reason, logic, clear-thinking, and/or common sense.  When I see such instances of irrational thinking passing as public discourse, or put into practice in the form of questionable policies, I have to arrogantly wonder whether or not I (and a few others) am/are the only sane sole(s) left in America?

(See also: "Sandy Hook, Guns, & Questions")

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning Cartoons?"

Warning: This is not one of my regular "what's wrong with society" rants. If you're looking for something politically-stimulating, you might want to wait until my next posting!

As I was performing my usual Saturday morning deep clean of my place, I had my television on and tuned to one of the weekend network news programs. It was an attempt to multitask, using my peripheral hearing (if such a thing exist) to keep abreast of whatever events the knuckleheads of the world decided to create in the name of making our planet a better place to live…at least by their narrow standards.
While listening, I began thinking about how as a child, I as well as other Generation Xer’s (and before us, Baby Boomers) spent our Saturday mornings…watching cartoons. Of course back then, there were only 3 networks (4 if you count Johnny-come-lately Fox sometime in the mid-80s). And because many individuals in the television industry still considered the weekends to be a time for both leisure and family, the networks used this time to create original (there’s a word you don’t hear used often with network television these days) programming at a time when both children and their parents would be watching together.
But about 20 years ago—beginning in the early 1990s—network television started gearing Saturday morning television toward adults. The result is what we see today; the major networks airing adult-oriented news (complete with fluff) every Saturday morning, in their continued saturation of minds seeking a limited understanding of events and issues which we can blame on those with opposing political views. This all got me to wondering…whatever happened to Saturday morning cartoons?
Needless to say, this was something I found necessary to look into the background of in order to understand why such an integral part of many childhoods no longer exists.

In The Beginning:

For those unfortunate enough not to have experienced such relatively simpler (and imaginative) times, it’s necessary to understand that there was no internet, no computer is nearly every home, no video games, no zillion-channel cable TV subscriptions, no children eager to shed their childhoods too early because they understood boundaries. There were structured homes, complete with chores, children who weren’t given a choice but to attend school…and only 3 major television networks. These things kept us plenty busy and otherwise occupied during the week to the point where we were looking forward to the 3-4 hours during the weekend that life—and television—catered exclusively to us.
In the early days of Saturday morning television, the networks utilized cartoons from [the] major movie studios which had been shown previously in theaters (the 1940s and 50s) prior to the feature film presentation. Cartoon shorts from Warner Brothers’ Merry Melodies characters (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.), along with Paramount Pictures (Popeye the Sailor), Fleischer Studios (Superman) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Tom & Jerry) and others were spliced together to create entire shows featuring the individual and associated characters that aired during the time initial period of Saturday morning in the early 1960s.
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Sometime during the mid 60s, the major networks indeed understood that this time period was when children and their parents were more than likely watching television together. This reality spurred the idea that advertisers could use this time period to plug child and family-oriented merchandise such as breakfast cereals, toys, and sneakers (with children being proxy high-pressured salesmen for these products).  As both time and Saturday morning television progressed, programming began featuring exclusively television-created fare, a combination of both older animated features like The Flintstones and The Jetsons—both of which were once primetime adult-themed shows—and features from network-contracted studios which focused solely on animation (Hanna-Barbera Productions, Filmation Associates, and DePatie-Freleng Enterprises).
Eventually, beginning in the late-1960s and early 70s, the networks started contracting for more original programming…and advertisers followed suit. With so much time and money vested in this time period, the networks began promoting their respective Saturday morning children’ lineups as much as they would their weeknight primetime programming. In fact, prior to the beginning of each new fall television season—usually on a Friday night a week or two before the new season started—the networks would host a primetime preview special, hosted by some recognizable primetime television personality. Original program included Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids, The Superfriends, Hong Kong Phooey, and a universe of others. Other original programs included animated spinoffs to lie-action primetime adult shows, such as Alf, The Brady Kids, Star Trek, The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, and many others.
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All was well in animation and childhood innocence land. In the early to mid-1970s, children all over America were spending their Saturday morning engaged in cartoon escapism, doing chores around the house, or something similarly constructive. We were getting our fill of animated coyotes running into painted holes on rock faces, supermen stopping rockslides with their bare hands, and little blue forest-dwellers tricking their enemies into opening exploding gift-wrapped boxes…which none of these stunts were emulated by us kids. Remember, parents were actually watching these shows with children.

The Start of The Decline of Saturday Morning Television:

But not everyone watching Saturday morning children’s television was amused. Forces were gathering from both outside and within the industry which would soon spell the end of an era for this symbol of television and youthful innocence from the days of old.
During the 1970s, network executives began to be swayed by the influence and the rise of parent watchdog groups (such as the Action for Children's Television) seeking to limit the amount of questionable themes underpinning many Saturday morning children’ programming, such as the “message” of “gratuitous violence,” “stereotyping,” and other “negative content.” Hoping to stave off the growing chorus of government regulation of these programs, the networks began to sanitize the programming airing in the once-coveted Saturday morning time period. Shows were now pressured to air programming which highlighted for example the virtues of friendship, teamwork, the power of goodness, and other notions as sugary-coated as the cereal commercials between these programs.  Many shows which didn’t convey newly-instituted themes of positive moral and/or ethical values were no longer aired on network television. Instead, old favorites like the Superfriends were retooled to include object lessons for regular viewers. In addition, new shows contained heavy doses of moral anecdotes and/or a more lighthearted appeal, such as the live-action Shazam! and The Kroff’s Supershow (forgotten in this morass of clashing ideologies was the fact that older cartoons were geared toward a different audience, with a different level of sensitivities. Children were starting to be raised differently, with less adult supervision).
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In addition, the networks also punctuated regular animated (and live-action) programming with short educational-oriented spots in an effort to maintain the integrity of this television time period as a kids-centered marketing focal point, whereby they could keep advertising dollars coming in. These included Schoolhouse Rock, Time for Timer, and In The News.
However, by the 1980s, many animation companies found it more and more difficult to produce new programming which adhered to the new guidelines. In some cases, the networks sought programs produced from other countries, as exhibited by ABC’s Mighty Orbots from the mid-80s. Furthermore, the demands by networks for new original programming (adhering to the new standards) put a level of strain on the production companies. Union actors/voice actors demanded better working conditions, striking to demand an end to labor-intensive production requirements which often caused them work to the point of strained fatigue. The networks began seeking non-union actors who could fill this void. Finally, many of the executives and creative teams responsible for the best Saturday morning cartoons from the period of the 70s and 80s had began either retiring en masse, or were transferred to other programming departments.
Ultimately, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did begin officially compelling educational and content requirements—the "educational or informative" (E/I) logos placed at the beginning of each program—this made it harder for networks to find children programming with the same entertainment value and commercial appeal as that it had promoted during the previous decades. This new reality, coupled with the rise of syndicated cartoon offerings from non-network affiliated television (G.I. Joe, Transformers, and The ThunderCats, and so many others) that weren’t affected by the new standards; the rise of cable networks geared exclusively toward children (Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel); the rise of revenue-generating infomercials in Saturday morning timeslots, and the one-by-one folding of animation production companies made traditional Saturday morning children programming unappealing to network executives.
By the early to mid-1990s, traditional Saturday morning television became pretty much extinct, succeeded by a few teen-oriented offerings (e.g., Saved By The Bell). With availability of many of these older cartoons on VCR tapes (and later DVDs), the era of the Saturday morning television schedule for children officially ended.
Instead of waking up Saturday mornings, watching cartoons which indulge youthful fantasies and reinforce the notion of what a wonderful and innocent time childhood should be, children—and adults—today are oversaturated with adult news of an adult world which forces them to grow up and lose their innocence earlier than they should. How I miss the days when we could take one day off during the week from real life and just laugh a little, or engage in a few hours escapism that makes living a little bit easier.
Just a little food for thought on a Saturday morning.

(See also: The Future is Now…and It Sucks! (or..."When I Was Your Age...!))

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Opinion: Insurance Companies – No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (…or, “You Gotta be ****ing Kidding...”

One of the reasons that I began writing is because as an information and news junkie, I would often come across items on the newswire that seemed to garner very little coverage. What’s more, I simply cannot stand the way people tend to view news items through the prisms of their ideological beliefs. In objectively learning about what goes on around us, I find the old adage to be very true; to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Take insurance companies for example. I think most people have a love-hate relationship with them. They’re a necessary evil, but given some of their practices and policies, it’s hard to understand why their favorability rankings in the court of public opinion don’t find them sandwiched in between those of a child molester and dung beetle (personally, if it were for the law, I probably wouldn’t carry insurance on my automobile). Some insurance companies seem to go out of their way to prove how much they can rub the public (and their clients) the wrong way.
Remember the American International Group, better known as AIG? A few years ago (4 to be exact), the multibillion dollar insurance and financial services company was headline news. The reason? AIG was one of the “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions leading the near-collapse of the American (and world) financial markets due to then-commonplace excessive risk-taking with mortgage-backed securities that it had insured through credit-default swaps. On the brink of collapse due to decisions it made, AIG received a courtesy-of-taxpayers government bailout in the form of loans to the tune of some $180 billion plus dollars…at a little-more-than 14% rate of interests. AIG made news the following year when it announced that it had planned to pay executives—the same “best and brightest” that had been at the helm when the company nearly ran itself into the ground—bonuses totaling over $160 million in the wake of having received government money (as an aside note, it was later reported that Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut had received $160,000 from employees of AIG, who amended the bailout legislation to allow the AIG bonuses).
Well, AIG is in the news once again. If you haven’t heard, the company, having just finished paying off the government last month, is seriously considering suing the federal government over the effects of the low-interest loans on its shareholders. Yes, you read right. AIG is suing the same government which rescued it out collapse! On Wednesday of this week, the company’s board of directors will discuss and vote on whether it will join a 25$ billion shareholders’ lawsuit against the government. At point is not the fact that the bailout was not needed in order to save the company, but that lawsuit

contends that the onerous nature of the rescue — the taking of what became a 92 percent stake in the company, the deal’s high interest rates and the funneling of billions to the insurer’s Wall Street clients — deprived shareholders of tens of billions of dollars and violated the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for “public use, without just compensation" ("Rescued by a Bailout, A.I.G. May Sue Its Savior").

And as AIG contemplates whether or not to bite the hand that fed it in order to satisfy its stockholders, millions of Americans haven't been reimbursed one cent for their contribution to the collective billions they’ve lost in home values, investments, and retirement savings linked to the same industry practices which nearly drove the country’s market economy into the toilet. When companies exhibit such audacity, it’s hard to believe that there are some Americans who can defend unregulated market and/or company practices with such a straight faced blind devotion to treat-the-consumer-anyway-we-want market economics.
But when it comes to the insurance industry, AIG does exist in a vacuum when it comes to favoring shareholders over clients and customers. As I was watching the news the other day (where my inspiration came for this piece in fact), I happened across a piece spotlighting a Staten Island, New York couple who found out the hard way how shady some insurance companies are.
Back in October, Dominic and Sheila Traina lost their home to super storm Sandy. Luckily, the Trainas had evacuated their home prior to the arrival of the storm. But a neighbor who had stayed behind told the couple that the wind from the storm had blown their roof off their 2-story home. However, their insurer of record, Allstate, has alleged that the damage to the home was due to the storm’s tidal surge. In other words, Allstate says that flooding caused the damage. Instead of reimbursing the Trainas for the full loss of their home, the insurance company offered $10,000…which the elderly couple has rejected in lieu of hiring an attorney and fighting to receive full compensation under their policy. However, Allstate has stated that it encourages “our customers to consider flood insurance to protect themselves in ways that would not be covered under a homeowner's policy.”
In a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t twist to the story, the couple said they previously had flood insurance, provided by the U.S. government's National Flood Insurance Program, but that their payments proved to be more than the reimbursement amounts they received for previous incidents, so they cancelled that particular coverage (which is not a good idea if you live on a flood-prone plain. If one chooses to reside in area where nature tends to act a bit fickle, then it behooves there individuals to purchase the appropriate insurance coverage).
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But in the Trainas case, the insurance company decided (I assume inadvertently) to add insult to injury; the company has used the couple’s damaged home in one of its television spots. In learning about what the Trainas were going through in New York with their insurance company, the logical part of myself considered the possibility that what that couple went through in the wake of the disaster was an aberration…a single instance of poor planning on the part of insurance policy holders.
But I found another policy holder in the Sandy-devastated region of the Northeast was treated with similar apparent contempt by the same insurance company, Allstate. After homeowner Jason Crea's house was totaled in Hurricane Sandy, he was paid the grand sum of $37.74 after the cost of the $1,000 deductable was factored in for his losses. In protest of the paltry sum offered to him by Allstate, he created a sign in an effort to shame the company into reconsidering its settlement.
According to the home’s owner,

When I bought the contents policy, I explained to [Allstate] that I have a lot of expensive stuff in the basement. They just smiled and took my money. The thing they didn't bother mentioning, and what was in the fine print, is that the basement isn't considered a room in the house (“Sandy Homeowner Gets $37.74 in Insurance for Destroyed Home”)

The bottom line is that the contents of Crea’s home were not covered by his policy. In all fairness, Crea should have read his policy more carefully…after all, Allstate is a business whose primary goal is a profit motive. But in taking the money after he had given the insurance agent the verbal caveat, the company appears to have misrepresented the policy holder’s policy. In fact, if you performed an internet search, using the name of your insurance company followed by the word, “sucks” (e.g., “_________sucks”), it would become apparent that there are far more dissatisfied people when it comes to insurance companies than there are people who are content, whether the policy is one covering health, property, or automobiles (although a few of the instances seemed to be more griping than not, many of those sample grievances I read appeared to have an air of legitimacy.
In all the recent public discourse about how certain politicians “hate business,” how companies “are people” (for the sake of applying the law), and about the “contribution” of “job creators” to the greater good, people on any side of these arguments tend to forget that in the end, businesses are not about creating jobs, creating customer satisfaction (at least not beyond that required to maintain a continual flow of customers), or even about promoting Free Market values. Insurance companies like AIG and Allstate are just like all businesses...they are all about maximizing profits, while minimizing losses. If your family benefits economically along the way of this regime, that’s fine and dandy. However, that is not their primary purpose…their interests are strictly self-serving and motivated by economics, not gallantry. Insurance companies may have their benefits, but they are every bit as self-serving as any other industry. Unfortunately, many of us don’t take notice of this reality until the moment we expect (insurance or any other) companies to treat us like “fellow human beings” (remember, companies are “people” under the law) when it comes our needs and/or interests.  And it's only the extremely rare company is above biting the hand that feeds them.