Thursday, January 20, 2011

Insurance Refresher

Meet Bob. Bob knows a catastrophe could bankrupt him and he doesn't want to live his life with this hanging over his head. This creates a dilemma for Bob because the very fact that he is alive inherently involves risk, yet Bob wants to somehow reduce those risks.

While Bob knows he can't eliminate his risks entirely, he also knows that the odds of an encounter with that risk is somewhat remote. With this in mind he talks to many people and convinces 100 friends and neighbors to contribute a set amount of money into a pool with the knowledge that the money would be used to help any of them to off-set a catastrophe should one occur. Some, on the other hand, like John who preferred to instead buy a monster truck with chrome rims, forgoes joining in the cooperative effort. More about John later.

With the knowledge of the increasing amount of money in the pot Bob sleeps easier at night knowing that a much larger lump of money than he could possibly save is available should catastrophe strike. Furthermore, with the return they are getting on this pooled money it is grwoing on its on so there is now talk of reducing the required contributions.

Re-enter John. One day Bob gets a call. John has just wrecked his monster truck and wants to begin contributing to the fund in order to gain access to the now sizable amount of money in the fund for repairs.

What is the right thing for Bob and the 99 others to do?

10 comments:

Craig and Heather said...

What is the right thing for Bob and the 99 others to do?

Good question.

Perhaps the answer depends on whether John truly had learned a lesson and whether Bob and the others approach his request from an entirely human "you made your bed now lie in it" perspective---or one of Christlike compassion?

Heather

ChrisB said...

Statistically speaking, conservatives (as a good Christian should) will help John out, while liberals won't help him with their own money, however they'll gladly help him with yours.

Craig said...

The right thing would be for Bob and co. to not use the pool of $$ to bail John out. If they choose to help him through other means that would be a Christlike thing to do. They could also allow John to participate be contributing in advance of future calamities.

Why should those who were prepared suffer for John's carelessness.

Dan said...

Heather

This thought didn't escape me as I wrote. Here are some of the "truths" I considered in drawing my conclusions:

1. Co-operations cannot have Christ-like compassion. They can unanimously--and nothing less than unanimously while maintaining Christlikeness--I suppose decide to help John out. (I say anything less than unanimous because to help John out with anything less than unanimity would be to renege on the agreed upon arrangement for the minority.)

2. There is a difference in insurance and charity. To help John in this situation would be charity since John didn't participate in the risk incurred by the 100.

3. There is a couple of ways of looking at the Christlike compassion. First, I don't think it is always as simple as repentance equals no harvest of sown seeds. Horrible things happen to people all the time as a consequence of their sin that are outside the ability of man to fix. God rarely comes to the rescue in these situations, even after all indications point to their sincere repentance. This is so even in scripture. (if you disagree please let me know. I'm perhaps the least confident on this statement even though I can't come up with a counterexample off the top of my head)

4. Second, sometimes compassion for one repentant soul can lead to disaster for another unrepentant soul. Fear of real consequence can be quite the motivator to live a responsible life which ultimately leads to a better society which leads to a better life for each one in that society.

5. Whether the 100 decide to help John or not, John is not entitled to their help. This is important for a couple of reasons. One, it is no longer compassion when the 100 are forced by threat of the sword to be "compassionate". Two, it reduces the idea of cooperate agreements for the purposes of mitigating risk to absurdity.

OK so this is Chris's comment expounded upon ten fold. And again, I understand your point, and it did occur to me as I wrote. Of coarse to anticipate this in the article would have increased it to the no-one-will-read-it length. I am interested in your response though. There is a reason after all I put the word "truths" in quotation marks at the beginning.

Craig and Heather said...

Your first and second points are well-taken, Dan.

#3 First, I don't think it is always as simple as repentance equals no harvest of sown seeds. Horrible things happen to people all the time as a consequence of their sin that are outside the ability of man to fix.

True. But what if an individual (or group of individuals) do have the ability to help? And the person who messed up is asking for help?

I'm not God. Do I (do any of us) have the right to withold aid to such a person if I am capable of providing it?

I don't think I've come across an instance of Jesus refusing to help someone who asked Him.
So that was is in the back of my mind when I spoke of "Christlike compassion". It's not really an argument against breaking previously agreed-upon insurance rules. Just came to mind in light of the question "What is the right thing for Bob and all 99 of the others to do?"

4. Absolutely. I think part of the problem in our society is a disconnect between "bad decision" and "unpleasant consequences" as we have devised ways for people to engage in risky/sinful behavior without feeling the sting.

5. Agreed. John is not entitled. And it's not right for, say, only half of the insurance group to arbitrarily decide to allow him to benefit as a member. If we are speaking strictly about the ethics involved in dipping into a corporately held financial net, then it would be wrong to try to coerce members to share with an outsider.

So, I'd also agree with Chris's statement.

No major disagreements from here. Your post just made me think :)

H

Craig and Heather said...

Actually, Craig's statement helps illustrate my thought.

Why should those who were prepared suffer for John's carelessness.

That's the natural, human "looking-out-for-#1" way of viewing the situation.

When I think of the "Christ-like" way of dealing with John, it's something like:

"You totally don't deserve this, could never repay me, and haven't got a clue as to how costly it is for me, but I'm going to empty my bank account for you"

To date, I've never gone to those lengths for anyone myself, but am not speaking from an entirely hypothetical position.

I guess what I was trying to get at is the idea that the only way to measure what is "right" is to first examine God's standard.

Heather

Craig and Heather said...

but am not speaking from an entirely hypothetical position.

I meant that this is something I've been seriously considering and wondering whether westernized culture/Christianity has created an illusion which encourages me to believe I have more of a right to hold onto *my* stuff than I actually have.

H

Stan said...

The right thing to do? Send John over to the government. They'll take care of him. Trust me.

Z said...

Stan's comment is so funny...! Sadly, it's also true.

Craig's answer really hit me....do not help from the fund but let them help from their hearts, their own private pocketbooks.
I was stumped for any answer until I read his and was humbled by the truth and clarity in it.

great question, Dan...sorry I've been sick and haven't visited my buddies. Am coming back...good to be here.

Nancy said...

If I were John...I'd be a hoping there weren't any Biblical virgins in the group...*; )

Matthew 25:1-10