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.

More Comments

Where do open borders work?

Image by conolan from Pixabay

They work within the European Union. At least to some extent. It is worth learning more about this policy in the context of the unresolved-for-decades mess at the U.S.-Mexican border. 

There was a wall dividing Europe

After WWII, the Soviet Union expanded its influence, separating itself from Western Europe with the Iron Curtain, as Western Europeans called it. The Berlin Wall, splitting a major city, was its most visible example.

Isolation did not benefit countries behind the Iron Curtain. Economically, Western Europe grew much faster. Western politicians accepted that in the developed world, everyone gains through peaceful cooperation. The economic cooperation agreements gradually expanded, and in the 1970s, the idea of a united Europe as one economic entity crystalized. Not long afterward, the migration restrictions within Western Europe began to gradually disappear, ending with practically open borders within a majority of member nations.

The Soviet Union and its satellites fell behind. By the end of the 1970s, my native Poland practically became bankrupt, and the 1980s were a decade of economic disarray and political oppression. In 1989 the Soviet political system collapsed. The Soviet Union dissolved by the end of 1991. Almost overnight, the Iron Curtain was reduced to rubble.

Polish plumbers a threat to united Europe

When Poland was still behind the Iron Curtain, many Poles thought about getting out; very few could. The running joke was that if one day the borders opened, all Poles would leave, and the last one would turn the lights off. There is wisdom in this joke because regardless of how many people might declare the intention of emigrating, very few do it. The European Union leaders might have known that when they agreed to integrate Poland and other post-Soviet countries into the borderless European Union.

In the early 1990s, there were reasonable concerns that millions of Polish migrants might flood Western Europe, derailing the concept of a united Europe. Hence, for several years there was talk about opening the borders without doing it. In the meantime, the economies in the post-Soviet countries stabilized. At the time of their accession to the E.U., the discrepancies in the standard of living and earning potential between the E.U. nations and the post-Soviet countries still were significant, but the conditions that might drive millions to leave desperately were gone.

By Polska Organizacja Turystyczna

In 2004 Poland – together with Czechia, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Slovenia, and Slovakia – joined the European Union. But only Ireland, Sweden, and the U.K. allowed citizens of the new member countries to work there without restrictions. Other countries postponed it for a few years. It became an igniting political issue in France, where some politicians warned that Polish migrant workers would put on unemployment about one million Frenchmen. A Polish plumber became a synonym of that danger. A Polish tourist agency ridiculed this view by spreading in France a poster showing a Polish plumber saying: “I am in Poland. Come en masse.”

And then they went en masse

When I visited Gdańsk in the fall of 2005, almost every other store window on the main street displayed ads for jobs in the U.K. or Ireland. For jobs requiring at least some English, they offered expediated English classes. Years later, scientists credited these employment agencies for the rapid migration. Thanks to brokers, Poles with no connections abroad could find jobs in nooks all over Ireland, Sweden, and the U.K.

The Polish government estimated that in 2003 about 750,000 Poles (about 2% of the population) lived and worked temporarily abroad. Some did so thanks to personal ties; some as self-employed, using loopholes in employment restrictions; others illegally. Logically, the Polish government estimated that with the borders opening, there would be no more than an additional 100,000 willing to try their good luck abroad. They missed the mark tenfold. Within three years, more than one million left, about 3% of the population.

Parallel, the Brits estimated that within the first decade, net inflow would be no more than 13,000. More than 100 times that number arrived. That estimate was based on the assumption that all 15 of the old European Union nations would open their borders to the new members. At the last minute, other countries – except Ireland, Sweden, and the U.K. – postponed opening their borders. Even with this correction, British authorities underestimated big-time the scale of migration, even though some scientists were more accurate in their predictions.

Most importantly, all hell did not break loose

In the early 2000s, about 300,000 more young Poles entered the labor market than in the previous decade. They were an echo of the baby boomers of the previous generation. Many were well-educated and spoke English. At the same time, the Polish economy emerged from its socialistic indolence. In practical terms, the economy became more efficient; ergo, many people lost jobs. Unemployment was at its peak, around 20%. The most adventurous among these young and mostly well-educated went to work in the U.K. and Ireland.

At that time, the salaries for similar work were about three times higher in Western Europe than in Poland. Many Poles in their prime, mostly 25-40 years old, saw it as an opportunity for advancement. They took a shot at their good luck abroad as well. As a result, Poland lost hundred of thousands of good workers. The unemployment numbers went down, but labor shortages became evident because about 80% of the unemployed did not meet the requirements for the jobs offered. Coincidentally, many Ukrainians sought better opportunities abroad as well. They found them in Poland. Presently, about 500,000 of them work in Poland, as well as about 250,000 other foreigners.

In the U.K. and Ireland, most Poles started with jobs below their qualifications and on the lower end of the pay grades. But those with good skills quickly advanced. Those who did not find their comfort zone returned home. The economy absorbed much more than the anticipated influx of foreigners because they went to places where the business owners saw growth opportunities and previously did not have the workers available locally.

Then everything became boringly normal

Because of the size of the economy, the U.K. absorbed the big chunks of migrants from the new European Union nation members. In 2004 foreign-born residents were only 5.3 million, or about 9%, of the U.K. population. Now they are 9.5 million, or 14%, of the population. In the United States, foreign-born are 13.7%.

Image by conolan from Pixabay

In a relatively short period, the number of immigrants in the U.K. almost doubled. It rejuvenated the ongoing anti-immigration sentiments among the Brits. Many of them voted for Brexit to stop immigration, despite only about half of the new immigrants having arrived from the E.U. nations. But they were more visible because almost half of them were from one country, Poland. Poles have a reputation for being successful in the U.K. Reading interviews with Poles harassed by Brits, one can see that tone of envy that Poles got jobs that British employers did not offer to their compatriots.

In 2002 foreigners were only 5.5% of the population of Ireland, but 10.1% in 2006. Most of the increase was from the new European Union members; Poles were about half of them. During the recession in the years 2008-2010, many immigrants left, but after that, the population of foreigners climbed to 11.6% in 2016. Since then, it has hovered around 12%. It is harder to estimate this number by the place of birth because many Irish who emigrated in the 1990s return home with their children born abroad.

Interestingly, the shockingly big inflow of immigrants in 2004-2006 did not cause anti-immigration sentiments in Ireland. It was almost the opposite; the Irish were curious to find out more about their new neighbors. They peeked into the Polish stores and checked Polish food. The Polish Lottery sold there gained some popularity in Ireland.

Studies show that Ireland, Sweden, and the U.K., which opened their borders in 2005, received better-quality migrants than other old European Union nation members, which allowed unrestricted migration in 2011-2013. Statistically, the first wave of Polish labor migrants consisted of more young, well-educated people with entrepreneurial drive. 

During the recession of 2008-2010, many Poles living abroad returned home. The number of Polish migrants in the U.K. stabilized around 800,000, and in Ireland, it is around 120,000. The migration in the following years has been more tempered. The recent opinion poll of Poles in the U.K. showed that about one-quarter of them are doing well and decided to stay for good, about 60% consider leaving in the unspecified future, and the rest might go soon. After 2016 the net balance of migrations in Poland is close to zero.

The excitement is on the United States-Mexico border

Image by 849356 from Pixabay

The Europeans opened their borders for migrations, and it worked for them.

At the same time when the European Union worked on the integration of the former Soviet Bloc countries, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was agreed upon between Canada, Mexico, and the United States, and signed in 1992. The crucial difference between the European and American approaches is that NAFTA did not include provisions for the free cross-border labor movement as a part of the economic integration. For Americans, foreign labor is not a part of the economy; it is the domain of politics. When politics aspire to rule the economy, both fail. The Europeans knew that 30 years ago; the Americans still do not get it.

Leave a Reply

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 a 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 have lived in the Chicago area. I went through the hard times typical of many immigrants. Working in the 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 the 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).

... more