Pardoning, or rehabilitating?

The news has it that Britain is pardoning people who were convicted of sexual crimes that are no longer crimes.

But somehow, pardoning - or actually "rehabilitating"  - people who were convicted long ago, suffered any punishment given at the time, and are already long dead, is reminiscent of Soviet policies. It does not fit my idea of what Britain is, or should be.

Yes, they suffered an injustice, but retroactive changes to convictions are not that meaningful when the convicted is no longer around.

But perhaps I'm too romantic, and Britain is much closer to Ingsoc, the English Socialism of 1984, than I'd like to know.

Anyway, now comes the difficult work of deciding which transgressors to pardon (right now, homosexuality is no longer bad) and which ones to condemn even further (right now, pedophilia is now much worse crime than it used to be).

Would it not be simpler just to admit that our standards change, and any formal legal rehabilitation should be reserved for cases where there was a miscarriage of justice (an innocent man or woman was convicted), not when the law was wrong by our current standards?


Those horrible housing costs in Finland

I often see people complaining how housing is exceptionally expensive in Finland. And of course, everyone has that feeling. Therefore I was slightly surprised when I started to look at the European statistics regarding housing. A research briefing "HOUSING AFFORDABILITY IN THE EU" by European Social Housing Observatory  puts things into context.

Most Finnish public discourse about housing is about how expensive housing is. For instance:
However, when we look at the research briefing and consider housing costs as percentage of disposable income, Finland is in the lower end of the EU27: 

I find this actually remarkable, because we have rather extreme climate conditions, which means comparatively higher construction costs.

And when we look at the impact of housing costs on the poor, Finland is even more towards the left-end of the statistics:

This means that only in Malta and Portugal there are fewer households overburdened by housing costs (meaning that a household uses more than 40 % of disposable income on housing). So we not only have lower housing costs compared to purchasing power than most EU countries, we also have more transfers of money to the poor households than e.g. Italy, Austria or Luxembourg.

Perhaps we should understand the European reality in more depth before complaining that much.

Economic perceptions vs. reality: things are much better than we think!

European and particularly Finnish economic news is full of doom and gloom. It just occurred to me to actually check up how bad things are. And while a few things are really going badly, very many measurable numbers show that were are actually quite well off when compared to past.

Just look at OECD report at http://www.oecd.org/els/emp/howdoesyourcountrycompare-finland.htm.

What it tells us about Finland is that when we compare year 2000 to 2012, we see that:
  • unemployment has gone down (9.8 % -> 7.8 %)
  • youth unemployment has gone down (20.3 % -> 17.3 %)
  • long-term unemployment has gone down (29.0 % -> 21.7 % of the unemployed)
  • the employment rate of working-age people has gone up (67.5 % -> 69.5 %)
  • women's employment rate has increased (64.5 % -> 68.2 %)
  • employment rate of older workers (55-64) has increased (42.3 % -> 58.5 %)
  • the percentage of temporarily employed has gone down (16.5 % -> 15.7 %)
  • annual working hours have decreased (1751 h -> 1672 h)
  • average wages have gone up by about fifth (31 904 $ -> 39 125 $ in 2012 currency)

Almost everything is better than in 2000! The current growth figures are abysmal, so a good development cannot continue unless we fix that, but on the average, we are not doing badly at all.

Of course, some are more lucky than others, but even the income differences after taxes and transfers, including capital gains, remain rather similar to 2000 (Statistics Finland).

So perhaps we should complain a bit less!