The federal government already forbids direct investments in Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism. What Poizner is championing across the country is a new wave of elected state insurance regulators trying to appeal to the GOP base by playing national security experts, instead of paying attention to consumers' bottom lines. Already insurance commissioners in Florida and Pennsylvania are threatening to jump on Poizner's ill-conceived bandwagon.
What's wrong with using state insurance regulations to crack down on terrorism? Well, just about everything.
In the first place, notice that phrase "indirect investments." It means the line is blurry and unclear -- perfect for the unscrupulous government official seeking to shake down a company. As Redcounty.com political consultant and blogger Matthew Cunningham put it, "I thought subpoenaing business executives and hauling them before (a) public hearing for a good flaying in front of TV cameras (was) what Democrats did?"
Then there's the potential for abuse of this idea in the hands of liberal Democrats. What will happen when the son of Jerry Brown or Nancy Pelosi occupies the post of California insurance commissioner, instead of Poizner? Will businesses that do business with the Catholic Church or the LDS church take a hit for cooperating with "discriminators"? Could Israel, itself, already the target of divestment campaigns in Europe, become the new South Africa in the minds of San Francisco liberals?
Real conservatives should stand for a key principle: for limited government and against crony capitalism. The purpose of an insurance commissioner and insurance regulations is to make sure that those of us who pay into insurance pools get our money. It is not to play Jack Bauer, freelance terrorism expert, to the cheers of the crowd.
Finally there's this basic economic fact: Politicizing investments will raise fees and lower returns to consumers, contributing to higher insurance premiums -- and that's wrong.
So Iran threatens to get the bomb, why should California consumers take a hit?
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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