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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Timely!, May 2, 2012
This review is from: End This Depression Now! (Hardcover)
The Great Recession that began in 2007 is now over four years old, and counting. About 24 million Americans are now unemployed or underemployed, and at recent job creation rates we can't be back to normal employment levels until late this decade. Regardless, the way forward is clear - faster growth levels must be our priority. Krugman's objective for the book is to break the hold of destructive conventional wisdom (austerity, balanced budgets during a down cycle).

Officially the Great Recession that began 12/07 ended 6/09 - but this has helped the average American little, and citizens in some European nations are doing worse. Research tells us that money isn't that important once you can afford life's necessities. People who want to find work and can't, however, suffer greatly from both the loss of income and a diminished sense of self-worth. Some contend the unemployed are simply 'spoiled,' choosing unemployment benefits instead of work. Krugman's rejoinder - those who tell us this rarely have jobs to offer and don't know of any. They're simply demonstrating how little they know of the world. (Eg. People at the Chicago Board of Trade in 10/11 mocked demonstrators by showering them with McDonald's application forms. Turns out that McDonald's had announced 50,000 new jobs back in 4/11, and about 1 million had already applied.)

A 6/11 poll of likely voters found almost 40% of families had suffered from reduced hours, wages, or benefits. Six million Americans, almost 5X that number in 2007, have been out of work for 6 months or more, 4 million for over a year - up from 700,000 prior to the Great Recession. Not since the 1930s have so many found themselves seemingly trapped. The newly educated haven't escaped either - recent reports tell us that about half of new college graduates became unemployed or underemployed upon graduation; many end up living with their parents. Manufacturing capacity has fallen about 5% since the start of the Great Recession. Public investment has fallen sharply, adjusted for inflation. Hitler was brought to power by the German depression of the early 1930s; there's been a clear rise in extremist politics across the Western world.

None of this needed to happen - we've learned what to do since the Great Depression, but self-interest and distorted ideology have prevented taking appropriate action. If we have mass unemployment because too many workers lack the right skills (as some claim now, as they also did in the 1930s), we should be able to find a significant number of workers with those skills, and prospering. But we can't. In 1937 the economy suffered a second severe recession, yet the economy was booming in 1939. Why - government war spending. It's that simple.
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