Politics today just entertainment 

Politics today just entertainment

Is anybody paying attention? What used to be about a year's worth of media run wild that we euphemistically refer to as a national election started this past spring. The current gaggle of candidates is spilling over with escapees from the kindergarten playgrounds of politics that have become the sole focus of a flickering screen-obsessed, perpetually adolescent, self-absorbed congregation compulsively seeking salvation only at the ends of their fingers.

They call it social media while its realization screams for the prefix "anti" with the force of a Category 5 hurricane. Even a season of brain-busting sports won't satisfy the lust for virtual floggings, torture racks and gore demanded for the price of one vote. Entertain me, me, me and I'll gladly squander my birthright mindless for any consequences.

The list of distractions is already embarrassingly jejune: She used e-mail! Muslims are evil! Immigrants are evil! Health care for everyone is evil! Up, up with fetus! Poor people are evil! Abort immigrant fetuses — no, wait, that one hasn't popped out yet. Build a giant wall to keep "them" out! Kill Obamacare! Bomb Iran! Bomb Korea! Bomb Syria! Bomb — well, you get the idea. Meanwhile, the gun chorus sings loudly and long as bodies fall singularly and in clusters every day. Grandma rots away on a nursing home bed of sores. Glassy-eyed children with sunken cheeks and distended bellies rummage empty kitchens and bare dirt yards for food. Your life savings crumbles like the highway you drive on under the weight of those who have too much.

Science and history are discounted in exchange for belief. High school graduates can't count their own limbs and arrive at the same number twice.

Anxiety vibrates in every household amid constant fear that somebody else might get theirs before you can snatch it away. Pride, greed, envy, gluttony and wrath are worshiped as religious deities. Laws are replaced by dictates. Justice is only bought; it's never achieved.

So what is it "we the people" look for when it's time to choose the guardians of the public good? Amazingly, we want someone who can claim the least possible experience with governing and the political process. Would we look for someone who doesn't know the difference between a chicken and a cow to operate our farms? Do we seek the most computer-illiterate to run our technology companies? What is the special kind of ignorance we want to see in our politicians and elected officials? Do we really believe that the less experience someone has with government, the better that person will be in managing the most complex arrangement for achieving the common good ever devised?

Perhaps someone has the skills and ability to work toward solutions for our real problems. I do know that person will not be someone with hate, anger, pride, greed and envy roiling within his heart until it bursts out in a vituperative belch at the rest of us. I guess that rules out most or all of the Republican candidates for public office, doesn't it?

David Stedman


Complaint of unfair treatment at Insurance Department

Mike Pickens,a former Arkansas insurance commissioner, represents a client in an Insurance Department regulatory action. He thinks his client is getting harsher treatment than current Commissioner Allen Kerr got in a dispute with an insurance company when Kerr was in the insurance business. Democrat-Gazette columnist Paul Greenberg mentioned Pickens and defended Kerr Aug. 19, based on his reading of an article in Arkansas Business. Pickens gave the Times a letter to the editor that he's been unable to get published in the Democrat-Gazette.

Respectfully, I am not "suing Allen Kerr" as Paul Greenberg wrote. I am simply representing an insurance agent client (who never had a complaint filed against him in some 33 years of doing business) in an appeal where the Arkansas Insurance Department revoked his license. My client received much different, less favorable, treatment than did Kerr in a case of questionable jurisdiction and constitutionality. My client qualifies as a "little man" trying to protect himself from an over-reaching government agency's unfairly discriminatory, arbitrary and capricious decision that adversely affects his ability to earn a living.

Although I cannot recall any significant piece(s) of legislation Kerr actually passed in his six years in the legislature, I did get to know him fairly well beginning in August 2014, when he contacted me to help him in his determined quest to be appointed state insurance commissioner.

I agree Mark Friedman's Arkansas Business article was an excellent, objective one. However, the questions I have been getting from the folks who read it and are familiar with the insurance business are not favorable to Kerr. For example:

Why would Mr. Kerr state on a commercial insurance application that Cregeen's Pub was a "fine dining establishment"? It was this blatant misrepresentation and the death of a Cregeen's patron in an auto accident who had been over-served alcohol that led to Farmers Insurance reviewing Kerr's entire book of business and finding a large number of other material misrepresentations on insurance applications.

How is it that Farmers was able to produce applications and underwriting materials for 80 risks Mr. Kerr submitted for insurance coverage that contained a total of 78 misrepresentations made by Kerr? (AR DOI Order No. 2013-021 at Page 3, Paragraph 7)

Why is it that there exists NO other order(s) allegedly "clearing" an agent in similar circumstances to Mr. Kerr's in any of the public records of the Insurance Department?

Why would the Insurance Department intervene in a private contractual/termination dispute between an insurer and its captive agent?

Why did Mr. Kerr vote FOR the Insurance Department-sponsored private option legislation soon after the order allegedly "clearing" him in 2013, then vote AGAINST it in 2014?

If Mr. Kerr's employer violated his employment agreement, why didn't Kerr simply sue them in court rather than run to the Insurance Department for protection?

Why would Farmers fire a "successful agent" who was apparently selling many policies and making them money, especially when that agent was a sitting legislator who voted on laws affecting their business interests?

Is it fair or legal to hold a wealthy insurance agent who also is a sitting legislator to a different, and lesser, standard of conduct than a regular Joe agent?

Is it ethical, fair, and legal for a regulator to derive income, directly or indirectly, from a business his wife runs, and over which he has direct and ultimate regulatory authority of not only her business, but all of its competitors?

Mike Pickens

Little Rock


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