Many people write or speak to tell us what we should think. Some want to be believed because they are experts, or think they are. Some want to be believed because they claim to speak for us. Some have had revelations. Others want us to trust them because they communicate through prominent media outlets. Many tell us what we should think. I write to encourage my readers to think for themselves. I write to ask you to inquire. Question me. Have fun.

Comment of the Day
The Editorial Board should have no opinion

Jul 11, 2020

The WSJ Editorial Board expressed its opinion about the case of Michael Flynn. It does not matter what they said; in my book, the Editorial Board should have no opinion on any topic. Editorial boards’ job is not to lecture, but to facilitate views from individuals who can present valid arguments. The Editorial Board's job at the WSJ is to guarantee to me, a subscriber, that the different opinions presented are fact-checked. I pay a subscription for the WSJ because I do not have the time nor the means to fact-check whatever is written and posted on the internet. I do not pay for the subscription to be brainwashed by whatever the self-anointed authority of the Editorial Board believes is right. I can make my judgment based on the facts and their interpretation by other individuals.

More parenting is needed
Aug 01, 2019
Peter Gray in Psychology Today advises for less parenting. The problem is exactly the opposite: There is not enough parenting. In the past, when most of our ancestors lived in self-supporting households, often a farm, out of necessity, children were an integral part of whatever adults needed to do during their daily life, and they learned that way. Now, we do not need to do as much at home. Work is outside the home, food is brought in, heat is turned on and off, and mysteriously magical, colorful screens are the center of most activities. If we leave children free to explore what they find the most attractive, they will play video games. There might be some educational value in it, but one needs to learn much more. Hence, we need more effort in parenting, with parents doing more in the home than is otherwise required, and spending more time with children outside in order to introduce them to the real world. This realization hit home after I witnessed the surprise of a 7-year old seeing apples on my apple tree.
Less fight more work
Jul 30, 2017

The fight over Obamacare repeal is over, at least for now. The GOP can start to work on a new proposal that each of us can look at it, and then compare how my particular health care solution would play in it, as compared to Obamacare. In a television interview, HHS Secretary Tom Price said that Obamacare “may be working for Washington, it may be working for insurance companies, but it’s not working for patients.” Maybe it is time to consider patients’ involvement in the preparation of an Obamacare alternative? It could be that Obamacare repeal failed just because it has been prepared by Washington with consultation from insurance companies. Let us start with addressing 19 health care issues that politicians avoid talking about.

How to pay for the wall?
Apr 04, 2017

If you want to build the wall, pay for it with your own money. How much of your own money are you willing to donate? Trump received 62,979,879 votes. If each of Trump’s supporters voluntarily donates at least $1,000, which corresponds to about $42 per month for the next two years, and if we encourage those who are more affluent to double their donations, then Trump can have on hand about $100 billion, which may suffice for a substantial piece of the wall. Hence, all of you who are talking loudly about spending my money on building this wall, stay away from my wallet, but open your own wallet and send money to the “Build the Wall Fund.” Put your money where your mouth is.

What is wrong with Russia?
Dec 22, 2015

It appears that Russian leaders cannot free themselves from the medieval concept of regional influence, where weaker neighbors were subdued into becoming serf states. Is anyone capable of explaining to them that in these times of a global economy, any influence comes from economic strength? Russia, thanks to its size, natural resources and well-educated labor force, has everything that it takes to maintain a dominant position in the region, just by maintaining free trade with all its neighbors. It can do so without military interventions in Georgia and in Ukraine. Russia has everything that it takes to be a respected wealthier neighbor, to whom everyone in the region would turn for help when needed. Instead, it is a bully and a hooligan. It would take so little to change that. But it is so hard for Russia to do it. 

Closed mind for closed borders
Nov 19, 2015

Known to some as a libertarian, Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. speaks against open borders. His argument is that it is an infraction against private property. He misses the point that most people migrate just because Mr. Rockwell’s neighbors want them on their private property – for picking apples, washing the dishes or writing a computer code. Then, Mr. Rockwell wrongly laments that those foreigners invited by his neighbors violate his private property rights by loitering in the public spaces that he frequents. He wants the government to deny the rights of his neighbors to do on their private property whatever they wish, so he will not need to face immigrants in the public spaces. Mr. Rockwell left the train called “liberty” at the station called “xenophobia.”    

They do not know…
Sep 14, 2015

Mr. Trump says: “A lot of what I’m doing is by instinct.” I prefer that our President would make decisions based on systematic due diligence. The instinct that guides Mr. Trump in his professional life arrives from his vast experience, starting when he was growing up under the mentoring of his successful father, followed by a solid education and years of practice. Mr. Trump's confidence is misguiding, as it gives his supporters the illusion that someone who mastered real estate dealing can be equally skillful as President. It is similar to the illusion surrounding Dr. Carson, that he can be as good a President as he is a brain surgeon. If both gentlemen were humbler, they would realize that they qualify to be President equally as much as Mr. Trump qualifies to conduct brain surgeries and Dr. Carson to run Mr. Trump’s real estate empire. The problem is not that they do not know many things they should; the problem is that they do not realize that.

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The promise of pears on a willow tree

One week after posting my open letter asking for a concept in the health care reform bill, I received an email from President Barack Obama.

Several hours before my letter showed up on Huffington Post, I forwarded it to the White House, using the “contact us” form on their website. I thought that it would be nice to let them know about the letter before making it public. In the process, I revealed to them my personal email address. At this email address, I received a generic mailing from President Barack Obama a week later, with the subject line “What health insurance reform means for you”. Adding my email address to the White House spam list appears to be the only practical outcome of my open letter to President Obama.

At almost exactly the same time, I received an email from my acquaintance commenting on my text. Actually, he forwarded to me the same spam email from the White House with a comment, “Seems ok to me, what’s all the fuss about? It’s about time we check and take away control from the free market thugs who could care less unless you give them money.”

This email prompted me to look again at the message from Mr. President. Let us cite it here:

  • No discrimination for pre-existing conditions
  • No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays
  • No cost-sharing for preventive care
  • No dropping of coverage if you become seriously ill
  • No gender discrimination
  • No annual or lifetime caps on coverage
  • Extended coverage for young adults
  • Guaranteed insurance renewal so long as premiums are paid

On a surface, it looks good. Actually, it sounds like a promise of Christmas every day of the year: too good to be true.

A pledge of no discrimination for pre-existing conditions prompted me to look into encyclopedias for definitions of insurance. It is a way of managing risk of unexpected losses. Therefore, by definition we cannot buy insurance to cover the repair of a roof after that roof began leaking. Trying to do this would be a fraud. One might expect that a Harvard Law School graduate knows it. Nevertheless, this is what Mr. President is promising us in his email.

Health care as an entitlement

In the first approach, health care for people with high treatment costs is secured by the government, and paid for by taxes. We have it partially now, as Medicaid pays for medical treatment for poor people. For others, it is a so-called “community benefit”, which mostly means hospital care for people who do not pay. We all pay for this later, in increased rates for people covered by Medicare or private insurance. If we select to continue this path, we could formalize what we now pay anyway, and agree that everyone should receive medical care in instances where the cost of treatment goes above some predefined levels that we would accept as being above affordability for most Americans.

When agreeing on this, we could notice as well that many serious health conditions could be dealt with better in their early stages. Hence, we would conclude that good everyday basic health care could save us a lot of money otherwise spent on emergencies and advanced stage illnesses. The final conclusion in this path of reasoning would be that health care should be a basic right of every American the same way as education is. This way we would end up with a health care system similar to the one in France now, where everyone receives health care when needed without worrying about any payments, as the government there pays doctors and hospitals as our government supports teachers and public schools.

Health care as a product

In the second approach, we would assume that health care is a service, similar to our home or auto repairs. This is how our current private health insurance works now. Unfortunately, it works imperfectly.

If we look closely into our current health insurance plans, at their core they are not insurance at all. Mostly, they are health maintenance plans: something that we could compare to an extended car warranty. They cover unexpected high-cost medical treatments, but only for the duration of the contract, usually one year. Therefore, if a bus would strike someone insured, all medical expenses, within agreed limits, would be covered. If someone would get a stroke, it would be covered as well. However, if such an event would result with a need for ongoing health care, this would be excluded form the renewed policy as a pre-existing condition, or would be covered by the policy collecting in advance an estimated cost of such medical care. People working for the government or large corporation would be more fortunate, as by a virtue of being a part of a large group, they would not feel the increased cost due to their preexisting conditions, as it would be dissolved in the large pool. Nevertheless, their rates gradually would go up as well, and eventually their employers would ask for larger co-payments. Small businesses would have premiums raised at the next policy renewal.

Sticking to the concept of health care as a commercial service, we can overcome the problem of preexisting conditions only by implementing a new product: a lifelong insurance against instances of catastrophic health deterioration. With the risk, that an insurance company might go bankrupt, people would buy this long term insurance only if it would be guaranteed by the government, in a similar manner as our currently government-guaranteed bank deposits.

Insurance companies issuing health risk insurance would notice that they would spend less for the treatment of the seriously ill if people would have better preventive and basic medical care. Consequently, they would be financially interested in promoting health maintenance plans, similar to those called now “health insurance.” Furthermore, recognizing the importance of health care, the government would continue its policy of tax deductions for buying health insurance, and could structure its policy in such a way that not buying health risk insurance would mean higher taxes. This way, without a mandate, we could have the prevailing majority covered.

What is better?

I have no intention to hide that, based on my understanding of how things work, I am convinced that we could have better health care at lower cost when treating it as a product, not as an entitlement. However, I have to acknowledge that systems built on the opposite concept can provide satisfactory results. For example, the World Health Organization named the French health care system as the best in the world.

My point is that these two approaches are not compatible. It is as with driving on the left or on the right side of the road. I have heard opinions why one is better than the other However, we cannot have both at the same time. President Obama claims that those Americans that are satisfied with their current health insurance would be able to keep it when others would go with the public plan. This promise boils down to the pledge that with his health reform proposal, some vehicles would be allowed to follow the right side road rule and some the left side rule.

We may debate endlessly which option is better. However, trying to combine them is the worst of the worst. It creates the monstrous apparatus with the wealth of the private industry and the political strength of the government. This hand in hand work of the government with the health care industry is the main reason for our current health care crisis at the first place. However, naming the problem is not an objective for President Obama.

It is striking that in the email from President Obama quoted above, we do not see a former university professor who could outline to us the essence of the problem, present the viable options, and tell us which one is better. Instead, we have a voice of an every day politician promising as usual what people want to hear, or – as a Polish saying goes – pears on a willow tree.

A version of this text was published by Huffington Post

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About me

I was born in 1951 in Gdansk, Poland.
Since my high school years, I have interest in politics and love for writing. During my college years, I started writing to student papers and soon became freelance author to major Polish political magazines.

In 1980 I wrote a book “Czy w Polsce może być lepiej?” (“Could it be better in Poland?” – this book is available only in Polish) analyzing major problems in Poland at the time and outlining possible solutions.

I was among those Polish political writers who by their writings contributed to the peaceful system transformation that finally took place in 1989. Since 1985, I live in the Chicago area. I went through the hard times typical of many immigrants. Working in service business, I have seen the best and the worst places, I met the poorest and the richest. I have seen and experienced America not known to most of politicians, business people, and other political writers. For eleven years, I ran my own company. Presently, I am an independent consultant.

My political writing comes out of necessity. I write when I see that the prevailing voices on the political arena are misleading or erroneous. Abstract mathematics and control theory (of complex technological processes) strongly influenced my understanding of social phenomena. In the past, my opponents rebuked my mathematical mind as cold, soulless, and inhuman. On a few occasions I was prized for my engineer’s precision and logic.

I have a master’s degree in electronic engineering with a specialization in mathematical machines from Politechnika Gdańska (Technical University of Gdansk).

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