To The Editor:

There is currently much debate over how the Victim Compensation Fund is distributed, and many forums to express an opinion of how this should be divided. I am not writing to argue for any specific allocation. However, I question Jack Bobo’s analogy of the concept of the “sprinkling trust” in relation to the payout of the Sept. 11 victim’s fund in his Feb. 18 column.

Mr. Bobo implies that because you make less money you are less responsible. There are many victims who could barely afford to buy food and pay rent, let alone purchase life insurance. Comparing these individuals to a deadbeat heir is unfair. Obviously, most of these individuals worked, since they were at a place of employment not a residence. I would guess that many of them worked more than one job.

You cannot judge a person’s level of responsibility based on income level and the ability to afford individual life insurance.

Many of the victims had life insurance through their employers; they did not make a conscious decision to purchase it. One is not less responsible because he or she works for a company that does not provide it. Generally the amount of the group life insurance increases with salary. Level of income, and thus level of life insurance, is not a measure of responsibility.

Finally, the pool of funds being used for the victims comes from our tax dollars, not a deceased relative. The purpose of this fund is to compensate individuals for a terrible, tragic loss. It is not a windfall to be divvied up by heirs. Nor is it a punishment or reward for certain behaviors. Responsibility has little to do with one’s eligibility for or level of compensation due from this fund.

Mr. Bobo may take issue with the fact that the legislation is set up to reduce benefits by other payments, but he should not associate the lack of life insurance with irresponsibility.

Stacy Ketcham
Via e-mail

To The Editor:

You noted in your reply to Dennis Munroe’s letter regarding the GE/Suze Orman “news article” in the March 4 issue, that “In a news story, a denunciation, scathing or otherwise, would be inappropriate (as would, for that matter, indiscriminate praise).”

Of course, you have just described the far ends of a spectrum of responses.

There are so many more ways to react than the extremes. First, you could have pointed out that adding New Age philosophy to recommendations is not only new but unconnected to sound financial principles. Second, you could have noted that the content of Ms. Orman’s “9 steps” has not been reviewed by any compliance professional to ensure the statements themselves were not misleading to the potential investor. Third, you could have commented on the assertion “…give to others…[and]…receive all that is meant to be yours.” While I believe in charitable giving to others, I do not encourage people to do so–nor do I do it myself–with the thought in mind that my overall return on investments will improve.

As I am sure Ms. Orman would confirm, her reference is not financial but personal in terms of “…[receiving] all that is meant to be yours.” In fact, if she meant a financial reward, a prospectus would have to reflect that promise as a guarantee–something I doubt she could deliver.

In short, your publication of this “news article” simply lent credence to an individual who is currently in the “limelight” but who does not conform to a reasonable interpretation of sound financial principles. I am not sure how that served to promote the interests of your readers, their clients or the life insurance and investment industries in general.

Anthony L. Campbell
Via e-mail


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, April 8, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.