A situation emerging in many capitalist societies in which the price of insurance is rising so much that it is becoming impossible to hold public events.

There seem to be two root causes for this problem. The first is the number of very large compensation payouts being awarded by courts to victims of accidents. This is occurring more and more as elements of society become increasingly 'litigation happy' and decide to sue anyone and everyone whenever anything slightly bad happens to them.

The second cause is the over-privatisation of the insurance industry worldwide. Ideally, insurance should be a purely social mechanism - basically, if you are doing something that society deems as an acceptable state of existing and some misfortune strikes you then society will help you to get back on your feet. In return you agree to contribute relatively small amounts of your own money to go towards helping other people who have suffered accidents. When this set up is subverted into a private enterprise based framework then problems start to appear. It is no longer a social question as to what is an acceptable risk to take - it is now a business decision. As a consequence premiums for areas that insurance companies view as unnecessarily risky are jacked up to insane levels.

Combining the first problem with the second, we are left with a situation where insurers are terrified that they will hurt their bottom lines by insuring anyone who might actually have an accident. They would much rather insure people who are totally healthy and accident free, and leave the losers of expensive court cases to starve on the streets. This behaviour is not so much evil as a product of the capitalist mentality - why would you deliberately try to give away money? The fundamental problem is that that is exactly what insurance should do.

The consequences of this situation are that many ordinary things are becoming too expensive to insure. If present trends continue it will be harder and harder to insure any sporting events, public arts or live music, especially festivals. Even more disturbing, doctors in high risk fields such as obstetrics are finding it harder to get insurance, causing a shortage in medical care.

Solutions? Well, for starters society could legislate to slightly lower the standard of care expected of people. This is a concept used to determine where 'accidents' end and genuinely negligent actions begin, and a failure to meet this standard results in a litigation frenzy. Lowering it slightly would be the equivalent of saying to people - 'look, we expect you not to be total morons, ok?' The reason this hasn't happened already is that some people are total morons, and they want to be able to sue you even when it was just your failure to consider their potential for moronic behaviour that caused them harm (really, the law works like this). Unfortunately, things seem to be moving the other way. In Britain there are moves afoot to outlaw the concept of an accident - basically, to say that everything bad that happens must be someone else's fault.

Another thing that could help the situation might be legislation to force insurers to offer reasonable premiums to all customers regardless of their individual risk. Otherwise we may all end up in a Gattaca-esque future where our genes determine our insurance costs and ultimately, our quality of life and social status. This would require a return from capitalist to socialist ideals in our society, however, and may coincide with an invasion of porcine aviators.

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