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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Is inequality unequal?

There is a Polish saying that, for a poor one, the wind always blows into the eyes. There are similar English sayings such as “the poor must pay for all,” “a poor boy never wins,” or “when it rains, it pours.”  But none of them encapsulates so well the banal truth that for the underprivileged, whatever takes place invariably means trouble. The most affluent among us, more often than not, can position themselves in a way that the wind blows into their sails. Many of us can achieve the same at least sometimes, perhaps suffer occasionally, or find a shelter. The weak ones, all the time, have it uphill.

Do we have a dystopian society in America?

That Polish saying came to mind when I read the essay “The Pandemic Will Cleave America in Two by Joe Pinsker, published recently in The Atlantic. In his lengthy article, Mr. Pinsker painstakingly lists all the disadvantages that the poorest among us face when encountering COVID-19.

They have more ongoing health issues already, and their access to medical care is inadequate. They work in service businesses open during the pandemic. Their households often cluster multigenerational families in compact living spaces. Those conditions put them at a higher risk of becoming infected and dying as a result. When they work, their kids stay home unattended. With no internet service, or an inferior one, their youngsters will fall behind more than others. Living from paycheck to paycheck and having no money in reserve, they will be hurt more severely than most of us, if someone loses a job, gets sick or dies.

Mr. Pinsker elaborates in impressive detail about the disparity of our experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. He confirms other folks’ prudence that the disadvantaged will suffer more than others. There is nothing newsworthy in his conclusion that the COVID-19 will leave us with inequalities even more profound than before. When reading his report, at some point, I began wondering what is the purpose of writing about the obvious.

In the middle of the essay, Mr. Pinsker gives us a hint by citing a disabled lady: “Life in America is always hard without cash reserves.” Should we assume that without spare cash, life is better elsewhere? A few paragraphs further, a reader can find that seemingly innocent quotes like this one, along with the extensive list of inequalities, were just the artillery preparation for a bomb that Mr. Pinsker is dropping on us. He does it by stating as evident that we have an “often dystopian nature of American inequality.” The term “dystopia” originates from the ancient Greek words describing a bad place. In dictionary meaning, “dystopia” is a society where there is great suffering or injustice, or as a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding. In other words, Mr. Pinsker is not writing about the COVID-19 experience. For him, it is a pretext to tell us how horrible America is.

Understanding America

Millions of people from all over the world risk their lives trying to come here. Are they deprived of the wisdom that Mr. Pinsker already possesses? Or, do they know something that Mr. Pinsker misses? We must admit that many influential people agree with Mr. Pinsker that America is full of misery, injustice, and oppression. What is the root cause of all of that misery that we have? It is the burning question that does not inflame Mr. Pinsker at all.

The message of Mr. Pinsker smells fishy to me because I do not sense a human touch in it. He writes about low-income people from afar. He did not visit that disabled lady in her residence. He did not talk with her about her predicaments. For The Atlantic’s writer, she is an abstract illustration of the statistically accurate picture he received from reports compiled by experts, it appears, also analyzing statistics but not talking to the individuals in question. I do not know but suspect that children from impoverished families were not his buddies in school. Likely, he never worked on the same team with people he claims he cares about so much.

I have been involved in service businesses in the Chicago area for over 30 years. I have had customers among the richest and the poorest. In my work, I have encountered a few thousands families that Mr. Pinsker cares about so much. They were my customers. In the worst neighborhoods of Chicago, I visited at least a few hundred of them in their residences. We sat at their kitchen tables and talked business. At some point, many men and women that Mr. Pinsker advocates for were my employees. It is a basic human instinct to help the needy; hence, with a little mentoring, I probably helped more guys and gals I met than The Atlantic did by its advocating for people their authors and editors do not interact with. I cite one example in this article.

I have met many successful immigrants, as well. It is remarkable how often low-skilled immigrants, barely speaking any English, thrive in America. Many Americans, for generations, have lived with the conviction that opportunities in America are beyond their reach. They do not see an irony that they pay rent to newly arrived immigrants and shop in immigrant-owned corner stores or gas stations.

I once counted immigrants, whom I know personally, who became millionaires. Doing some extrapolations, I estimated that just by making it to this country, one has at least several hundred times better chance to become a millionaire than by playing Lotto. I still occasionally make a high-risk, high-return, but low-level investment by buying a lottery ticket. But when I stand in line to spend my $1, I see in front of me people handing to the clerk at least a few $20 bills for their lottery purchases. My rational guess is that many of the heavy lottery players are the same that Mr. Pinsker stands for.

When visiting their residences, I did not spot The Atlantic on their tables, but saw their TVs and was privy to know that they spend on TV watching much more than I considered rationally justifiable. This is the America I know. Hence, Mr. Pinsker does not sound convincing when he laments that about 40 percent of American adults do not have enough cash on hand to cover an unexpected $400 expense. The barely literate immigrants who buy their first six-flat several years after arriving here were also cash deprived upon their arrival.

Where America is cleaved in two

America is not divided into those who have and those who have not. The real cleavage is in understanding what America should be. Lamenting about disparities, Mr. Pinsker carefully avoids telling us what kind of equality he pursues. Should it be like in China during the Cultural Revolution, where everybody from the top down should be dressed exactly the same, eat the same food, and live in similar quarters? Or should it be as in Sweden when they were toying with socialism and entrepreneurs such as Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, needed to leave the country to build their businesses?

By nature, people are different. Some aspire to have an enormous house with door handles made of solid gold. Others are content with a humble flat as long as they can read books they are interested in or listen to the music they like. Sadly, some are satisfied with watching TV around the clock, as long as they have a roof over their head and are not hungry. Should not equality mean that all of them should have the same right to pursue their preferred lifestyle? But should not equality also mean our understanding that in difficult times not all of us would fare equally well?

Appealing to our compassion, Mr. Pinsker takes as a given that America is a dreadful place and does not even ask why we became this way. His laments imply that those of us who are better off should give up a little of our wealth to help the poor. This brings to mind the book “Coming Apart” by Charles Murray. My life experiences resonate with the data he collected, and with his conclusions that after about half a century of our welfare policy, we have more than before Americans living in a state of economic and moral decay.

In every society, some do not take part in the prosperity experienced by most. Hopefully, for some, it is a temporary downfall. Charities can help them and those with permanent disabilities. In the United States, whatever we are doing to eliminate poverty results in more Americans sliding down into dependency on social support. Fewer are achieving the financial stability necessary to weather the storms such as COVID-19. However, the ongoing successes of immigrants prove that despite all its shortcomings, America is still the nation of equal opportunities for those who dare to try. The actual question in front of us is why so many of us give up before even trying. It would be interesting to read the opinion of Mr. Pinsker on this matter.

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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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