When I was a kid, our town hall was also our police department and post office, so every time we had to go mail something at the PO, my brothers and I would go around the corner and check out the wanted posters for criminals on the run. These were never people who had done local crimes, or who were from the area; they were usually people who had done serious crime from far away and were now on the run for it. Almost all of them were bank robbers; very few were murderers, which is either a statement on how crime has devolved in the years since, or evidence that the local postmaster knew how popular the Most Wanted wall was with the kids and spared us from notices of more nightmare-inducing crime. As such, we never found these people scary; they were abstractions, really. Notions of criminality on an ultimately futile quest to stay out of jail. This was real-life cops and robbers, and we thought it was really, really cool. We used to call it the “rogue’s gallery.”
As an adult, I see these posters with a less innocent eye. Most of these people are on the run for committing heinous deeds to people, and the need to warn the public is an important one. As for the notices themselves, you still see them from time to time in post offices, but it seems like a really inefficient and low-tech method of identifying public threats, especially with nonstop cable television, the internet, and even video billboards on highways alerting folks of cads on the lam. Case in point:a horrible crime was committed in my area not long ago that got national news attention, and as a result of that, the guy was soon apprehended, even though he was all the way in California. It is harder than ever to be a criminal, and that’s a good thing.
But my memories of the wanted posters has given me an idea, and one that we could use for this industry. What if National Underwriter had its own rogue’s gallery of those people or forces that were directly in the way of the life/health industry doing its job, or somehow holding the industry back, or doing it harm? After all, the best way to deal with the industry’s problems is for the industry to collectively identify them so there is some widespread consensus. Just think what more might be accomplished if, when industry representatives can bring a list of rogues with them to their next legislative meeting on Capitol Hill to show what the folks who make this industry run really think?
It is with that in mind that our January cover story is going to be the first-ever National Underwriter Life & Health Rogue’s Gallery. Our editorial staff is currently compiling a broad list of people and forces we think have been directly detrimental to the industry, which we plan on narrowing down with the help of some reader feedback. One potential rogue has been Barney Frank, for his work on the Dodd-Frank legislation. Another has been Kathleen Sebelius for her work on PPACA implementation. But another rogue has been listed as “consumer ignorance” for its role in low individual life insurance numbers. And another rogue has been listed as “low interest rates” for the drag they have on insurers’ capital formation efforts.
But what do you think? We’ll be rolling out a series of polls and hitting our social media channels on this to get as much reader input as we can on this, because it is one thing for us to speak from the comfort of our desks on what looks to be the industry’s worst public enemies. It is quite something else to hear it from the folks who live and breathe this industry ever day. On Twitter, we’ll be posting on this to the hashtag #rogue. On Facebook and LinkedIn, we’ll be sounding off, also.
Off the top of your head, what is the one person or thing that is hurting this industry the most, these days? What is the second? What is the third? Send me an e-mail with your thoughts, or leave a comment in the box below. This is a pretty unusual time for this industry, which faces an unprecedented amount of turbulence. Who or what are the forces behind it all? If nothing else, I think this should lead to some very interesting conversation, and I look forward to hearing what you all have to say. Fire away!