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.
More
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.

More
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.

More
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. 

More
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.”    

More
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
More Comments

Facebook is evil because it is us

Most of my writing is about politics and media. I never wrote about Facebook because I consider it irrelevant. Now, when politicians and media portray Facebook as a bad actor, let me explain why they are wrong.

Why do 30% of Minnesotans not trust Senator Klobuchar?

It was the bad luck of Senator Amy Klobuchar that I turned my TV on when she was on CNN. I heard her saying: “We know that the majority of the people that aren’t getting vaccines read stuff on these platforms.” She meant social media websites, Facebook the most prominent among them. One can ask: Why do voters in Minnesota not trust their third-term senator and seek information from some murky sources? About 30% of eligible Minnesotans have not been vaccinated.

Across the whole United States, about 34% of eligible people had not been vaccinated same day. It meant that about one-third of Americans did not trust their politicians on such a simple and obvious issue.

This instance could explain why we have an ongoing stalemate on much more complex issues such as immigration, health care, global warming, or public finances, where disinformation is easier to spread, and comprehension requires more effort.

Why people do not trust media

We do not know why Dana Bash, who was conducting the interview, did not ask Senator Klobuchar why a meaningful number of her compatriots do not trust her. We can only guess that Ms. Bash anticipated that Senator Klobuchar would riposte that she is not in the media business, CNN is. Ergo, the fault falls on CNN.

She would be right. Even before the antagonizing presidency of Donald Trump, only 76% of Americans trusted national news organizations. Now, it is 58%, but only 35% for Republicans. According to the Pew survey, almost half (48%) of Americans say that they get news from social media “often” or “sometimes.”

No one puts a gun at Americans’ heads to go to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and a bunch of other social media sites in the search for the truth. Why do they do it? Why, instead of following CNN or Fox News, reading the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, do people flock to social media sites? The answer is in noticing that in the wave of criticism of Facebook, none of the major media outlets asks that question. If they did, they would see that we go elsewhere because they do not do their job.

We do not trust them because they do not ask for the cause when they report the problem. Instead, they reach into the arsenal of their political preferences and try to sell them to us as a solution. As an example, let us check what they propose as an antidote to the supposed evils of Facebook and other social media sites.

Will censorship make people trust media and politics?

Senator Klobuchar sees a need for a bill countering “at least” misinformation about vaccines. It would be a dangerous encroachment on the First Amendment. Traditional media outlets guard their independence from the government. But complacent in their established position, they dislike the challenges from the unruly social media and report them as the cause of our deep political divide.

The public seems to buy into it, and the support for restrictions on “false information” online is growing. I use quotation marks because it will be up to the government censors to decide what is and is not “false information.” Even if tech companies do it themselves, they will execute the will of the regulators.

One might expect that Democratic-leaning media outlets would ask for more government regulations. They are not alone. I sense the same tone from the battery of negative articles about Facebook in the Wall Street Journal as well.

However, The Daily Signal, a bulletin from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, beats them all. In his column there, “How Our Children’s Addiction to Technology Hurts the Country,” Armstrong Williams laments how we are failing in protecting our youngsters from spending too much time online. After a vague suggestion that we should do something about it, he is very precise about who should be accountable, as he writes: “President Joe Biden has a real responsibility to set the stage for the coming years.” Should Mr. Williams at least help? Yes, he will. How? “I pray for his success (President Biden) and the success of our youth,” Mr. Williams writes. The once-leading conservative think tank suggests prayers to solve our nation’s problems.

Americans seek alternative news sources because they suspect the collusion of political elites with the major media organizations. People speculate that media support the excessive government spending that benefits the elites. The rest of us get crumbs that fall from the table of the rich. It does not matter how much truth is in this theory; still, politicians such as Senator Klobuchar should know that this is the reason that Americans seek alternative information on social media sites.

Senator Klobuchar does not get it when she suggests regulating social media platforms. First, it would be unconstitutional, as online sites gain popularity because of the mistrust of the mainstream media. They do the job that citizens expect from the news outlets; ergo, they are protected by the First Amendment.

Second, if any regulation restricting Facebook passes, it would confirm the above-described plot between media and politics in the public’s eyes. More people would distrust media and politicians, Senator Klobuchar in particular.

Socialists do not want Socratic debates

The dysfunctionality of the American media deserves an extended essay on its own, but the comparison of CNN with Fox News can explain the crux of the problem.

At its inception in 1980, CNN intended to be a neutral news source. Fox News started 25 years ago as a response to the perception that CNN had become left-leaning. Its design was to present news with conservative-leaning commentary.

Today, CNN has adopted the Fox News model as well. Its acronym stands for Cable News Network, but it should be Commentary News Network because every minute of news is followed by an hour of commentaries. The same talking heads repeat the same indoctrination, regardless of what the issue is. After a few minutes, the viewer gets annoyed and switches to Fox News, facing the same model, only a different dogma. Frustrated, Americans turn the TV off and look on the internet for what is going on.

Why do those talking heads on competing networks not face each other in front of the camera so we can listen to their arguments and make up our minds?

Fox News accuses CNN of being pro-socialistic. There is a grain of truth in it, considering CNN’s support for excessive government spending, including Obamacare. But Fox News, under the pretense of national security, also advocates excessive government spending but on the military.

Pro-life advocacy is another Fox News narrative. It boils down to using the power of the government to coerce others to behave in a way supposedly better for society. It is as much pure socialism as it could be. The case of Texas shows they are ready even for the Soviet-style police state.

The Fox News stance on immigration is another example of supporting a big government micromanaging the labor market. It is a socialistic concept as well.

If CNN ideologues would ever confront their adversaries from Fox News, they could win the debate only by proving that Fox News propagates socialism. But by doing that, they would need to acknowledge that their pro-socialistic agendas are wrong too.

Older readers may remember Firing Line, a TV program run by William F. Buckley from 1966 until 1999, where viewers experienced authentic debates between opposing views. A similar format was used on Crossfire, another program run in the years 1982–2005. Later attempts at the reincarnation of these programs lacked the authenticity of the originals.

In programs like Firing Line, the advocates of socialistic ideas kept losing in confrontations with supporters of the free market. In the 1970s, in Poland, despite censorship and political restrictions, I was among those who tried to figure out how to make socialism work. The little freedom of expression we had was enough to convince Poles that socialism would never work.

It was long ago, but socialists did not forget that they always lose in the fair-and-square debate. Hence, socialists from both CNN and Fox News do not seek an honest discussion. They steer our attention away from them to Facebook.

Facebook is chatting about nothing

In its concept, Facebook is a gossip forum. We always have wasted time chatting about nothing in the laundromat or the corner store. Now we have a washing machine at home and supermarkets. Add emails to that, and the chances of joyful casual chats have vanished. Facebook perfectly fits that gap. It spread like fire because it gave us the bliss of private tête-à-tête in the virtual world.

The difference is that what we say in private conversations might stay in the minds of our interlocutors, but it dissipates with time. Whatever we say in the digital world, it stays there forever. But it is not Facebook’s fault.

In my youth, almost half a century ago, I had my 15 minutes of fame as a political writer in Poland. I soon noticed that whatever I said or did, even within a small circle of friends and family members, went through the grapevine and returned to me from people who had no business to know. I was a petty celebrity worth gossiping about. In response, I became careful and acted so that I could always defend what I said or did in private if it would become public.

I apply the same approach to my online presence and do not worry about my posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube becoming public. Also, I do not lose any sleep, fearing that my private emails might see daylight.

Some say that Facebook and alike sell what they know about me to advertisers. Good luck with that. Doomsayers tell me that “surveillance capitalists” know more about me than I do about myself; they use artificial intelligence to make me buy things I would not buy otherwise. I tell them: keep trying. I am confident that my archaic human intelligence protects me from bad influences, regardless of how deceitful they might be.

It appears that most social media users are dealing with the evils of Facebook and alike equally well as I do. Politicians and media complain mostly about influencers. Some of the weird and misleading voices get notoriety, not because of the failures of Facebook to root them out, but because the major news outlets do not do their job as the fourth estate.

Teens always have been the most vulnerable

But what about the negative influence of Instagram on teenagers? We have to protect minor children from the evils of the world. Teenagers might still be children, but they soon will be adults. During their teen years, they need to learn how to deal with the real world.

Adults probably would never agree on the best way of dealing with juveniles. Despite the best intentions, whatever we do, teenagers still keep making all the mistakes imaginable. Maturity does not come by turning a switch. It is a mundane process that requires a lot of attention from adults. If Instagram influences adolescents badly today, it is the failure of parents and teachers in preparing youngsters for the dangers and pitfalls of adulthood. If we shut down Instagram, immature teenagers will still misbehave, hurting themselves and others in different ways. 

Mark Zuckerberg is a scapegoat

The leading media organizations became commercial dinosaurs. They did not adapt well to the digital world. I see this as the cause of all American problems. We are on the eve of the continental shifts in media, with new ventures mushrooming from the social media crowd. With that perspective, I inquisitively observe the existing online platforms, Facebook in particular.

As a gossiping platform, Facebook is not well predisposed to transition into a mainstream media organization. But most of all, Mr. Zuckerberg and his team have no passion for that. It is not their calling. They seem content with making money running a gossiping platform. It is their right to do so.

When called to testify at Congress or when interviewed by tough journalists, Mr. Zuckerberg is often perceived as dismissive. Senator Klobuchar did not like his answers. I admire his composure in polite responses to ridiculous accusations. I have had no personal interactions with Mr. Zuckerberg or anyone from the Facebook leadership. However, if asked, I would advise going full steam with the offense as the best defense.

I would suggest to Mr. Zuckerberg to ask politicians in Washington how Facebook prevents them from agreeing on the budget. How does Facebook stop them from fixing our malfunctioning immigration policy? He should ask Democrats how Facebook is an obstacle in making Obamacare work finally. He should ask Republicans how Facebook prevents them from preparing a market-based alternative to Obamacare.

Mr. Zuckerberg should tell the worrying parents they should devote more time to explaining to their teenage daughters that what they have in their heads counts the most. Maybe they should take their daughters to Walmart and show them how, for $50, they can buy a few things to mask the real or imagined body imperfections, so the brightness of their brains can shine without obstructions.

To journalists, Mr. Zuckerberg should point out that if they did their job right, there would be no politics on Facebook, and whatever might be would not be newsworthy. He should tell them that whatever they dislike on Facebook mirrors America. If they dislike what they see, the mirror is not the problem.

Mr. Zuckerberg should tell the lofty elites of media and politics that their inability to solve our problems made our nation vulnerable to undue foreign influence. They should realize that even if chased out of Facebook, which is practically next to impossible, Russian or Chinese disruptors have endless ways to do it all over the internet. Hence, the American elites have two options. They can go to work and fix our problems, or they need to censor the internet the same way China does. He should tell them that what they ask from Facebook leads us to the Soviet Union of America. Then he should pause and make eye contact with as many listeners as he can manage.

I doubt that Mr. Zuckerberg would ever follow my advice; politics does not seem to be his passion. But it could be as well that he might think that my advice would be harmful to Facebook. The thought of that being the case is frightening.

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 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).

... more