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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Can we replace fighting with work and reason?

Usually, death hits us at the wrong time. The passing of Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg opened the political arm wrenching in selecting her replacement. One can ask again if politics must be endless fights, or can we make them more about work and reason? 

Baby boomers – those who did not get amnesia yet – remember that in their youth, the catchphrase of the day was “make love, not war.” In the United States, the war part of it had a very practical meaning because between 1964 and 1973, 2.2 million young Americans were drafted, and many of them went to fight in Vietnam. The love part of it was less about love, more about less prudery and hypocrisy about sex. The underlying philosophical message was that we should resolve our problems not by fighting but by cooperation, preferably the amiable one.

Times have changed. Fighting is back in fashion, big time. In today’s America, the slogan of the day seems to be: Make war out of everything possible. We do not resolve our political differences anymore by analyzing the problems and trying to understand the arguments of others having different ideas. We have reached a point that before we even know that there is a problem, we already know that we are right, and our usual opponents are wrong.

By its nature, politics is contentious. But its inherent combativeness is still better than resolving our problems by killing each other. By design, in a democracy, we should settle conflicts by the power of arguments; whoever presents the more convincing reasoning wins. In an imperfect reality, often, people follow the demagogues, not the facts and logic. The old quote credited to Winston Churchill, but probably not coming from him, described it the best: We can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.

People tend to vote for solutions that they wish were possible. It is assumed that after finding that what they want is impossible, people will lower their aspirations from the loftiness of glorious ideas to the practicality of mundane reality. We do not have that sense of practicality anymore. After making a mistake, Americans of all major political orientations are unwilling to reconsider their original choices. They see the failure of their political concepts in the intrigues of their opponents.

We can understand it. If an idea is flawed, the opponents do their best to talk about it. Instead of learning from the critique and adjusting their positions accordingly, people try to annihilate the voice of their opponents. We can make even a good idea better by examining it in the grueling Socratic-style debate. The scrutiny by our adversaries can weed out our bad ideas before they become an embarrassment. No one wants to do it anymore. 

Instead, we have the opposite. Advocates of any political position try to convince their supporters that the opposition is meritless or has evil intentions. It deprives both sides, operating in separate echo chambers, of the constructive critique that could make their political positions more rational, plainly better. The side effect of this is that both sides offer mediocre political solutions.

Take any issue: immigration, health care, abortion rights, climate change, national debt, education, or inequality – no one is interested in confronting their political concepts with their opponents’ in an academic-style debate. Why? Because they know that skeptics can crush the logic of their argument. Behind the impasse in our politics is the sad truth that none of the major political orientations in the United States, neither of the major media platforms, offers a working solution to any of our problems.

The Supreme Court has been a noble exception. Politically balanced, it became a respected arbiter in many political disagreements. Now, when the Supreme Court might have a one-sided political bias, many Americans lament that we can lose the last standing bastion of political sanity. Two issues are mentioned as critical here: abortion rights and Obamacare.

Going back to times that even the oldest Americans barely remember, the nation has always been divided on the abortion issue. In 1973, the Supreme Court brought a temporary compromise by its ruling known as Roe v. Wade. Since then, politicians had almost half a century to observe how that solution works and pass a better law, if possible. No one made any effort to find a permanent legal solution; running over the opponents seems to be the primary aim. Some time ago, with tongue-in-cheek, I noticed that whatever public voices on this matter we might hear are about misconceptions that radicals on both sides have about conception.

When President Obama proposed the Affordable Care Act, I was among the first critics. Its fundamental premise was that the markets did not work in health care, and we needed more regulations. Many experts believed that the problem was the opposite, in too many regulations, which disabled market forces. Hence, the logical alternative to Obamacare should be in seeking the solution by restricting the government’s role, not by increasing it. But the opponents of Obamacare did not have enough imagination to present a market-based alternative. Also, afraid of losing voters, they lacked the courage to tell supporters of the Affordable Care Act proposal, at that time the majority of Americans, that they were wrong.

Preoccupied with arm wrenching in the corridors of Washington, they argued that the ACA would not work. They were right. Obamacare expanded an inferior Medicaid-style care for many previously uninsured, but it also dragged down to that level many middle-class Americans who now cannot afford adequate health insurance. As a result, the prices of health care went up; the access to care went down. For most Americans, any major health issue brings them to the brink of bankruptcy. But the health care industry is making more money than ever. Again, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Precisely the opposite of what President Obama promised us when introducing the ACA.

If the Supreme Court, with a new justice appointed by President Trump, overturns Obamacare, we will be screwed, returning to the pre-Obamacare status. If, by some miracle, the Supreme Court does not undo Obamacare, we will be screwed as well because Obamacare does not work. The only practical outcome will have been in politicizing the only remaining haven of sanity in our political system.

Both chambers of Congress have already lost our trust that they are able to put politics aside and focus on working out rational solutions to our problems. The last few presidents have not done much better, either. Will the Supreme Court lose its reputation as well?

Soon we will find out.

But, we still have guns.

__________________________________________________

Originally published at https://www.datadriveninvestor.com on September 30, 2020.

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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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