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

Drowning in the deluge of futile advice

Image by Kazkar from Pixabay

“Motivation is the key to massive success,” advises Dr. Roopleen, a motivational writer who is an eye surgeon.

I feel sorry for Dr. Roopleen that I am picking on her article. It is just one in the avalanche of almost identical texts flooding the Medium Daily Digest and showing in all the searches. 

In her article, she lists seven traits that keep highly successful people motivated every day. All of them are trivial. She writes that we must commit to something and work through routines without killing ourselves. Then, we need to have checkpoints and objectives to reach. When facing obstacles, we need to ask others for help. Those are the elementary skills one should learn in school and, by early teens, follow instinctively. Without those skills, there is no way to pass math, physics, or chemistry classes. 

Statistics tell us that, compared to others, Americans have fallen behind in those strict science subjects. Likely, they did not learn in school these fundamental life skills that Dr. Roopleen writes about. They are her audience on Medium.

Bits of advice, like the ones from Dr. Roopleen, focus on the behavioral technicalities of successful individuals but do not ask why these people are highly motivated in the first place. She does not know or is afraid to tell the truth that successful people are motivated because they have a purpose in life. It could be raising children the best they can, building a business, advancing a cause, or developing a talent. Obsessed with the mission of making their life meaningful, they instinctively gravitate toward the most efficient ways of doing it.

I suspect that many readers click on articles like the one by Dr. Roopleen because they are disappointed with their lives. The last few generations have witnessed incredible progress in our civilization. Most of us enjoy better lives than our parents had. But it is true, as well, that most of us have advanced much less than the very few fortunate ones. Our aspirations are far above what we have. Thanks to the media, we know the opulence some enjoy. Statistics tell us that in the United States, but also in most other places, the rich got richer in the past few decades, and the poor became poorer. The middle class is shrinking.

Young people in the United States feel it. The cost of education is skyrocketing. Getting a satisfying job seems harder than half a century ago. Big corporations are structured to treat workers as easily replaceable cogs in their machinery. Getting economic independence by opening a small neighborhood shop is not as easy as before the internet era. Making money by going on the internet means competing with Amazon. Uber is the best example of how many entrepreneurial individuals were lured into an illusion of gaining financial independence. They ended up enriching a few who were already rich.

In the United States, some people hoped that Barack Obama would bring a change for the better, while others bet on Donald Trump. The political stalemate still holds. Americans feel its economic consequences, which propagate all over the world as well.

On Medium, this stalemate manifests itself in pessimistic political writing. One needs to be blind and deaf not to see and hear the hopelessness all over the platform. Articles that are at the top of searches and are frequently recommended by the Medium algorithm proclaim that the current global economic system is due to collapse soon, if climate change does not annihilate our civilization earlier.

In that emotionally unhealthy environment, most people have difficulty making strategic life decisions. It affects youngsters more than others. Their major challenge is not polishing their skills to fulfill their life commitments successfully; they are confused about finding their life’s purpose. Fears, rational and irrational, can be incapacitating. In their anxiety about becoming a failure, they might attentively read articles like the one by Dr. Roopleen. If they follow her advice and make some commitments for the pure sake of doing so, will it bring a meaningful change in their life? It might, but failure is more likely. The real problem is understanding the world around us and finding our place in it.

It is not easy. Americans can agree only that they disagree on almost everything. A profound disagreement of that magnitude could not be possible if only one side were wrong. It means that differences among Americans are rooted in disillusions on both sides. It is optimistic that the new CEO of Medium noticed that disagreements among Americans boil down to both sides thinking, “The other side is running a con.” The video Tony linked to summarizes it perfectly. Among American major media outlets, some can be seen as aligning with con men, others with con artists. No one wants to find out what is going on.

Medium has a shot at filling that gap. The bad actors abuse the complexity of the new technologies, feeding the scaremongering of the bards of fatalism on Medium. Interestingly, another writer sees a similarity between Medium and evangelical churches. Comparisons to the grim outlook of a religious cult come to mind as well. There is no way of building a successful business by gathering people around a cataclysmic vision.

Medium needs an injection of sober reality and practical optimism. With a calm look, one can see our problems as a variation of the challenges our ancestors had. After all, people cause problems. We may have better toys now, but human nature has not changed since ancient times. As I wrote in one of my previous articles, we can shape the future by learning from the past. Today’s biggest challenge is not in perfecting our ability to execute our commitments. With our deep fundamental disagreements, the primary challenge is finding out what these commitments should be. To do that right, Coach Tony needs to switch to Tony the Mentor mode.    

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