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An Experienced Health Insurance Executive's Theory on Recent Riots

Posted by Thomas Edwards on June 13, 2020 10:20 AM EDT
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Recently, I had an opportunity to participate in a most enlightening and interesting text message exchange on the topic...

....of what was the root cause behind the recent series of violent riots, looting, and threats to police that have been framed as "peaceful protests".  This particular executive is someone I greatly admire and respect.   I would characterize him as a very knowledgeable, diplomatic, well-read, and a reasoned person whose whole career has been spent in health insurance.  He lived and worked in Minneapolis for almost a decade more than two decades ago.

A man of faith, and an executive in a well-regarded regional health insurance carrier's "governmental programs" (ie: Medicaid and Medicare), he gave me a perspective based on the initial city's public protests/riots-Minneapolis.  The city of Minneapolis, of course, ignited the protests/riots based on the unfortunate death of George Floyd in that city at the hands of a policeman that was captured on video.  By the way, I would not describe my friend as an active political proponent; if so the description I would use is "moderate".  He certainly is not a racist or extremist in any way, having led with integrity a high-quality health insurance service to people of all races whose income and wealth are near poverty levels.  

The following is a word for word reply to my simple two-part question: What is his perspective on the impetus of the mayoral view of these extraordinarily intense mass acts of civil unrest/disobedience largely in democrat-controlled states and cities....AND....to what degree might that affect spikes in COVID-19 and substance abuse?  These are two conditions whose growth during recent months has had adverse effects on the population and the economy.   COVID-19 has recently arrived on the scene and SUD has been a condition that has been with us for a long time.

Here's what he wrote back:

1. Race relations and policing in MPLS have deteriorated since I lived there in the 90s.
2. Crack and the rise of gangs contributed to a growing militarization of the MPLS police.
3. MN politics have become more hardened along party lines since the emergence of the tea party movement. Less dialogue. Win/lose instead of win/win (which is a interpretation of compromise). Politics impacts institutions like the police force.
4. The current mayor is a NoVa native, W&M graduate, and civil rights attorney who moved to MPLS as a young adult.  5. The city of MPLS is rather different than the surrounding suburbs. MPLS is roughly 30% black. The suburbs are roughly 13% black, if that.
6. The young mayor has political ambitions. He must appeal to and preserve his base.
7. Stand by for significant posturing and confusion.

8. On a personal note, I think the analogy of dealing with infection works here. If a body part is infected you’ve got to treat it - surgery and meds may be required in order for the whole body to become healthy.

So, the human condition is a delicate one.  Civic engagement requires ongoing and sometimes rhythmic action...and long term recovery is achieved in a high percentage of cases-with SUD and other chronic illnesses, and we hope with COVID-19, although the actions taken by the vast majority of citizens have seemed more like "surgery and meds".  My interpretation is that to heal the wounds of the racial divide, as this executive suggests may require both radical interventions to stabilize the condition (civic unrest and lawlessness) AND collaborative ways of finding new solutions that bring racial parity and understanding and tolerance to the "body"-population as a whole.


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