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Jon M. Green

Lessons unlearned in Afghanistan 

By Jon M. Green

It is perhaps providential when the simplest domestic task leads to reflecting on the state of our world. While preparing a box of books for the  [Jon M. Green] delivery truck from a local charity, I fell upon a book of poetry and prose. As I scanned the pages, I came upon a once remembered poem by Rudyard Kipling entitled, The Young British Soldier

As I read to the end, it brought to mind the intertwining of literature and history. The subject of the poem is the British soldier in Afghanistan, but the hidden message is a lesson we should all heed as it speaks to the bravery of those in combat, and the message our own government has failed to learn. From that poem, the last two stanzas

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, 
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier ~of~ the Queen!

If the battle plan has gone awry or the odds are wrongly weighted, the soldier is admonished to stand and be brave, exercise good judgment, and wait for support. The advice is as sound today as it was in the day of Rudyard Kipling. The next stanza is chilling in its gloomy assessment of one’s chances in the Afghan theater.

In the time of Rudyard Kipling, the efforts of the British to colonize and civilize the Afghan people met with disaster, both militarily and economically. British imperialism failed to take into account the history of these tribal combatants, their internal rivalries and jealousies, and their concerted ability to lay aside, for the moment, those internal conflicts, and turn their attention to the infidel invaders.

The Soviet Union did not heed this lesson in history as they exerted themselves in an effort to overtake and subjugate the Afghan base; they met with primeval resistance in the modern world. To our discredit, we helped the Afghanis. To be sure, we were at odds with the Soviet Union, as the Cold War commenced to undermine their economic foundations. We disillusioned ourselves into thinking our supplying weapons and money would make these primitive tribes our friends for life.

How times have changed. Now, the Soviet Union is history; the Russian people are our trading partners, but not necessarily our bosom friends. Although frequently at odds, we are no longer in a Cold War setting. On the other hand, the Afghanis, with whom we curried favor for so long, are our friends, so long as we continued to pay them to be.

In 2001, we entered Afghanistan in search of Al Qaeda. It was the right thing to do, and because of our military activities in that region of the world, Al Qaeda is on the run. They are still a factor in the world, although fractured and perhaps lacking in continuity (this remains to be seen).

Somewhere, we saw a not-so-subtle change in our mission. We saw a transition from dismantling Al-Qaeda and their sponsoring benefactors, the Taliban, to a futile effort to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan.

It reminds me of an old saying. It’s like teaching a pig to dance; it takes an enormous amount of effort, and all it does is annoy the pig. Well, it has taken an enormous amount of effort; it has cost billions of dollars, but even more tragically, has taken the lives of many of our bravest and finest, all in the name of a futile effort to teach the pig to dance.

Rudyard Kipling was a young writer and novelist, a poet and a genius. He was the youngest person ever awarded a Nobel Prize for literature. Even though Rudyard Kipling was a young man, he recognized and chronicled the futility of bringing the tribal Afghanis into the modern world. Perhaps our own supposedly more mature  leadership might spend less time in disjointed efforts to expand our influence, and a little more time reading poetry.

Jon M. Green
Westerville, Ohio 


Jon's biography

Jon is Ohio born and bred and a member of a multi-generational Republican family. He is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University) with majors in Economics and Biology. He has been an insurance agent and financial adviser for over 45 years, and is the recipient of the Chartered life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant Designations from The American College. Jon is also a Veteran having proudly served his country in the U.S. Army.

He has been involved in a number of civic activities during his career, including:

  • Charter president, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Jaycee and Rotarian
  • Former Republican Central Committee member
  • Hall of Fame of the Columbus Chapter, Society of Financial Service Professionals
  • Successfully recruited companies to provide more than 200 jobs in northeast Ohio, Carroll County, and recruited multiple medical professionals to under-served communities.

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Taking a timeout to review Obamacare 

By Jon M. Green

We have  few opportunities to get away and have time to read and reflect. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to rest and refresh in a log cabin in upper Wisconsin. We were blessed with no Internet, only limited mobile phone service, and we didn't turn on the television. Thanks to an advance in technology called a “thumb drive,” and planning ahead, the entire Supreme Court ruling, all 193 pages, traveled with me to the northern outback, on my laptop computer.

When the law was first in Congress, and had yet to come to a vote, I sensed an overwhelming bias against the legislation. The then-speaker of the House, didn't help matters with her comment, "in order to find out what's in the bill, we're going to have to pass it." The comment itself by the former speaker will go down in infamy as one of those idiotic pronouncements for which so many of our inept politicians are famous. Sadly, we find are finding none of our elected representatives read it before it became law.Most of the people to whom I spoke 

over the past couple years were dead set against the passage of Obama care, but there was an interesting phenomenon. Most of them didn't have a clue why they were against it. I don't find that surprising in light of the lack of interest in taking the time to read about the decisions being made in Washington that impact our lives every day. I suppose in some degree, the general population deserves what they get. That doesn't hold true for everyone, but with an abundance of lethargic and disinterested citizenry, it's going to continue to be the norm; and look what it brought upon us.

Make no mistake, my economic and political viewpoints are conservatively driven, but I am not a zealot. There is an abundant need for access to health care, for many currently uninsured. The insurance industry has the upper hand. If the potential insured has a health issue, the insurance carrier has the right deny coverage. With the passage of the Obama Affordable Care Act, the industry, in their estimation, has softened their stance. The health issue will seldom result in a blanket denial of coverage. Instead, the insurance carriers surcharge the application out of existence.

The same fate awaits in the insurance exchanges. I am more than willing to concede the necessity of heath care access. After all, I’ve been a part of the industry for four decades, and I’ve seen just about every permutation related to health care access. I am willing to listen to the insurance company position, to the potential insured position, to the government position, and then craft my own decisions based upon my understanding of the facts at hand.

Many of the discussions are alarmist (we’re insuring illegal aliens; we’re paying for unwed mothers; for abortions; we’re providing coverage for unmarried domestic partners, ad nauseam). The fact is these are specious arguments. The danger of this law goes far beyond these isolated examples. It establishes another dangerous precedent for government to force us into a socialist system. For every case we consider undeserving, there many meritorious citizens with a crying need for coverage, yet unresolved. Some of the arguments for and some against the Affordable Care Act make sense. My concern has been to listen to the varying positions, including the information unreported which I must find for myself, and then make relevant decisions based on fact, not on emotion.

Over the course of three months after passage of the Affordable Care Act, I read the final document, received multiple copies of the analysis by the mythical "Judge Kithil,” and found I couldn't follow the legislation based on the references in the analysis. In some respects, I found the analysis to be more draconian than what I was reading in the actual text. It took almost three months to read the document because of the inherent confusion of the wording. In order to follow the document, it was necessary to leaf back and forth through the pages, and sometimes go outside to another document. It is a classic example of bureaucratic speak, and a composite of all that's wrong with our elected representatives and their bureaucratic underlings.

Well, Obamacare passed, but it wasn't the first effort at passing health-care legislation. If I recall correctly in my adulthood, the first such effort was by Lyndon Johnson. It was called Medicare, and was introduced in 1964. I remember the dramatic changes occurring in medical care within a short time after its passage. For instance, a fracture suffered in a pickup football game resulted in my going to the local clinic where the general practitioner came into the room looked at my foot, palpated it with his hand, left the room and came back with the nurse and a bucket of warm water. The nurse carried rolls of gauze saturated with plaster. The doctor wrapped the foot and made a cast for the broken foot. I asked how I was to get back to school, and he said, "the same way you got here, boy.” That meant hopping on one foot back to campus. Nowadays, that would be fodder for litigation.

Today, the possible fracture would involve a trip, most likely to an urgent care, an x-ray or two, and likely a referral to an orthopedic surgeon. There would be another trip to a pharmacy, either in-house or a retail setting to collect a set of crutches, and maybe even a scheduled date for surgery. Why the ramp-up in services? We have Medicare as the standard to which all insurance companies must adhere, or face the prospect of the out-of-control tort system, or disenfranchisement from a reimbursement for services.

It has been interesting to note the volumes reaching my e-mail inbox each week related to healthcare reform. I think most presidents have tried some form of health care. Bill and Hillary Clinton tried but were sufficiently incompetent that it died on the vine. I’ve always wondered who fosters the opposition to health care access, but most likely it’s not access as much as having government paint their stripe on it, with their chronic bungling, inefficiency, and cost overruns.

In the short-term, Obama care has played into the hands of the private health insurance industry. For every action mandated by the Affordable Care Act, there is a compensating action on the part of the private insurance companies. One of the espoused benefits of the Affordable Care Act is access to healthcare for everyone. For those unable to obtain coverage or private carrier, they have the option of going to a state insurance exchange.

I've had multiple occasions (I don't call them opportunities) to refer people to the state insurance exchange. The coverage offered under such exchanges is limited in nature, and generally unaffordable. In fact, the cost of health insurance coverage through the exchanges in itself makes a mockery of the "Affordable Care Act." It is not affordable insurance, and therefore self-defeating.

Each week, I still receive exciting news of new sales contests promulgated by the insurance carriers, along with exhortations to sell more insurance, and to participate in the prizes being offered for sales excellence/volume. Make no mistake about it. In the short-term, the private insurance carriers will prevail. The marketers and the lawyers in these companies have been hard at it since passage of the act, not just to make health care available, but to counter any impacts of the Act.

Pre-existing conditions will not be excluded, but they will be priced accordingly. Individual applicants will not have to concern themselves with denial of coverage for pre-existing condition; they will have to concern themselves with the availability of healthcare they can afford. It is the nature of the private carrier. They are in business to make a profit, even if they profess to be a nonprofit organization. A certain amount of profit is required to add the surplus to keep them in business, and they're not going to let a minor inconvenience such as legislation put them out of business.

In the long-term, I think we will all see a single-payer system. If you like Medicare, you’re going to be thrilled with Obamacare, you're going to love the single-payer system, when it arrives, and it will. It may not be the federal government as the single-payer; it is not outside the realm of possibility that private carriers will bid for the opportunity to be the single-payer servicing organization, but the rules regulations and limitations will be federally imposed.

Make no mistake; healthcare is abundantly out-of-control, perhaps more so now due to the horrific left lean of the current Court. Moreover, a country where we managed to eradicate polio, advanced life expectancies, decrease infant mortality, and solve myriad medical problems, we must acknowledge an advanced healthcare delivery system. On the other hand, a mistaken diagnosis or treatment can result in horrific judgments against the practitioner, and largess in the hands of the lawyer. One of the principal downfalls of the system is a failure to acknowledge that sometimes there is no good explanation for a perfectly bad outcome.