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
Government neutrality

Jan 20, 2015

Faster than government could act, the internet grew up without much regulation. There is a variety of providers, and many opportunities to hook up to free Wi-Fi connections. A recent Wall Street Journal story tells us that even homeless people can be on the internet, if they want to. The FCC ignores this reality and wants to classify internet connectivity as a public utility and apply to it the laws used once to regulate phone monopolies. What else do they want to do above what the market has already accomplished? There is a simple way to temper the zealous FCC bureaucrats: cut their budget in half so they will have no resources to cause any damage. It is high time to start enforcing government neutrality.    


Terror incident in France
Jan 11, 2015

It looks as though a few losers got their frustrations out. Usually for losers – Boston Marathon bombers are another example – they try to get associated with some radical ideology. The more we are succeeding in the progress of civilization, the more drastic is perceived the hardship of those who cannot keep up with the pace. By the end of the 19th century, the rapid growth of capitalism caused the plague of anarchists. We call them terrorists now. Whatever the name, they are as rats in New York; they always had been, they are still, and they always will be. The only way of eliminating rats in New York completely is by eliminating New York itself. The only way of eliminating terrorism is by going back to caves. Similarly as with rats in New York, we have to do whatever we can to curb terrorism; yet, we have to accept that we will never be able to eradicate it completely.

Net neutrality exposed
Jan 16, 2014
Internet service is not much different than other utilities, such as electricity, gas or water. Politicians and commentators focus on the nominal speed offered by ISPs. Comparing to water for example, nominal speed offered is analogous to water pressure. We are charged not for the nominal pressure, but for how much water we consume. The pressure offered is a mere technical consequence of the need to satisfy our demand for the volume of water. Similarly, for the internet service providers the cost of service is related to the volume of data transmitted. In order to have this transmission be useful (for example, being able to watch live TV) certain speed needs to be guaranteed.
    If we want the internet to grow and develop freely, we have to expect that its users are charged based on real cost of the service delivery, not on some political fiction imagined by politicians that do not understand neither technology nor business.
      Net neutrality came into existence due this ignorance of politicians and their eagerness of mingling with things beyond their comprehension. As much as this seems to be a norm, it does not release us from exposing it every time when it occurs.
      Illegal lawyer
      Jan 03, 2014
      The California Supreme Court granted permission to practice law to Mr. Sergio C. Garcia, who formally is an illegal immigrant. This decision created a lot of noise in media. We can only hope that this case will trigger long overdue discussion about legality, I mean constitutionality, of our immigration law as it is now. The case can be made that our current immigration law is unconstitutional, and that this is the beginning and the end of all the problems with immigration we ever had, have now,  and might have in the future. 
      Spherical heaters
      Dec 17, 2013
      The government decided that we should not use old style incandescent bulbs due to their energy inefficiency. Only about 10% of the energy they use goes into light, everything else is heat. Most of us have already gradually switched to new bulbs, luminescent or LED. Do we really need the government to be a busy bee regulating this technological transition? What if some people, regardless of inefficiency, want to keep old bulbs for aesthetic or sentimental reasons? The European Union is ahead of us in this process. When they banned old kind-hearted bulbs, some people still wanted to have them. As there was a market for them in Germany, they were sold not as light bulbs but as spherical heaters. After all, this is what they do the best. The eagerness of bureaucrats never can overcome ingenuity of regular folks.
      Helping Mexico
      Dec 10, 2013
      Some anti-immigration advocates say that the best that the U.S. can do, is help Mexico reform their political system. How can it be done most efficiently? Ironically, by allowing freedom of migration and letting even more Mexicans from poor states, such as Oaxaca, to come and work in the U.S. As soon as they see that the world could be better than it is in their home state, they will do whatever in their power to change it. Their strength and resolve will be reinforced by dollars made in the U.S. The ideas of freedom and democracy still are the strongest assets and attraction of the U.S. The best way to spread them is not by sending American soldiers to implement them somewhere else. It is by allowing others to come and experience them first hand. Those are very contagious ideas.
      Obamacare will never work
      Nov 24, 2013
      Obama care does not work and never will. The Harvard Law School graduate does not know the definition of insurance. He does not understand that by its definition insurance can cover only possible but unlikely events. There cannot be insurance covering preexisting conditions, as it cannot be insurance covering the leaking roof. If we loosened up the grip of government regulations, the market would come up with the insurance for permanent health deterioration; hence, it would make sense for young people to pay this insurance for if they develop “preexisting conditions” next year or 50 years down the road, they would have coverage. With this simple approach of insurance as a life cycle affair, not an one year deal, Obamacare is not needed at all.
        Obamacare will also not work because the University of Chicago constitutional law teacher does not understand the Constitution. The idea behind the Constitution is that people should have freedom to find the best ways of handling their affairs, and that the government should not be in the business of making these decisions for them or in the business of providing services to citizens. With Obamacare the government took upon itself a job of providing an essential service, instead of securing that private entities have freedom, including freedom from government regulations, to do so anyway they see fit.
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        Rube Goldberg immigration fix

        The Gang of 8 prepared the immigration reform proposal. The intentions are noble. The proposed measures promise improvement, but the concept and mechanics of how it should be done look like a Rube Goldberg masterpiece.

        When an engineer is given an assignment, first he or she tries to understand what the objective is – what needs to be fixed. The Gang of 8 skipped this step. They did not ask what caused our immigration mess, they did not ask why we have millions of people crossing our borders illegally; they just hoped to get results by adding new elements and more money into already convoluted system. They did not ask how we can resolve our problems by simplifying what we do so far; they took the Rube Goldberg approach.

        Border security

        Why do millions of people cross our borders illegally? Who are they? Is there anything we can do to stop them doing so anymore? Everyone knows the answers. We have millions of people entering here illegally because they can find the jobs they need. We can snivel as much as we want that greedy American employers do not want to pay higher wages to Americans and underpay immigrants. Our moaning will not change the fact that we have a global economy now. If anywhere in the world there is a worker willing to perform a given job at certain pay rate, if we effectively restrict an American employer from hiring this worker, someone else will hire this person.  The American employer will be not competitive on the global market anymore.

        The logical question would be to ask, how many of these foreign workers does our economy need? We can estimate this by checking how many illegal immigrants arrived in the past. No one knows exactly, but from different sources one can estimate that before the recession, it was more than 500,000 per year, maybe even close to 1,000,000 in some years. Now, during the recession, it is estimated around 200,000, but the flow is negative, as more illegal immigrants leave than arrive. Of course we do not want to stay in the recession; hence, we have to be prepared that a booming economy might require an influx of at least 500,000, or up to one million, foreign workers every year. If we create a system allowing them to come here legally they will have no reason to cross the border illegally or overstay visitors’ visas. If we create a system that American employers can legally obtain the workers they want, they will have no reason to hire illegal immigrants. One may say that the greed of some employers has no limits and they will still try to take advantage of some foreigners and employ them illegally for a fraction they would need to pay legally. It is true to the extent that this is not different from someone trying to make an extra buck by breaking any other labor laws. As long as most people can legally get what they consider justifiable, they will report law-breakers to authorities. We do not have this within our current immigration system.

        If we let in legally about one million more of guest workers each year, for any foreigner planning to work and maybe settling in the U.S. it will be unappealing and unnecessary to cross the border illegally or overstay a visa. This way we can solve the border security problem, as the only people crossing the border illegally will be criminals. Consequently, the border security issue will be separated from the immigration policy, and should not even be included in the immigration bill.  But, there is the reason why our noble Gang of 8 did not go this path.

        Big elephant in the room

        During the last 25 years, an average of about one million foreigners per year received a so-called “green card”, meaning permanent residency status in the U.S. At the same time, we accumulated about 12 million illegal immigrants, about half a million per year. It needs to be clarified that among those receiving legal immigration status about 55% are so called status adjustments. This simply means people already living in the U.S. illegally or on temporary visas, who found a way to legalize their presence. Only about 480,000 legal immigrants per year are actually arriving from abroad. Comparing this with estimated illegal arrivals, one can see that counting people coming here, more than half of them arrived illegally. One can blame people; I would say that people follow what is the most logical path in the system we have. Putting aside for a while what to do with people already illegally here, if we want to avoid repetition of what we have now, we need to be prepared to accept yearly anywhere between 1.5- 2 million guest workers and immigrants, instead of about 1 million now.  This is the big elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. In the recent poll, 55% of voters are against increased legal immigration, and only 28% are for increased immigration.

        Regardless what is said or written about this or any other immigration reform proposal, nothing can be accomplished until these numbers are reversed, until at least 55% of voters support meaningful increase of legal immigration. Senators can debate the immigration reform proposal endlessly but most of them will not vote for the act that most of their voters do not support. The Gang of 8 applied Rube Goldberg’s tangle to the extent that they themselves seem to believe that somehow miraculously the numbers will click. They will not.

        It became obvious when known opponents of immigration testified during the Senate hearings. The culmination occurred when Sen. Durbin questioned Kris W. Kobach. After they were bargaining for a few minutes over whom to allow and whom not to immigrate, the obvious question to ask Mr.Kobach would be: how many immigrants would you accept, if any? Mr.Kobach is a legal counsel for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). On their website one can read that “FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest—more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.” It is less than one third of what we have now and about one sixth what we need in order to be able to control immigration. Sen. Durbin did not ask the question which could expose the ridiculousness of Mr. Kobach’s views. I can only guess that Sen. Durbin did not do it as in return, Mr. Kobach would ask if the proposed immigration reform would end up with increased immigration. Sen. Durbin did not want to answer this question either. How we can have an honest debate if we avoid the most important issue?

        Can we find a way around?

        No. The situation is direr than most media commentators acknowledge. Organizations such as FAIR and Center for Immigration Studies (also testified during Senate hearings) have deeply imbedded in the minds of Americans that immigrants take their jobs; that immigration is net cost to taxpayers. This is simply not true. If more people are willing to work for less, more wealth is created. This wealth stays here. People have more money to buy things, government collects more in taxes. The part of the anti-immigration rhetoric is that only rich people benefit from the work of immigrants. If we go this path we can also ask the government to slow the technological progress as with every innovation rich people get richer before everybody else can benefit. After all, being entrepreneurial also means the ability to find cheaper workers. If Americans want to benefit from the dynamic economy, they have to be prepared that their jobs can be done cheaper and better by someone else. That someone else might be an immigrant. Or if we will not let them in, that job may move abroad.

        Talking about technological progress, immigration takes blame for it as well. For example, construction workers are against increased immigration. Not long ago, it took weeks for a team of carpenters to build a frame of a house. Now walls come prefabricated. It takes a crane, one skilled man and one unskilled helper to put the house frame together within hours. That unskilled helper might be an immigrant, but this is not the reason that carpenters are losing their jobs. Similarly, not long ago computer programmers were prima ballerinas. Now they are produced by the millions in Asia. Software programming became commoditized. Unless you are a superstar, you cannot make as much as before. Again, Americans blame immigrants and outsourcing for this change.

        The border protection as envisioned by immigration opponents and adopted by the Gang of 8 is laughable. By policing the border they will be able to prevent illegal border crossing as much as the government was able to stop production and distribution of alcohol during Prohibition. As long as jobs will be here, people will find the way to cross the border illegally. If physical protection will be perfected, bribing people we hired to guard the border will become the most common way to cross the border illegally. However, if all measures to stop people from coming and working here will be more effective than now; more jobs that these people could do will go abroad. In that sense the physical borders will become irrelevant. Advocates of protecting American jobs will need to ask for limiting foreign trade and disconnecting the internet connection with the outside world. Americans and the leaders on Capitol Hill need to decide if they want to be a part of global economy, or do they want autarky.

        Until recently, most Americans opposed legalization of presently illegal immigrants. Recent opinion polls indicate that this has changed, and now most Americans accept that we have to find a way to let them stay here legally. The same change needs to happen in regards to expected size of legal immigration. The Gang of 8, together with other realistic politicians, needs to show some leadership qualities; they need to stand in front of Americans and tell them loud and clear that most of them are wrong on their views about immigration. They need to explain that if we want to benefit from the global economy, we have to take advantage of our infrastructure and stable political system, and be prepared to double the number of immigrants allowed for the next twenty years or so. After changing views of voters, they need to rewrite their proposal, making it simpler. If this is not accomplished, even if some lame immigration reform bill is voted in, it will be as effective in ending our immigration mess as any other Rube Goldberg invention.

        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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