Albert Einstein, who is considered by most to have been pretty good at problem-solving, said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
And yet when it comes to solving the three hardest problems inherited by the Obama Administration, that is precisely the approach the President has taken and why none of these three problems is likely to be solved: the economy, health care insurance, and the war in Afghanistan.
The Financial Meltdown
To solve the financial meltdown, Obama chose to put in charge those who were largely responsible for creating the problem in the first place.
Instead of breaking up private banking institutions that were “too big to fail” and turning them into smaller, nonprofit corporations dedicated to doing good for society rather than making enormous profits for the already well-off, he bailed them out with borrowed money that needs to be paid back by U.S. taxpayers.
Instead of saving Main Street, he saved Wall Street. He acted like Robin Hood in reverse: taking taxes, jobs and homes from the poor and the middle class to save the wealthy. If he’s trying to prove that he’s no socialist, he’s doing an excellent job of it, although the far-right is too blinded by their ideology to see it.
Health Care Insurance
To solve the health care insurance problem, which is caused by the greedy, profit-making health care insurance and pharmaceutical companies and their overpaid executives, it appears that Obama will end up signing a law that forces most people to purchase expensive private health care insurance, rather than legislation which provides a far less expensive, far less bureaucratic, single-payer, Medicare-for-All, nonprofit, public option.
Americans don’t seem to realize that we don’t have a health care problem in this country, we have a health care insurance problem. We don’t want or need socialized medicine. What we want and need is nonprofit, reasonably priced socially responsible health care insurance.
Many Americans are so against tax increases they don’t realize that it would be less expensive for them to pay a bit more in taxes to obtain greatly improved health care coverage than it would be to pay private insurance companies for the same coverage.
They also don’t realize that private insurance companies paying for each medical service is far more expensive and bureaucratic than a single-payer system in which hospitals are paid their operational costs without having to account for the expense of each individual service to patients.
The War in Afghanistan
To solve the problem of the war in Afghanistan, Obama is in real danger of using the same thinking that led to our involvement in the first place: that you get rid of the threat of terrorism in that country by invading and occupying it while killing Afghans. That is a formula for increasing Afghan-based terrorism, not eliminating it.
I would personally love to see Afghanistan become a functioning democracy with equal rights for everyone. Let’s help them as much as we can in that direction without literally killing them and us in the process. Let’s stop trying to force other countries and cultures to adopt our values and our way of life. Instead, let’s spend our lives and money trying to make our own country live up to its own democratic, egalitarian values.
I did all I could to help elect Barak Obama as our President. I was full of hope that real change would result from his election, but I am less and less optimistic that such change will come about. President Obama is a very intelligent man, but, it appears so far, he is not nearly as wise as Albert Einstein.
Fred Flaxman is the author of Sixty Slices of Life … on Wry: The Private Life of a Public Broadcaster, a tongue-in-cheek memoir. He lives in North Carolina.