About every three weeks I pay a visit to my local barber and without fail, toward the end of my clip, and the approach of her tip, she purrs the phrase “All for you,” in her broken Russian accent.
Now, I like Lana and respect her work, but when I hear her utter her signature sign-off, I get an uneasy feeling: of someone who is about to be fleeced.
At the spring meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the phrase ‘what’s good for the consumer’ came up a lot. I didn’t take an official count. But a good baker’s dozen seems about right. Actually, that might even be conservative.
The phrase seemed to come up whenever the topic of the Paulson report surfaced. The report, among other points, calls for an optional federal charter and the establishment of a national insurance office.
Proponents of an optional federal charter say that by allowing companies the choice of being regulated on a federal level or by states, consumers are better served. Companies can operate more efficiently and cost savings are passed on to consumers.
State regulators say they are nearest the consumer. Mr. and Mrs. Consumer can pick up the phone and call their local insurance department for help. They assert that a 1-800 call to a federal regulator will do little to help a consumer who is trying to sort out an insurance problem.
Well, I’m a consumer, so I should feel good, right? Sure. Except, the phrase sounds too good. It rolls off the tongue. And, perhaps that’s the problem. It rolls off just a little too easily.
In theory, consolidation is supposed to make things more efficient. So, one is better than 50. And that can be true. Except for the inclination of federal projects to mushroom into bureaucracies that ultimately cost taxpayers who are also consumers.