Friday, March 19, 2010

Herb Denenberg, In Memoriam

Herb Denenberg, the public servant and Emmy-award-winning consumer advocate died yesterday at the age of 81, according to the Philadelphia Bulletin, for which he was a columnist.

According to the Bulletin, Denenberg, who had served as Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, was described by Ralph Nader as the most “consumer-oriented insurance commissioner in American history.”

It might, at first, seem odd that I, as a conservative, would memorialize someone praised by the liberal Nader. I recall Denenberg on Philadelphia news stations decades ago doing consumer protection stories, like the more famous journalist John Stossel. What I did not know until I recently discovered his column in the Bulletin was that he held strong free-market views. Denenberg consistently warned, in columns published as recently as a week ago, about the threat to the economy and liberty represented by United Sates President Barak Obama's socialist policies, as well as his softness on terrorism. Denenberg was especially opposed to Obama's proposal to federalize health insurance. Like Stossel, Denenberg understood that the free market, with only a minimum amount of government regulation, offered the best protection for consumers.

The following biography is based upon information from Denenberg's obituary published in today's Philadelphia Bulletin: Born in Nebraska, Denenberg earned a law degree from Creighton University and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He served in the Army in the Judge Advocate General Corps as a First Lieutenant and later as a Captain in the Reserves.

Denenberg taught at the University of Iowa, Temple University School of Law and Cabrini College, and was a professor at the Wharton School at Penn. Although Jewish, he was a strong supporter of Catholic Education.

In addition to serving as insurance commissioner, Denenberg also served Pennsylvania as its Public Utility Commissioner. He also was an advisor for various federal agencies and also for several other states. The insurance laws he authored established a number of consumer protections, some of which saved Pennsylvanians hundreds of millions of dollars.

Denenberg was columnist for 35 years, including for the Philadelphia Daly News, and an investigative and consumer television reporter for 25 years. His consumer guides for insurance and health care were popular. He won 40 Emmy Awards.

May Herb Denenberg's example remind us that our economic liberty comes from God, not from government, and that governments are instituted to protect our rights. With government protection of liberty, the free market -- not excessive government regulation -- can best safeguard consumers.

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