Blogs Directory OpiniON Hungary

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 - U.S. bans 6 Hungarians from entry

... All the more reason to feel uncomfortable when it comes to evaluating present-day political achievements. We can still make international headlines by not investigating corruption allegations which have resulted in bans from entry to the US, affecting Hungarian government officials.

Tax evasion is a national sport in Hungary and it has been for a long time. Tax authorities are widely perceived to be evil representatives of bureaucracy who work against citizens to make their lives more difficult. Tax rates are definitely high in Hungary, but this should not provide moral basis for evasion. Not investigating taxation-related corruption allegations where government officials may be involved is a big mistake of Orban’s government. For the ordinary tax payer this can be the perfect pretext to justify misconduct.

1956 - Hungarian revolution

„Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people in the last twenty years.  But for this lesson to get through and convince those in the West who shut their eyes and ears, it was necessary, and it can be no comfort to us, for the people of Hungary to shed so much blood which is already drying in our memories. 
In Europe’s isolation today, we have only one way of being true to Hungary, and that is never to betray, among ourselves and everywhere, what the Hungarian heroes died for, never to condone, among ourselves and everywhere, even indirectly, those who killed them.”

             Albert Camus - The blood of the Hungarians (1957)

The 1956 revolution was an undeniably magnificent episode in our history, nourishing Hungarian national pride and identity ever since.

Friday, January 11, 2013


While taking my daily walk during lunchtime in a park not too far from where I work, I met an old homeless man I have seen a couple of times before. He was trying to sell a newspaper-looking dirty sheet titled "Roofless" (Fedél nélkül) - a newspaper written, edited and distributed by homeless people.

 I gave him some money, but did not take the paper. He asked me if I was accustomed to seeing bloody, ugly things, he was referring to his frozen fingers. This got me thinking, because I did not have a prompt answer and at the same time I was looking for my purse in my rucksack - he started taking off his gloves hesitantly. He had two pairs on. I told him not to take them off. He was hesitant because he expected me to turn my back at him and just walk away any second. When I asked him to go someplace warm for the night he said he would not - he survived a freezing night with minus 21°C once before.

 He has lived on the streets for four years. His wife died last year, his dog this year and - because of a tumor near his throat- he had difficulty articulating clearly . At first I thought he told me all this to win my sympathy but I already gave him some money, so he must have had other reasons. I realized he had no one to talk to and no one to treat him as a human being.

 Not that I want to see myself as the savior, who descended to offer some comfort to a poor soul. I felt a little ashamed instead. As if I bought a few minutes to have an interesting conversation with a man who lost his dignity and had no choice but to beg.

 I do not blame passers-by who walk away with disgust when a broken homeless man approaches them. There is little one man can do to change another person's wrecked life for the better. It can also be shocking to realize how fragile one's existence is and to accept the alarming possibility that it could happen to anyone. But we should not let this fear prevent us from being sensible to others' tragedies.

"A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members..." (Pope John Paul II.) - and societies are made up of individuals.  6MQH8448QG7X

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hungarian flavour

I was at home at the end of November last year, watching the stately run TV channel ”m1”, hoping to learn about what is going on in the world around us. I did not hear much about all the hassle around the Hungarian economy, the most recent turnaround of the government, calling for IMF assistance again in a ’new form of co-operation’ with the monetary fund… They tend to avoid sensitive topics.

The festival of Hungarian flavours provided a good opportunity to broadcast some positive messages to the public, helping us to forget the pathetic economic situation the country is in. Ok. Let’s talk about Hungarian flavours.

One of the guests was the young representative of a company specialized in the organization of gastronomic events and in the promotion of traditional Hungarian food products and drinks. The other one was a chatty mushroom and jam expert, who – unlike the young chap - was keen on his subject, but there was no room for redundant details in this conversation.

To be more exact, there was no sane conversation at all. The TV presenter - struggling to follow the instructions she received through her earpiece (so it seemed) - asked random questions and kept changing the subject whenever the mushroom guy brought up something he rightfully expected to talk about.

The desired goal of the interview was to demonstrate that local retail stores can benefit from buying from local producers of traditional Hungarian products. This is an ’appropriate’, well-deserved message. Viewers can sit back and rest assured that things are going well, the government is in control and does what is necessary in favour of local stores and producers…

What to do if the interviewee does not know what he is expected to answer? Ask the same question again! Still no joy? Ask again! But if the dumb guy clearly does not get the point? Tell him what to say: YES. Yes, local stores can benefit from this and this is not just an aim, not just a festival, this has already begun, we have had enough of mass products and supermarkets… It is not so difficult, is it? We can now sit back.

What made me write all this? How did I guess what really happened during this interview?
There is always a little mistake that uncovers the truth. In this case, the studio control room operator – either puzzled by the intellectual heights of the discussion or tired of his constant efforts to avoid showing grimaces of incomprehension – inadvertently captured the moment when the interviewer inaudibly articulated the answer to her own question!

Ridiculous - was my first thought. Why did she do it? – was the second. Why on the morning programme? It was not a peak time political debate, nothing serious at stake. I have come to the conclusion that this is the nature of propaganda. Misinformation is everywhere. Since November last year, a number of media scandals have proved me right.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pension. Pension? Pension???

Since money is in short supply and the success of the Orban government's widely disputed economic program is based on the fast recovery of the Hungarian economy, drastic measures are necessary.

All sides agree that money is a key element in achieving government objectives, but there is disagreement about where to find it. Our government has found surprising answers to the dilemma and -as part of the new policies- they have seized control of mandatory private pension funds, which will be reintegrated in the public pension system.

Privately managed pension funds were introduced in 1998 to supplement state pensions. There are about 3 million people who have money in the private funds. Their savings will be automatically transferred to the state system unless they decide to go against the flow and opt out.

Now is the time to exercise our right to CHOOSE:
Remain in the private funds and lose our eligibility for government pension (currently 70% of the pension claim) after all future contributions or vote for the government pension system and agree to transfer all funds kept on private accounts into the huge and bottomless bag labelled state pension. This is what I and many call blackmail.

Even if we opt out, they will continue to deduct and move 24% of the salary -paid by the employer- into the state pension system and only 10% of the contribution goes to the private account.

"My wife handles these chores." This was György Matolcsy's explanation for his motives for joining the private pension system 12 years ago. I forgot to mention, he is our economy minister in charge.