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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Twenty First Century Greed

Twenty First Century Greed

When I was a kid up in the Texas Panhandle, Dad made about $1200.00 a year. That’s about $15,000.00 today. After the war, his salary jumped up to about $1,800.00, which would be about $20,000.00 today. Not a whole lot back then, but we were okay; didn’t starve; go without; or face any handicap because of income. Didn’t have much, but nobody else did. That was when ten bucks would buy half-a-dozen bags of groceries—paper bags, not plastic.

It’s hard for me to really absorb just how much income and expenses have soared over the last sixty-five years. Seems like every time I turn around, prices are increasing—and, the contradiction of all contradictions, we’re in a recession.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not feeling sorry for myself for there are a large number of folks who really have it tough. I got an education, kept my nose clean (for the most part), and persevered, staying with education for forty-one years, but as many, I worry about increasing prices while living on a fixed income.

A friend of mine made a similar remark one noon when a bunch of us old codgers were sitting around straightening out the world’s problems, and one of our group suggested he sell his blood.
We all laughed.

But the ever-present specter of increasing prices still faces all of us. I know of folks who sell blood, some because it is extra income for them.

What brought all of this about was an increase in my home and car insurance, almost ten percent in the last two months.

Now, don’t misunderstand. My agent has always bent over backward to help me. I’ve been with him around thirty years or so, and it’s reassuring to know I have someone to whom I can turn.
Naturally, if you have a claim against you, rates go up.

And I did have a claim. And I was at fault for I hit a car from behind in stop and go traffic. To me it was a tap. That was it. The car had that ubiquitous fiberglass bumper. I scraped about four inches off the shiny veneer—in the shape of a lightning bolt-no cracks, no splits-a scrape. Take some sandpaper and sand off the veneer on your bumper. That’s what it looked like.

My bumper—well, not a scratch.

It was the kind of bump that if I’d received, I would have waved my hand in the mirror as if to say, no problem. Hey, what are bumpers for?

Well, I found out absorbing bumps is not their only function in today’s world of greed. They’re a means for some to pick up not just a few, but a great deal of extra bucks.

We should have called the police, but the lady insisted the damage was negligible, and she was fine. In fact, she told me she wasn’t the kind to run to the doctor and claim injury. I never stopped to wonder just why she felt so compelled to tell me that. Now I know.

Yep. By the time I got home thirty minutes later after picking up my grandsons, the insurance company was calling.

That’s one of the reasons my insurance went up.

Did you know it costs $1,900.00 to splash a dab of varnish or whatever they put on a bumper? Or that a visit to a chiropractor costs four thousand dollars?

When I talked to the claims adjuster about the incident, I couldn’t believe the amount they were giving the claimant. Cynical me, I figured the driver had a auto body friend jack up the price, but I was wrong. The insurance company adjuster was the one who determined how much to pay for the bumper.

Then a flash of understanding opened my eyes, an epiphany you might say. The adjuster was not spending company money. He was spending mine. He gave the claimant an outrageous retribution for the damage so they wouldn’t sue, then jacked up my rates. No skin off his nose.

Like one of my cynical cohorts always says ‘welcome to the real world, dummy.”

Well, that’s all I’ve got to say about it.

You know, I was hoping if I got all this off my chest, I’d feel better about it. I did get it off my chest, but for some reason, I don’t feel any better.

Know what I mean?

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