Our Common Good

The world’s largest reinsurer has examined the recent rise in the number and severity of natural disasters worldwide, and finds the trend bears the unmistakable fingerprints of climate change.

What’s more, America is bearing the brunt of that change.

National Casualty (Insurance) Company, part of the Nationwide group of insurance companies, has announced that hydraulic fracturing operations are prohibited in relation to properties it insures.

The company has determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore. Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage. The company said it would not bind risks with this exposure, and any policies currently written with the exposure would be non-renewed
(following state requirements).

Among the prohibited risks involved in fracking operations listed by the company are contractors involved in fracking operations, landowners whose land has been leased to lessees with fracking operations, frack sand and frack liquid haulers and site prep (dump trucks, bulldozers) or leasing of tanks.

In a rare “scoop” for an editorial cartoonist today, Matt Bors skewered a little-known National Rifle Association (NRA) program that offers insurance to cover policy holders’ costs should they become embroiled in a legal battle after shooting someone in self-defense.

The insurance — technically endorsed by the NRA and administered by Lockton Affinity exclusively for NRA members — is available as a rider to the “excess personal liability” plan. Here’s how the website advertises the added coverage for self-defense (emphasis in the original):

What’s Covered:

• Provides coverage up to the limit selected for criminal and civil defense costs.

Cost of civil suit defense is provided in addition to the limit of liability for bodily injury and property damage.

Criminal Defense Reimbursement is provided for alleged criminal actions involving self-defense when you are acquitted of such criminal charges or the charges are dropped.

The basic liability plan costs either $47 or $67 annually, for coverage up to $100,000 or $250,000, respectively. Though the coverage amounts stay the same, a policy holder can add the self-defense insurance by paying $118 or $165 for the lesser coverage, or between $187 and $254 for the larger plan. (The discrepancies are due to the different prices for coverage on two different webpages from the insurer.)


“In a survey conducted by Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors and environmental groups, more than 75% of insurers acknowledged the existence of perils stemming from climate change.
“Yet despite widespread recognition of the effects climate change will likely have on extreme events, few insurers were able to articulate a coherent plan to manage the risks and opportunities associated with climate change,” the Ceres report states.
The Ceres study found that out of 88 U.S. insurance companies, only 11 had formal climate change risk policies and more than 60% had no dedicated management approach to assessing climate risks.
Ben Schiller at Yale’s Environment 360 noted that while American insurance companies have been slow to prepare for global warming’s ramifications, their European counterparts have been getting ready for a potentially costly future.”
Via AllGov

Absolutely all of the top-elite officers of these services appear to be convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, about Human Generated Climate Change (HGCC). All of those I have met consider it to be both real and one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Ponder this: the US Navy is striving with great intensity to prepare for an Arctic Ocean that is nearly ice-free for large parts of the year. Canada is shifting most of its military budget northward.

The Russians have moved an entire division to the Siberian northern coast. And dig this. The Russian Navy’s top priority? Their pride-and-joy? SIX brand new, double-hulled, nuclear powered icebreakers they recently put in service. (The U.S. has one single-hulled, obsolete oil-powered breaker, soon to be retired.)

A year or so ago, the Northwest passage opened so wide that a flood of cargo vessels raced through it from China to Europe. And prospectors are sifting for treasures on the sea floor, where Peary once spent a summer dragging sledges over ice-continents in search of the Pole.

The Republicans say that we can’t afford to pay for cutting the carbon emissions which climatologists assert are largely responsible for rising global temperatures and the spike in violent weather. What we truly cannot afford, according to our nation’s leading insurers, is to continue to deny a problem whose price tag is slated to go through the roof if we don’t act quickly.

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Caldwell opposes Obamacare and the individual mandate, but for a different reason than most of his fellow litigants: it props up the private health insurance industry.  (by ThinkProgressVideo)

Seems he is a vote for single-payer - Medicare for All.


I heard a saying the other day, it went, “Your freedom to swing your arms ends when you hit my face.”

Now, I want you to sit back and think about that if you think that requiring insurance companies to cover birth control pills somehow violates your religious freedom. 

Oh wait, but you say by paying into the insurance, you are paying for “sluts” to have sex and it’s against your moral values. Sorry, this is how insurance works. Everybody pays in, spreads the risk and the cost. It works that way with car insurance, home owner’s insurance, health insurance and any other kind of insurance.

You might as well not buy into insurance at all if this is the way you see it. It’s a non-argument.

Back to religious freedom, if the Blunt Amendment had been passed, that means it would be up to your employer as to if you got coverage for birth control or not. That’s not freedom. That’s your employer pushing their moral values on you. That’s giving over your personal choice to another person.

Don’t work for a religious organization you say? Many Catholics use birth control, in fact offhand, most Catholics I have known do. That means if a Catholic was working for a Catholic organization who is on birth control could be denied coverage because their boss decided it was against their moral values. Is this really what you want? Does that sound like freedom to you?

Freedom is a personal choice, freedom means you have the power to make decisions for yourself. If you are against using birth control, don’t use it. It’s that simple. 

What freedom doesn’t mean is that you have the right to make decisions for other people. This means you are more than welcome to practice your religion, worship your god, and live by the moral guidelines of your belief. 

It doesn’t mean you have the right to force everyone else to, and I really have a hard time understanding why so many people think it does. Your freedom is no more important than anyone else’s. 

What if your boss told you that you were only allowed to eat kosher food, even outside of work? You’d think that was pretty unreasonable. 

As soon as your “freedom” to do something starts infringing on another person’s freedom, you are now oppressing. You are now taking away another person’s decisions and replacing them with your own.

“But, but I shouldn’t be forced to pay into an insurance plan that supports things that I think are immoral.”

Too bad, don’t pay for insurance then, you still have the right to do that, you still have the right not to use that birth control if it’s available through your plan. You can still make a decision.

Don’t go around thinking you can make decisions for other people just because it has to do with your religious belief, because nothing, not even religion gives you the right to do so. 

Coming off a year of record-setting $1 billion-plus natural disasters, representatives of leading insurance companies said today that costs to taxpayers and businesses from extreme weather will continue to soar because of climate change.

Cost of Climate Change (by SenatorSanders)


“Coming off a year of record-setting $1 billion-plus natural disasters, representatives of leading insurance companies said today that costs to taxpayers and businesses from extreme weather will continue to soar because of climate change.

The insurers joined Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) at a press conference to discuss the mounting financial impact of global warming. Both Vermont and Rhode Island last August felt the brunt of Tropical Storm Irene, one of the record 14 natural disasters in the United States last year that each caused more than $1 billion in damage. Irene alone, which first came ashore as a hurricane, killed at least 45 people and caused more than $7 billion in damage.

“Perhaps no industry better understands the impact of global warming than the insurance industry whose job it is to analyze risk,” Sanders said. “I am pleased leaders in that industry are speaking out about the need to reverse global warming.” Added Whitehouse, “Extreme weather events, like Rhode Island’s historic floods in 2010, can result in the loss of homes, livelihoods, and even lives.  These extreme events fit a pattern predicted by climate scientists, and we should take action now to minimize the damage that carbon pollution is causing to our country and our world.”

Property and casualty insurers in the United States experienced an extraordinary estimated $44 billion in losses last year when hurricanes, droughts, tornadoes and other natural disasters were more severe, longer, more frequent and less predictable than in the past. “From our industry’s perspective, the footprints of climate change are around us and the trend of increasing damage to property and threat to lives is clear,” said Franklin Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America.

According to Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd., the average weather-related insurance industry loss in the U.S. was about $3 billion a year in the 1980s compared to approximately $20 billion annually by the end of the past decade. “A warming climate will only add to this trend of increasing losses, which is why action is needed now,” said Mark Way, head of Swiss Re’s sustainability and climate change activities in the Americas.

”Extreme weather is a threat today and a greater threat tomorrow,” said Pete Thomas, chief risk officer at Willis Re, one of the world’s leading reinsurance intermediaries. “I’m pleased to see the federal government grappling with this issue. The continuing work of Sens. Sanders and Whitehouse is an important start for this necessary dialogue.”“

Read the rest at Bernie Sanders (D-VT)

This deserves a lot more attention than it is getting.

Over 650 physicians and medical students, including 70 self-identifying Catholics, from 49 states signed an open letter to President Obama and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging them to maintain a recent HHS contraception rule providing women access to cost-free contraception through their insurers. The petition, which was drafted by grassroots organization Doctors for America, argues that “Women and their doctors should be allowed to make contracpetive decisions based on medical reasons and personal beliefs — not based on someone else’s religious doctrine.” An infographic posted on the website points out that 11.2 million American women ages 15-44 use oral contraceptives, and 58 percent of them use contraception for reasons other than family planning.

In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn’t provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don’t offer prescription coverage or don’t offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, you can’t offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.

"It was, we thought at the time, a fairly straightforward application of Title VII principles," a top former EEOC official who was involved in the decision told Mother Jones. “All of these plans covered Viagra immediately, without thinking, and they were still declining to cover prescription contraceptives. It’s a little bit jaw-dropping to see what is going on now…There was some press at the time but we issued guidances that were far, far more controversial.”

After the EEOC opinion was approved in 2000, reproductive rights groups and employees who wanted birth control access sued employers that refused to comply. The next year, in Erickson v. Bartell Drug Co., a federal court agreed with the EEOC’s reasoning. Reproductive rights groups and others used that decision as leverage to force other companies to settle lawsuits and agree to change their insurance plans to include birth control. Some subsequent court decisions echoed Erickson, and some went the other way, but the rule (absent a Supreme Court decision) remained, and over the following decade, the percentage of employer-based plans offering contraceptive coverage tripled to 90 percent.