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.

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The lesson Americans should never learn

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Americans should never learn the lesson that Annie Lowrey advocates for in her article titled “The Lesson Americans Never Learn,” recently published in The Atlantic. Ms. Lowrey compassionately looks at the challenges that we all face during the pandemic. She notes with indignation that Americans are left to their own resources, whereas “in functioning high-income countries, the government guarantees the provision of essential goods and services.” Yet, she does not give us the names of these countries.

That complaining about everything is the leitmotif of the article. But, when the author touches details, the reader can raise questions.

Let us start with the role of the government. The core provision of the American political system is in broad competences of the local governments. That system intended that in most of their interactions with government agencies, Americans would be dealing with local authorities. Officials would be members of the community. In that way, their actions would be transparent; elected by their neighbors, they could be swiftly voted out of office. The most significant value of the American political system is that, from its inception, the government should be “us” rather than “them” as it was and still is in most places around the world. Ms. Lowrey writes as though she never heard of this concept. For her, our government is “them.” She does not want to carry any personal responsibility for the state of affairs in our country; she demands that “the government guarantees the provision of essential goods and services.”

Complaining about the lack of action by government, Ms. Lowrey does not specify whether she writes about the federal, state, or local governments. She sounds like a notorious malcontent, leaving us under the impression that all government agencies in the whole Unites States have failed us. I know that it is not true because the actions of the government of my village of Bolingbrook, Illinois, have my full support as well as most of the other residents. I bet that across the United States, during the pandemic, there are many cities and states where local governments did the best they could under the circumstances. Or at least this is the opinion of the residents there.

During the pandemic, we face many choices where none of them is good. Sweden decided to go with minimal restrictions, betting on developing herd immunity. Most other countries imposed major lockdowns to flatten the curve. Six months later, we still do not know which one is better. Most likely, the lockdown was the best decision to slow down exponential infections in highly populated New York. The Swedish approach might work better in rural areas. Full of lofty indignation, Ms. Lowrey is above these kinds of details. Complaining, she does not lower herself to share with us her ideas on what and how we could do better.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The reasoning in the aforementioned article assumes as given that it is the government’s responsibility for buses arriving on time, for people having safety nets, for crayons and paper in schools, for helping people with “income when a recession hits, and help businesses struggling through no fault of their own.” It appears that Annie Lowrey and The Atlantic editors who published her lamentations never heard about the fundamental principles of the American political system, that societies prosper when individuals have liberties to pursue their personal goals. For Ms. Lowrey, it is clear that society cannot function without overwhelming government. Seeing that during the pandemic, Americans need to show some ingenuity in dealing with otherwise mundane tasks, Ms. Lowrey moans that “no amount of private initiative or donor generosity can or will ever do what the government can.” History proves her wrong; the United States built its wealth and power in the 19th century by Americans acting spontaneously, not by the government showering them with goods and services.

The strength of America comes from what Americans do, not from what the government does. At least this is how America became great the first time around. If The Atlantic authors and editors believe that what worked two centuries ago does not apply today, they should clearly state that the fundamental constitutional provisions of the United States should be revised. It would be a legitimate point of view in our discussions about the problems that we face. But it would mean advocating for the end of America as we know it. Presently, by the publication of articles such as this one by Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic editors question the fundamental principles of the American political system without stating it outright.

One can explain the disappointments of Ms. Lowrey from the perspective of a supporter of the 16th Amendment, which in 1913 established the federal income tax. At that time, Americans realized how rich the country had become. Still, most lived in poverty, and the inequalities became more striking. It was natural to think about expediting the social and economic advancement of the most disadvantaged. The federal government received that job, and thanks to the 16th Amendment, the money to do it.

Gradually, the federal government obtained the powers that, according to constitutional fundamentalists, it never should have. At the inception of the republic, when seeing a problem, Americans sought how to resolve it themselves. Now, as a first instinct, they ask the government to do it for them. During the first 150 years of the United States, Americans competed among themselves to create more wealth, which was limitless. Now, with the increased role of the federal government, as well as many local authorities, Americans seek wealth by competing for government-distributed money or favors, more than ever before. Those are limited.

The powers of government should be in securing that individuals have the freedom to unleash their ingenuity, not in acting as a substitute for it, as the article in The Atlantic suggests. In challenging times such as during COVID-19, the government should take a leadership role in coordinating the resourcefulness of individuals and local communities, not replacing them.

The increased powers of the governments, on all levels, shifted the dynamics of American society.  The ingenuity of Americans is not the same as it was a century ago. Having at their disposal enormous resources, American politicians lavishly spend them. For someone expecting that the government would use its almost endless resources wisely, all the mischief in handling COVID-19 can be frustrating. We can see this in Ms. Lowrey’s article. We cannot find there her thoughts about how efficient even the best administration can be in redistributing wealth.

Checking other writings by Ms. Lowrey, I realize that she may dismiss my critique as a voice of Facts Man. If Ms. Lowrey and the editors in The Atlantic want to keep their current one-sided propaganda-style political writing, I understand; it is the ongoing standard in media now. But it is sad as it is the cause of all the problems we have. But if people at The Atlantic want to engage in the meaningful conversation about the issues we face, we can start it right here, right now. They will not need to attack an abstract Facts Man. They can have the man criticizing their point of view, and they can tell readers why he is wrong. Then, let readers decide. What is wrong with this concept?

A version of this text was originally published by Data Driven Investor

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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 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).

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