Nipawin - Sunday, October 21, 2001 - by: Mario deSantis

root of

We have a Free Market economy and this Free Market has created striking global inequalities shifting wealth from poor people to rich people, from poor countries to rich countries. We have to reform our Free Market, and now this reformation has been made more difficult as the long war on terrorism has become the primary international problem sidelining the very root of this problem, that is poverty, poor health, ignorance, hopelessness and lack of democracy.


I wonder how we can cope in bringing peace and justice to the world when our own democracies produce corrupt corporations and corrupt leaders. Today I hear that the State Farm Insurance Corporation has been hit with a $145 million judgment by the Utah Supreme Court. The case involved State Farm's refusal to pay $50,000 to settle a claim involving a 1981 Utah car accident. Curtis Campbell was found at fault by a trial jury and held liable for $130,000 more than his $50,000 policy limit, but the insurer refused to pay. Eventually State Farm paid all damages but Campbell still sued alleging its refusal to settle was part of a company wide scheme to limit payments on claims. In its decision, the Utah Supreme Court said


"State Farm repeatedly and deliberately deceived and cheated its customers... For over two decades, State Farm set monthly payment caps and individually rewarded those insurance adjusters who paid less than the market value for claims. Agents changed the contents of files, lied to customers, and committed other dishonest and fraudulent acts in order to meet financial goals."


The dishonest behaviour of State Farm is wide spread in the insurance industry. In fact, I can make reference to what we have been experiencing here in Saskatchewan where the Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) along with the government and the University of Saskatchewan plotted the conclusions of a million dollar research on nofault insurance to statistically predict the financial results of SGI.

a crook

As politics is concerned, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has recently met with President George Bush at the White House and together they promised to fight terrorism. Berlusconi, who has been labeled a crook and who is the richest man in Italy, has been cleared last Friday on charges he bribed tax officials. I understand that Berlusconi will be helping the fight against terrorism making sure that he democratically helps himself first. Therefore, since he is still fighting pending fraud charges, his government has just passed legislation which makes more difficult for magistrates to investigate money laundering. Also, this legislation partly decriminalize false accounting, shorten the statute of limitations and sharply reduce the penalties for those found guilty.


I have my doubts that our current Free Market democracies are well prepared to wage a never ending war on terrorism. What we have to do is to fight crime first, but then what to do if crime is intrinsic in our Free Market democracies?
"Challenging a paradigm is not a part-time job. It is not sufficient to make your point once and then blame the world for not getting it. The world has a vested interest in, a commitment to, not getting it. The point has to be made ppatiently and repeatedly, day after day after day"-- Donella Meadows, author of The Limits to Growth
  State Farm hit with $145 million judgment, By PAUL FOY, The Associated Press, October 20, 2001
  THE COALITION AGAINST NO-FAULT INSURANCE, Box 27004, 240 Albert St. Regina, Saskatchewan
  Berlusconi's Way, Review by Tim Parks: L'odore dei soldi (The Smell of Money) by Elio Veltri and Marco Travaglio, October 18, 2001
  Commentary: Berlusconi's Accidental Gift to Bin Laden, by Gail Edmondson, Business Week, October 22, 2001