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BANK FIASCO WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED WITH PRIVATE INSURANCE OF ACCOUNTS

Sen. Metzenbaum's call for federal regulation of insurance firms in the Dec. 11 News should be of concern to taxpayers. He states "that taxpayers will likely pay hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out savings and loans that failed during the 1980s due mainly to shaky lending and investment policies." He fears the insurance industry is as distressed as the S&Ls.

Rather than targeting the insurance industry for federal regulation, he should be reminded that had the insurance companies of America been involved in insuring the savings accounts of our citizen taxpayers these past 50 or so years we would not be faced with this crisis today.

Visualize each and every S&L, savings and commercial bank having to satisfy the demanding requirements of a reputable insurer engaged in this enterprise for profit. The stringent reserve requirements the insurance companies demand would have avoided this entire fiasco. In other words, prove that you are financially stable or no insurance. No insurance and Washington closes your doors.

The senator targets insurance companies as the new culprits. While a very few insurance companies (mostly the smaller ones, those not admitted to New York) have experienced financial problems, the overwhelming majority -- 99-plus percent -- are very healthy. Creating a Washington bureaucracy to solve the problem is not the answer. Individual states should maintain that responsibility, albeit with tougher standards in some areas.

The insurance companies are not our next major problem. They should have been the solution.

WAYNE S. LANDESMAN
The New England in Western New York
Buffalo

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