One of the more misunderstood protections contained in the Bill of Rights is the Freedom of Speech. Contrary to what the local village idiot may believe, it doesn’t necessarily give one the right to spout off whatever one wants while protecting one from any and all recourse.
That means if you call your boss a putz and a cheat on the 6 o’clock news, particularly without any proof, you’re likely to find yourself without a job the next day, and rightfully so.
One of the things Freedom of Speech was designed to do is enable citizens to voice dissent against the government without fear of reprisal.
That’s what makes this letter, addressed to the president of a Connecticut financial services company from US Rep. Barney Frank and five other members of the House, particularly disturbing.
Last October, Frank and his cohorts took umbrage with William Frey, the president of Greenwich Financial Services, for daring to oppose them. The first paragraph reads as follows:
Dear Mr. Frey:
We were outraged to read in today’s New York Times that you are actively opposing our efforts to achieve a diminution in foreclosures by voluntary efforts. Your decision is a serious threat to our efforts to respond to the current economic crisis, and we strongly urge you to reverse it. Given the importance to the economy and what it means for future regulatory efforts, we have set a hearing for November 12, and we invite you now to testify. We believe it is essential for our policymaking function for you to appear at such a hearing, and if this cannot be arranged on a voluntary basis, then we will pursue further steps.”
The letter is signed by Reps. Frank, Maxine Waters, Luis Gutierrez, Paul Kanjorski, Carolyn Maloney and Melvin Watt.
One thing is certainly true: Frey’s attendance at the hearing was indeed essential, so Frank and Co. could taken the steps necessary to quash dissent.
For them to even bother with the pretense of the appearance being by invitation is ridiculous and insulting, as evidenced by the last sentence, which simply shows that if Frey didn’t come of his own accord, the government would force him.
This is the type of heavy-handed antics one expected from the old USSR, not the US Congress, and Frank, Waters and the rest of the Supreme Soviet ought to give the US Constitution a little closer read the next time they’ve got some free time on their hands.
(Hat tip: Cafe Hayek)
Contentious Supreme Court choices are nothing new. Following the death of Salmon Chase in 1873, it took President Ulysses Grant seven tries to get it right.
He eventually settled on Morrison R. Waite, a relative unknown. According to a profile in The Toledo Blade, Waite was a well-known legal force in Ohio and was one of three counselors at the Alabama Tribunal in 1871.
“During the War Between the States, the British, despite protestations of neutrality, contributed to the Confederate cause with more than just a place to build a ship, the Alabama, that would destroy 68 ships of the North,” the paper wrote. “The United States demanded that Britain pay damages. The arbitration that resulted in a British mea culpa was quite a coup for the Grant administration.”
Given that Waite was Grant’s seventh choice, it’s not surprising his nomination didn’t generate a lot of excitement. According to The Blade, “the political journal The Nationsaid, ‘Mr. Waite stands in the front-rank of the second-rank lawyers.’ And because Grant had offered the post to so many people, Waite began to be referred to as ‘His Accidency.’”
Waite served as chief justice from 1874-88, but his reputation is a mixed bag.
According to The Blade, most historians say he did a good job of taking control of the court, especially for one who had never been a judge or had never argued before the nation’s highest court. However, the paper added that “His consistent rulings favoring states’ rights have not enhanced his reputation in the 20th and 21st century; many of his opinions set back rights for blacks in the South and women, who sought the right to vote.”
On the other hand, Waite’s Wikipedia entry says “he was one of the Peabody Trustees of Southern Education and was a vocal advocate to aiding schools for the education of blacks in the south.”
Given the relatively few number of health insurers serving South Carolina, it’s good to see that Carolina Care Plan appears to be on the rebound.
According to a story in The State newspaper, Carolina Care Plan was essentially on life support when it was acquired by Medical Mutual two years ago, but is now profitable.
During the first seven months under its new ownership, Carolina Care lost $17 million. In 2008, it lost $1 million. It earned a small profit in the first quarter of 2009, Rick Chiricosta, chief executive officer of Medical Mutual, told the paper.
Today, Medical Mutual has invested $56 million into Carolina Care Plan. Medical Mutual bought Carolina Care Plan for $11 million in 2007.
The insurer, which has about 110 employees in South Carolina, has 47,000 members and $200 million in annualized premiums, according to The State.
Despite the progress made under Medical Mutual, turning around a health insurance company in the midst of a recession has not been easy, Chiricosta told The State.
The past year has been challenging for health insurance companies because so many companies are laying off employees, he said. For example, if an insurer provides coverage for a business that lays off 100 of its 1,000 employees, then the health insurance company loses those monthly premiums.
“You’ve lost 10 percent of your business and you haven’t done anything wrong,” Chiricosta said.