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Szabolcs Vrbos
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A thought worth considering in any freedom vs. security debate: "Those who are willing to surrender their freedom for security have always demanded that if they give up their full freedom it should also be taken from those not prepared to do so." -- Friedrich Hayek

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A few of my good friends are trying to help the homeless; let's help them help them!

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...amikor szegyen magyarnak lenni / when I am ashamed to be a Hungarian:
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Central bankers and finance ministers meet in Chengdu, China this weekend. The agenda: coordinating fiscal and monetary policies.

In its G20 brief the IMF is promoting "growth-friendly fiscal policy". Apparently the 'shortage' of government bonds is rendering quantitative easing cumbersome: so governments, please overspend more!

In other news, Mario Draghi just announced that in exceptional circumstances he favoured taxpayer help for banks. Shares of troubled Italian banks recovered.

I do NOT approve. Where can I complain?

@BREXIT: regardless of the result itself, notice democracy at its best: half the people forced to live by rules/values they do not approve of.

No, I do NOT think Nexar's dashcam app is a good idea.

Using a smartphone’s camera, Nexar recognizes the license plates of the vehicles around it, and tracks their location, velocity, and trajectory. If a car speeds past or performs an illegal maneuver, that information is added to a profile in Nexar’s online database.

Their proposition:

1. "If you’re driving next to me and you’re a dangerous driver, I want to know about it so I can be prepared."

2. "We think that it’s a service to the community to know if you’re a crazy driver or not."

3. "...people generally have little or no expectation of privacy in the movements of their cars on public roads."

My answer:

1. I do not want you to decide for me who is or isn't a dangerous driver. I want to get better at assessing and evaluating this in real-time myself instead.

2. I despise jumping to conclusions on circumstantial evidence.

3. I do care about privacy -- a lot, actually!!

Increasing the amount of rules and policing in the world is NOT going to make us more responsible individuals; only mindless creatures following rules, fearing the justice of the incompetent.

Besides: my girlfriend and I (let's just say) differ a great deal in driving style/skill. Yet we both drive the same car. Profile that, you geniuses!


PROPOSITION:

PRIVACY and INDIVIDUALISM are inseparable concepts, in many aspects synonyms to each other. You can not chip away from one without hurting the other. Since individualism is a major force behind cultural and scientific advancement, a step back in privacy is a step back for society. A society morally governed by GUILT is better than one governed by SHAME and GROUP-THINK.

THE STAGE:

There is much more to privacy, than your naked body. Yet arguments pro and con (even by the likes of David Cameron) usually degrade into shallow debates of the "I've got nothing to hide" versus "so why do you have curtains?", and "neither do I, but I don’t have anything I feel like showing you, either" type.

DEFINITION OF PRIVACY (attempt):

While privacy should certainly be viewed as a pluralistic concept, one view I found very appealing defines privacy as our right to keep a domain around us, which includes all those things that are part of us, such as our body, home, property, thoughts, feelings, secrets and identity. The right to privacy gives us the ability to choose which parts in this domain can be accessed by others, and to control the extent, manner and timing of the use of those parts we choose to disclose.

DEFINITION OF AN INDIVIDUAL:

The notion of an individual as an "indivisible" person, is not entirely universal either. Once a person is decomposed into a set of "building blocks", e.g. a person's thoughts, body parts, physical (hair style, tattoo), or behavioral (speech) expressions, different societies are unable to agree on which of these blocks to include in, or exclude from the set defining the Individual.

However, within a single society/culture, most of these blocks will certainly be the same as those within the domains defined by privacy.

EVOLUTION AND THE VALUE OF INDIVIDUALISM / PRIVACY:

Strengthening individualism is the result of thousands of years of cultural and religious development in western cultures. Many examples attest to this development, e.g. the reformation period at the turn of the 16C (thank you Erasmus, Luther) that resulted in "unsocial Protestants" having each what we might today call their own/individual "hotline" to God.

Individualism advocates moral guidance that stems internally from GUILT. This is in stark contrast to external moral guidance caused by SHAME, typical in eastern cultures, where people consider their actions acceptable when their peers consider them acceptable, resulting in GROUP-THINK.

In this sense, individualism/privacy is intimately tied to human potential: it allows the individual to stop and question his own actions/behavior, as well as actions/behavior of others, continuously re-evaluating society's current state of affairs, thus improving and advancing it in the process.

FOR US TO DECIDE:

Are we willing to give away thousands of years of western cultural development for a bit of (promised) security?

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An interesting cover story of The Economist (Feb. 20th, 2016) seems to acknowledge that Keynesian monetary policy (particularly the fixation on stimulating demand) is failing.

Make no mistake: the depicted bazooka (QE) of the ECB is still churning out 60,000,000,000 EUR every month (has been for the past year, with plans to continue at this rate until March 2017).

Add to this a negative deposit rate, and you would think there is not much else to be done, other than admit that conclusions reached based on inductive reasoning should only be presented as the probabilities they are, not as true (unquestionable) facts, as they have been in the past.

Wrong.

Instead, Keynesians now seem to have had a sudden revelation: supposedly these monetary policies have been failing, because of the lack of support from governments' fiscal policies.

So there is nothing to worry about; in light of said revelation, policymakers are now readying the deployment of new weapons to ensure our salvation. Here are some of the 'hot candidates' currently being discussed/lobbied for:

1. The "helicopter drop"

This has many variants. One could be the financing of public spending directly. Another is the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income regardless of working status (attention neo-liberals, rejoice!).

I suppose the idea is to worry about gross output and productivity of labor later (all hail the familiar mindset of 'in the long run we are all dead').

2. Tariffs, wage- and price-setting by governments

Remember planned economies of the post-WWII Eastern Europe?

3. Abolish cash (oh, and while you are at it, outlaw bitcoin, and gold, too)

Who needs it anyway -- only criminals, and prostitutes, right? This argument will be heard over-and-over again.

Never mind the loss of privacy, and most importantly: the ability to further lower the deposit rate in negative territory, since cash (that is, until it exists) places a limit on how far below zero you can go.

If you thought this was far-fetched, see US Executive Order 6102, and the Gold Reserve Act: private possession of gold was outlawed for ~30 years between 1933 and 1964 in "the land of the free"!

Could we just all agree on the basics, please? Namely that:

1. value can not be created from thin air -- there is no such thing as free lunch; whatever money you 'inject' to stimulate demand is shameless stealing via the dilution of stored value in IOUs,

2. rewarding stupidity, failure and debt is not going to get us far IN THE LONG RUN!

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