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Guest Thinkers

Making Money Off Of Dead People

Wall Street has a new gimmick. Buy a life insurance policy below face value and hope the policy holder dies sooner rather than later. "The sooner the policy holder dies, the bigger the return," says The New York Times. Will that sentenced be prominently placed in the promotional material? I doubt it.

I became worried when medicine became big business. I didn’t like the idea of companies earning big profits off of sick people. Now we know the $2.7 trillion a year medical profession is helping to bankrupt the country and hundreds of thousands of people are hooked on television promoted prescription drugs that often cause side effects such as stroke, heart attack and even death. There’s big money for corporate executives in those tiny pills and, we might add, corruption. Now the Wizards of Wall Street, those kindly fellows who brought us subprime mortgages, credit default swaps and other financial weapons of mass destruction, want to make death a huge profit center to the tune of at least $500 billion, according to the September 6, 2009 edition of the NYT that did a major front page article on the new “exotic investment” that’s still in the planning stages. I don’t know about you but I’m highly suspicious of a product that generates money for investors who bet big bucks on having people dying sooner rather than later. In these tough economic times the temptation will be there to end a sick person’s life early to benefit both the investor group, that would increase its share of the pie by not having to continue with the hefty insurance premium payments, and relatives that would get the dead person’s payout as part of the estate. Families are also facing financial and care giver burdens that they would want to get rid of at any cost even if it meant mommy and daddy’s premature death. Money causes some people to do crazy things. We will be given a lot of public relations talk about the benefits of having grandma cash in her $1,000,000 life insurance policy for a $400,000 payout but we won’t hear about after the fact risk of having her medicine taken away or other abuse that would have her meet her maker prematurely. The product creators and sellers have no feeling about sick people as thousands of these insurance policies will be methodically and unemotionally bundled, sliced and diced and sold to investors throughout the world. And this kind of money –there is an estimated $26 trillion worth of life insurance in force–could encourage biologists and chemists to create, for the right price, a series of products to create death without a trace. In my opinion, money has smothered morality in modern America and that’s why the nation is in deep you know what. But despite the drawbacks, Wall Street will probably get its approval of so-called “life settlement” investments. After all, Uncle Sam probably wouldn’t mind having the medicare rolls (and Social Security) reduced as fast as possible, particularly since he can avoid the blame. As we’ve been told a million times before medicare and Social Security are the major threats to the financial stability of the nation so it’s not too much of a stretch to believe some people would call “life settlement” investments a good path to go down. It would deal with “two birds with one stone.”


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