Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What the Occupy Movement Has to do with Work Comp

Does the current "Occupy Wall Street [insert local protest location here]" have any relevance to workers' compensation?

I ask this because the movement, which has no real leadership, and seems to encompass a myriad of issues without any stated goals, does seem to have one common theme - growing unrest of the American population with the way things are.

Indeed, the Occupy movement in this regard is no different than the "Tea Party" movement that sprang up a couple of years ago. Though the Tea Party appeal is to conservative voters, and Occupy seems to be associated more with liberals, Occupy seems quite willing to accept into its ranks anyone who are not part of the 1%.

The 1% of course are the top people in the US that control 40% of the nation's wealth and are a focus of Occupy's protestors who see them as the perpetuation of pockets of affluence amidst great swaths of deprivation.

Is that what the Occupy movement is really about?

Or is it, as some commentators state, about "corporate greed"?

That doesn't seem accurate to me either, because if one were truly objecting to corporate greed then one would just buy a share in a company or two then attend shareholder meetings and voice objection in a more direct manner.

What is accurate is that the Occupy movement spawned out of the sorry state of our economic affairs that was precipitated by the stewards of our economy losing sight of the big picture for the sake of short term goals.

And every Tom, Dick and Harry had a part of it too by succumbing to the intoxication of easy debt and the story line that a home is a cash register.

So the "corporate greed" that is the subject of Occupy stems from the feeling that the financial industry owed the American public a greater responsibility to keep us safe from ourselves and not provide the devil's temptations? I guess that's what these people are saying.

Workers' compensation, when all the "benefits" and legal trappings are removed, is just a financial industry product. The industry and systems exist on the magic of financial theatrics, providing a mechanism of cash flow through investments to spread the risk of the occasional work injury among millions of workers and their employers.

In the context of financial risk management, workers' compensation has as the root of its existence the creation and maintenance of a societal value: that the economy depends upon the existence of healthy individuals to do work.

Are we, as individuals in the workers' compensation industry, part of the problem that is the essence of Occupy? Are we failing to provide society value?

When workers' compensation is mentioned to the small business owner, heck even the big company risk manager, signals of disgust are typically relayed through facial expressions. After 100 years, employers fail to see the value in work comp.

Likewise, mention workers' compensation to the average worker, if they even know that there is such a thing as work comp, and it becomes a topic of disdain.

Here is what Occupy is all about - the failure of our society to return value to the common man.

Ask yourself when you sit at your desk to review a case file, or to propose an employer's base rate, or take the pulse of an injured worker, whether you are returning value to society.

The nature of our existence is to ensure that the wheels of commerce continue to turn as smoothly as possible. When there is friction we aren't doing our jobs, and we aren't returning value to society - and that makes employers and employees mad.

workers compensation, work comp, injured worker

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