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Taking those necessary, painful steps. (Editor's Note).

Phil Schreiner

I'm starting to feel like Norman Beale! You remember him...the crazy newscaster in the movie Network who committed suicide in a parting, dramatic gesture. His famous line in the movie: "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

And at the moment, I'm mad as hell, too, having just read Mimi Hall's article in the July 10th issue of USA Today. Headlined, "'Siege' Mentality Testing Patience," Ms. Hall reported on some of the whining and gnashing of teeth over the heightened security measures being implemented since 9/11. The complaints cite hassles, inconvenience, discrimination, and human rights "violations."

As individuals, Americans have enjoyed liberties wider in scope than anywhere else in the world, and steadfastly protected them. And we've become spoiled. As insurance industry professionals, we all know the value of human life, dollar-wise, thanks to those actuarial tables. And as claim professionals, we certainly know all about escalating property values. If nothing else, 9/1l emphasized the dollars-and-cents of terrorism.

But here we have Beth Daley of Omaha who got ticked last month because of security hassles at the College World Series. She had to wait in security lines and then discovered she couldn't bring in her own food or water to the ballpark, as she'd always done in the past. However, it was the bomb squad, the hazmat teams, and the fact that flights had been restricted over the park that really got her mad.

What, better to allow the destruction of a stadium full of people with a dirty bomb?

In Seattle, when Christine Brown refused to participate in a random search of her vehicle before being allowed to board a ferry to her Bainbridge Island home, the ferry captain refused to let her board. So she chose an alternative: a two-hour drive through rush our traffic. Guess you showed 'em, heh Christine?

I was still living in D.C. when they barricaded Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House after the Oklahoma bombing. There was an outburst of protest, but then everyone got used to the altered traffic patterns and life went on ... and we still have the White House.

As insurers and adjusters, we'd be the first, in light of 9/1l, to point out a lack of adequate security measures in the event of another catastrophe. And we have the right to incorporate terrorism exclusions. By the same token, the government has an obligation to protect us on American soil and take adequate measures to ensure our safety and the safety of valuable property. The least we can do, as Americans, is act maturely and be cooperative. And our industry would be wise, indeed, our industry has an obligation, to support, and lobby for, adequate security.

To those who argue we're going too far: It has yet to be determined how far is too far. I don't like the random searches in airports either. And I really flinch when I have to take my shoes off after setting off an alarm because I forgot to remove my pocket change. I keep reminding myself that it was I, not the security people, who set off the alarm. The bottom line: We have any number of checks and balances to ensure the continuation of our civil liberties.

As a nation, we may just have to forego a few of those civil liberties in the future, or at least enjoy them on a slightly restricted level. Or would we rather gamble with the consequences? And as an industry, it's no secret that we definitely can't afford to take another $30-40 billion hit. So it's up to us to stand up and tell it like it is, or take it like a man, whichever you prefer.
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Publication:Claims
Date:Aug 1, 2002
Words:626
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