Freedom – A Cause Worth Fighting For
Since I wrote my column last month, the daily news has been dominated by the war in Ukraine between the Russian invaders and the Ukrainian people. Clearly Russian Premier Vladimir Putin grossly underestimated the resolve and courage of the Ukrainian people and their President as well as the commitment of the United States and the NATO allies.
Vladimir Putin must have been taking too seriously the right wing propaganda in the United States that has been constantly saying that President Biden was a senile old man who would just allow Russia to get away with invading Ukraine after the United States left Afghanistan. Again, this was a gross underestimation of our President who has taken the lead in committing to a strong NATO.
Prior to the break up of the old Soviet Union, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. Before the Soviet Union was created, Ukraine had been part of greater Russia since the Czars conquered that territory a few centuries ago. From the time the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, the Ukrainian government has had mostly a Russian puppet government.
That ended in 2014 when the election of another puppet government was thrown out and in a new election, the Ukrainian people elected an independent government. This did not sit well with Vladimir Putin and his forces quickly annexed the Crimean peninsula as well as some eastern territories with Russian speaking majorities. At the time, the NATO allies and the United States did nothing to stop the Russian expansion in Ukraine other than impose economic sanctions on Russia.
Those economic sanctions have since severely crippled the Russian economy. At the same time, the Ukrainian government began making overtures in becoming part of the European Union and Ukraine was becoming more prosperous. In short, the Ukrainian people had gotten a taste of a democratic government and a free market society and was becoming more like western Europe.
The presence of NATO has been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin ever since he became Premier of Russia more than twenty years ago. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in 1949 by the nations of western Europe, the United States and Canada as a means of countering expansion in Europe by the Soviet Union. Putin has seen NATO as a threat to Russia.
But what Vladimir Putin has accomplished by his invasion of Ukraine has to strengthen the NATO alliance and perhaps drive Ukraine toward joining the NATO alliance. Perhaps Vladimir Putin believed that NATO was becoming weaker when Donald Trump was President and suggested withdrawing from NATO since the Soviet threat no longer existed in Europe.
But the events of the past month have proven that an expansionist Russia is still a menace to European stability and peace. Not only has Putin’s actions strengthened the NATO alliance, but it has isolated Russia from the global economy. Russian oligarchs who have helped place and keep Putin in power have had their foreign assets frozen and some of their assets, such as luxury yachts, seized.
There are no airlines flying into and no Russian airlines are allowed to land in many other nations. The Russian stock market has crashed and the Russian ruble has dropped to the point where one ruble is worth less than one United States penny. Many affluent Russians have become stranded in foreign countries since their bank cards no longer work so they cannot access any cash and they cannot fly back to Russia.
The Ukrainian fighters have put up a strong resistance to the Russian invaders. They have inflicted a lot of casualties among the Russian invading force. Now Russia is resorting to bombing civilian targets which is a war crime according to the Geneva Convention. This is an act of desperation on the part of Russia and it only hardens the resistance and further alienates Russia from the rest of the civilized world.
There is no way that this could end well for Russia. Few dictators die of natural causes in old age. Most dictators are either overthrown, executed or assassinated. Russia has a long history of political violence going back centuries to the age of the Czars. The old Soviet Union was created a century ago after a bloody four year civil war between the Communists and their opponents. How this will end is anyone’s guess. No one wants this to become World War Three. But as long as Vladimir Putin is Premier of Russia, the cold war is back on.
Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.