Wal-Mart secretly takes out life insurance policies on its workers.

From the SEB What The Fuck department comes word that Wal-Mart has been collecting on life insurance policies on its employees:

TAMPA – When Karen Armatrout died in 1997, her employer, Wal-Mart, collected thousands of dollars on a life insurance policy the retail giant had taken out without telling her, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Armatrout was one of about 350,000 employees Wal-Mart secretly insured nationwide, said Texas attorney Michael D. Myers, who estimated the company collected on 75 to 100 policies involving Florida employees who died.

Myers is seeking to make the Armatrout lawsuit a class-action case on behalf of the estates of all the Florida employees who died while unwittingly insured by Wal-Mart.

“Creepy’s a good word for it,” Myers said. “If you ask the executives that decided to buy these policies and the insurance companies that sold them, they would say this was designed to create tax benefits for the company, which would use the benefits for benevolent purposes such as buying employee medical benefits.

“If you asked me, I would say they did it to make more money.”

One more reason for me to avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. That’s just wrong on so many levels.

49 thoughts on “Wal-Mart secretly takes out life insurance policies on its workers.

  1. This and the trade deficit we are racking up with China are two good reasons I don’t shop at Walmart.

  2. Hey, what’s the beef?  This is just another example of the sort of playful creativity that evolves within laissez-faire capitalism.  Besides, who cares about the next of kin of Wal-Mart employees?  C’mon.

  3. I guess I just don’t see the problem, as long as Wal-mart didn’t deliberately kill their employees to collect the insurance money.

    If you die before collecting Social Security, it’s not like your heirs get a refund.

    I would like it if more things at Wal-mart were still made in America, but I don’t think that is going to happen.  OTOH, the Chinese get all the pollution that goes along with having massive and somewhat inefficient manufacturing going on.

    Personally, I’d rather have 1.5 billion people who believe they, too, can get a job in a factory and buy a DVD player, TV and a car than 1.5 billion poor, angry people who still think Communism is a good idea and the US is the enemy of all that is right.

    I still prefer Target, nonetheless.

  4. There’s the feeling of considering employees as property about this – whilst I see nothing harmful from it, it is a perversion of what life insurance was originally meant for. Along these lines you could in theory take out insurance on people/property you’ve no connection to (like gambling), however to have things expected of you as a result of fulfilling someone else’s bet (when there are consequences for not fulfilling), and without having a veto on the matter, would be unfair, and that seems where it’s headed

  5. Perhaps we could take out like insurances on celebrities and heads of state.  Don’t bother with the Kennedy’s- they don’t pay out on suspicious circumstances…

    I have heard of a perverse form of gambling called ‘Death Clubs’. Its an office lottery with guarenteed winners.

    Every one picks a famous person, or they are drawn from a hat. Each member pays an amount into the kitty each week. When one of the famous people is announced dead, the holder gets the current kitty, picks a new famous person and then every one starts to build the kitty again.

  6. I sorta agree with NeonCat here. What this tells me is that Wal-Mart is getting payout for hiring the elderly, the terminally ill, and any number of other people, deemed likely to die, whom they might suffer a loss for hiring. It’s just a pity there isn’t a lot of accountability to go around for all the people who have been seriously injured on-site and not received their due.

    I don’t think that Communism necessarily means being poor and angry and unable to buy a DVD player – Communism is still rampant in China. It’s entirely possible for communism and capitalism to exist in the same vein as religion and science, even though both pairs are antithetical in several aspects. Compartmentalization. Of course money’s important – the question of communism is how you spend it.

  7. Speaking as a licensed insurance agent (and you have no idea how much it pains me to say that about myself), what Walmart did was odd, creative and a stretch, but it was an extension of normal insurance practices. This seems to be to be a extension of what’s called Key Man (or Key Person, if you want to be P.C.) insurance. It’s normally introduced as something for important people in the company. A two-man print shop, for example, would have a policy on both of the owners. That way, if one died, the other could afford to hire a replacement, so the business won’t die with one owner.

    Extending the practice to 350,000 people (whose main job, for all we know, might be standing in a doorway and greeting people) seems bizarre, but it’s probably within insurance regulations, if not practices. Think about it. If Walmart spends $5,000 training someone to work at (say) a heavily automated warehouse, should they be allowed to insure that investment?

    One more thing to consider—I’d have to expect that Florida has some a pretty tough state insurance board, considering it’s Where New York Goes to Die, and New York is a particularly persnickety state, insurance-wise.

    Ob Professional: I’m licensed in NY, so I’m talking out my ass for Florida. YMMV.

  8. Duke York, you’re exactly the guy to answer the question that comes to my mind about this (so please don’t feel bad about being an insurance agent!)

    My thought is: If Wal-Mart has 350,000 people, they’re a pretty large statistical universe, in which case the insurance company from which they buy the insurance will on average be making money on those policies – because insurance companies figure that out pretty carefully.  Meaning that, at the aggregate bottom line, Wal-Mart cannot be making money from employees who die. 

    As I understand it, many large concerns self-insure small losses (say, less than $1m) for that reason – they only buy catastrophe insurance.  If I’m right that Wal-Mart is certainly big enough for that, (so they couldn’t profit from the policies) what other motive could they have than making money?  Hard to imagine a greeter or stocker fits “key man” status. I’m kinda stumped by this.

  9. (i’m not duke york but hell this is in addition…)

    DoF: Meaning that, at the aggregate bottom line, Wal-Mart cannot be making money from employees who die

    Good point- they must be expecing something to decrease the odds of survival that the insurance companies don’t know about, they can certainly withstand their individual deaths if uninsured so this probably isn’t about risk of serious loss, they expect to profit

    I say individual, because what would happen if a 350000 staff were likely to die in an unusually short space of time – that would be loss but one they somehow expect

  10. Even Wal-Mart admits in the article that the practice is a bit dubious, they were phasing it out before anyone began to get upset about it, they were loosing money on it (but that might have been the intention, because they also said that it was for tax purposes), and that in any case it was all more or less legal when they began the concept.

    Personally I think it’s pretty popular to kick the big guy, but Wal-Mart probably more above board than an awful lot of corporations less fat for fleecing and with a lot less to lose if they’re not meticulous about dotting i’s and crossing t’s.  For me, all I see is that Wal-Mart employs an awful lot of poor people – and people bitch about that but I don’t see many other companies out there doing it. Usually to find work with the skill set demanded of Wal-Mart employees you have to move to Asia or south of Texas these days, which makes it probably one of the last real economic barriers against inflation to REALLY magnify the differences between the haves and the have nots.

  11. MisterMook: For me, all I see is that Wal-Mart employs an awful lot of poor people – and people bitch about that but I don’t see many other companies out there doing it.

    They do but not out of kindness; as a business that is pressured to make profit they’ve chosen a skill set that has large labour supply, allowing lots of choice and the ability to pay less because people are more desperate for the money. People will work harder and tolerate more for lower pay if need outweighs greed. Businesses cannot afford to act with purely moral intentions like providing work simply out of kindness, because sooner or later it’ll conflict with the interests of shareholders, I can’t blame businesses for what pressures they have to answer to, or sharholders for needing money (greed is where i’d draw the line), it’s just the way the system works.

    Without Wallmart some other business will come along anyway to take advantage of that (now cheaper) labour supply, possibly even start-ups amongst the staff to fill that gap. And if the poor are without income and spending slows, prices will drop to help. Economics self-adjusts because it internally pressures itself to return to normality.

  12. This is where a lot of highly-skilled and good-hearted people go astray when looking at Wal-Mart.  They see a lot of people working for low pay.  “I wouldn’t work for that much,” they think, “Wal-Mart is oppressing them somehow.”

    True the market adjusts in fine increments, but at some level as a nation we should decide about where the market just isn’t good enough for the kind of society we want, and accept some inefficiency with regulation or large government programs like national health insurance.  (Also noting that our market is already only free to the extent that lobbyists fail to obtain special favors for their constituents)

  13. What Wal-Mart is doing may be entirely legal, I don’t know as I’m not up on the law in that regard. It still bothers me because it’s one more indication that Wal-Mart sees its employees as another expendable resource to be squeezed for all the profit they can make from them.

    Wal-Mart is one of the most profitable companies in America with the clout to dictate to manufacturers how they do their business as a result (the smaller boxes video games come in today is the result of a demand from Wal-Mart). If they paid a reasonable wage to their workers and provided a reasonable health care plan and told their workers they were taking out life insurance policies on them then I’d probably have less of a problem with this. But they don’t pay a living wage, they don’t provide reasonable health care — many Wal-Mart workers are on Medicaid shifting the health care burden from Wal-Mart to taxpayers — and they’re not informing their workers.

    To me that’s ethically questionable at best and tacky as hell to be certain.

  14. dof- agreed, the market only adjusts as far as it needs to so will always keep some people in some level of need, it’ll never be ideal if free but will have a limit to how bad it can get. Polital intervention alows better and worse possibilities depending how it goes, it removes economic forces and asks you trust the human nature of polititions

    Benevolent centralised rule could be ideal but the world needs to be ready, and human nature still had bugs in 1917.

  15. There’s am awful lot of misinformation out there about Wal-Mart. I don’t know anything about this insurance deal, it does seem weird, but I used to be an assistant store manager with Wal-Mart in Maryland and I can say from personal experience that many of the stories you here wrong.

    Wal-Mart may have a lot of low income jobs, but in any given community they’re starting pay is higher than most similar business. (ie large retail or fast food)

    They give raises both annually and on a merit basis.

    They train any employee who wants to be trained, for better jobs within the company. They promote from within. Over 70% of Wal-Mart’s store managers were promoted from the sales floor.

    They’re one of the few retail companies that offer profit sharing to all their employees.

    My mother has worked for Wal-Mart for over ten years now. She loves they company and wouldn’t consider leaving for any reason. She’s not management, she’s just office staff in a store. But she is paid well (over $15 an hour last time I checked), has a decent health and prescription plan and has received a profit share check of over a thousand bucks every year.

  16. They do but not out of kindness; as a business that is pressured to make profit they’ve chosen a skill set that has large labour supply, allowing lots of choice and the ability to pay less because people are more desperate for the money.

    Um, does your employer pay YOU out of kindness? Kindness and benevolence are traits that work out just fine on an individual level, and they’re part of what people band together into nations to promote…I’m not sure I think it’s a particularly useful or desirable trait for a business though.

    As for “choosing” a skill set? That’s simply bullshit. They have a business, the job requirements are set by the market. If they were “choosing” somehow they’d not have labor costs at all, because people are fantastically expensive to hire, especially in the United States. And as for the “desperate” bit? Again, I’m not sure that’s a problem for Wal-Mart, and I think I’ve made my position on supporting nationalized health care pretty clear here in other threads. Like I said, benevolence is a function of government.

    And as for Wal-Mart being somehow exploitive of their profit margins? That’s simply not borne out by even cursory investigation of the company. Wal-Mart makes an awful lot of money not because they’re making a lot of money on any individual item, or even (despite some real shenanigans in that area) by using their muscle to browbeat suppliers into lowering prices. It’s all about market penetration and having a truly remarkable distribution and inventory control. The other bits add to the value they get from it, but other people can (and do)compete in a regional market for prices with Wal-Mart, pay their employees a comparable wage, etc and they don’t do anywhere near as well because the haven’t gotten throwing a store down in the middle of nowhere down to the science that Wal-Mart has and they can’t manage their inventory as well.

    Again, this isn’t to say that Wal-Mart is some sort of pretty do-gooder that is out there hiring people to kiss puppies and help the elderly across the street, but honestly I think an awful lot of governments could follow a worse example than studying the things that Wal-Mart does right and trying to copy them.

    For instance, if Nationalized Healthcare were implemented, you could do a lot worse than getting it to people with the same core principles as Wal-Mart manages. Put them in the small towns first, centralize and magnify distribution, predict need based on statistical evidence and react to it, pay attention to regional more than local politics, every store has to be as near as possible to an interstate, etc. People complain about the same things in nationalized health care from reports I’ve heard that they do about Wal-Mart – but Wal-Mart manages to keep financing it’s own expansions, replacing outdated stores, and keeps a more or less modernized storefront going 24 hours a day in something like 500+ locations. Flu shots? Isn’t that something you could hire people to attend to at about the same skill set people are bitching about Wal-Mart hiring? What about normal eye exams? Not rocket science. My sister-in-law is an idiot, and she used to be licensed to clean teeth. Surely other undereducated people, not just the ones married to my brother, could manage? Here’s the thing: Nationalized healthcare’s most extreme benefits will be felt by the core demographic of people that already shop at Wal-Mart. What does Wal-Mart know about serving poor people that others don’t know yet?

  17. Lot of really interesting points about Wal-Mart.  This one is worth exploring a bit more:

    As for “choosing” a skill set? That’s simply bullshit. They have a business, the job requirements are set by the market.

    Not exactly.  A cook in a traditional restaurant has a very skilled job requiring advanced organizational thinking.  People manufacturing – and I use that word deliberately – a meal at McDonald’s are following a system and exercise a far simpler skill set than the cook at your favorite breakfast restaurant.

    Wal-Mart has done something very similar, by systematizing their operation at many levels.  They have evaded the usual pitfalls of ‘clueless college-boy Taylorism’ by their inline promotions – people who think up those systems have either worked on the floor or must pass inspection by those who have. 

    So the skillset for a particular job may start out being market-dictated, but a company might reshape it for greater efficiency and gain a market advantage.  This is generally a good thing.

    Les, I gotta say, I just can’t figure out how Wal-Mart could be making money on those policies.  What they’re up to, I can’t imagine.  As for employees being a tradable commodity, well, we pretty much all are.  HR departments work hard on making it not seem that way, though, with varying degrees of success.

  18. Mistermook – chill, it’s nothing personal

    Um, does your employer pay YOU out of kindness? Kindness and benevolence are traits that work out just fine on an individual level, and they’re part of what people band together into nations to promote…I’m not sure I think it’s a particularly useful or desirable trait for a business though

    As I was saying, businesses aren’t usually benevolent because they can’t afford to be because shareholders pressure for profit, so I’ve identified a problem that due to the system cannot be fixed (it’s an automatic product). Because it cannot be done to any significant extent I’m not suggesting they try.

    The place I work for pays everyone who isn’t a manager NMW for whatever age they are, because they can, they resent doing it and don’t pay for morning briefing or store closing, each being 15 mins either side of contract hours. Weekends are at normal rate and bank holdays at 1.5x because the law forces them to.

    As for “choosing” a skill set? That’s simply bullshit. They have a business, the job requirements are set by the market. If they were “choosing” somehow they’d not have labor costs at all, because people are fantastically expensive to hire, especially in the United States

    They chose what they wanted to set up business in or what to diversify into, that involves choosing the type of worker you’re after. Markets do change but for some jobs walmart has a pretty guaranteed labour supply because of broad appeal, as you said about healthcare, not everything needs a professional qualification, and when training is needed it could be done within. For the less skilled positions they can choose from many applicants in unemployed areas.

    And as for the “desperate” bit? Again, I’m not sure that’s a problem for Wal-Mart

    I was referring to the workers – generally speaking people who are financially struggling will tolerate lower pay and harsher conditions. If there is performance pay you can get them to work harder by cutting the rate of comission so they need to do more to make ends-meat. This you can only do when people live in need.

    And as for Wal-Mart being somehow exploitive of their profit margins? That’s simply not borne out by even cursory investigation of the company

    Still driven by shareholder pressure though

    but other people can (and do)compete in a regional market for prices with Wal-Mart, pay their employees a comparable wage, etc

    Retail around here is nearly all minimum wage, £5.35/hour, to put it into perspective cheap houses cost approx £100K here, rent will cost £100/week. A McDonalds meal will cost about £2, gas costs about £4/gallon.
    you can see why here retail doesn’t appear relitively high cost of labour, and seems disproportionately unfair when you have managers at £15/hour, plumbers and doctors at £30/hour but pHD chemists at only around £7.5/hour. The pay per time trained seems a joke, and it mainly depends on the public perception of the work, as does the respect.

    For instance, if Nationalized Healthcare were implemented, you could do a lot worse than getting it to people with the same core principles as Wal-Mart manages

    I agree that government should give free healthcare as it shouldn’t have to depend on pay. Most Britons prefer having an NHS despite higher taxes, but it depends on where the pressure comes from in the US, political vs economic and the public willingness there to pay higher taxes for an NHS.

  19. I don’t see a problem with an employer having a limited life insurance policy when it comes to their workers. It should however be a broad base policy that provides them with the means to replace the lost worker and not one that follows them outside of them working for the company.

    I agree that government should give free healthcare as it shouldn’t have to depend on pay.

    I don’t agree with this at all. I will say though that all employers should have health care for those they employ.

  20. off topic
    I would also say that anyone making under $15 a hour get $1 a hour put into an education fund that can be used for college or trade school. those funds should also be transferable to children or grandchildren.

  21. I will say though that all employers should have health care for those they employ.

    Not everyone works (unemployed and dependants) and they will still need some level of healthcare, at least for the life-threatening, and if you make it the employer’s responsibility they’re going to want to call for changes in the law so it only covers injuries in working hours, and so that it will only be for the worker. The need for health applies to all demographics, and it is government’s responsibility to look after their citizens. Free (at the point of use) services to everyone in a country are why we have taxation, things like education, defense, police, etc, otherwise there’d be no point in having a government.

  22. Free (at the point of use) services to everyone in a country are why we have taxation…

    Keep cheering that socialism that has done such wonders for Europe Bahamat and allow the rest of us to look at the actual results of how it has helped your fellow man.

  23. Consi- Small deviation from the economic far-right doesn’t make someone a socialist, indeed I don’t think all-out socialism would work so long as human nature has it’s flaws, I want a mixture, with essential services provided by the state but luxuries and commercial interests can stay private – I want companies to have the freedom to do as they wish so long as they keep within certain responsible guidelines. And I do ask, what good are taxes if they don’t pay for services? What would happen to dependants who have no way of making the money to pay for services? Their inability to pay might not be due to irresponsibility on their part; their pension company could’ve gone bust, their savings might’ve lost value to unexpected inflation and they might not even be able to save in the first place if minimum wage is removed and banks become a law upon themselves, they could’ve been victim to burglary, they might’ve had no choice but to put their parents in a care home, which can be costly. You could let these people die, but imagine being in such a position yourself through no fault of your own.

  24. I want almost no taxes. The only things taxes should pay for is what can’t be gotten in a free market. That includes water, power, trash service and the like. Those are things that are only supplied by one source in each city.

  25. Bahamat touches on an important topic.  There is no one best way to run things.  Pure Socialism, Communism, Capitalism, or any other *ism will not work.  Because the government needs to be able to adapt and apply the best measures where needed.

    Consi, saying a national health care system in America is a bad idea because Socialism has failed in a few countries in Europe is one of the most nonsensical statements you have ever typed here.

  26. Consigliere: Keep cheering that socialism that has done such wonders for Europe Bahamat and allow the rest of us to look at the actual results of how it has helped your fellow man.

    Let’s do that Consi.  You have the dispassionate skills of a critical researcher.  You’d never misrepresent data for political or ideological purposes, yes?  So let’s have it – where are those actual results you mention?  I’d be particularly interested in leaning about the wonders that our “free” market has done for America. 

    Timmeh: I want almost no taxes.

    At best, you get a little less than what you pay for.  In any free market, it’s better to be a producer than a consumer, since wealth and value have always flowed uphill.  Interestingly, the US managed health care market isn’t actually free, since your choices are tightly constrained during your annual “open enrollment” period.

  27. Keep cheering that socialism that has done such wonders for Europe Bahamat and allow the rest of us to look at the actual results of how it has helped your fellow man.

    Thank you Consi- I’m sure those who work in greed driven sweat shops in the far east do look at our standard of living and wish they could have it.

    I want almost no taxes. The only things taxes should pay for is what can’t be gotten in a free market. That includes water, power, trash service and the like. Those are things that are only supplied by one source in each city.

    Don’t need taxes for this. You want a crime investigated? Pay for it your self. Your house on fire, make sure Fire Dept is covered by the insurance. Power- Hey we can put that in the private sector- as Enron will agree.

  28. Sorry if I didn’t state police, or fire departments explicitly, but I thought that was covered by the things that you can’t get by more than one source. As for power no you really can’t put that in a free market position, as it would require different lines for each supplier. I have no problem with not having health care coverage, because there is a clinic up the road that allows me to make payments. When I said that people that are working should be covered by there employers I would also include dependents, as for those that don’t work I don’t care. That doesn’t mean if you have a baby that is retarded they get screwed that’s not what I mean. Children with defects would be covered under the original coverage.

  29. One more thing. I grew up poor, as in I was on the streets from age 14 until the age of 18. I have watched several friends get killed. I have sold drugs to pay my way in the world. I wasn’t even allowed to go to high school because I didn’t have a legal guardian, but I paid by myself to get a GED. I don’t get student aid for college, because I don’t agree with it, I pay for it myself. So don’t come talking to me about the poor helpless of the world, unless you’re talking about Sudan.

  30. sorry for the third post but I have to say I grew up in hilltop Tacoma.

  31. Timmeh: but I thought that was covered by the things that you can’t get by more than one source

    Private armies LOL , i suppose, but I doubt you meant that because once it rivals what there is of left of national military the law would essentially be decided by corporations, because the government would have no ability to enforce. Corporations/the rich could go to war with each other with no hinderance, and set their own laws on employees and townspeople.

    Webs: Pure Socialism, Communism, Capitalism, or any other *ism will not work.  Because the government needs to be able to adapt and apply the best measures where needed

    smile In addition pure governments don’t tend to have real opposition, or at least they need to share the same views to make it pure. Blind opposition keeps them in check but can prevent progress, so there’s always a certain range between how good and bad things can be, I think how much of a majority you can afford to have depends on how much you can trust them with that power. Pure also places trust in the succession, who is unknown.

  32. Timmeh – amazing story.  With your gifts of self-expression, you should consider writing a book and I mean that.

    But… the whole point of social programs, public education, public health, etc is to reduce the chances of situations like yours from happening in the first place.  To reduce crime, increase average level of education, raise economic productivity of society generally. 

    Only a minority of individuals in your situation can survive and still become productive – vastly to your credit, but you are exceptional.  Making one exceptional person’s experience normative for everyone isn’t a sound basis for running a society.

  33. Timmeh – indeed, being self-made deserves credit, and if you can do it in a privatized world then it might be possible for most others, but would you want others to go through the same as you? There isn’t a clear right or wrong to that question, because hardship can build character, some theorise the poor get more out of life because they are less enslaved to the persuit of material luxury, and are tougher having been less sheltered.

  34. Bahamat: some theorise the poor get more out of life because they are less enslaved to the persuit of material luxury, and are tougher having been less sheltered.

    Maybe so, but such theorists are probably in a small minority.  I suspect that the general scientific consensus is that poverty sucks, even for the “just happy to at least be breathing” poor.

    DOF: Timmeh – amazing story.  With your gifts of self-expression, you should consider writing a book

    I second that!

  35. MP – probably so, and once poverty has fully done it’s job for that person, it’s nolonger necessary, (off topic) but note without as much need to be rich they will be less motivated to persue the higher salary jobs

    And, like you said, they don’t usually need to be poor to the extent of ‘just happy to be breathing’, to get that benefit. One useful thing I find is to imagine myself in scenarios that I won’t/can’t be in, to get that benefit without having to experience it, it’s more flexible and less painful than going through it, though less deep because less real. Thinking about situations I’m not in causes concepts to clash and can at times be distressing, unavoidably because you don’t know where it’s headed, it causes mood changes without events just by thinking, but you can always find a way back to contentment.

  36. I have to say sorry about the rant I just got back from a drink fest when I wrote that. I kind of came off as a dick. Sometimes I can get the “well I managed so why can’t you attitude” when I drink ( I think it’s Scottish thing”. I do think all children should get health care, and those that are out of work should get minimal care. Hell I would rather pay for a vaccine instead of a long term stay at the hospital. I don’t however see why able bodied people should get a free ride. I really see police and fire protection as a thing you can’t get from more than one source (see N.Y. City in the 1800’s). Education I see as a place where you could have multiple choices, but you have to opt out of public sources (I know that’s not a perfect option) just not right now. The military should never leave our shores unless we are attacked by a country, and not a criminal element. I do have a full belief in people owning guns. I have never, nor have those I hung out with, broken into a house where we thought we might get shot (and yes in my stupid days I did that dumb shit). Once again sorry for being a whiny bitch.

  37. Timmeh – indeed, being self-made deserves credit, and if you can do it in a privatized world then it might be possible for most others, but would you want others to go through the same as you? There isn’t a clear right or wrong to that question

    No this a clear right and wrong, no one should have to go through it.

    Timmeh – amazing story.  With your gifts of self-expression, you should consider writing a book and I mean that

    I am writing my memoirs. I just have a good ending yet.

  38. I think the best way to keep people from going through what Timmeh did is to create some social instruments.  For example if everyone had access to health care that would be one less thing for people to worry about.  Giving them the opportunity to make something for themselves, to be successful and pay taxes.  A lot of crime stems from having nothing and needing something.  Thus countries with lower unemployment tend to have lower crime.

    But I also believe education should be free to those that work hard.  I kinda like the system Brazil uses.  The schools that are free there tend to be in the top 10% in terms of quality.  So if you want a good education you have an incentive to try so it will be free.  The public schools that cost money tend not to be as good, kind of the difference between going to a State University and a small town college.

    I certainly don’t think people deserve a free ride, but supporting those that cannot support themselves is not a free ride.  It’s compassion and shows you want your country to be strong, productive, and educated.

  39. No the best way is to educate kids with up to date text and not books that were out dated by ten plus years. Second would be to change the way we teach kids. Not all children are going to doctors and we need to realize that. Find what the kid is good at and focus on it don’t try to give them a bunch of crap that they will never care about. If a kid is good at math go with it. If they understand english then teach them to write.

    I certainly don’t think people deserve a free ride, but supporting those that cannot support themselves is not a free ride.  It’s compassion and shows you want your country to be strong, productive, and educated.

    I knew plenty of people growing up that never looked for work because it was easier to just get a check.

  40. I will give you two examples.
    1. My mother, she is still trying to get disability even though she still does under the table electrician work.
    2. My sister she has had five children by five different fathers and collects welfare, even though the state has found it necessary to take two of them (why not all I don’t know).

  41. Yeah, some people will abuse the system.  I also know hard working people who are really struggling to better themselves and contribute to society.  They need a hand.  You try to make the program as sound as you can, and a certain amount of fraud will occur.  It’s part of the cost of running the program.

    Not sure about he ‘up-to-date’ textbooks, though.  Most of the ones I’ve seen were utter crap.  I’m not sure how to even define a good textbook but the ones being made now, ain’t them.

  42. No the best way is to educate kids with up to date text and not books that were out dated by ten plus years. Second would be to change the way we teach kids. Not all children are going to doctors and we need to realize that.

    I agree our education system is fucked and as DOF said, so are the books and their publishers.  But forcing people to pay for a crappy education systems means people will just have to pay for a system that sucks.  Forcing people to pay for a good system is better but the underprivileged still won’t be able to afford or make the most of it.

    For some of them staying alive and getting food may be their first priority.  Which is why if we help them in that respect we can then give them an opportunity to get an education.  If people don’t have to spend money on education and health care, then they will have more money to spend on necessities.

    Find what the kid is good at and focus on it don’t try to give them a bunch of crap that they will never care about. If a kid is good at math go with it. If they understand english then teach them to write.

    I think this should be done in the later years of high school and not sooner.  People need a base level of education that should include an understanding of math, science, reading, and writing.  Especially math and science.

    I knew plenty of people growing up that never looked for work because it was easier to just get a check.

    Than fix the loopholes.  Don’t end a social program because a few people take advantage of it.  Come up with different incentives that fix the problems associated with the program.  Or implement new ones.

    Timmeh, we all admire your strength and what you went through, but don’t use that as an excuse to say anyone can do it.  Everybody goes through different situations in life that point you down a different path.  Not everyone is given the opportunity to take your path.

  43. Not sure about he ‘up-to-date’ textbooks, though.  Most of the ones I’ve seen were utter crap.  I’m not sure how to even define a good textbook but the ones being made now, ain’t them.

    A great teacher is equally hard to find.

    DOF, what do you look for in a good text?

    The mantra out here (and, I imagine, at most schools) is that you “get out of it what you put into it”. Of course, that’s not really true. I know lots of people that invest tons of work, organization, and dedication to end up with poor results (myself among them). I look for books that say what needs to be said in the fewest words and with the most clarity. I want otherwise in professors – people who will go out of the way to elaborate on an idea in case it doesn’t sit well the first time or two, and who will take extensive time to describe something in a variety of ways, even if some of them are not clear to me at all.

    A text, IMO, is a reference for working knowledge. A professor is a helping hand.

  44. “DOF, what do you look for in a good text?”

    First it’s helpful to know how textbooks are made.  You know that old saying about sausage…

    I look for an author.  A real author who wrote the thing and is responsible for its content.  Most textbooks are cut-and-paste/edit jobs.  I look for clear explanations and to-the-point exercises that are dissected in depth. (not doing the same thing fifty pointless times)  I look for focus on the topic – why does a math book need pictures in it of children in a wheelchair?  Illustrations that support the text rather than seem tangential to it. I look for it to be small enough to carry and handle – one of my sons had a “life sciences” (which used to be called something like “biology”) book that was too big to fit in his locker without going diagonal.  I look for non-glossy paper – makes a big difference in readability.  Good typography and page design.  In sum the book should stand on its own as a tool for learning the subject because let’s face it; the teacher probably has a degree in “education” and doesn’t know squat about the subject matter.

    Good rule of thumb; never ask a child to study a book you wouldn’t.

  45. I got a little behind so this is from 07/19/2007

    timmeh: No this a clear right and wrong, no one should have to go through it.

    It’s good to see you see that side, but I want to show that the alternative could be wished with good intentions

    It is said that suffering builds character, makes you stronger, and as an antagonist it gives your life substance much like a film often has an antagonist to make it mean anything. It was through your suffering that you became the person you are, it showed you what effect things have, it made you think, it gave you the need for strength. Quite often I feel people who do asshat things don’t know what effect they’re having because they havn’t experienced the suffering firsthand, ie war, but they also need to think on it in order for it to achieve anything, and it can take a long time. Hierarchy in society makes it difficult for suffering to be imposed on those ruling, which may in part be why some desire meaningless goals like legacy, power, status and riches over the welfare of those affected.

    Suffering may be the only way to make people see sense, and well-placed may in the long term prevent less-deserved suffering elsewhere

  46. Bahamat,

    Suffering may be the only way to make people see sense, and well-placed may in the long term prevent less-deserved suffering elsewhere

    Well spoken. I’ve actually known quite a few people who created or maintained wounds (myself included) for the express purpose of a) making them appreciate what they have and b) helping them keep their focus on their goals. It’s a bizarre sort of mindset, speaking truth, but it is useful.

    Probably similar to the idea of tragedy as catharsis.

  47. smile For me the self-inflicted wounds are psychological, I find by nature of my type of shortcomings I throw myself in headfirst into situations I’m not prepared for or can’t yet handle properly and learn by error -to some extent people find appropriate suffering automatically whether they know it or not, it’s just when they do they need to think on what caused/ needs improving.

    Learning the hard way is often deeper/ more fully taken on board (ie someone who regrets). I think some things (like mental strength and knowing who not to trust) can only really be learnt the hard way (at least in any timely manner)

  48. Keep cheering that socialism that has done such wonders for Europe Bahamat and allow the rest of us to look at the actual results of how it has helped your fellow man.

    ROFL ROFL ROFL

    Ok seriously I can’t spell it’s before noon and Im drunk, but are you on crack? Socialism is what made Great Britian the most powerfull nation in the world. From the Enlightenment untill the first world war their might was contested but never signifigantly defeated. After which the USA moved to the fore front do, mostly, to massive natural resources resereves (Oil, Iron, Coal) that spanned a continent rather than a comparitavly small nation state. Have you obeserved your economy? Have you noticed your dollar slipping into oblivion? Have you noticed that your health care rates only slightly above Cuba’s? No one needs to see sicko to realize that putting ppls lives into dollars and cents is evil. Myself personaly I belive people exist to be exploited. I mean honestly in a democracy it is your DUTY to vote and have an opinion. What is your voter turn out rate? 50%? You do not deserve to be free, as a people, (remeber even in a democracy money pwns all), if you can’t think for yourselves. You live in the so called land of the free, but you have no idea what can happen when you allow your system to be bought by corperations. Actualy wait, you might becuase the evidence is every where. lol enjoy the future, it’s gonna be Fuckin awsome…

  49. It is not uncommon for large companies to take out life insurance on employees. Most of the insurance is on key men, it is to assist the company recover from the death of that employee. It is legal, normal and she will in the long run lose this suit.

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