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Kathleen Cue
Shelby County Democratic Party Treasurer


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David Gaul
Donna Clothier
Kathleen Cue

Books of Note - End This Depression Now

Review by Kathleen Cue

 

End This Depression Now!

By Paul Krugman

W. W. Norton Company, 2012, $24.95

Hardcover, 259 pages

ISBN 978-0-393-08877-9

 

“To the unemployed, who deserve better.”

Thus begins the dedication by Paul Krugman in his newest book End This Depression Now! What gnaws at Krugman, a Nobel Prizewinner in Economics, is the senselessness of the financial hardships endured by many working class Americans.  At stake are ruined lives, lost jobs, financial and professional setbacks and loss of hope.  “… [T]he people who…sagely declare that our problems have deep roots and no easy solution, that we all have to adjust to a more austere outlook—sound wise and realistic, even though they’re utterly wrong.” Krugman brings to light what has been learned from the Great Depression, past policies, and the forthright determinations by Keynesian economists.

The author makes a strong case for alleviating the hardship—enacting policy for a strong government stimulus to help the economy add jobs.  Didn’t Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress pass a stimulus plan in 2009?  The answer is yes they did but the size of the stimulus was woefully short in relation to the size of the crisis. It did stop the unemployment rate’s free fall but left the economy stubbornly stuck in a malaise.

Unfortunately, many Republicans loudly declare this only proves that government spending is not the answer to move the country out of a recession. Further, they add, the only way to move the economy is to get government spending under control and reduce the budget.  The problem, as Krugman points out, is when everyone follows economic austerity measures. Here a brief explanation is necessary: If one person’s debt is another person’s income, and EVERYONE is holding back, waiting for business to pick up, pretty soon economic stagnation becomes entrenched.  The federal government is the only entity with enough size and clout to provide the influx of funds, through a strong government stimulus, to get the economy moving again.

Krugman provides his economist’s viewpoint for reasons why American politics have become so polarized and why all government debt isn’t necessarily bad.  He paints three possible scenarios for the upcoming elections—one if Obama wins and Democrats control Congress, one if Obama wins with Republicans controlling Congress and one where Romney wins.  Only the first scenario provides any hope for an economic stimulus strong enough to get the economy moving and reducing the suffering so many Americans face




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