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

A trillion dollars here, another trillion there

Or, why Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are right

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Many older Americans vividly remember Everett M. Dirksen, the late senator from Illinois, an ardent opponent of lavish government spending. He is credited with saying, about 60 years ago, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” No documents prove that Dirksen actually said it, but some claim they heard him saying it on the Johnny Carson show. Others argue that the press slightly changed what he said, but Dirksen liked it and did not deny it.

When Dirksen said that, people noted that even for financially conservative politicians, the real money started with billions. He said it in the 1960s when the cost of a car, then about $3,000, was real money for most Americans. For politicians, real money started with an amount about 1 million times larger.

As I write this, politicians in Washington are arguing about spending a few trillion dollars less or more. Opponents of spending more are perceived as irrationally obstructing the path to prosperity. I hear that those few trillions should not be an issue in the context of trillions wasted on unnecessary wars and trillions spent dealing with COVID-19. Ergo, some ask, why is there a problem investing a few trillion more in upgrading infrastructure and developing prosperity?

Today, one needs to pay for a car about 10 times more than in the 1960s, and that $30,000 is the real money for most Americans. For politicians in Washington, real money starts at $3 trillion, an amount 100 million times larger. What happened with America that politicians’ appetite and public acceptance for government spending today is 100 times bigger than it was about 60 years ago? Is it better or worse? Do we know something that Americans did not get in the 1960s? Or, is it the other way, they knew something then that we miss?

What is better, cash on hand or its equivalent?

Presently, more than ever before, Americans turn to the government when facing a problem. My great-uncle, who immigrated to America in 1919, whenever in trouble, used to say, “You wanted America; you got it.” It did not even cross his mind to ask the government for help. Like most people of his generation, he preferred cash on hand instead of any cash equivalents from the government. In his time, Americans believed that, if left alone, they could find a way to earn the cash they needed. After all, they lived in the land of endless opportunities.

For today’s Americans, those opportunities are not so obvious. Instead of earning money themselves, they prefer that its equivalent be given to them.

A few  generations back, people preferred cash because it gave them the freedom to bargain for the best product or service they could buy. It is human. If we buy for ourselves with our funds, we seek the best value for our cash. If we use our money to pay for somebody else, more often than not, we seek the lowest price and care less about the quality. If we purchase for ourselves, but someone else is paying, we tend to spend the most we can get.

What happens when we do not pay with our money when buying for someone else? We end up purchasing overpriced, inferior products or services. That is what the government does. Even if bureaucrats handling these matters are saints, we cannot avoid systematic waste. We need to have formal procedures, but people are different. Regardless of how much we try, only some will get what they need; many will get too little, costing us too much. Some will get nothing despite that they should; others will outsmart the system, getting what they do not deserve. 

Lastly, to redistribute the goods and services, we need administrators; ergo, even in a perfect system, the recipients receive only a portion of every dollar the government spends for that purpose. If we can eliminate that government intermediary and get direct cash instead, we get more. However, we have an extensive government redistribution because many Americans worry that they would get less, or nothing, without it.

About a century ago, when my great-uncle arrived in Detroit, Americans did not worry about it. What has changed? Should we not look at that before throwing more money into a concept that by design is less efficient than what had worked before?

Let us look at the infrastructure projects

 Yes, we need to improve our roads and rebuild bridges. All of us should have easy access to the internet and so on. But let us look calmly at these claims. It is amazing to dash across the continent in our family car. But our once-a-year trip across the country, if ever, does not justify expensive highways — trucks moving stuff around need these roads. They do it for profit, and the largest among them are multibillion-dollar corporations. Why do they not finance the roads they need?

There are fuel taxes and licensing fees that are supposed to pay to maintain public roads and bridges. Should we not ask first why those roads and bridges have not been rebuilt? When we start asking questions, things get interesting. The Washington Post claims that our infrastructure is “good” or “fair,” which means safe and usable conditions. Only 7.5% of highway bridges, mostly in low traffic areas, are classified as poor. In other words, there is no emergency; we have time to find out why our infrastructure is not excellent and make necessary corrections. There is no need for the urgent spending of trillions of dollars on credit.

It could be different in other states, but we know why the state has no money in Illinois, where I live. The unions of government employees achieved an undue political power, persuading politicians to lavish them with salaries and pensions that bankrupt the state. They solidified their power through regulations requiring union labor on practically all major construction jobs. As a result, Illinois has no money for infrastructure improvements, and whatever is done costs more because of the requirements of using union labor. Instead of fixing that corrupt system, Illinois politicians hope to get a nice chunk of that $3 trillion windfall.

Who should pay for the internet service?   

When I am on the internet, Google makes money, so does Facebook. If I did not have internet service, Amazon could not make a dime on me. The richest companies in the United States and their billionaire owners are financially interested in everyone having internet service. But they convinced Bernie Sanders and the like-minded that the government should pay for it. Why?

I looked closer at that section of the proposed spending. It boils down to wasteful giveaways of public money to the already wealthiest corporations in the United States to do what already is in their best financial interest. But Bernie Sanders insists that billionaires would pay for it. It will be exactly the opposite.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

When you get something free from the government, billionaires do not pay for it; they get richer

Politicians advocating for increased government support stay silent that what we are getting is not free; someone is getting paid for our “free” education, healthcare, and whatever else we get from the government. Whenever Bernie Sanders opens his mouth, he complains about billionaires getting richer on our backs. With the size of the government projects, only the largest corporations can provide the products and services that the government distributes. It means that every social program that Bernie Sanders promotes enriches already wealthy people, many of them billionaires.

It is not true that the wealthy will pay for it with their higher taxes. First, the more money one has, the more options are available to avoid taxes. Next, even if somehow those taxes hit the very rich, they can raise slightly the prices of the products and services of the corporations they control. We all will pay them back in increased inflation. Lastly, already the deep pockets keep a portion of their assets in tax havens outside of the United States. They can move more wealth out of the country and, in the extreme, renounce their citizenship. So far, not too many Americans do it, but the number is growing.

Those who do not qualify for government support, because they are earning a little more than the poverty level, will eventually pay back that $3 trillion with interest. Banks will lend the government those trillions, but banks do not have money. They have deposits from billionaires. That $3 trillion loan will come from the most opulent among us. The same entities that give the loan will get it back in contracts and grants from the government. They will make profits on those contracts, and then they will collect interest on the loans. With that double-dipping, they will be the only ones benefiting.

Even for the United States, $3 trillion is a lot of money. If borrowed by the government, it will not be available for private investments, which are usually more profitable than the governments’ bonds and energize the economy more than the government spending. It means slower economic growth than if the same money were invested in the open market. The opportunities that my great-uncle had to earn the cash he needed will diminish further. The middle class, bearing the salient burden of the debt, will continue shrinking. More people will seek government assistance. Fewer people will believe that there is an option of getting better without the government’s help. It will deepen the dependence of Americans on the government. It will make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Bernie Sanders tries to convince us that he wants to take from billionaires and give it to the needy ones. I do not hear the billionaires complaining. The needy ones should start paying attention. 

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