The Bounds of Privacy

I couldn’t remember what grade but my elementary teacher once told us that a letter addressed to another person must never be opened because it is the worst form of invasion of privacy. The post office is sworn by law to respect this sacred rule and protect the privacy of its citizens. It’s been decades now but I have clung to this principle like a leech. I have never opened a letter not addressed to me, not even my wife’s. There’s a Berlin wall between me and my wife whenever it comes to this issue. I don’t sneak into her cell phone and neither does she. True, we are soul mates but there are things we’d like to preserve as being part of self, of identity, of being let alone.

News of breach of privacy by the institutions – government or private alike – always rings a louder bell and make it to the headlines. Just recently, a woman accused a telecom carrier for breaching her privacy through the mishandling of her phone invoice, causing the eventual break up of her marriage. Her cell phone bill was being mailed to her maiden name at the family home. The problem arose when the carrier offered the husband savings when services are bundled – landline, TV, cell phone – to which the husband agreed. Without her knowledge, her cell phone bill came in a single invoice for the services in the household. The husband discovered the many long hours of conversations on her call log, prompting the former to conduct an investigation. Her affair was unraveled. The marriage ultimately broke up.

She is now divorced, lost her job due to depression but she didn’t want to go out quietly. She is suing the carrier for $600K as compensation the breach of her privacy. Her point was the carrier didn’t ask her concurrence to integrate her invoice with her husband’s. The carrier insists that their act didn’t have any malicious intentions as there is nothing shady or abnormal with sending a single phone bill for Mr. and Mrs. living in the same residence. Some observers feel that the carrier isn’t to blame and the woman deserved the kick in the butt for her infidelity.

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Taxpayer Power

I bet all of us had asked ourselves the question at least once – “ why do I have to pay goddamn income taxes” ? If you’re one who hasn’t paid a penny on income taxes, lucky you for being alive, free as a wandering mountain goat with no liability to the society you live in .

We’ve all heard of the biblical phrase “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” . For some of us this would suffice as complete justification of paying taxes, for would we dare challenge the wisdom of providential authority ? Cesar’s rationale was plain and simple. The tax was payment for the privilege of living in his land. Since the ruler’s power in an autocracy is unlimited, payment of tax was a much milder form of robbery. Confiscation of one’s property would be more disastrous.

Some 2,000 years later , rendering things which are Cesar’s is still very much around but had morphed into a more complex activity. Autocratic kings and emperors are long gone and transplanted by so called democratic governments created by the people for the people, taxation had evolved into a gigantic financial machinery engaged in legalized extortion. Governments had made it law to take a cut of every penny a person or a business earns. Worse, it had gone totally rapacious by taking a cut on what we purchase, consume and inherit – to name a few. The dole out isn’t a one way street though. Since we are a more enlightened specie now compared to the days of Cesar, democratic governments are bound by law to serve and protect its tax paying citizens. Tit for tat. We pay taxes and we get service and protection.

Taxation is so entrenched in the people’s psyche, underscored by the proverbial quote “ nothing is certain but death and taxes “. Countries either prosper or retrogress through their ability to condition the citizens’ minds to pay taxes with the promise of providing better services like employment, education, health care – towards a better standard of living. Every country has its own unique tax grab formula in relation to the kind of services it proposes to offer. Come to think of it, the taxpayer wields tremendous power on who should get his hands on the government coffers. After all, it is the citizens who elect and install government officials to ensure that the tax they pay is being used to the optimum. The taxpayer has the power to boot out errant and under-performing officials. Government officials have to be wary and fearful taxpayer backlash because they can be fired during election day if they screw up in their jobs.

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When I go to the beach or the water park and see bodies, male and female alike, thinly clad in their swimming suits moving around, I sometimes wonder why we have sexy models gracing the front pages of magazines when the rest of the world don’t really give a rat’s ass of how we look 🙂 The probability of finding the finely sculpted bodies of these cover girls in the crowd is rather slim, for the bodies you would likely see are obese, wide, skinny, crooked, chubby, disproportionate….. I’m running our of adjectives now 🙂 In short, the crowd reeks with imperfection but I didn’t say that everyone was ugly and beauty was nowhere to be found. In fact you’d be amused to find lots of imperfect, nice looking cuties that will make your day quite interesting 😉

“I suspect the secret of personal attraction is locked up in our unique imperfections, flaws and frailties ” Hugh Mackay

I dislike people who are perfectionists or those that demand perfection when they themselves are far from being perfect. When we like someone from the opposite sex and finally decide to go out with him/her, it would mean that we have finally learned to deal the worst part of his/her imperfections. Our handling of such imperfection could either make or break the relationship. Marilyn Monroe was absolutely spot on when she said “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

“Learning gives us a fuller conviction of the imperfections of our nature; which one would think, might dispose us to modesty” …Jeremy Collier

At our usual cafeteria lunch talk, a colleague of mine mentioned about a friend who had a habit of watching beauty pageants, searching for the woman of her dreams 🙂 His buddy didn’t have the looks of Brad Pitt but had been looking way beyond his league 😆 In the corporate arena, you sometimes wonder if senior managers have an inkling of what modesty means, when they are so unequivocal with their mandates, demanding results to be no less than perfect. In matters of relationship, the intense friction of egos are the result of the lack of modesty, of understanding one’s own imperfections. As one saying goes, “when you work on your own life, you are less likely to hyper focus on the imperfections of your spouse”.. Martha Quinn


The A-side meth is what they used to have 500 years ago. Remember when the Philippines were fighting the US soldiers? They were shooting them motherf****s with 45s. And 45s were bouncing off their motherf****ng a$$. They weren’t even dying!”

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