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Forward to the Past!

The Obamacare nightmare conjures up bleak memories of life in Poland for the author.

The Obamacare nightmare has brought back all kinds of memories for me. Years ago I lived in Poland. I went there because the Cold War was on, and I was fascinated by anything remotely related to Russia and the USSR. At least Poland was next door, a “satellite” socialist republic.

I expected a bleak and grey daily life. I was not disappointed.

One of the biggest stunners for me was the lack of any kind of incentive to work or produce anything of real value. Simply going shopping was torment. I called it foraging, since I never knew what was going to be available on any given day.

Upon entering a store—any store—I would be confronted with a huge line of people waiting to see what products were available that day. Nothing was out for customers to examine freely—everything was behind a counter. 

Grumpy sales clerks trudged along slowly. Often store employees would be huddled together, drinking tea and gossiping. A customer was a huge annoyance to them. It could be a long wait before anyone bothered to ask me what I wanted to see.

What kind of business model is this? What kind of enterprise abuses its customers on a daily basis?

When everything is owned and run by the central government, it doesn’t matter if you’re nice to the customer or not. There is no bonus for making a sale or for creating goodwill.

Conditions were no better in medicine. Because medical care was “free,” doctor’s offices were packed. People went to the doctor for the slightest reason—mainly to get a written excuse from work. A doctor friend calculated he only spent 3-5 minutes with each patient, mostly writing excuses.

The “successful” (translation: “rich”) doctors had a private practice on the side, a kind of black market practice where patients paid under the table with dollars and brought special “gifts” that were hard to get in that centrally planned economy.

Anyone who says that communism or socialism is a good economic idea has probably not lived under it. A centrally controlled economy creates scarcity, a squandering of resources, and pathetic shopping and service. There is always an elite group of government bureaucrats who decide what will be available.

Whether it’s shopping, medical care or opportunity doesn’t matter. You can only get what is available. And guess what? It won’t really be “free,” either. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve July 10, 2012 at 05:22 PM
It was implied in the question. It wasn't intended as a conversation starter. If SBSWZ had wanted to start a dialog, he/she probably would have addressed the points Virginia brought up in her original post.
B.C. July 11, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I didn't perceive any implication to the question SBSWZ posed to Virginia. The question follows the same logic as the one Virginia posed to the blogger: "Why would anybody want to visit Poland under communism?" The question to Virginia, a British ex-pat, was why she was in America when it has such bad healthcare. I often wonder why people criticize America, but are willing to risk a lot to get to America--legally or illegally--to find a better life. You criticize the logic of others, yet commit several logical fallacies yourself. Perhaps you need to retake Introduction to Logic in college.
B.C. July 11, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Access to healthcare insurance is not the same as access to healthcare. Forcing people to purchase healthcare insurance doesn't guarantee good healthcare. While I am sorry that you had to undergo cancer at a young age (I hope you are well now), you were able to get the necessary treatment when you needed it. That can't be said for countries with socialized medicine.
joan elizabethcharles September 04, 2012 at 01:50 PM
SBSWZ well said, some people should read more before being so criticle and not understanding cheers joan
Amanda Frye September 04, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I agree that insurance and access are two different issues. Something needs to change in the system and at least Obama made an attempt to change. There are many problems. As a registered dietitian I see little emphasis placed on preventive care such as diet, maintaining a normal weight, food and nutrition education by credible educators such as RD's etc. Many healthcare issues can be directly tied to lack of preventive care. However, as a person who was healthy but still had cancer at 26 I can tell you there are some things that just happen. Yes, I am well, but cancer at a young age takes a toll especially economically. There is nothing like being discriminated against because you are or have been sick. Please join in recognizing September as Thryoid Cancer Awareness month.

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