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.

PREVIOUS COMMENTS
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.
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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.”    

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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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Even the Nobel Prize cannot change the thinking of American lawmakers about immigration

The immigration policy in the United States originates from the intuitively reasonable assumption that we cannot let everyone in as they please. On TV, we can see the chaos at the border despite the restrictive immigration laws. Without them, it would be much worse, commentators imply. At least that storyline dominates in the mainstream media. Scientists have different opinions, but their voices are on the fringes because they do not fit the dominating political narrative.

Natural experiments

Engineers have an easier life. When they disagree about which machine works better, they can endlessly produce various versions and test them in a controlled environment. Then, it is obvious what works, what does not. As a result, our cars, washing machines, or refrigerators work much better than American immigration policy.

Unfortunately, we cannot have these kinds of experiments on the live body of our economy. At least that is what politicians and media pundits tell us, but – hold on – The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards Nobel Prizes in economic sciences disagrees. In 2021, it gave the Nobel Prize for research into “natural experiments,” understood as random events that somehow deviate from the norm. The novelty is that analysis of these occurrences can substitute for tests that engineers run in a fully controlled environment.

In 2021, professor David Card from the University of California was the primary recipient of the Nobel Prize in economic sciences. He got 50% of the prize. The remainder was split between professor Joshua D. Angrist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and professor Guido W. Imbens from Stanford University.

Justifying its decision, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences lists Card’s study about the Mariel boatlift.

The Mariel boatlift

At the beginning of 1980, Cuba was experiencing economic problems. Many Cubans tried to escape. Political turmoil erupted, and in an unexpected move, Fidel Castro declared that everyone who wanted to leave Cuba could do so if someone picked them up in a boat at the port of Mariel. The Cuban community in Miami mobilized and brought 125,000 Cubans to Miami within six months. There was no regular immigration screening. Whoever got on the boat in Cuba landed in Florida. In this case, the intricate process of admitting immigrants ceased to function. Some of the political prisoners arrived from Cuba, but Castro also added a few thousand common criminals and patients of mental hospitals, and – some suspected – spies as well. It took years for immigration officers to figure out who was who and deport at least some criminals. It was that natural experiment that The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences recognized as a novel venue in economic sciences.

About half of Mariel’s arrivals settled in Miami. Suddenly the Miami labor force increased by 7%, and the community of Cuban immigrants there became 20% larger. It was a major disruption of life in Miami. If politicians and pundits dominating our political conversation were right, the sky should have fallen. Nothing like that happened. Miami absorbed the unexpected migrants almost flawlessly. The most deficient was the cooperation between local and federal agencies. As it was an election year, the Jimmy Carter administration, already weakened by the Iran hostage crisis, was reluctant to make any bold decisions.

The crowning argument against increased immigration is that immigrants take jobs from Americans. It is an argument based on speculations, claiming to be scientific.

Card analyzed what happened to the labor market in Miami when suddenly massive, unfettered migration occurred in 1980. The city used this influx of immigrants to invigorate the business activity. More importantly, even Americans with few skills did not suffer from increased unemployment or lower wages. Immigrants mostly took jobs where English was not required, but with the increased business volume, new opportunities arose for natives, where knowing English was critical. Higher unemployment was observed only temporarily among those previous Cuban immigrants who had not learned English.

Other natural experiments in immigration

The Mariel boatlift was in 1980. Card published his analysis 10 years later and got the Nobel Prize for his work in 2021.

In 2016 professor Joel S. Fetzer published a book, “Open Borders and International Migration Policy: The Effects of Unrestricted Immigration in the United States, France, and Ireland.” In his study, Fetzer started with the aforementioned earlier analysis by Card but added two more cases and expanded his research. 

A similar case to that in Miami happened in Marseille, France, in 1962. By the middle of the 19th century, France had conquered Algeria. In 1954, Algerians started their fight for independence, which turned into years of a dirty war that ended in the summer of 1962. The French evacuation from Algeria was an even bigger mess than the recent U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan. About one million Europeans in Algeria and about a quarter of a million Algerians in the French administration and military there feared for their lives. In 1962, they arrived in France. No one in France had made any preparation for their arrival. Many of them settled in Marseille. Within a matter of months, the population of the Marseille region increased by 11%.

The second case added by Fetzer was Dublin, Ireland, in 2004-2006, when guest workers from the new European Union member states could arrive without restrictions. I write about that instance in my article “Where do open borders work?”

Using the same method as Card in the case of Miami, Fetzer analyzed the impact of uncontrolled immigration on the labor market in Marseille and Dublin. But he checked as well for all three cities how the unexpected migration affected public finances, the housing market, schools, crime, ethnic voting, and racial violence.

The sky did not fall

There were politically motivated hostilities against the unexpected waves of new immigrants in Miami, Marseille, and Dublin. In the case of the first two cities, migrants were force majeure; the basic human compassion and the determination of authorities to help the refugees were the calming factors. In the case of Dublin, Ireland’s government firmly stood behind its bet that new immigrants would spur economic growth.

Similarly, like Miami, Marseille absorbed new migrants. Politicians from labor unions were complaining, but there was no noticeable increase in unemployment among natives, compared to similar cites in France: Lille, Nantes, and Lyon, which did not receive a significant number of refugees from Algeria. Interestingly, the wages in Marseille increased slightly more than in the comparable cities.

In Dublin, and Ireland as a whole, immigrants arrived en masse, not due to some unexpected event, but because the government opened that possibility. When American politicians talk about increasing immigration, they plan how many immigrants with particular skills our economy might need years ahead. I write about it in my article “Migration manipulation.” The Irish were more humble. They invited people from the new European Union countries to seek jobs in Ireland. They did not know how many of them would come. Between 2004 and 2006, the population of Ireland increased by about 5%. In the beginning, seeing immigrants coming by the thousands, some politicians raised objections. But soon, to their disbelief, everybody could see “workers wanted” signs everywhere. There were enough jobs for everyone. Immigrants contributed to the “boom, which was in fact, the longest recorded period of continuous growth in the Irish economic history.” From the book by Fetzer, I am quoting James Wickham, a Dublin-based scholar of the Irish labor market.

Other side effects of unrestricted immigration when it happened

Immigration opponents claim that new immigrants cause more crime. It happened in Miami after the Mariel boatlift. In the following years, Miami was called the murder capital of the United States. The criminals that Fidel Castro sent from prisons kept doing in Miami what landed them behind bars in Cuba in the first place. Fetzer quotes Sergio Pereira, a Dade County official, that the problem eliminated itself because “they were killing each other.” Immigrants did not cause any major problems in Marseille and Dublin, despite a few incidents in Ireland when drinking Poles got into fights, and some pulled a knife. 

All three cities observed a short-lived uptake in theft and other petty crime. It is known that when people move to a new community, where they feel anonymous, they are more tempted to commit petty crimes that they never did before. But it could be only a part of the story because there are records of local thugs robbing vulnerable immigrants in Marseille. That could be a factor in the other two cities as well. 

As expected, rents for apartments went up in all three cities, but within two years, they returned to the levels typical for comparable areas.

Interestingly, schools in all three cities quickly accommodated the new pupils. It was a little easier in Miami because many locals moved their children to private schools, fearing interactions with criminals. In Ireland, new immigrants started by settling in low-income neighborhoods, but often, they had better educations and higher aspirations than the natives. They directed their children to get a college education as well. It was noticed that classmates of these immigrant children were inspired, discovering that higher education was within their reach, but not encouraged by the family or the community.

Let us look at the money

In both Marseille and Miami, it is hard to see clearly how immigrants affected public finances. National governments and charities assisted with emergency needs. But it was an extra burden for the local communities as well. It appears that both cities fared well, but there is a broad range of interpretations.

From the book by Joel S. Fetzer

Ireland is a simple case. Immigrants might have been coming in the thousands, but none of them was expecting anything but getting a job. When they started working, they paid taxes. The taxman got his share when they rented an apartment or went shopping. Immigrants were mostly young, healthy, often single. Their employment ratio was higher than the general population’s; on average, per person, they paid more in taxes than the natives.

Fetzer shows a chart comparing the surplus of public revenues for Dublin and Sheffield, a comparable city in England. It was a bonanza for Dublin.

Conclusions

It is wise to have an immigration policy that minimizes uncontrolled mass migrations as in the case of Marseille in 1962, Miami in 1980, or the current havoc on the border with Mexico. It is a no-brainer that the policy that worked for Ireland about 15 years ago is the best way to go. When the Irish offered employment for foreigners, their economy absorbed a 5% population increase, giving them an economic boost.

The population of the United States is about 330 million; 5% of that is 16.5 million. Suppose we want to buy ourselves a decade of prosperity. In that case, we need to push aside our elaborate immigration policy and send to the world a simple message that whoever can find a job in the United States is welcome to come and start working. And we should be prepared that about 16 million immigrants may come in a short period.

Any better ideas?

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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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