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
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. 

PREVIOUS COMMENTS
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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Freedom cannot be legislated, its restriction can
Mar 31, 2015

Indiana voted in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In his WSJ piece, Gov. Mike Pence claims it was needed to protect the religious freedoms of Hoosiers. Every legislative act by its nature limits someone’s freedom. The only way of increasing freedom is by identifying existing laws that curb personal liberties and then eliminating them.  Hence, if Gov. Pence sees that under some circumstances, the religious freedoms of Hoosiers are not respected, he could correct the situation by eliminating laws causing this problem. We have the Bill of Rights, and it suffices. No “enhancements” are needed.

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Greed-driven health care
Feb 27, 2015

The solution to our health care crisis is in the implementation of more market-driven mechanisms into our health care policy. This is the only way to give patients the freedom to make decisions regarding their care between them and their doctors; not having these decisions made by faceless bureaucrats. The biggest obstacle in implementing a change of this kind is in a deep public conviction that the introduction of the free market into health care will result in doctors, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry and everybody else involved being guided by their greed, not the best interests of sick people. The biggest challenge in overturning Obamacare is not in Washington. It is in winning the argument with Americans that free-market-driven health care can serve their needs much better than the government-distributed one.

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Immigration inaction
Feb 17, 2015

Congress could not agree on the immigration reform. President Obama resorted to executive orders. Now he is stopped by a court order. It is sad to see that this legal wrangling substitutes for real discussion on why we have this immigration crisis and what we should do to get it resolved. Most Americans have strong, ideologically motivated views about immigration. If they were right, the policies implemented would work, and we would not have a problem anymore. We have an ongoing problem because most Americans are wrong in their understanding of what caused massive illegal immigration and what we should do to get it corrected. There will be no progress until someone  addresses this problem. For more about why we have this immigration mess go here.  

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Immigration comedy
Jan 26, 2015

The Republicans’ challenge to President Obama's executive orders on immigration is simply comic. We have a President who is clearly a socialist. We have a Republican Congress that declares it is for capitalism. However, on the immigration issue, Republicans are for the purely socialist immigration laws we have. At least on this issue, the President recognizes that socialism does not work, and his executive orders bring a more capitalistic approach. In our theoretically capitalistic country we have a socialist as President who acts to strengthen capitalism. At the same time, the pro-capitalistic majority of Congress acts to defend socialism.   

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Untouchable fundamental disagreements

in the health care reform debate
In the final push for passing his concept of health care reform, President Barack Obama concluded that there is no reason for debating health care reform any further due to “honest and substantial differences between the parties.” Why we should not discuss fundamental disagreements; especially, when a major reform hinges on them? Parallel, one may question the integrity of an attempt of passing a significant political reform by a fragile majority, when the meaningful minority strongly opposes its very concept. One may understand why leaders of the Democratic Party are not eager of getting into any debate about fundamental issues. It is puzzling however, why Republicans are not challenging Democrats into debating the “substantial differences.”

Punching a big cotton ball
During the televised debate on February 25, President Obama and other Democratic leaders frequently used the term “affordable health care.” They brought up examples of personal heart-breaking tragedies that middle class hard working people endured when dealing with health insurance companies. Those examples were mentioned in the context of supposedly excessive profits of insurance companies and inflated salaries of their executives.

The timbre of these arguments resonated with my memories of my young years in Poland, then a socialistic country. With the skepticism of a youngster I used to question the principles of socialism, and every time I pointed out that the numbers did not add up and that logic was flawed, I heard in reply about social injustice, about very few enjoying the extreme wealth at the cost of the suffering of the masses. I used to call these debates “punching a big cotton ball”, because whatever rational argument was phrased showing that in its very concept socialism causes more problems that it can resolve, no one addressed my arguments, but I was instructed how much good government can do in correcting economic injustice.

The February 25 debate was a great example of punching a big cotton ball. For example, as soon as Congressman Paul Ryan finished his deep knockout punches, the cotton returned to its original shape, and in response, we heard about good things done and planned by the government. Somewhere, in passing, as something obvious, the President said, that this is what we have government to do. No one in the room captured this moment to request a halt to the debate about health care and to start a debate on what the role of the government should be.

Is government a solution?
The President is right when he says, “At stake right now is not just our ability to solve this problem, but our ability to solve any problem.” However, we should not close our eyes and minds on the “substantial differences,” and go into legislative wrestling. Before going any further, we should explain to the American people the essence of the “substantial differences.”

When facing fundamental disagreements, it is time to reach back into the origins of the U.S. political system. It was built on the concept of freedom of an individual in pursuing his or her happiness, and on the concept of limited government protecting these liberties. Thomas Paine wrote: “Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: (…) Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.”

Ronald Reagan summarized this in his famous saying, which begs to be repeated today, “In this present crisis government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Why did no one bring this up at the February 25 meeting? Because, they were smart enough to foresee that they could be reminded that for long years when Republicans were in majority, somehow they did not see ever growing government as a problem. Just about three years ago, the immigration reform failed because the majority of Republicans demanded increased government control over the labor market; practically nationalization of a big segment of it. Knowing that immigration would soon be back on the agenda, Republicans resolutely refrained from bringing arguments that could backfire before long.

If limited government is the underlying concept of our political system, then prior to getting the government involved, we should first ask ourselves, if the same could be achieved just by actions of individuals, without the government’s direct participation. If we tune our thinking in this mode, we would soon be surprised how many things could be done better with less government involvement.

Starting from scratch?
Asking to start from scratch Republicans act as if they just arrived from Mars yesterday and were not around for the last year. Democratic proposals, in all versions, arise from the report prepared for President Obama by the Council of Economic Advisers, titled “The Economic Case for Health Care Reform.” Under the pretence of science, this report provides snapshots of the current health care system, with an axiom that the free market failed and the government needs to take over health care in the country. Arriving from this premise, Democrats prepared the original House proposal, then the Senate one, and lastly the President’s version. Even if they do start from scratch a million times over, they will still arrive with the same conclusion, which they put in the overriding axiom to begin with.

Instead of asking to start from a blank page, Republicans should pull out at least a few pages with their analysis of the crisis written on them. They do not even need to write it, just pick up the best analysis from what is already written. A treatise by Professors Charles Kroncke and Ronald F. White, “The Modern Health Care Maze: Development and Effects of the Four-Party System.” could be a good start. In the summary of their analysis they write: “did it ever really make sense to set up a health care system whereby fourth-party corporate employers purchase health care insurance for their first-party employees from third-party corporation, which in turn pay second-party providers for health care products and services?”

It not only sounds complicated; it is. Hence, Professors Kroncke and White ask: “Does any other industry insulate buyers from sellers in this way?” and they conclude: “the only way to reform our health care system successfully is to destroy the infrastructure that sustains the four-party system. (…) Until we reduce government’s ability to surreptitiously distort the market forces that drive the health care industry, the juggernaut and other dysfunctional arrangements will continue to plague the system.”

Nation in dismay
Health care is just one crisis, besides banking, immigration, education, energy, and almost anything we look at. In theory, we have a free market system. In reality, it is heavily regulated. There is a “substantial difference” in how Americans see and interpret these problems. Some see them as result of unrestrained greed, and look for more government regulations. Others see already existing government regulations as corporate welfare and the source of our problems, and seek improvement in curbing them. Unfortunately, regardless, of which side of the issue they are on, most Americans do not understand the free market concept, and do no know socialism either. Too often, confused, sometimes they opt for more government regulations, sometimes for less, depending on other ideological prejudices.

Banking on this perplexity about untouchable and not challenged “substantial differences”, the current administration, which has a clear anti-free market, pro-socialistic leaning, has a fair shot in shifting the political system in our country, maybe forever. So far, Republicans leaders failed to challenge Democrats heads on. They do not support abandoning employment sponsored health insurance system in exchange for the free market driven individually purchased insurance. They do not recognize, or are afraid to say it aloud, that individually purchased health insurance would lower premiums, and gradually would invoke market pressure on lowering costs incurred by Medicare. With lower premiums, more Americans would be able to purchase health insurance, lowering the number of uninsured, and those depending on Medicaid. With the revival of the free market, it would be only a matter of time when seniors would ask for the option of buying out of Medicare in favor of commercially available life-cycle health insurance. All these measures combined would lower the burden, which presently Medicare and Medicaid have on Federal and states budgets; Americans would have better health care, and the country would be richer at the same time.

There is only one problem with this rosy picture; with the free market working again, health insurance companies, health service providers, and pharmaceutical companies would finally face real competition, and would need to work much harder to make a dollar. With the November election on the horizon, Republicans are torn apart between their duties to the nation and their fears of ostracizing many lobbyists and major donors.

Republicans entered a risky game, as on one end, they desperately oppose the clearly socialistic health care reform proposal, and – on the other end – they avoid presenting free market based solution, which actually could solve our crisis. All due to fears of losing the coziness of their place in the existing Washington constellation. Apparently, crisis did not reach Capitol Hill yet. Republicans need a shake up by a leader of the Regan caliber. So far, they are afraid of bringing the Reagan name.

The health care reform proposed by the current administration has advanced as much as it did, because Democrats are one-step ahead in comprehending constrains that Republicans put on themselves.

A version of this text was published by Huffington Post

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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