End This Depression NOW by Paul Krugman
I have read a number of books about how we got into the financial crisis of 2007 and I have a fair understanding of what happened. That's all well and good, but that little bit of understanding left me feeling a little hopeless, as if it was all just too complex to really manage. Even worse, it left me feeling that the most common solutions being offered were not likely to be very helpful.
In End This Depression NOW, Paul Krugman takes a different approach. He considers what needs to be done right now to get our economy moving again and he offers a number of very specific suggestions. Better still, his suggestions make sense because he supports them with analysis, metaphors, and examples -- all based on facts and "real world" observations. These are things we can follow for ourselves, things we can consider from our own experience, things we can actually verify.
It makes you realize how much fluff is puffing up discussions of economic crisis and what needs to be done to deal with it. I don't want to hear that "we all know government can't create jobs, but..." I, for one, do not "know" that at all. I believe government can create jobs and I know it can save jobs. It just does not make sense not to do that.
So, one of the things I like so much about this book is that it does make sense. Not everything may be "right," but at least Krugman is reasoning from facts in the form of actual data. He is drawing conclusions from past similar situations in a "this was the situation; here is what was done; here was the result" process that lets the reader see the reasoning. Then you actually have something of substance to agree or disagree with.
Krugman points out that we have the same workforce, the same knowledge base, and the same resources today that we had just before the bubble burst back in 2007. The solutions we need to get those things moving again are really not all that difficult nor, really, all that painful.
Here is my favorite story from the book. A husband does not take good care of the family car and especially the electrical system. One day, it will not start. The wife wants to try a new battery, but the husband scoffs at the idea that a $30,000 car could be laid low by something so simple as a $100 battery. He says the trouble is clearly something more dramatic, more complicated, and far more expensive. The family, he says, must learn to walk and take buses until the real problem can be identified and resolved.
The wife has a problem, Krugman says, but not with the car. Point taken.
I love this book -- so much that I read it straight through not just once, but twice. The reasoning is sound, well thought out, and well documented. The suggested fixes are doable and seem more likely to succeed than anything I have heard so far. And if they are tried and fail? Krugman says simply try something else until the solution is found.
Best of all, this is a hopeful book. Before you drift off into painful hopelessness and dig in to the long haul of sacrifice, read this book!