Favorite

Baghdad bound 

I learned over the weekend that Mike Pickens, the Arkansas insurance commissioner, is heading to Iraq to help establish a regulated insurance industry in the country. At that moment, I realized more than ever how little I understood of the enormity of building something akin to a democratic society in this dangerous place. The task already seemed hard enough - building infrastructure, reopening schools and hospitals and establishing a government - all while dodging bullets and improvised explosives. But I hadn't given enough thought to the difficulty of the numerous endeavors that seem mundane to us. Pickens' trip made me think, too, of the ways in which the future Iraq might reflect an image of our society as seen by the people dispatched to build it. Just last week, for example, U.S. authorities shut down an Iraqi newspaper they found too irresponsible. George W. Bush or Mike Huckabee might like to do the same in America, but I can't believe they'd try here. We shouldn't have done it in Iraq, either. Now insurance. Pickens and I have had a few differences of opinion on the subject, from workers compensation coverage to liability lawsuits. Much as I respect him for thrusting himself into a perilous place, I confess curiosity about the ultimate product. Pickens' view of a perfect Iraq doesn't seem likely to include Baghdad versions of Chip Welch suing the pants off insurance companies (and, for good measure, the insurance commissioner). Pickens says, probably correctly, that I'm looking too far ahead. "They are starting completely from scratch over there," he wrote me in an e-mail. "Really not much of any institutionalized government or regulation [existed under Saddam Hussein]. Who's gonna 'regulate' state-owned monopolies controlled by Saddam and his sons and their cronies? Still, there is a very high level of education, and many good people wanting their country to work for its citizens. Both Jordan and Bahrain have good insurance laws, and those are the laws we will use in drafting the Iraqi law. … If India and China can make an insurance market work, Iraq can." In the short run, Pickens said, Iraq needs some immediate commercial insurance coverage and the ability to transact business with nearby countries. Working through the U.S. Agency for International Development, Pickens will draft insurance laws and regulations and help set up the framework for a regulatory commission. Pickens, who says he answered a call for volunteers, will take state leave and vacation time for the journey, which is to begin by next week. He'll be staying in touch with his office while he's gone, perhaps as long as two months. He'll stay just outside the heavily fortified "green zone" in Baghdad, traveling from the Babylon Hotel to meetings in an armored bus. He'll wear a flak jacket and helmet. He'll also carry wireless communication devices, which means he'll still be able to instantly rag liberal columnists when the situation demands. (With Pickens, it often does.) Rough as Iraq is, it would seem nearly perfect on one subject close to Pickens' heart. "Iraq does not need tort reform," he said. "It needs functioning courts first."
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Giuliani in the bullpen for Sessions?

    When Donald Trump starts tweeting about "beleaguered" Attorney General Jeff Sessions it adds credence to reports that Trump is looking to replace him with Rudy Giuliani.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • Jared Kushner: Nothing to see here.

    Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law, has prepared a statement detailing four meetings with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition and he asserts nothing improper occurred. I'd rather talk about health care.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • A night out: Beer and bullets

    A late night shooting in the Fayetteville entertainment district brings a reminder of the legislature's recent expansion of gun law.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • IBS, were you there in Benghazi to personally witness all of Hillary's blunders like you…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • If God felt it necessary to replace the ten commandments, he could do it like…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Football for UA Little Rock

    • He's BSC. Students and tuition-paying parents should be VERY vocal that a football program won't…

    • on July 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation