Around the turn of the century (no, the other century), there was some discussion of the City of
Albany setting up a municipal insurance scheme. Similar to other public
utilities, fire and hazard insurance for businesses and residences would be
provided by the city government. This
came at a time when private insurance was hardly a new thing, and in fact some
of the leading businesses of the day were insurance businesses. But the
objections raised by some, as recorded in “The Insurance Press” in 1906, show
us how little has changed in the century that has since passed.
Edward F. Hackett, of the venerable John G. Myers department
store, said, “About the first thing that would have to be done would be the
appointment of a commission to be known as an insurance bureau, to manage the
business. This would call around a lot of grafters looking for the spoils of
office. No matter what party got into power, every change of administration
would bring about a repetition of the same practice. If such a bureau and
business could be entirely eliminated from politics, it might stand more of a
chance, but it could not be. It would eventually dwindle to an asylum for the
Charles H. Turner of the Albany Hardware & Iron
Company: “Would not the establishment of a bureau of insurance in
connection with the city government have a tendency to open up an enlarged
field for political henchmen, whichever political party was in power, and thus
defeat the very ends the establishment of such an enterprise seeks to overcome:
namely, a cheaper rate of insurance than is at present being given by the old
The gentleman in charge of the insurance at William M.
Whitney & Co.’s department store was a bit more oblique, and yet pointed at
the same time: “Municipal insurance opens up a wide range of
possibilities, and not all of them appear wise, from a business point of view.
I have not given the matter, however, that consideration or thought that I feel
the question deserves, but at first glance I am inclined to regard the plan in
no very favorable light.”
How thrilled they would be to know that asylums for the
political spoilsman have largely been eliminated from modern life.