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.

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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. 

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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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The future will be bright … for others

I have followed the writings of Shelly Palmer for several years. He knows everything about what is happening with the newest consumer electronics. In his commentaries, besides useful technical information, he often shares many intriguing thoughts how new technologies can change our lives, sooner and more profoundly than most of us expect.

In a recent essay Mr. Palmer asked his readers: How Do You See the Future? Trying to guide his readers, Mr. Palmer offers 20 theses about things that he believes will happen soon and asks his readers: “What do you believe?” At this point, I had to disagree with my revered author. Technological progress and its social ramifications are not a religion, they are about science. Beliefs should be put aside; what I know and understand matters.

I copied the text of Mr. Palmer’s essay and, by one click, assigned numbers to his 20 theses. Then, I marked in yellow 10 theses (2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14) that reflect the very nature of the civilization’s progress. The thesis number 11, “Data is more powerful in the presence of other data,” is the most representative for this group. When two prehistoric men shared their experiences, occasionally, it sparked a new idea much more powerful than what they knew, moving civilization forward. Since then, until today, this process is exactly the same; it is exponential. The difference is that in the remote past the population was sparse, not too many people had ideas worth exchanging, and it was difficult to propagate them; hence, it took millennia to develop and spread just one invention. Today, everything happens almost instantaneously. For us, the practical difference is that up to a generation or two ago, for most people, the biggest technological shifts happened less often than once per generation. Today, for most of us, that shift happens every few years. It means that we should be prepared to change our professional careers as often.

Mr. Palmer sounds pessimistic when he claims that “New technology will not replace all of the jobs that new technology displaces.” Behind this statement there is a not formally expressed assumption, by some, that if my job is eliminated by a new technology, a replacement job should be given to me. If I read it correctly, Mr. Palmer does not imply that it should be this way, but he worries that too many people are not prepared for the near future when there will be no jobs they can take, and, if they want to work, they will need to create a job for themselves.

This problem can also be seen as the dysfunction of the American society. Mr. Palmer writes about it more directly in four more theses. In particular Mr. Palmer might be right that in the current political reality, technological progress will cause the big to get bigger, the small to survive and the middle to perish. But this is not universal for technological progress; this is how it happens in the U.S. right now. He might be right, as well, that the rising health care costs might form political pressure on the big food companies. But he misses the elephant in the room, because the big food companies did not cause health costs to rise; we have a systematically dysfunctional health care policy.

Similarly, Mr. Palmer is plainly wrong that due “to the increasing world population, we cannot train enough doctors, dentists, and other health care professionals.” Again, this is just the problem in the U.S. On the other hand, the Philippines, which has population density about 10 times higher than in the United States, produces medical professionals in abundance. Mr. Palmer is wrong, as well, when lamenting that “the entire education system is too expensive and is not producing qualified candidates for newly created jobs.” Once more, this is just another unresolved American problem. India produces plenty of software engineers, more than capable to deal with the challenges of the future. Mr. Palmer does not dot the i’s by not bringing up what we all know; that most Americans do not want these educated immigrants to come and work among us, despite the fact that Americans are not well-prepared for the technological challenges that some of us may face tomorrow, most of us within the next decade or so.

Summarizing, the simple answer to the Mr. Palmer’s question is that the future looks bright, but … for others. In the United States, we still have too much that is unknown. Nevertheless, I do not share the pessimism that one can sense from Mr. Palmer’s essay. In another of his 20 theses Mr. Palmer noted aptly that the “tools used to access the free and open Internet have enabled users to filter out anything that makes them uncomfortable and have exacerbated the negative effects of confirmation bias.” In plain words, we use the modern information technology not to learn, but to reassure ourselves that what we already know makes us wise. Paradoxically, in a time of unprecedented ability to communicate, we have lost the ability to communicate on issues that matter. All these dysfunctions of our political system mentioned above can be linked to this diagnosis. Be it health care, immigration, education or climate change, Americans are divided along ideological lines and have lost the ability to reach any constructive consensus.

There is an old maxim that every problem can be resolved if one can identify its very nature. Hence, as bad as our problems are, my note of optimism stems from the fact that we know well where the problems originate. For years I have been absorbed by this national-divide issue and have seen many attempts to overcome it. Mass media are often blamed for this problem as it is easier to make a buck by telling people what they are pleased to hear, not what the truth is. Consequently, many attempts to break this national divide have been initiated by not-for-profit ventures trying to compete with media giants. Not an easy task.

I sense that those among us who are weary of being flattered all the time and who seek satisfaction from learning something new are plenty enough to support a commercial venture aimed at overcoming that national divide. I put my engineer’s mind to work and invented the concept of Virtual Agora, www.virtualagora.net. At Virtual Agora, people are challenged to prove that they are smarter than others, and as a result are tricked to learn from others. This venture is designed to make a profit by addressing the biggest problem that American society is facing today. Could it be more American? I bet that others will follow, and this is my source for optimism that the future will be bright not only for others.

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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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