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
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.

PREVIOUS COMMENTS
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.

More
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. 

More
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.”    

More
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.

More
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.

More
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.

More
More Comments

Chicago needs reality check

A column titled “Four things Chicago must do to rise from the bottom of the pack,” by Marin Gjaja and Justin Manly, introduces a study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) comparing the economic performance of the 15 largest U.S. urban agglomerations. I started reading with great interest, but the more I read – both the column and the study itself – the more I felt that something was missing.

The key finding of this study is that among the 15 largest U.S. urban agglomerations, Chicago ranks third in factors defining economic potential, but it is 12th in GDP growth and GDP per capita, which define how this economic potential is used. Messrs. Gjadja and Manly see it as “a cause for concern.” I have an issue with that.

In school terms, if a student having all the talent and opportunity to have straight A’s is falling into the B-minus range, it is a cause for concern. If that student is permanently floating just above a solid F, it is alarming; this student needs a reality check, as definitely something is fundamentally wrong. Something is fundamentally wrong with Chicago as well, because for decades it slowly but constantly has trended downward in its economic performance. The study confirms that. Also, the authors did not list any signs of improvements coming. The once-strong and vivid economic system is gradually disintegrating in front of our very eyes. Although all political and business leaders claim that they are doing whatever is in their powers to reverse this trend, the data presented by the BCG are almost screaming out that whatever they do, it is not working.

This is not the conclusion of the study in question. The four things that the authors list that Chicago must do are pleasantly sounding sentences appealing to everyone to make more of an effort in doing what has been not working so far. A thought comes to mind that these conclusions were written not to pinpoint the tough decisions that Chicago faces, but with the purpose of not upsetting those responsible for Chicago’s failures.

In their study, BCG analyzed data for the broadly drawn Chicagoland, with a population around 9.5 million, but in their analysis of the core problems, and in phrasing their conclusions, they focused on the city of Chicago itself, which has a population of only 2.7 million. This simplification, though not clearly stated by the authors of the study, is justified as with Chicago being the heart and the engine of the region, its prosperity, or lack of it, projects on all communities in the area. My further comments follow this approach and pertain only to the city of Chicago as well.

In the first of the four things that Chicago must do, the authors of the BCG study lecture business leaders to be more entrepreneurial. Next, they suggest that Chicago could help its existing businesses and industries become 21st century leaders. I disagree in principle. In the 19th century, businesses located in Chicago became industry leaders not due to help from City Hall, but mostly because the city interfered much less with their businesses than it does now. They enjoyed much more freedom in exploring business opportunities than is available now. Since then, the city became a bureaucratic monster stifling businesses. In order to maintain that overblown bureaucracy, they tax with no mercy. Meaningfully, as the BCG study points out, Chicago is home to the headquarters of many Fortune 1000 corporations as they can have some leverage on City Hall in receiving preferential treatment. For the small and middle-sized businesses providing employment for most people, moving out of Chicago, if possible, is usually the best option. Moving out of Illinois could be often even better, because the Chicago style of politics has expanded to the state government, which echoes the same problems as Chicago does.

On my list of things that Chicago needs to do, the first one is to slash its bureaucratic overreach. To my knowledge, no one has ever analyzed, case by case, how eliminating particular city ordinances could bring more benefit than harm to its residents, its businesses, and the city itself. The best example could be an ordinance requiring a permit for a Yelp sticker on the window. From my incidental experience of doing business in Chicago, it could be that everyone (except bureaucrats themselves) can benefit from eliminating as many as half of the business licenses and permits required by the city now. People enforcing these rules could be dismissed.

Chicago City Hall must to revisit its role in the city. It should result in easing its bureaucratic grip, which would make the city more business-friendly and would lower the cost of living for Chicago residents. This should coincide with a drastic cut of the city payroll.

Parallel to the reduction in bureaucracy, the city needs to face reality on its pension problems. The system is insolvent because it was originally designed in abstraction from basic economic rules. Some strategic agreement needs to be reached to honor obligations made to people already retired, but from a certain point on, all new enrollees need to be placed in commercially viable 401(k)-style retirement plans.

All these measures should bring the city to solvency. Then, businesses will step in and fill out all the new opportunities. Only then will the city have the both public and private resources and the ability to make improvements in its troubled neighborhoods.

The authors of the BCG study, in their points two and three, postulate the need for more effort in helping struggling neighborhoods and advancing diversity. In the report they show a statistical correlation among crime, low level of education, and unemployment of youngsters. From the way they write about Chicago’s troubled neighborhoods, one can sense that they have never been there, they do not know people living there, they did not visit their houses, they did not do business with them, and they did not employ them or work with them.

With the Chicago skyline on the horizon, people in the impoverished neighborhoods feel completely isolated from the wealth so visible down the street. They gave up hope. They feel victimized; they distrust the societal order as benefiting everyone but them. Only exceptionally strong individuals can get out of that intellectual marasmus by education and work. For this reason, in the long run, if any public money could be allocated to mend this problem, it should start with a more aggressive approach in education. Beginning at kindergarten, schools should identify children living in a household environment not conductive for academic progress. By combining public money with private funding and individual mentoring, these kids need to get channeled into after-school activities providing experiences similar to what children from caring families get at home. The objective is to hook these kids on math and science before they become old enough to join a gang.

Reeducating dysfunctional adults will be much harder. Access to vocational training and job openings need to be combined with limiting access to government support programs. For many, the current welfare system provides a bare minimum of food and shelter, thus discouraging work. By the same token this bare minimum is below a decent level of living, thus amplifying the sense of misery. A tough-love approach can help people get out of that enchanted circle of hopelessness by work. Satisfaction and self-esteem come from a dollar earned, not from the handouts. Sadly, we have to accept that many are so irreversibly lost due to a lack of education and addictions that they might never be able to develop the self-discipline needed in the modern world’s workplace.

As the fourth thing that Chicago must do, the authors of the BCG study again lecture businesspeople – this time that they should advertise their success. When success comes, it sort of advertises itself as everyone participating in it has the motivation and resources to trumpet it. As of now, Chicago can try to lure more tourists with a slogan: Come and see the last days of our glory, before we collapse as Detroit did.

Leave a Reply

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).

... more