December 18, 2010
Profiling: American as Apple Pie...By Russ Vaughn
Profiling is an essential part of organized life, and it is accepted as normal in most circumstances. It all depends on who is being profiled and who is protesting.
Selwyn Duke recently discussed demographic profiling in an AT article where he correctly pointed to the fact that police for years have had a much keener interest in young people, particularly males, than in any other demographic group. Duke's premise -- that the process is purely and simply demographic profiling grounded in the legitimate stereotype of the reckless, risk-taking young male -- got me to thinking that such profiling (yes, even racial profiling) is rampant in our society. In fact, such profiling is practiced daily throughout the country by the risk managers and actuaries of insurance companies for a variety of coverages.
Those same young males who so attract the attentions of the police are also profiled by their insurers as high-risk clients. They are therefore required to pay the highest auto insurance premiums of any major demographic.
By virtue of being a two-time victim of a revenue-generating speed trap, you may very well be profiled as a repeat offender by your insurance company and pay the resultant increased premiums.
Be involved in an accident, your fault or not, and you may well see your premiums increase because you have been profiled as a potential higher risk.
Those women who honestly fill out the applications for health insurance who reveal that, indeed, breast cancer has wrought havoc among their ancestors can be assured they are going to be profiled into a class paying higher premiums. Likewise for virtually any disease process which trends genetically.
Pity smokers, for they are doomed to be profiled as the insurance equivalent of pariah dogs.
If you have ever confessed to a psychotherapist that you may even have once remotely considered ending it all, you will assuredly become profiled as an uninsurable risk.
Buy a motorcycle, and watch all your auto premiums go up because you have immediately been profiled as a higher risk...even if you never ride the damned thing.
Default on a mortgage, and see how quickly you are profiled by the mortgage insurance industry.
You're even profiled by auto insurers by the number of miles you drive annually. Those who drive 80,000 miles a year are calculated to be a higher risk than those who drive 10,000 and will pay subsequently higher premiums.
Oh yeah, and being black is not wise, considering that you have a higher risk of hypertension, stroke, sickle cell, etc. All that can surely lead to profiling despite all the denials by the industry.
And the thing to note about all these examples is that they invoke a very real and actual penalty on those profiled -- not some vague sense of being ethnically disrespected or racially offended, but hard, cold, serious cash jacked right out of your wallet. That's real profiling, Bubba, that can be measured, not just felt. Look at all the above examples and realize that if you match any of these actuarial profiles, it's going to cost you.
You are going to pay higher premiums than the guy living next door who has no teenage kids, has never gotten a speeding ticket, has never been involved in an accident, whose wife lied about her grandmother having breast cancer, who lies to the insurance agent that neither he nor anyone in his household has ever smoked, who has never admitted to a shrink that he has occasionally fantasized about blowing his brains out, who has a sterling history of house payments, and who works at home and therefore drives no farther than to Starbucks every day. Oh, and that fool's white, Bubba, and you're not, so there's another premium uptick.
What we're talking about here is one of the pillars of American capitalism. The entire insurance industry is built on a foundation of constant, ongoing profiling and will be financially successful only as long as its actors can continue the process. Yes, the Democrats say ObamaCare will change this as regards health insurance, but that's like betting that water will run uphill.
I'll wager that if the insurance carriers for the airlines had complete control of boarding processes, there would be a separate queue for those of Mid-East extraction, where Burqa-wearing females would be anxiously holding their hems above their heads as their male companions were thoroughly strip-searched. Stereotyping? Inconveniencing? Profiling?
The insurance actuaries would tell you that it's not profiling, that it's just good, commonsense business practice, like inconveniencing all young male drivers financially because some of them are hellions behind the wheel. It's like inconveniencing so many millions of Americans financially for various reasons because they fit an actuarial profile.
And it's as American as apple pie.