Privacy: Threat or Boost to Integrity?
From Hijacked Anti-Terrorism Laws to Promoting Individual Responsibility

by Anton Keller, Secretary, Swiss Investors Protection Association, +4122-7400362,
Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, Workshop 28, 8 September 2006
 url: ¦ .../costbenefit.htm ¦ .../oecdmandate.htm ¦ .../gold.htm ¦ .../tagwach.htm

    Geneva, 4 Sep 2006 - In September of every year since 1983, a group of by now over 900 distinguished scholars, officials and lawmakers from all over the world has converged in an exclusive conclave at the venerable Jesus College of the University of Cambridge. The success of the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime in the global law enforcement field is such that its creator, Professor Barry Rider, must occasionally wonder where his brainchild is heading. Whether the thus promoted global fight against economic crime has not already peaked and - like the Prohibition in the twenties - has started to become counter-productive, even unsustainably and dangerously so. Also cause for concern: whether the real threats of terrorism and the laws enacted to fight it are not being hijacked here and there in order to short-cut fundamental liberties, garantees & the Rule of Law. Be it by such outgrowth of purely bureaucratic lawmaking as the OECD's Financial Action Task Force FATF, or the EU's Arrest Warrent, by such over-reaching laws as the USA Patriot Act, or by the UK/US Extradition Treaty. They all offer ready-made - and exploited - opportunities for bureaucratic abuses. As shown by the British businessmen extradited to the US on other than terrorism charges, that is at the expense of indispensable liberties & rights of individual citizens.

    To wit, there may be something like a Rider Curve which warns those in the business of keeping society on a sustainable moral track of the limits and possibly adverse effects of their impositions, just as the Laffer Curve has a message for those seeking to maximise fiscal revenues. This raises fundamental questions which deserve our all attention. Examples: Whether the constitutional lawmakers of a Rule of Law society, without undermining its own foundation and future, can allow bureaucratic lawmaking anywhere to catch roots either at home, at the UN, the EU, or the OECD under whatever pretext. Whether the thus fostered and more and more generalized compliance mode is not dangerously undercutting the individual citizenís sense and ability to act as a responsible, risk-taking and wealth-creating force. Whether societyís remaining productive non-governmental forces may thus not unwittingly be overwhelmed by well-intended, over-equipped and market-blind "public servants". And whether our societies' way forward can really be found with citizens who are not allowed to grow up, who are faced with growing constraints and state tutelage, and who thus are deprived of the opportunity to deploy their full potential for the common good by developing and practicing their highest sense of individual and social responsibility. In memory of our founding President, Jean-Jacques Griessen, I have gone back to some of his writings and wonder whether they are really out of date.

    Some months ago, I also came across a most informative, eye-opening and in many ways saddening study "How Americans Lost Their Right To Own Gold And Became Criminals in the Process". This while doing research on the evolution - from ancient time til now - of the citizen/state relationship as reflected in their ability to effectively challenge each other (ie. citizen vs state) for acquiring, holding onto & utilizing such private property as gold, land, information, etc. (

    Seen from this peculiar perspective, the history of man takes on a look, dimension and content which in many ways are different from what we ordinarily discuss. It may be summarized as a history of ego-, gut- or intelligence-driven resources redistribution by conquest, looting or imposed sharing, i.e. of endlessly changing fortunes - for both the citizens and the community they live in. And it seems to offer rare insights into the mechanics of mankind and its component parts, from the individual human as an integral part of the devine creation, to their combinations in the current form of national states which are organized and governed in line with the current dominent understanding of devine design, be it - as in pharaonic times - by devine birth, or by way of the current, more or less "vox populi, vox dei". To wit:
-    The Pharaoh who introduced monotheism may not have done so for "religious", but primarily for political & economic reasons. For that may have been the most effective, if not the only way to overcome the resistance of his economy-controlling priests - i.e. the thus powerful earthly representatives of a plethora of gods. Contrary to the Pharaoh's own intuition and foresight, his priests didn't want to hear of Joseph's [in fact Horemheb's?] prophesy about the imminent 7 years of agricultural abundance which were to be followed by 7 lean years. For that would have entailed sacrifices from them by way of a raise to 20% from their traditional 10% of the harvest contributions the thus "nationalized" religious estates were to deliver to Pharaoh's national graneries.  By no longer recognizing their gods, he thus drew the carpet from under his egocentric priests and freed his hands to successfully execute his visionary plans (
-    The French kings - and their more recent republican successors - may have regranted their citizens the right to anonymous gold possession only when their war-depleated treasuries could be filled again by amnesties for past & current gold hoardings.
-    Some - particularly Western - U.S. states, as well as Turkey, Tajikistan and other countries are known to have adopted the Swiss Civil Code of 1907, where the first ten articles reflect fundamental principles and achievements of civilized society, perhaps drawing inspiration from the Avesta, the Ten Commandments and other ancient writings. Also, the universally postulated presumption of innocence until proven guilty, provides a helpful guideline when considering the above question of citizen/state relation - not least in fiscal matters. Yet, when looking around, I find myself to travel on the wrong train, and perhaps even to live in the wrong time period with my view that taxmen here and there, preposterously, have managed over the last decades to stealthily shove the burden of proof from their office onto the taxpayers' shoulders. For a Swiss employee, e.g., it isn't sufficient anymore to turn in his tax declaration in time and, with his signature, to engage his penal responsibility for false declarations; the law now obliges him to attach a salary certificate (.../lohnausweis.htm) as proof of what he declares, thus not only diminishing his signature but also - in law & effect - submitting him to state tutelage. This is seen to be in direct contradiction to article 8 of the Swiss Civil Code, which explicitly provides that it is incumbent on each party to prove the facts from which it deducts its claims. And it is all but clear why, of all entities, the relatively much more powerful state should be exempted from this fundamental rule, particularly in fiscal matters.
-    On a related subject, I am not sure what, if any influence a more benevolant reception of the ancient - e.g. interest-prohibition - and more modern monetary ideas of Silvio Gesell and others might have had on the course of events leading up to and beyond the demise of the Weimar Republic. But neither can I rule out a link between both academia's and the national monetary authorities' manifest failure to-date to explore and develop those ideas and such watershed events as the Prohibition, the 1929 Crash (.../1929.htm), Roosevelt's 1933 bank holiday & gold criminalization, Hitler's comprehensive looting of Jewish properties culminating in the Holocaust, Nixon's 1971 closing of the gold window, Bush's disaster-prone "policies" on Iraq, Iran, Palestine & elsewhere, and the forthcoming man-made & other tsunamis and the ensuing political upheavals.

    As in most other cases, the inavoidable metastatic effects of the ill-considered Prohibition measures forced the powers that be to abandon the religiously-inspired but blue-eyed and intolerably counter-productive anti-alcohol track. However, in light of the concurrent Depression's vast numbers of unemployed, the authorities could ill afford to enlarge the already destabilizingly long unemployment queues with police professionals which, during the Prohibition, had been kept busy chasing the Al Capones and lesser bootleggers. As happened in earlier times with customs, fiscal and other officials made redundant by redrawn political borders and other changes brought about by wars, evolutions and technological leaps, the powers that be wanted to keep the state's loyal servants on board. And when no productive or other common good employment was found for them, the path of least resistance has often been the invention & prosecution of new crimes, e.g. gold possession, alcohol commerce, drug traffic & consumption, tax evasion & avoidance, insider dealings, money laundering, corruption, etc. All of which seemed to strengthen the state - or a particular state with global ambitions pursued with flat earth visions. No matter what real or artificial danger may be invoked, this has not enhanced the citizen's respect for the state anywhere. Or, for that matter, his/her capacity and willingness to recognize the related policies, goose chases and enforcement measures as justified, legitimate and more than a self-harming pursuit of modern Pipers of Hamelin.

    For an individual, for a society to succeed, freedom of action, privacy and responsibility are as indispensable as unimpeded visual contact with the horizon is necessary for a sunrise to be observed. Indeed, just as the properties of water, air & light prevent a fish from ever seeing a sunrise, both the hereditary (e.g. Dow syndrome) or legal constraints imposed on a person are formative for, and can severely limit and condition his/her perceptions. With correspondingly diminished or inoperative sensors, a citizen may thus essentially never grow beyond a zombie-like existence, i.e. never rise to the level of his/her built-in potential. Not with regard to entrepreneurial capacities. Not with regard to his/her capabilities to responsibly assume risks. And not with regard to his/her contributions to the economy and society as a whole. For sovereign states with a future, genuine privacy of their citizens must thus be not an option but an imperative (remember Glasnost, which provided for the transparency of the state in favor of reanimated citizens, but which, by the banner-turned-pall-bearers of the "free" states was corrupted into transparency of the citizens in favor of an ever stronger opaque state?). Indeed, individual integrity is threatened but, as a rule, must not be allowed to be undermined by state tutelage of citizens, as is increasingly the case. Despite of some of the risks involved to either the individuals or society, criminalization of market practices often entails disproportianally costly social & political numbness, risk-aversity and compliance mentality. It is in everybody's interest when each citizen's sense of responsibility is boosted by all means available to the state. That includes effective guarantees for his/her privacy in particular vis-à-vis the state. And that calls naturally for reactivation of the basic right to anonymous private property by way of bankers which - like their doctors and priests - are a citizen's allies and not the agents of the state.