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
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.

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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Chatter promptly delivered

An open letter to Mr. Lex Fenwick, Publisher of The Wall Street Journal

Dear Mr. Fenwick,

In the July 5, 2013 edition of the paper WSJ, you placed a half-page ad asking me as your customer to send you an email if I “experience any disruption in receipt of WSJ”. You wrote that my

WSJ ad

“satisfaction with service and delivery of The Wall Street Journal is of utmost importance” to you.  Please imagine having a dinner in an upscale restaurant, and a restaurant owner stopping at your table, and asking not if the food is good, but if it has been delivered promptly. Timely service is important, but you expect a delicious meal first and foremost. Similarly, prompt delivery of the WSJ is important, but first and foremost I need dependable news and good information. I am under the impression that the quality of what is in your paper is not of your “utmost importance”, or at least you did not ask for my opinion in this matter.

On the delivery issue, in my area there is only one company which delivers all the newspapers that my neighbors or I subscribe to. Hence the quality of your service is exactly the same as that of the delivery of any other paper I might subscribe to. I would not be surprised if similar arrangements are made in many other places. Hence, at least in my case, that half page ad was a waste. But you prompted me to let you know my thoughts about what is in the WSJ. Hence, let me give you my right answer to your wrong question.

The WSJ, similar to most big media organizations, keeps news delivery separate from the editorial side. To give you a sweet taste for a bitter pill that is coming, let me praise you for the high quality of the WSJ news section. I like the variety. I value the great attention put to details. Having some first-hand journalistic experience I can see how much footwork your journalists do before publishing. Lastly, I enjoy occasional tongue-in-cheek titles. In brief, they keep me as your customer.

The editorial writing in the WSJ is as bad as in any other major American publication. For me the purpose of the editorial writings is in serving as the forum for the community to exchange opinions on what matters. I do not find this on the WSJ editorial pages. As an example, let us take the currently hot issue of immigration. Almost every day there is at least one text updating or commenting on the new developments; hence, one could claim that the WSJ keeps me well informed. In fact, a lot of information is made available to me, but it is of no help for a reader trying to comprehend this complex issue. I can state this so firmly as for other reasons I extensively studied this problem, and consider myself an expert. From this perspective, I see how much essential information is left aside, and how unsystematic the editorial page approach is to this issue. Similarly, I put a lot of time and effort to study our health care system; from the point of view of someone much better informed than most Americans, I see how sporadic your coverage of this issue is as well.

Obviously, it is impossible for me, or any of your customers, to study so thoroughly all our major problems. I expect that a major media organization, as the WSJ, would conduct publicly that search for the truth. For example, I believe that it is my duty as a citizen to have a well-informed opinion on global warming or the secret government activities, and the role of WikiLeaks and people such as Edward Snowden. Knowing as accidental the WSJ coverage of issues as immigration or health care is, which I know very well, in forming my opinions on issues I do not know well, I am reluctant to depend on any opinions published in the WSJ editorial section. If I as your customer find the editorial writing in the WSJ insignificant, the question arises, why do you have it to begin with?

What is the purpose of the editorial writings as you see it and as it is seen by the WSJ editorial page editors? From reading your newspaper one can conclude that it is in publishing good texts reflecting political orientation of the editorial board. In doing so they accomplished something hard to imagine, bad editorial writing, despite good texts published. Do not feel bad about it; your competitors do the same or even worse. The New York Times, which I subscribe as well, also publishes good texts reflecting political orientation of its editorial board. So do most of the ambitious other publications. The less ambitious just publish texts that in their opinion their readers would like to read. My local Chicago Tribune could be a good example. In particular, after the purchase by Sam Zell, it went into publishing what could please most of the readers, adjusting the paper’s intellectual level to the lowest common denominator; and thus losing me as a subscriber. In other words, the editorial writing in the WSJ is bad, but you may find consolation that in the U.S. no one else does it better.

My reference point reaches back to my early journalistic experiences in Poland. Exactly 40 years ago, I worked as an intern for then the best Polish political publication, Życie i Nowoczesność (Life and Modernity), a weekly insert to Życie Warszawy (Warsaw’s Life) the main daily Warsaw newspaper. After the original team of ŻiN was dismissed for political reasons, I was fortunate to freelance to other then leading political publications. Operating in the totalitarian system, dealing daily with censors and fearing being banned of publishing anywhere in Poland (so called “wolf’s ticket”), leading journalists tried to maximize their use of scarce freedoms of expression by being as objective as possible, by sticking to the facts and scientific deduction. This way they could avoid accusations of being anti-socialistic. It worked to some degree, as most of those publications were eventually shut down anyway. However, their persistence in this facts and logic based approach made a huge dent in the opinions of the political elites and politically aware citizens. This systematic effort built the foundation for the Solidarity movement and the transition several years later. My recollection from that experience is that despite censorship, we had more thorough political debates than I currently observe in the U.S.

There was no magic in this approach. It was just hard meticulous editorial work. An issue identified as of high importance was presented for the public scrutiny. Editors sought opinions offering better understanding of the problem. Opposite views were presented, then responses, then responses to the responses. Letter from readers, and responses to them were an important part of the process. When a major publication brought up an important subject, it resonated throughout all the press. Polemics, which have more appeal to readers, were much more common than in the American press now. A reader following such debate had a fair chance of finding most of the relevant information; understand interests and motivations of the parties involved, hear their arguments and arguments of their opponents and get a broader historical and geographical content. The complexity of this approach was the key, as this was the way to build and retain the customer’s trust.

One may rebuke my criticism that with the freedom of press in the U.S., an individual can easily find all needed information. The problem is with verifying truthfulness, with identifying the relevant data, with unveiling hidden interests, with disclosing data manipulations, with bringing to light the biases and with understanding the dynamic of economy and politics. It takes an expert to sort it out. An individual has no time and resources to study thoroughly complex issues as immigration, health care, housing crisis, global warming, secret government programs – you name it. This job of verifying data and scrutinizing political views should be done publicly by editorial staff of the major media outlets. None of the listed above issues had been scrutinized on the WSJ editorial pages in the way an engineer or business person would do it, by analyzing the issue, by understanding the process, by identifying the causes of the known problems and then finding solutions arriving from the comprehension of the issue. Namely, the WSJ editorial pages failed us as the fourth branch of government.

If one would make a list of the 100 people mostly responsible for the immigration confusion we experience now and for the worthless bill just voted in by Senate, you as the WSJ publisher top this list, and your chief editors would be in the top 20 on this list. If Mr. Sulzberger, publisher of The New Your Times believes that his paper is better than yours, then he tops this list; if this can make you feel better.

Delivering news is costly; nevertheless the WSJ does it right. Good editorial writing is cheap; the only capital needed is in having well educated editors, with professional integrity and with a high desire to search for the truth. The WSJ can address any issue from every point of view, as you can get almost any political writer you may desire. Even more, occasionally in the weekly Review section the WSJ has humble attempts of presenting dissenting opinions and opposing views. It is a fade shadow of what a good editorial page should be, but it indicates that ideas presented here hover among the WSJ editors as well. Hence, please let me know why you do not do it? Why on the issue such as immigration, you do not ask basic question as why we have the immigration law as we do? Is it good? Is it enforceable? Are there any other options? What should be the purpose of the immigration policy? How did we end up with such high population of illegal immigrants? What is the most cost efficient way to eliminate this problem once and forever? Just by reading readers’ comments to the articles about immigration one can see how many of them disagree with the mantra of the texts published. Even if to the best of the knowledge of the WSJ editors these readers are objectively wrong, don’t they deserve an explanation? They vote, they contact lawmakers; but most of all, they are your customers disappointed with your product. In my opinion we have such a stalemate on immigration because our government does its best trying to do what most Americans want; but what Americans want is as realistic and as easily obtainable as Prohibition was. I might be wrong, but shouldn’t we dissect in public view such hypotheses in times when there is very little chance for consensus on any immigration policy concept?

We have a political gridlock because, ironically, in the era of unprecedented abilities to communicate, we are unable to debate merits of our problems. In the editorial writing of the WSJ the term “communicate” reached its narrow meaning, as “to express” or “propagate.” Exchanging views and understanding opinions of others simply disappeared. It leads to segmentation and polarization of the public in the degree never experienced before; so clearly seen during the last presidential election.

This lack of deliberative democracy is the failure of media as the fourth branch of government. Instead of searching the truth, we have eloquent chatter; promptly delivered, by the way. Do we need the truth? The Wall Street Journal seems to be doing fine without it. Despite this lack of truth in politics, we still do fine as a country. But we do not do as well as before. This lack of truth in politics on all levels has its price; it makes our economy less efficient. To our benefit, most countries around the world are even worse than us, they have even more inefficient political systems, but they are catching up. With the U.S. losing its momentum, our leading gap is narrowing. Our wealth resources, despite that they are tremendous are not limitless either. Eventually, we will be forced to look the truth straight into her eyes, in much more dire economic condition.

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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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