Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.—Wendell Phillips
Sept. 11, 2001, is a date that will live in our minds, hearts and memories for the rest of our lives. It was many things: a tragedy, murder, an outrage, a huge loss, the end of innocence. But it was also a failure of vigilance. The first responsibility of government is to provide for the security of its citizens. In this, our government failed us.
I write this, however, not as another postmortem on 9/11, but as a way of explaining why this September, when the eyes of the industry are on Life Insurance Awareness Month and the essential role of life insurance in our lives, Advisor Today is focusing on political advocacy.
The fundamental responsibility of NAIFA is to protect the environment in which you go about your business of providing financial security to the American people—your clients and prospects. If we fail at that job, we fail you and we fail the American people. The stakes are not as high as protecting us from Al Qaeda, of course. But for your client and his ability to protect loved ones against the financial, emotional and often physical deterioration they will suffer following his death, the stakes are extremely high.
Protect and defend
For over 100 years, NAIFA’s most important responsibility has been eternal vigilance in the halls of Congress and state legislatures around the nation. The tax advantages our products enjoy exist because Congress and state legislatures have written laws to establish and protect them. And it is these tax advantages that give our clients and policyholders the incentive to provide for their families’ financial security. From the tax deferral on the inside buildup to tax-free death benefits to tax-free disability income payments to IRAs to 529 plans, American consumers are encouraged to provide financial protection through the use of the products we sell and service.
But, as you will read in these pages, the price of maintaining these tax advantages is high. NAIFA, in partnership with the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, the Association of Health Insurance Advisors, the American Council of Life Insurers, the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies and many insurance companies, spends millions of dollars each year to help guarantee our industry has a strong and combat-ready “defense department”—otherwise known as the Government Relations Department. This money comes from you, the members, through your dues and your contributions to IFAPAC, AALU’s Endorsed Candidate Program and individual contributions to elected officials and candidates.
It is expensive. But we can do no less. With your help and financial support, in the form of membership dues and IFAPAC contributions, we will continue to be eternally vigilant. It is the price of freedom and the price to protect our industry.
David Woods is CEO of NAIFA and president of the LIFE Foundation. Previously a MassMutual agent for 30 years, he has been an MDRT member since 1970. He was NALU president in 1986-87.