The Need For Risk Takers
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped upon the surface of the moon as the ultimate successful risk taker. When he said those words 43 years ago, the United States was vigorous and willing to take risks. The United States did not give up even after three astronauts burned to death during a test. A man walked on the moon. I watched him take that small step on poor quality black and white television and, like every other American, was proud.
The move to the moon was exceedingly risky. It was very much like insurance because the essence of insurance is the taking of a calculated risk.
The United States then was willing to take calculated risks to move the country forward. Today the United States is more interested in eliminating risk from life by providing “free” insurance to everyone.
I miss the courage of Neil Armstrong and sincerely wish that what he did was “a great leap for mankind.” It seemed to be at the time and should have been. It is not. The U.S. is led by people who want to take care of everyone, like Robin Hood, by stealing from the rich to give to the poor. No one is willing to take a risk. Business people are afraid to start a business because they know if they fail they will take the loss and if the succeed they will be punished with egregious taxes and regulations.
In 1917 my parents and their parents took a risk and came to the United States with little money and no property. At age 12 my mother worked in a “sweat shop” sewing ladies garments and with the money she earned helped her family to live in a Brooklyn slum apartment building with a toilet in the back yard and no running water. There was no welfare, social security or other “entitlements” to help them, only family and hard work. They took risks, worked hard, started businesses and by the time they passed away they were successes and their children went to college.
In 1979 I took a risk, borrowed money from a bank, and started a law firm. I expected to lose money for a few years and hoped I had saved enough to feed my family as I worked to set up the business. I was surprised when the law practice I set up succeeded and I made more than my last job paid me. If I was starting the business today I would not have been able to take the risk and probably would have taken a law job with the state or local governments.
If you are not willing to take a risk you will never have a reward. You must be willing to fail and work hard to succeed. I took a risk and earned the reward while others worked for a safe salary and retirement. Henry Ford built cheap automobiles even his employees could buy before there were roads built for them to drive upon. He took a risk and was greatly rewarded.
This country needs risk takers like Neil Armstrong and Henry Ford and my grandparents and parents.
Insurance people help people take risks by spreading the risk among many. Insurance must remain as a risk spreading device not as a government entitlement or this country will wither away into a country of people unwilling to take a risk and wanting someone else to take care of them.
© 2012 – Barry Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, has practiced law in California for more than 40 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer. He also serves as an insurance consultant and expert witness specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud. Mr. Zalma serves as a consultant and expert, almost equally, for insurers and policyholders.
He founded Zalma Insurance Consultants in 2001 and serves as its senior consultant.
Mr. Zalma recently published the e-books, “Zalma on Insurance Fraud – 2012″; “Zalma on Diminution in Value Damages – 2012,”“Zalma on Insurance,” “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose — 2011,” “Zalma on Rescission in California,” “Arson for Profit” and others that are available at www.zalma.com/zalmabooks.htm.