Travelers Takes Documentary About U.S. Debt On Tour To University Campuses

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Exactly four weeks before Americans choose their next president, The Travelers Cos. announced it has launched a national campaign to take its documentary about the national debt to university campuses across the U.S.

Travelers has said the company is only trying to raise awareness of a national public-policy issue, and it is not trying to influence American politics one month before Election Day.

Company spokesman Shane Boyd said in a written statement: “’Overdraft’ is nonpartisan in its nature, and the goal of the documentary is to elevate the discussion and raise awareness on the federal deficit as an important public policy topic confronting the country, and the academic community is a very natural venue for that discussion. At Travelers, we recruit and hire on college campuses, and therefore, this is also a good opportunity to engage with an important constituency.”

“Overdraft” features a series of interviews about the nation’s debt with public figures such as Bill Clinton; Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Indiana; Newark (N.J.) Mayor Cory Booker; Time magazine columnist Joe Klein; and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad.

The hour-long film will be shown at an invitation-only event Monday night at the University of Connecticut. In addition, screenings are scheduled for Northwestern University, the University of Kansas, American University, Columbia University, the University of Delaware, Stanford University and other colleges in a growing list of campuses. The tour will extend months beyond the presidential election into 2013.

Separately, the film was made available Aug. 25 to public television stations across the U.S., and it is distributed by WTVI-TV, public television in Charlotte, N.C. The entire movie is available on YouTube, where it had about 2,600 views Tuesday evening.

The film also includes business executives and people from various backgrounds in government and economics. The university tour started with a screening at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Travelers CEO Jay S. Fishman graduated from Wharton with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in accounting in 1974.

“We recognize that the stability and health of the U.S. economy is vital to the growth and success of all businesses, as well as to the preservation of the American Opportunity,” Fishman said in a prepared statement. “As one of the largest insurers of small- and medium-sized businesses, we feel an obligation to advocate for a thriving economic environment and to that end, to raise awareness of the significance and implications of the debt crisis.”

The New York-based property-casualty insurers, which employs about 7,000 people in Connecticut, has said it doesn’t advocate for either political party’s solution to the national debt.

“The goal of our university tour is to foster nonpartisan dialogue that raises awareness of one of the most pressing issues of our time,” said Joan Woodward, president of the Travelers Institute, the public policy arm of the insurance company, which paid to make the movie for an undisclosed amount. “Our goal is to facilitate conversation and stimulate public policy dialogue that will raise awareness of the nation’s looming fiscal crisis.”

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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13 thoughts on “Travelers Takes Documentary About U.S. Debt On Tour To University Campuses

  1. Bob Moran

    An extreemly important issue (obviously) and one that needs to be deeply explored together with all the vital economic issues that face us. Whether we like it or not,our financial assets are limited, but the issues that face us are not. We really need to get away from the contentious political dialogue and discuss openly in a non partisan intelligent manner that focuses on realistic solutions to our problems…..lets not fret about who gets the credit.

  2. Del D. Gomes

    Whenever someone says “it’s not about the money” you better believe it is all about the money. There is no coincidence with the timing of this campaign, just as there is no coincidence with which party is attempting to downsize the government during the “great recession” and furthering Republican influence. Where was this great concern previously??? Corporations own the political system and they will apply the excess money (profits and tax rebates they get from you) to buy the election results. After all, it has worked out for them quite well even after dropping any pretense of correctness. We will continue to suffer until this game runs its course and voters (along with the courts) recognize corporations are NOT people; they are merely run by greedy people with no conscience or moral compass. Laying people off is not the way to improve employment. However, it is a very effective means to lower wages and increase profits.

    1. DON886

      Del D

      The documentary is not about politics. It does not matter what party is in control, serious spending cuts will need to occur or else the US falls in the toilet.

      The ea that corporations own the political system is nuts. The biased media has way more influence.

      1. Catspaw

        “serious spending cuts will need to occur” . . . this is the policy from the GOP that put the “US (falls) in the toilet”?

        The Party of responsibility seems to have a very short memory and very limited sense of responsibility.

        Maybe their Erik Prince was right, just move to Abu Dhabi: “Erik Prince, whose company made millions on government contracts in Iraq, is said to “need a break from America.”
        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/world/18blackwater.html

    2. Kathy Charon

      Very well said Del. Travelers for one has been laying folks off with no mention of it in the newspapers for a few years now. They do this in stages so they don’t have to report it. They then send the business overseas. That just proves it is ALL about money.

  3. Gregory Oneglia

    Our company has over 800 employees, all of whom are covered by an old-fashioned defined benefit plan and excellent health insurance. We operate in the extremely competitive construction business. Our management has gone without raises since the “great recession” started. I resent the comments of Mr. Del Gomes. There are many private corporations that are run like ours. We care for our employees and their families. They have made us what we are.

    1. Catspaw

      At least be honest. If you’re happy with the GOP, God Bless.

      Many more are all too aware of how the GOP Insani-Tea has failed Americans across all levels of income and education saddling all of us with the useless Bush Wars’ four trillion in debt while claiming helplessness in the housing bubble implosion.

      In the end, resenting a comment isn’t an answer. Why not specifically note where The Travelers PR film roll out helps your employees?

      What did the Travelers film present in regard to the cause and remedy for the BushII Depression?

  4. Del D. Gomes

    If, as has been inferred, that corporations have not flooded Washington with lobbyists and influence peddling, then someone is either being disingenuous or excessively naïve. If, they are permitted to fully spend their influence into the political landscape without challenge or limitations, of any kind, then by default, we will end up with their agenda and not ours. And if one can point to a single company as a model to divert all attention from the unrestricted whores of Wall Street (and beyond) that contributed mightily to our economic downturns, then we are left with our heads in the sand (or elsewhere) and deserving of whatever outcome they may dictate. Democracy and pure capitalism cannot co-exist unattended; they are natural enemies by their own design.

  5. Catspaw

    “we feel an obligation to advocate for a thriving economic environment and to that end, to raise awareness of the significance and implications of the debt crisis.”

    How is it the 2007 implosion is being explained now? Did it take five years to get the PR finesse right?

    In the end there are no guilty parties, no wrong doing, it was all an ‘oops’ the average American is paying for, and continues to pay for, with their retirements, their childrens’ futures and their parents’ security.

    Well done Travelers! Only five years to start the dialogue. Just before the election. Just another form of transparency?

  6. Sara

    They should concentrate on insurance. If they have this much extra money they should reduce the rates. They are out of control.

  7. Catspaw

    The impartial reader may find the following useful and informative. One note; a three minute brief on seventeen different facets can whet the appetite but cannot hope to inform on anything but an outline. An excellent spring board, hardly a foundation for decision making?

    “the viewer is taken quickly through 17 distinct elements necessary to fully understanding why we are here and what we need to do. The crash, recession, Simpson/Bowles commission, and politics on both sides are discussed. Next come entitlement programs such as Social Security, Healthcare, and the biggest budget item of all, Defense. Also explored are State debt, Keynesian economics, and foreign debt holdings.”

    http://www.charlotteviewpoint.org/article/2835/Do-not-pass-go%3b-Do-not-collect-15-trillion-dollars

  8. Catspaw

    As the GOP begins their plastic surgery phase the considered reader may wish to review the Travelers piece as a succinct reminder.

    See the piece at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqW628w_z4w

    Simply watch from 3:40 to 4:04. In 24 seconds the GOP is revealed in its glory. These are the people who want to complete their dismantling of the United States Government.

    Take 24 seconds, see the ruin, make a decision. Pray for America. Or, more effectively, know before you go to the poll which end of the stick the GOP has you on.

    Hint: It’s closer to the fire than you may think.

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