‘Business ombudsman’ to be named in Poland

The official will be appointed by the country’s prime minister within six months under new regulations collectively known as a “constitution for business,” the businessinsider.com.pl website has reported.

It quoted a government official as saying that the business ombudsman’s job would be to help protect the rights of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The appointment of the new official will “guarantee the implementation of the principles of the constitution for business,” Mariusz Haładyj, a deputy minister for entrepreneurship and technology, has said, as quoted by the website.

The country’s lawmakers in January passed a package of regulations to help businesses by cutting red tape and making life easier for entrepreneurs.

The new regulations, drafted by the country’s conservative government and collectively referred to as a “constitution for business,” were later voted through by the upper house of the legislature and signed into law by President Andrzej Duda to take effect on April 30.

Whatever is not forbidden is permitted

The “constitution for business” aims to simplify procedures for people setting up and running their own businesses, according to government officials.

The new rules include a presumption of entrepreneurial honesty and a principle of friendly interpretation of regulations under which any doubts will be resolved in favour of the entrepreneur, officials have told Polish Radio’s IAR news agency, adding that a general rule in business will be that “everything which is not forbidden is allowed.”

The package is designed to allow small entrepreneurs to run a business without the need to register it if their monthly income is less than half the national minimum wage. This measure could benefit about 75,000 people, including those who provide services such as private tutoring, according to officials.

The aim is to reduce the unregistered, tax-evading segment of the economy where people receive undeclared cash payments, officials have previously said.

Start-up package

Budding businessmen will be given special start-up incentives by being exempted from paying social security contributions for the first six months. Later, for two years, they will be able to take advantage of more preferential treatment as part of the so-called “small social insurance” programme. Some 200,000 businesspeople will be able to benefit from this new measure every year, according to officials.

The government outlined plans for its “constitution for business” at a conference in the southeastern city of Rzeszów in November 2016.

In late October last year, Mateusz Morawiecki, the finance minister at the time and the main architect of the government’s “constitution for business,” said the programme would simplify the tax system to the tune of PLN 3.8 billion (EUR 900 million) in savings for businesses over 10 years, according to a report.

Morawiecki was in December appointed Poland’s prime minister.



Battle over healthcare moves to the frontburner today

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The debate over healthcare is ramping up today.

A right-wing policy group is out with new research, claiming the Canada Health Act is broken and we need to fix it. The report comes the same day advocates of the public system plan to target private healthcare providers accused of extra billing.

Members of the BC Health Coalition plan on delivering a symbolic invoice to the False Creek Surgical Centre in Vancouver and the Okanagan Surgical Health Centre in Kelowna this morning.

The $15.9 million being “invoiced” is the same amount the federal government recently clawed back from private clinics for charging patients for procedures that were actually covered by the public system.

“The public shouldn’t have to foot the bill for unlawful fees,” says the group on its website.

Meanwhile, a new report from the Fraser Institute, a right-wing policy group known for its research that often looks at the public system as failing us, says we need more flexibility in the healthcare system.

Researchers claim the rules around the Canada Health Act are too vague and provinces should be allowed to make decisions that could address long wait times without fear the feds will pull funding.

“…[decentralize] decision making by encouraging provinces to be less reliant on federal transfer payments, and allow greater policy flexibility for provincial governments, which are directly accountable to patients and payers,” the report argues. “Doing so would bring greater accountability to the health-care system and free the provinces to innovate and experiment with policies commonly found in other countries with more successful universal health-care systems. The likely result would be improved timely access to quality care regardless of a patients’ ability to pay.”



The Southern Poverty Law Center: From Klan Hunters to Multimillion-dollar Smear Machine

By bizarrely going after Sam Harris, Majid Nawaaz, and others, the once venerable organization has abandoned its core mission, focusing instead on dirty partisan politics

Shortly after the election of Donald Trump in November of 2016, a lot of people I knew wrote biggish checks to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They weren’t alone: According to tax filings, the group took in $136 million last year alone, bringing its total assets to a whopping half-a-billion dollars.

This surge in the organization’s popularity makes sense: The SPLC, after all, is the group that had once, nearly four decades ago, protected Vietnamese shrimpers from the Klan in Galveston Bay, sued several white supremacist groups out of existence, and delivered justice to the family Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian student bludgeoned to death by members of a Neo-Nazi group in Portland, Oregon. You’d think that an organization with such a gleaming record would be richly deserving of support, particularly as far-right thugs are once again openly on the march.

Then again, you could ask Sam Harris.

In late March, the SPLC included a piece about the best-selling author in its daily Hatewatch Headlines, a compilation of media reports on bigots, thugs, and other assorted creeps. Why was the neuroscientist and prominent atheist thrown in together with Mark Anthony Conditt, the Austin bomber who had murdered two black men, and Nazi war criminal Jakiw Palij? Because Harris defended Charles Murray, a political scientist best-known for arguing that genetic differences may account for varying levels of intelligence between races. The assertion drove many in academia and journalism to label Murray a racist; he was famously shouted out of an appearance at Middlebury College last March, and was labeled a “White Nationalist” and an “extremist” by the SPLC. But when the prominent Harvard geneticist David Reich echoed Murray’s ideas in a New York Times op-ed last month—arguing that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races’”—Harris took several of Murray’s critics to task on Twitter, including Vox’s Ezra Klein. Klein responded in his typically obfuscating fashion, doing little to discuss the ideas at hand and a lot to strangle them with potent ideological terms. White men discussing the possibility of genetic differences between blacks and whites wasn’t science, Klein thundered—it was racism pure and simple, facts and findings be damned. The SPLC was quick to mirror this sentiment, placing Harris on its HateWatch list.

This was far from the first time that the SPLC applied the blunt force of its historic reputation to label political opponents as racists or extremists. Harris’s co-author, Majid Nawaaz, experienced the organization’s wrath as well. A former radical Islamist who spent four years in an Egyptian prison, Nawaaz abandoned his zealotry and committed his life to promoting a pluralistic and non-violent version of Islam, a mission that led him to serve as an advisor to three British Prime Ministers. In the fall of 2016, however, Nawaaz was placed on the SPLC’s list of “anti-Muslim extremists,” widely disseminated with the header “a journalist’s manual.” His sins, according to the list, included sharing a cartoon of Jesus and Muhammad on Twitter and visiting a London strip club. You hardly have to be a scholar to realize that neither is particularly convincing evidence that Nawaaz, himself a practicing Muslim, is some sort of bigot. Joining him on the list was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a victim of female genital mutilation in her native Somalia and an outspoken campaigner against the practice, as well as others, like child marriage and honor killings, common throughout the Islamic world.

Rightly enraged, Nawaaz threatened to sue, and the SPLC quietly removed the list. When questioned about the removal by the National Review last week, the SPLC refused to comment.

Examples of this sort of lunacy abound. The SPLC, for example, still maintains a watch list of groups and individuals promoting “male supremacy,” an ideology that “misrepresents all women as genetically inferior, manipulative and stupid.” Among its preachers, according to the SPLC, is Christina Hoff Sommers, an American philosopher and writer who has criticized the radical feminist position that saw all women as perpetual victims and called instead for an “equity feminism,” a classical liberal position that focuses on equal treatment of men and women rather than on identity politics.

These examples are, of course, grotesque, and it’s easy to want to dismiss them as yet more rotten examples of our ever more crass civic culture. It’s a privilege we can’t afford: When a venerated organization whose mission statement still speaks of “seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society” spends so many of its considerable resources besmirching utterly legitimate activists and advocates—many of whom, like Nawaaz, working to reform oppressive and violent structures—we would do well to stop and recognize the pernicious patterns at play here. The SPLC applies the powerful language of civil rights to mark those with whom it disagrees as bigots or racists or white supremacists, inviting likeminded journalists to use the organization’s sterling reputation as an unimpeachably credentialed reason to push political opponents outside the bounds of acceptable debate. Facing Hoff Sommers’s claim that so many alleged feminists these days spend most of their energy attacking men rather than striving for equality is hard; labeling her an extremist who should therefore not be taken seriously by serious people is much easier. The SPLC has half a billion dollars and seemingly endless appetite for such character assassination campaigns, which should trouble anyone committed to unfettered inquiry, intellectual exchange, and the other old-fashioned values for which journalism, academia, and other high-minded pursuits once stood.

But the prognosis isn’t all bleak. While the SPLC does its best to impose its ideology by encouraging reporters within its echo chamber to adopt its absurd definitions, free-thinkers like Sam Harris these days can simply launch their own podcast, raise a fortune from committed listeners, and reach tens of millions of people, many more than care or even know about Ezra Klein and Vox. Let the SPLC continue to smear and squirrel away its millions in off-shore accounts: Common sense these days is just a download away.