SeSam.hu

SeSam is Péter Szilágyi, Engineering Manager at Ustream, residing in Budapest, Hungary. This is his playground.

Who we are

Carnation did a visualization of the 2009 TÁRKI research titled Social and Cultural Conditions of Economic Growth. The picture it portrays is not pretty but very on the spot: I think we all experience it every day. Since the visualization is only available in Hungarian I translated the slides for everyone to understand. (Via HH.)

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According to a scientific research (Tárki, Social and Cultural Conditions of Economic Growth, 2009) there are countries in which people generally think it is worthwhile to be law abiding. What characterizes the people of these countries (FIN, SWE, GER, NED, SUI, GBR, AUT)? They believe that everyone has a chance to succeed. They believe that everyone determines his/her own fate. They have a confidence in themselves and their future. They think hard work is important. They highly value knowledge. They trust each other and their institutions.

However, there are countries where laws are only important in theory, not in practice. What characterizes the people of these countries (HUN, MOL, BUL, UKR, RUS)? They don’t believe that you can achieve anything with hard work. They don’t value knowledge. They don’t really trust each other or their institutions. They believe that without good connections and good family background it is very hard to achieve success.  They have little confidence in themselves and their future. They don’t believe that everyone determines his/her own fate.

What do you think, which country does better?

What characterizes the Hungarians? Out of 100 Hungarians: 75 are against cheating taxes, 75 disapprove of lying in order to receive government funding, 75 frown upon retiring early, 75 believe that laws should be upheld without exceptions, 70 wish to achieve success and acknowledgment, 75 are convinced that in order to be successful one must work hard, 80 believe that it is worth to study, 85 regard creativity and resourcefulness of outmost importance.

Judging only by this, the Hungarians are law-abiding, resourceful, knowledge appreciating, hard working people.

There is however some ambiguity here.

Out of 100 Hungarians 75 believe that laws should be upheld, yet 75 claim it is inevitable to disregard the law in some cases. Out of 100 Hungarians 70 wish to achieve success and acknowledgment, but only 50 believe that everyone determines his/her own fate, and 50 think it is untrue that by working hard one will eventually achieve his/her goal, also 80 think that not everyone has the same chances in life, and 82 claim that in Hungary it is impossible to get rich honestly.

57% of us believes we need to help those in need, but 86% thinks it is all right if everyone only cares about his/her own advancement. 52% of us is against parasolvency, yet most of us think it is worth giving money to the doctors.

The majority of the Hungarians doesn’t trust: the political elite, the business sector, the media, the legal system… and we don’t trust each other either.

The case of the lost wallet: what would you do if you found a lost wallet in the street? Do you try to return it or simply pocket it? What do you think others would do? What is the most common answer to these questions? “I would return it but others would keep it.”

What do you teach your child? Pay taxes. Be considerate when traveling. Don’t lie. Help others. Keep the law. Study, work for yourself. Respect others. Don’t discriminate.

But what do you see if you look around? You can only achieve something if you disregard some rules. Only losers are honest. Our taxes get stolen anyway. The whole country is corrupt. It is impossible to get rich honestly. Nothing works like it should. You can’t do anything alone against the corrupted institutions.

Problems with self-image? Lying to ourselves? Simple distrust? What are we to do in this situation?

Changing the values of the society is too important to let the politicians handle it. Or to wait for others to do it for us. It is our collective responsibility to urge, initiate, start changes.

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