A Finnish Monument

In September 1863, Alexander II, by the grace of God the Emperor and Sovereign of Russia, Tsar of Poland, Grand Duke of Finland, Prince of Estonia, etc, etc, etc, etc, arrived in Helsinki to open the parliament session in his Grand Duchy. He also visited Aurora Karamzin, who was a former waiting-maid of the Empress and the widow of Tsar's close friend Paul Demidov. Paul, who deceased in 1840, had been not only a friend of the Tsar but also one of the richest men in Russia at the time, and now Aurora, re-married in 1846 to colonel Andrei Karamzin and re-widowed by the Crimean war in 1854, possessed a vast fortune which she governed with iron will and rigid but moderate religious furor, contributing significantly to various philanthropic causes like schools and hospitals.

Aurora had a nice mansion in Träskända, Espoo, some 20 km from Helsinki. Her people were enthusiastically waiting for the important guest.

But they had a problem. A visit by the Tsar is not an everyday occasion. Any host or hostess would want to impress the important guest. How?

Finland had no great monumental buildings, the palaces were dwarfed by what the emperor had back home in St. Petersburg. The country doesn't have the tallest mountains in the world, nor access to the great seas, and no magnificent rivers. This was nice, wooded country, perhaps one of the neatest parts of the vast Russian empire, but being just neat isn't very impressive. What could we show to the emperor? What could we build, something the emperor surely has not seen before?

And now follows a very Finnish idea. Let's build something that is really novel to the Tsar.
The greatest loo in the world!

And here it stands, to this day, on the grounds of Träskända manor. A huge, six-cylinder wooden outhouse, decorated with wood carvings, and ventilated through a tall tower in the center, in the shade of the great oaks that have grown here since Aurora and other manor owners had them planted almost two centuries ago. And it's called The Imperial Outhouse (Keisarillinen Käymälä).

Alexander also participated in a hunt that was arranged on the manor grounds, and then left off to take care of other parts of his empire, which his descendants then mismanaged and lost. The manor house burnt down in 1888 and a new one was erected, designed by messiers Lindgren-Gesellius-Saarinen. The house has since then been a nursing home for the elderly.

A part of the manor grounds is preserved as a nature reserve, but some of the woodlands were chopped off after Second World war and given as plots of land to refugees from the Porkkala area that Soviet Union took for a forcible 50 year lease (but ceded back as economically unsustainable and militarily outdated in 1956). The refugees built their houses here. Later this former woodland turned suburban, and now the streets in the area are given names that remind us of Alexander's hunt: Hare Road, Hunting-hound's Road, Hunt-master Alley.

Putting the genie back in the bottle

Helsinki Court of Appeal gave today a verdict in a court case related to freedom of expression. Jussi Halla-aho, a blogger who mainly writes about immigration (critically), was fined 330 euros for "breach of religious peace", as a year-old sentence of the Helsinki District Court was largely upheld by the court.

Enough of Halla-aho's case has been written (at least in the Finnish blogosphere) so I won't delve in it any further. What makes the Helsinki Court of Appeal a true court jester is the verdict which requires Halla-aho to now remove two paragraphs from his blog. Mistake:

Once it is published, it cannot be recalled

Once someone puts something in the Internet and a few other people are interested enough to care, there's no way to remove it. It just can't be done. Of course, Halla-aho could edit one particular instance of a Web page that he maintains, but that's just one page. Looking at Google as of today, I get about 2250 hits for exact replicas of Halla-aho's offending sentences. Why are these replicas there? Because of the court case, lots of sites have copied the text. Without the court case, few would have bothered. I mean, what Halla-aho publishes is not badly written but it is a little bit repetitive, and most people would not have bothered.

So, by now, thousands of Web pages are replicating what Halla-aho wrote. This is impressive, considering that it is in Finnish, a rather obscure language in the net world. Some of the sites are clearly islamophobic, some are generally interested in immigration, many focus on freedom of speech, some just like to observe and occasionally provoke a good fight.

What the court could realistically do is threaten to lock up anyone who is caught publishing those sentences, or uttering them in public, and try to enforce it in the Finnish jurisdiction. The court could perhaps issue an order to behead anyone who re-publishes these insults to Islam. This just might be reasonably expected from the Helsinki Court of Appeal. But take out sentences from a blog, to remove insulting phrases from Internet? Delusional. And decidedly counter-productive. Just a hint of censorship will ensure that lots of people will want to copy and re-publish the stuff.

Once the genie is out of the bottle, it doesn't go back in. If you ever put anything in the Web, it won't be possible to remove it; there will be countless copies around the world if the material is in any way interesting to anyone and is linked somewhere. And starting a process at a court of law, trying to censor the Internet, is a dead-sure way to accelerate replicating that page in the net. It's really an invitation to spread the word.

Mika Illman, the state prosecutor who was the real target of Halla-aho's provocation, would have been very wise to just observe the criticism against him, and if it was too much to bear, resign, because if he can't stand it, he's not fit for the job.

Halla-aho's case will surely continue in the Supreme Court and after that probably in the European Court of Human Rights, which is going to be the first level of courts of law that isn't already thoroughly offended by Halla-aho's provocation, and which will of course also provide an international platform where this storm in a teacup can reach new heights. What the Helsinki District Court and Helsinki Court of Appeal have now achieved is make hundreds of thousands of people aware of what was written about Islam's Prophet. This isn't exactly the way to ease up the relationship between religious groups. Jussi Halla-aho provokes people because he wants to, it's his mission. Mika Illman, his colleagues and the Helsinki courts do it because they don't know any better.


The Haitian housing bubble

One might think that when very many of the houses in Port-au-Prince were destroyed by an earthquake on January 12, there wouldn't be a housing bubble where some nice apartments are empty, waiting for buyers or tenants.

But this is what has happened in Haiti. Over one million people are still living in tents or squatters, in improvised housing made of scrap iron and tarpaulin. Mostly, this is of course unavoidable, because the destruction is so vast. But there are also many houses left standing up, in nice condition, waiting for someone to live in them.

The NPR tells us that the prices on surviving houses defy belief. One senator put up his three-bedroom with panoramic views for $15,000 a month. (Its nine Rottweiler guard dogs are free.) Finding anything similar for less than $5,000 is a steal. Want to buy? A three-bedroom with guest apartment lists for $900,000.

I think Haiti could use some serious socialism/fascism/nationalism here. Have a government that confiscates houses, assigns them according to need, keeps up law and order. Keeps a record of people in each area, delivers food stamps, manages a rationing system for external aid. Administers a dose of the neatly calculated Official Table of Drops to armed robbers and rapists. Allows local market economy to recover. All the stuff that West European countries experienced after the Second World War, until Wirtschaftswunder.

Unfortunately, suitably un-corrupt socialism/fascism/nationalism seems to be in short supply in the West Indies. No, I really wouldn't completely trust the Cubans. But what's worst in this sort-of artificial housing shortage? In a way, it's the prospect that these housing speculators are most interested is NGOs - the organizations that are there to help the people of Haiti. "The owner isn't interested in renting to Haitians. He's always rented to NGOs." What good can the NGOs do, when their money goes to outrageously high rental costs, and keeps up structures of inefficient use of resources? In stable, advanced countries, having a few high-earners make lots of money does have the impact that the money trickles down in the economy, because the high earners buy local products and services, and hire staff. But in Haiti, I suspect that anyone who can squeeze substantial amounts of aid money out of the NGOs and quangos operating there will be depositing as much as they can in bank accounts in the U.S., or Virgin Islands, or Switzerland. And it's perfectly legitimate money.

The saddest thing is that no one, myself included, has any idea how to do it better. Sending money seems hopeless, it's just wasted. Sending people just means that the aid workers need protection and support, so that resource usage is extremely inefficient. Sending anything else is a waste.

Except perhaps a vast, efficient, un-corrupt occupation army, with sufficient firepower to quell any resistance without mercy. The downside is that no one has the economic muscle, gall and moral will to set up, arm and deploy such an occupation force. But nevertheless, I think I'm developing very colonialist attitudes regarding Haiti, at least until someone can demonstrate any success with any other means.



Energy-saver light bulbs (CFL, compact fluorescent light) aren't very nice. Most of them produce an unpleasant colour of light - often about as inspiring as a frozen morgue on a November morning, with a zombie tapping your shoulder.

They are also slow to start, taking a minute or two before they produce their full, nominal luminosity - which usually is still less than you expected from the sales package. And, CFLs contain mercury, which is poisonous. In most other products, like thermometers, there has been a frenzy to to eliminate mercury, but not with lamps, where mercury is part of the compound that forms the luminous vapor in the tube.

Regular light bulbs are banned because they are "inefficient", i.e. consume electricity and produce heat, which in Southern Europe is then removed by air conditioning, which consumes even more electricity. But this inefficiency doesn't really matter too much in Finland, because it is almost always heating season here - except for the middle of the summer, say June to August, which is the season when you don't really need light bulbs. So, whenever we want to use light bulbs, the energy is wasted to a lesser degree than elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the EU has banned regular light bulbs, even though for many of us, they would continue to be the best alternative in some applications.

But fortunately the free market still has some innovativeness: in Germany, a new product called "heatballs" has arrived on the market.

Of course, they are exactly the same as the old light bulbs, but as they are marketed as heat bulbs, they are not banned. After all, they work just like electric heaters - which are still allowed, of course, because the pact of light bulb manufacturers could lobby on legislation allowing them to sell CFLs, but not replace the whole of heating infrastructure in Europe. And, in addition, the heat bulbs produce some light, with a pleasantly coloured spectrum.


Note: I don't think CFLs are totally bad. For instance, at my home, all the outdoors lights are CFLs, except one (at the side entrance where it needs to light up instantly when the IR sensor turns it on). However, I find it strange that the recycling has not been arranged at the cost of CFL manufacturers and importers, as you would expect. Now most of the hazardous material ends up in landfills.


The Freedom Trap

About 42000 reputable newspapers and TV channels, and about 42 000 000 bloggers, are commenting on the fantastic story of the Chilean miners who are currently being rescued from the hole where they've been trapped for over two months.

It's a really nice story. World news is mostly miserable, and this particular story started out just the same - a mine collapsed, dozens killed - but then it turned out to be a story of miraculous survival, and eventually a reality TV; something that brings to mind the Apollo 13 story and Big Brother and Titanic and the Kwai River Bridge. And it is even closer to us, because the people whose fate has been hanging from a thread for the past 68 days are not fabulous astronauts or elite military, but a group of ordinary working men, who have become a part of an extraordinary course of events due to an act of God.

Some people are complaining that politicians, as well as the media and other commercial parties, are exploiting the miners. Well, sure they are, but for once, let them go ahead, at least for some time. It's a wonderful exploit. I'm sure pretty much everyone on Earth who has heard of this occurrence is glad that it all turns out so well, so it's much nicer that everyone exploits this than the latest car bomb in Bahdad or a mutilated schoolgirl in Pakistan or a mudflood in Mexico. It's been clear for some weeks already that at least most of the miners in Copiapó will be rescued successfully, but now it looks like they'll all be up under the sun, in good health, in just a few hours.

It's a great publicity event for Chile. There's plenty of goodwill to be collected by the incumbent Chilean president Sebastian Piñera and fellow politicians. Also, I have little doubt that the gold and copper mine, which wasn't hugely rich and which did not enable the San Esteban mining company to thrive too much, will change. The mining company have been criticized a lot, but I suppose that in the general carneval spirit, the Chileans won't be too vindicative even if there were some lapses in mining security. After all, there still was a working shelter and enough training, and eventually also ambitious rescue efforts, which enabled these miners to survive - although the more un-romantic amongst us will surely tell that instead of spending tens of millions of dollars in rescuing the miners, the same amount of money would have saved ten or hundred times as many lives if it had been spent on aid to poor children in the capitalistic Chile which has such an evil neo-liberalist political leadership. Hey, their economic recover was enabled by one Pinochet, so it cannot possibly be good.

But back to the mine. I think it is quite likely that in a year or two, the Copiapó site will be a theme park that welcomes wealthy norteamericano tourists to spend an hour, or a day or two, down in a hotel in the mine, and then experience the escape lift, for a hefty fee. That may be a better use for the place than extracting copper and gold ore.

There's just one but. The miners are now famous. As I mentioned before, they will never have to go down a mine shaft again, unless they want to, because they can make a living selling autobiographies, movie rights, etc etc.

This is their biggest trap. They are now free from the mine, but they are not free from the experience of utter despair for many many dark days before contact to outside world, not are they free from the curious crowd, us. They've been sturck well out of mental balance, and now they'll be under intense media scrutiny - particularly the poor chap who had both a wife and a mistress - and unless they are strong-minded individuals, or have very honest, good and competent personal managers, some of them will be like a mix of Maradona and Matti Nykänen. That is dangerous for their well-being.

Perhaps the Chilean government should appoint someone to look after them a bit, because their newly gained freedom is the trap that ensnares them.


(I thought I had made up a nice subject line for the post, but then I realized that I had only borrowed it from a solid thriller from 40 years back, by one of my favourites, Desmond Bagley.)


Nobel Peace Prize and Chinese agents

Some Chinese people have been rather offended by the Nobel peace price awarded to dissident to Liu Xiaobo. They have also expressed their feelings in comment sections to Western blogs. The usual reaction by other people has been that the comments are either trolls (well, some surely are) or are entered by people who can only be paid agents of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC). Many of the comments are quite full of prejudices.

Reading the Marginal Revolution blog, I ended up commenting this in such a long text that I vary it here as well.

Having lived for some time in China, and having been in contact with quite many Chinese since that, I think these accusations are mistaken. There are Chinese who defend their government and oppose Liu, or the granting of Nobel to Liu. They are not necessary trolls, or proxies of the CPC. Opinions like theirs are not at all uncommon among Chinese. And that is why this discussion works against the goals of the Nobel Peace Price. It is a mistake not to understand that very many Chinese genuinely support the current regime. They do believe it is doing a good job. They are even prepared to defend it in net discussions, out of their own, genuine conviction.

As an overall note: it seems a lot of right-wing people (particularly Americans) are disturbed by the concept of "communism" in the name of the dynasty that governs China (CPC). Here one should note that the loyalty to this dynasty is not really agreeing to communist ideals. This is not about communism; this is about being Chinese. If you're afraid of China, or if you don't like the way it works, you should not be fooled by the communist parlance. It's just liturgy. Talk about the Chinese. The Chinese describe their system as "socialist market economy"; I would characterize it as "capitalistic communism". See the difference? Capitalism is the prevailing economic system; communism is the prevailing administrative system. But in the end, real-world communism and traditional Chinese administration are not that different. The Chinese just realized that the economic theory of communism doesn't work, particularly in the modern world. The administrative part - dictatorship - works a lot better.

And this is why many left-wing Westerners are so angry with the Chinese. The CPC has betrayed the ideals of the Left, because once in power, after many hazardous experiments, they found out that the market economy works better than centrally planned economy. Before realizing this, tremendeous mistakes were made. Tens or hundreds of millions of people were killed by various experiments, like the Great Leap Forward. The CPC is not very willing to admit this in public, but it is willing to learn and not repeat the same mistakes. And this is perhaps the main reason why Western left wing hates the new-new China.

I don't really know enough about Liu Xiaobo's work in order to say whether the Nobel Peace Price was justified. In the past, the committee has sometimes made rather doubtful selections, like awarding Barack Obama last year. There it seems that the committee just wanted to snub the supporters of George W. Bush in the U.S., with little real grounds - as Obama's merits, or lack of, in the year that followed have shown - and I'd say last year's prize hardly worked in any way to promote world peace. In the election campaign, Obama spoke differently from G. W. Bush but in the office, he has had little choice to implement any different politics. The emptiness of speech now shows up in his falling poll support, although I don't think there's anything so much wrong in his policies as such.

To get back to Liu Xiaobo: I repeat, a vast number of Chinese individuals - who are not stupid and who are not entirely unaware of what goes on in the world, either - are genuinely offended by the Nobel to Mr. Liu.

The Nobel is not without merit. It brought attention to Charter 08 and leads me to think that Liu probably has important ideas that a larger number of Chinese should hear of, and therefore, perhaps the prize is, in the end, indeed for the good. But it might only work its way through confrontation and escalation of mutual suspicions.

So, bottom line: do not be fooled to believe that the Chinese who bash Liu are trolls, or agents of the CPC. Assume they are real persons with real opinions. That gets you going in the discussion.


Racism and Finnish nurses

This is an old thing, never saw this is in Finnish newspapers. Which is very very weird, considering the joke about an American, a Frenchman, a Finn and the elephant. *) I only met it now, through The Telegraph's story about Labour leadership race in Britain.

A prominent British labour politician, Diane Abbot, said "blonde, blue-eyed Finnish girls" in her local hospital in West London were unsuitable as nurses because they "may never have met a black person before." This was in 1996, the year when Lola Odusoga was Miss Finland.

It's astonishing that a politician - who has made a career out of claiming to oppose racism - can make such insensitive remarks. But yes, there is a double standard, at least within Ms Abbott, although in this case even she had to apologize. What really was the thing about the Finnish nurses that was bothering her? In a way, it is understandable that people would want to be treated by people who look familiar. But we're told that this would be racism. And in the end, what difference does a person's skin colour make? As long as she or he is a good nurse and speaks the language and can understand what her or his patients say and even their earlier lives?

I don't recall any Finnish commentary about Diane Abbott at the time, though that could of course be due to the fact that with a newborn baby, two other small children, and fresh mortgage, I was in a constant haze due to lack of sleep and overwork.

Anyway, Ms Abbot is now out of the British shadow cabinet, and those who would press the "like" button upon Labour Party's destruction have suffered a setback.

*) The joke: An American, a French and a Finn see an elephant. The American speculates: "How could I make most money out of it?". The Frenchman thinks: "How could I cook it to make unique food?". The Finn wonders: "What is it thinking about Finns?" We're so concerned about how others perceive our country and people that it is inconceivable that a remark about Finns in a major British newspaper would go unnoticed. Well, apparently there indeed was some commentary.


Choice of employment and beggars

Finland is now arguing internally whether begging should be restricted. The same problem with beggars and squatters has come up elsewhere, e.g. in France: Roma people, mostly from Bulgaria, Romania and other East/Central European countries, have become a rather visible and sometimes obstructive and distressing phenomenon in cities. The begging is an organized industry, utilizing child labour as well as people with mutilated limbs and other disabilities. There is also a related phenomenon of pickpocketing, shoplifting, burglaries and squatting, with camps being built (with the kind support of some progressive youthful organizations, funded by the taxpayer).

"Racism. Useless law. You cannot prohibit poverty." These are slogans by those who oppose any restrictions to begging. Also, people are saying that it would be against Finnish constitution and European human rights law to restrict begging, particularly because there is the freedom of movement (of labour) in Europe and there is freedom of occupation in Finland.

Now, it is obvious that the Roma beggars (at least the foot soldier level) are poor, abused and not to be envied. But is allowing them to beg really helping them at all? I don't think so. Make up something else.

Prohibiting poverty?

Saying that restrictions would attempt to prohibit poverty is a moot point. Begging is certainly not the only option available, and giving money to beggars is not an efficient way to help anyone. Rather to the contrary. Whatever the country where I am, and whatever the nationality of the beggar, I don't give money, though I may give food or used clothes.

There are lots of poor people even in Europe, but only a few of them beg, and on the other hand, many of those participating in the begging racket are not poor. Encouraging begging is a bad way to help the poor. It's not just ineffective, but outright bad, because it sets wrong incentives. The Roma will not get out of poverty by continuing to beg; getting education is a better way, and working in the begging industry is making it more difficult to get an education.

Freedom of movement

The freedom of movement in EU is another moot point: the principle applies to labour who is working or looking for a job, not to begging, and it is limited to a 3-month period. It is perfectly legal to deport people who are abusing this.

Of course, there are no easy solutions to the beggar issue. Beggars won't go away if we just pass a law. And I don't think anyone believes so - although a straw man argument is often built around this. However, laws can be used for controlling unwanted, abusive behaviour, including things like human trafficking.

Coice of occupation

What amazes me is the argument that unlimited begging must be allowed because freedom of occupation is a human right, i.e. people have choice of employment - the principle that everyone is free to choose what he or she does for living.

Sure, let's facilitate freedom of occupation to beggars. Just like any other people offering services to the public, they will need a license. They will need to file in paperwork to guarantee health and safety for their clients and the employees in this industry - after all, the begging racket is an industry with a strong if not publicly very open hierarchy, reporting and profit structure, so the employment laws are applicable. The begging enterprises will be subject to tax law, they need to pay tax advances, file in tax reports.

What? It's too difficult for them? Yeah, right. It is. And this is a problem not only to the beggars, but everyone else as well, including far more useful occupations. There is quite some bureaucracy and cost in working as a self-employed person or setting up a company, but we just have to live with it; it's the price of the welfare state. Allowing some people to slip off legislation (because of their race, skin colour, or similar properties) would be racism.

I think everyone should be treated the same, independent of whether they belong to some ethnic group - and even if it is a hip and cool ethnic group whose cultural difference from the majority of local people is as big as possible. Somehow I don't think that the red-green progressives (and Sauli Niinistö) really want to help anyone. It's just cool to have beggars on our streets - so we have some easy puppets who can be used to show how good people we are when we want to use other people's money to help and support them.


Sure, a law against begging doesn't stop the nuissance completely. After all, even the law against killing doesn't stop all homicide, and making a crime of petty theft only worsens our crime statistics as the police has no time to investigate practically any of it. Still, the laws about murder and even bicycle theft have a point and they do some good.

Of course, it could be that the begging law is no good because it will be completely impossible to enforce, as the police are far too few and the cities are too broke to hire any "community officers" or the like. However, at least the police representative in the committee working on the issue seemed to favour having some legal tools that the police could use against obstructive begging. But if difficulty of enforcement is such an important criteria, we should urgently abolish zebra crossings and traffic lights, because currently few car drivers properly respect zebra crossings, and even fewer pedestrians obey traffic lights in crossings.

We're not quite that desperate yet.


For a successful fight, you need to pick a good enemy

The Finnish Greens are raising up a fight against Perussuomalaiset, the old populist-immigration-sceptic-national-leftist splinter party that has recently gone up in poll ratings. (HS in Finnish.)

This is a very traditional way of waking up the spirit in own ranks: find an enemy (make it up if it doesn't exist), point at it, tell how bad they are, set up a fight. Preferably, a fight you can win (so define the rules carefully). But, in a way, it's rather sad.

The Greens are supposed to be the main liberal party in this country, with best educated and relatively young membership, new ideas, strong support in the lower ranks of the immensely strong public-sector offices such as ministries, etc - and what are they doing? They don't have much more new to contribute than Perussuomalaiset. All they can do is find a straw man and start beating it. Well, the party does have a significant Stalinist-general-leftist tradition (from the likes of Satu Hassi) in addition to those who came from the Liberals (like Osmo Soininvaara), and apparently it shows here.

Perussuomalaiset is, of course, a populist party. It lacks constructive ideas. It mainly looks behind, wanting to reverse the progress towards European unification. Tax the rich, tax the corporate world, and raise the benefits - an easy cry from the opposition, and an impossible position if you go to talks to form a cabinet coalition .

Once the party gets a large representation in the parliament, it will be held responsible for its political programme - or to be precise, the inexistance of a realistic political programme. Its lack of positive ideas, lack of internal discipline, lack of trained and experienced politicians and lack of politically-appointed supportive staff in ministries will mean that it will disappoint its voters. "Get out of EU and keep out of NATO and close the borders and tax the rich and give money to everyone else" will not carry it very far. It will fall into internal pickering and schisms, splinter up and generally not be of any good. The only real impact it has is that it forces everyone to open up the immigration debate, which has been in some ways a taboo until this year. This impact is already very visible. But otherwise the Perussuomalaiset has been able to contribute very little.

But is it now really so that the Greens are not any better? Do they think that they are in competition of the same voters? That is absurd. Those who vote Perussuomalaiset are most likely proletarian people who are disappointed in SDP and sometimes perhaps Keskusta (the Center Party). The Greens are competing with Kokoomus (Conservatives), and the most obvious property of any Green is that they sneer at proles. "Red-neck" is their ultimate insult, and the internal code of conduct in the Greens is that above all, it is important to show disdain of lower-class people. I can imagine a manual worker who is up to his elbows in grease or filth will vote for Kokoomus - even before he sets up his own company to organize and sell his labour - but Greens? Not really.

It looks like the Greens cannot beat the Conservatives, who are not really so conservative, and who are perhaps the most likely partner in any future coalition, so it might be a bit dangerous to insult them in large scale. So what do they do? They select an enemy who they can safely shout at, from a safe distance, and hurl insults. And not get involved in debate about actual issues - such as immigration, or taxation, or future development of public services, or how to arrange things for municipalities whose economic strength just doesn't carry the weight of the ever expanding obligations imposed by the state.


Why is health care so expensive in the USA?

The Incidental Economist has a great article on this.

Too bad that there are no simple answers. Many would have us think so, of course. But the reality is complex.