Friday 9 July 2010

Reward -Dead or Alive - $5 million.

First let me say the core content of this post has been extracted from Micheal Moores film CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY.

I would recommend its viewing.

According to the film several major American corporations have developed an entrepreneurial approach towards the values they place on their employees well being.

From memory these include, but probably are not limited to, around ten of America's biggest employers - Bank of America, Wall Mart, Proctor & Gamble etc. Seemingly, with thousands of employees, some management nerd in either the corporations or the insurance industry unearthed the statistics that some of those thousands would suffer premature deaths every year through natural or unnatural causes.

The film gives two examples.

The first is of a middle management husband and father who died of cancer in his late thirties. Shortly after his death, his wife received a cheque from a policy she knew nothing about for circa $1.5 million. The insurers had made a mistake in sending the cheque to her instead of his employers the Bank of America.

She, nor her children were not beneficiaries.

Subsequently, her representative found out the Bank had another policy out on her late husband which covered them for another $3.5 million. in effect her husbands death benefited the Bank by $5 million; she got none?

The second example was a young mother who worked as a pastry decorator in Wall Mart.
She died in her early thirties of asthma. Her husband and family had medical bills around $100k plus a $6k funeral bill to meet. Wall Mart had her covered for an amount that would have covered most of that but Wall Mart believe that charity begins and ends at Head Office.

Neither of the people referred to in these examples could be considered key executives of the corporations they worked for. As a middle administrator or a decorator of cakes the tragedy of their early deaths could not impose massive costs on their employers in filling the gaps they left in the corporate structure. This assumption would seem to be confirmed by less than pleasant name these policies are known under - Dead Peasant Policies - which makes the accusation of venality all the more tenable.

In fact for employees of American corporations it should raise doubts as to whether the cavalier attitude of corporate America towards health care is, to a large extent, down the diabolical practices such as these, when, to the balance sheet, their worth is more dead than alive?

In Britain it is supposedly illegal for a policy to be issued which gives an individual with no direct relationship connections a vested interest in the life, well being and property of another. Well and good, but does that apply to the corporates where the deals can be done globally from the inner temples of high finance?

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