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Why and when will lake Mead go dry?

Posted on June 29th, 2012 in Environment,Health by Robert Miller

Lake Mead water Levels at Hoover Dam. White mineral deposits around the lake indicate where water levels were when the lake was full

THE BEGINNING: In 2008, Tim Barnett and David Pierce, two climate researchers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, printed a provocative paper entitled “When will Lake Mead go dry?” which appeared in Water Resources Research (Vol 44). This was the first study that applied models of global climate change to address the current and future state of the public water supply provided  by the Lower Colorado River Basin, whose runoff storage is in Lake Mead, a lake created by the Hoover Dam construction and located near Las Vegas, Nevada. At the present time, the Lower Colorado River Basin provides water for the 30 million people living in the Southwest and at the present rate of growth, this system will have to provide water for 38 million inhabitants by the year 2020, a date that is just around the corner.   Major cities served by the Lower Basin runoff, include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego and their surrounding regions. Mexico also gets water from this system.

MISMEASUREMENT OF RIVER FLOW:  Before one considers the impact of global climate change on the Colorado River and its contributions to the future of Lake Mead (major dam sites on the Colorado include Hoover Dam and its reservoir Lake Mead and Glenn Canyon Dam which created Lake Powell, most of which is in Utah, though the dam itself is in Arizona),  one needs to carry out some simple arithmetic on the water flowing now compared to that needed for the explosive population growth anticipated within a decade. In the 1920s, when measurements were first made on the volume of water flowing in the Colorado River Basin it was assumed to be a relatively constant value with small differences in the year to year variance. We now know that these early measurements took place during one of the highest runoff periods in the documented history of the Basin. Reassessments show that the water system for the southwest, is already over-subscribed; the contemporary illusion that plenty of water is still available from the Colorado River system has evaporated as the water levels in both Lake Powell and Lake Mead have seriously eroded in less than a decade. Knowledge about historical runoff volumes for the Colorado have been obtained from tree ring analysis derived from several different tree sources in the region. Tree ring analysis is regarded as an accurate representation of the historic, year by year changes in the relative  abundance of water and such records show that in the past 1200 years, the Southwest has experienced significant droughts together with intermittent periods of big runoff seasons. When moisture is abundant, annual tree growth is expansive and when droughts occur, trees cut back on growth to conserve water. Thus, the tree rings laid down provide a log of the water resource history of the region. Droughts in the Southwest have been very severe at times and may have accounted for the dismantling of the impressive early settlements at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon and other regions of the Southwest.

CORRECTING HISTORY: Early twentieth century measurements suggested that the Colorado River supplied about 17 million acre feet per year (maf; an acre foot is one foot of water depth covering an acre and is approximately equal to 326,000 gallons; this is roughly enough water to provide for four families for one year). But the new reality of the Colorado River, now that we are in the beginning of a drier, hotter period (part of which has been created by anthropogenic forces), makes it apparent that, on average,  the Colorado River runoff is much less than the 17 maf originally assumed to exist in perpetuity; it is more realistically in the range of 14-15 maf/yr or less and global warming will severely cut into that value. This estimate of water runoff for the Colorado needs to be compared to current water commitments which are 16.5 maf/yr.  Because the Colorado River is not the only source of water for Lake Mead,  inflows from other rivers below Lake Powell contribute about 1.56 maf/yr and that additional water makes the system  look like it’s almost in balance. But subtract  from that nearly balanced value, the water costs of maintaining reservoirs with losses from evaporation and water consumption by Lower Basin vegetation and the total water expenditures come to 19 maf/yr: thus the current ledger on water in the Lower Basin is in red ink before we even get to global climate change issues. Today, there is a potential deficit in water, just to meet today’s needs, of nearly 3 maf/year which will very likely to lead to serious water shortages in the near future. Now imagine adding 8 million more water consumers by 2020 and you begin to see emergency lights flashing. This water shortage can only be met by reducing water availability to all water consumers and plans have been discussed to implement such cutbacks. In California 79 percent of the diverted surface water and pumped ground water goes into support crops and livestock and most other states devote a similar fraction of their water towards agriculture. To conserve on water, Southwest states will have to take a hard look at agriculture, and in doing so, they must carefully weigh the possibility of food shortages as a component of forced water shortage. But indications are such that cuts in water could be more drastic than imagined.  As the population in the area goes through further expansion, needs for additional electrical power will likely be required and power generators are one of the biggest consumers of water. About half of all the water removed from rivers and lakes in the United States goes into the production of thermoelectric power generation to support the cooling requirements of those massive systems. Here wind and solar energy needs to be a serious component of the new power requirements for the Southwest. The water needs for power are lower in the West, where hydroelectric power contributes substantially to the grid, though the capacity of Lakes Mead and Powell to continue generating power over the long haul is now in question. But 10 to 20% of the electricity produced in this country is used to move water around and the need for this use of electricity will only expand in the Southwest as population expansion creeps into new areas of development. Part of the power generated at Hoover Dam is used to pump the water over the mountains into southern California (via the All-American Canal).

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE: If the red ink for the current water picture in the Southwest isn’t bad enough, we now have to add the additional reductions predicted from global climate change models, which are estimated to be in the range of a 10-30 per cent reduction in river runoff during this century; these numbers are highly variable and relate directly to our success in combatting greenhouse gas reductions and in this domain, we are not off to a good start. With an expanding population and a diminishing water supply in the Southwest, you could easily wind up with an astonishing dust bowl picture likely to occur in some regions and we have already seen monstrous dust storms in the Phoenix area. The Lower Basin water must provide for the urban needs of cities as well as the needs of farmers, who at least in California, have first rights on the water (first come, first served policy, but that rule does not apply to other states in the region). Add to that sobering picture the fact that we have treaty obligations with Mexico to provide them with 1.5 maf/yr and you can easily imagine that all the ingredients are in place for an international water war at some time in the near future.  Based on climate modeling studies, Barnett and Pierce suggested that there was a 50-50 chance that Lake Mead could run dry by 2021! At the time their paper appeared in 2008, both lake Mead and Lake Powell stood at less than half of their capacity, both of which receded from full capacity in less than a decade. You can use Google earth to visualize the Hoover Dam and see the white rings of mineral deposits where the water used to be when the lake was full. You can also see how far the down the lake is below the intake for the power generators.  Officials of the Bureau of Reclamation, who are responsible for managing the lakes, know that the water decline in the lakes is serious, but the Barnett and Pierce paper gave a new urgency to the situation by providing a more longitudinal view of what could be expected in the future; it was not a pretty picture and this new reality was not that far away.

WHAT CAUSES DESERTS?: As the temperature in the atmosphere rises, the air can hold more moisture which, somewhat counter-intuitively, can translate into a drier climate for the Southwest and more precipitation in regions that are already getting rain and snowfall. The so-called Hadley cell explains why regions near the equator can readily become deserts. Warm moist air heated at the equator rises into the atmosphere and cools, loosing it’s moisture in the form of clouds and rain. This upwelling of the moist warm air comes down as very dry air while moving out to regions north and south of the equator. This is one of the major mechanisms of temperature equilibration for our lovely blue planet. Because the dry air can hold more moisture, more so when it is warmed by energy reflected back to earth through greenhouse gases, it has a drying effect on the American Southwest and other great deserts north and south of the equator. The Hadley cell mechanism is responsible for many of the great deserts of the world: south of the equator the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Kalahari in southern Africa and the outback of Australia all share approximately the same latitude. The Hadley deserts of the Northern Hemisphere include the Sahara, the deserts of Arabia and the North American deserts which include the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, Mohave and the Great Basin. The dry air that helps maintain them also provides the cloudless blue skies which serve as a constant reminder that the clear beauty of the sky is created by moistureless air. Florida would very likely have been a desert except for the earth’s rotation, which allows the downward dry air to become moist again over the Atlantic Ocean before moving diagonally towards the west to engage Florida. The Southwest on the other hand does not enjoy the luxury of having their dry Hadley air premoisturized by flirtation with an ocean.

CORRECTED APOCALYPTIC INTERPRETATION:  When the Barnett and Pierce paper came out, you can imagine the shock and criticism that greeted the apocalyptic view derived from their analysis. Reports coming out of Las Vegas were especially critical of their interpretation and, if for no other reason than to avoid a mass exodus from the gambling capital of America, the paper was declared irrelevant for the hydrology future of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Review Journal wanted to challenge the authors with a bet saying “are they willing to put their money where their mouths are.” In the meantime, anticipating water shortages, the Bureau of Reclamation emphasized that they had already negotiated a water-shortage agreement, so they were on top of the situation. Barnett and Pierce responded by saying it was that precise water agreement that initiated their own study and pointed out that the cutbacks on water distribution they negotiated (6.6% cut in the Lower Basin) were too small, that it would be too little too late and that the real cuts had to be at least twice that volume to prevent a severe water shortage associated with a more draconian emergency cutback. But there were some legitimate criticisms of the Barnett and Pierce paper—they had not addressed the fact that there were other water sources for Lake Mead besides the Colorado and they had not computed the reality that as Lake Mead’s water level declined, so too would the magnitude of lake evaporation. The authors complied and redid their simulations and published the results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Vol 107, 21271, 2010). In this most recent paper the authors acknowledged that new modeling studies had pushed back the 50-50 odds of Lake Mead going dry by 4 to 10 years. Whew!  Crisis over! Thank God we don’t have to worry about that anymore! In the meantime, Las Vegas is investing nearly  $ 1 billion to build a three-mile tunnel under the bottom of Lake Mead to install a drain plug, giving it access to drain the last drop of water from the lake when water intake port # 2 (at  1,000 ft above sea level) can no longer access Lake Mead’s water, created by further drops in the lake level. At full capacity, Lake Mead is 1,219.6 ft above sea level; in January 2000 the water level was at 1,214.26 ft and at the end of September 2010, the water level was 1, 083.81 ft above sea level. When Lake Mead is full, it has more than three years of storage capacity to meet its obligations to the Lower Basin. The Hoover Dam is also the source of power for a million people and provides support for our power grid. In recent years the water level has been too low for the power turbines to be driven by water. One of the problems in dealing with serious water shortages such as those facing the water future of the Southwest United States, is the age-old, time-worn problem of the American people being disengaged, complacent and too inclined to believe in Ronald Reagan bedtime stories (you remember the shining city on the hill?). The land of sky blue waters still has the sky, but has less water to reflect and this is the country that seems willing to convert public functions into private ones. Good luck to the Southwest when your water bills come from Bechtel!

A NOTE ON SOURCES: Material for this article was based on publications by Barnett, Pierce and colleagues, referred to above, but also on an excellent book written by William Debuys “A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest,” Oxford University Press, 2011.


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Rupert Murdoch and The Guardian

Posted on June 16th, 2012 in Media,Politics by Robert Miller

Leveson Inquiry into Rupert Murdoch’s Publication Empire in Great Britain

If you have been following the collapse of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Great Britain, then you are probably aware of the special role The Guardian newspaper played in  bringing the scandal to the light of day, one which is far reaching and  includes massive phone-hacking, hush payments to well-known people (once they discovered their phone had been hacked) and charges of government and police corruption.  It is also a story of arrogance and indifference on the part of Rupert Murdoch, his son James and his former editor Rebekah Brooks.  When the story began, in 2005, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Britain included  ownership of News of the World, The Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times bundled into his United Kingdom conglomerate News International which is itself part of Murdoch’s international holding company News Corporation. At the time the scandal emerged, Murdoch had made an £ 8 billion offer to gain complete control of the highly profitable BSkyB satellite television system in Great Britain (he had partial control through a merger with his Sky satellite TV system). If that purchase had been allowed to go forward, Murdoch would have gained 80% of the television audience together with a huge fraction of newspaper readership.

In reading this masterful piece of investigative reporting, one cannot help but have a deep appreciation for the skillful, tenacious efforts  done by Nick Davies of The Guardian who almost single-handedly and, at some considerable risk to his own career, pushed the story through and toppled a giant international media mogul—Rupert Murdoch.   If reading this seems unfamiliar to you, it’s because we haven’t seen anything like this in America since Woodward and Bernstein toppled  a sitting  American President (Nixon) in the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. I don’t think we have run out of Watergate stories in America, but I do think we’ve run out of reporters who can competently develop these stories and of course, most American journalists lack the time to develop a complex case, as they are under heavy pressure to make headlines rather than cover serious, complex news stories. Like the short-term investments that characterize Wall Street today, newspapers look for short-term stories that can make headlines and sell papers and advertizing. That’s why The Guardian stories that brought down the Murdoch empire are so exemplary and refreshingly similar to a time frame that long ago left the American landscape.  Down-sizing, re-engineering and corporatization have in one form or another reduced reporters to less lofty aspirations. In contrast,   Davies is a highly regarded reporter and documentary film-maker; he has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 1999. And kudos to The Guardian; I am not sure we have a newspaper left in America that would support a long-term investigation into what initially seemed like such an uphill battle and a potentially risky form of investment for any single  reporter and perhaps some risk as well for the newspaper.

Despite our internal confusion on this topic in America, created by the security state established under GW Bush,  in Britain, it is illegal to hack phones and Murdoch’s newspaper, News of the World (NoW) did it on a massive scale. It was all done, as Nick Davies says for the “remorseless drive for headlines.” The police didn’t really do much about phone hacking until it happened to members of the royal family, at which time it occurred to them that phone hacking royal family members was  a national security issue. When NoW‘s royal editor, Clive Goodman wrote an article about Prince William’s injured knee, covering details that very few outside the family could have known about, Buckingham Palace suspected foul play and called in Scotland Yard. In August 2006 police arrested Goodman and his private investigator Glenn Mulcaire (who did the surprisingly easy task of phone hacking) and seized their computer records, notes and tapes. Something like 10,000 pages of information were recovered from Mulcaire, but the police never examined them for more leads.  Both Goodman and Mulcaire eventually served prison terms beginning in 2007. In response to the arrests, Rupert Murdoch was quick to deny that phone hacking was widespread in his newspaper and claimed “that is not part of our culture anywhere in the world, least of all in Britain.” As the evidence slowly accumulated about the pervasive nature of phone hacking as part of the culture of News of the World (other tabloids also phone-hacked), Rupert Murdoch would continue to denounce the reports and claim that phone-hacking was the result of one rogue reporter, Clive Goodman and his private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and that Nick Davies and The Guardian were pushing the story beyond the facts into a new class of fiction.

Before the phone-hacking scandal took hold of British life, if you had your phone hacked and filed a complaint against News of the World, they would often settle out of court and pay you a handsome sum, provided that you were well known and promised to keep your mouth shut by signing a confidentiality agreement, which most did. For NoW, money was no obstacle for getting juicy, timely tidbit stories and headlines about famous people that would appear in print shortly after the person had uttered the words into their cell phone. News of the World  hacked into thousands of phones, and while the stories got increasingly steamy as well as confrontational, it seemed like phone-hacking had become a new feature to the cultural landscape of British life with seamy tabloid headlines  as part of the normal news scene.  The fusion of phone-hacking and tabloid news had seamlessly penetrated British life and reading tabloid newspapers became a seemingly normal element to British society. And, while it may have seemed distasteful to some, most thought there was nothing that could be done about it: Rupert Murdoch had become too powerful and he was hobnobbing with all the right people to keep it that way.  But this all came crashing down on Rupert Murdoch as a result of NoW  hacking into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s cell phone. Not only did NoW hack into her phone, but they erased her messages when her voice mail box filled up,  hoping to get more news stories. This led Milly’s parents to believe that their daughter, who had suddenly disappeared, was sill alive and erasing her own messages. Milly’s phone was hacked in 2002 and it wasn’t until July 2011 that The Guardian reported the story. The Milly Dowler story, together with new allegations that the phones of Iraq war widows had also been hacked, pushed advertisers into an “abandon ship” frenzy as they rapidly fled the advertising pages of NoW.  In response to these revelations and loss of advertising revenue, James Murdoch, Rupert’s son, announced that he was instructed to close News of the World, but in doing so the senior staff, which at the time of the Milly Dowler hacking, included Editor Rebekah Brooks (who has since been charged with criminal activity related to phone hacking scandal), claimed complete ignorance of any wrong doing or knowledge of  phone-hacking activity.

At the time these stories came out, Rupert Murdoch realized that the single rogue reporter theory, involving Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, couldn’t cover what appeared now to be a widespread culture of phone-hacking and hush payments within NoW. It soon came to light that NoW made huge payments, as high as a million pounds to individuals whose phones had been hacked. In response to these additional stories, Murdoch exclaimed (October 2010) “We have very very strict rules…”, but a year later as more of these stories came to light, News International explained that its previous inquiries into phone-hacking were “not sufficiently robust” and issued an “unreserved apology” for the hacking episodes. But there is worker responsibility and corporate responsibility and Rupert and James Murdoch as well as Rebekah Brooks all claim they knew nothing about these phone-hacking incidents, though James Murdoch approved all the payments made to victims of phone-hacking, who made charges against the newspaper. The phone-hacking reporting in The Guardian did not focus exclusively on phone-hacking because it was now clear that the police had not followed leads properly and suspicions were raised that the Metropolitan police were participating in a coverup. Then too, reports from The Guardian  raised issues about the integrity of the British government.  In July 2011 Rebekah Brooks resigned from News International (the UK subsidiary of News Corporation) and in that same month Rupert Murdoch came to London to testify, at which time he gave a face-to-face apology to Milly Dowler’s parents. The News International ran full page ads on July 16, 2011, beginning with “We Are Sorry…”  An investigation by the home affairs select committee broadened the inquiry to include bribes to police officers and a scandalous lack of investigative vigor on the part of the Metropolitan police, with several police officers resigning. Rebekah Brooks, James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch all appeared before the select committee and denied any knowledge of phone hacking, hush payments or bribes to the police. Rebekah Brooks told the committee that the first she heard of the Milly Dowler incident was when The Guardian broke the story. It was later that she, her husband and several others were charged with criminal activity for secreting away evidence during an investigation.  On 1 May 2012, another investigative committee, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued a report stating that Rupert Murdoch was “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” Now the entire cast of characters is going through another probe, the Leveson Inquiry, which is trying to determine the extent to which Murdoch’s publication empire has seeped into government and helped orchestrate some of their decision making. This is risky territory for David Cameron who is already challenged by his austerity solutions for the ailing British economy.

To help steer you through the morass of testimony and evidence, The Guardian has made available a handy website, where you click on the large table of images and dates below and the related story promptly appears in text box above.  Once the story appears, you have the option of reading the short version or clicking on the “read the full Guardian report” to get to the complete article. The site is updated regularly. This handy summary however only covers the Leveson Inquiry and begins on November 21, 2011. The Leveson Inquiry is also looking into bribery of police officers. The first entry of the website covers the testimony of Milly Dowler’s parents and includes input from actor Hugh Grant whose phone was hacked by The Daily Mail, while the most recent is Prime Minister David Cameron’s testimony about a deal for Rupert Murdoch’s offer to purchase BSkyB in exchange for supporting Cameron in the last election. In the face of the hacking scandal and the closure of NoW, Murdoch withdrew his offer to gain control of BSkyB and current investigations by the Leveson Inquiry have already revealed a conservative government that seemed not to care about whether expansion of the Murdoch empire had already reached a level where it no longer served the public interest, but catered exclusively to the interests of Rupert Murdoch.

From everything that has been said during the Leveson Inquiry, it does not seem that their report will be any more favorable to Rupert Murdoch than the recent report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on May 1st of this year. To go further back than the beginning of the Leveson Inquiry,  The Guardian has recently published a short account of how the phone-hacking scandal was unraveled in “Phone-Hacking: How The Guardian Broke the Storywhich is available on Kindle. That book covers the events from 2005 to July 2011 and much has happened since then to further weaken Murdoch’s position and other senior editors supported by his empire. This story remains highly active in the British media and open discussions are taking place about whether the public good can ever be served by having powerful media moguls in charge of newspapers and communication services. We have the same problem here in America, even though it has a slightly different flavor. A small  beginning for American television would be to stop the practice that the news hour has to bring in advertising revenue rather than having the news hour as a public service component in exchange for a broadcast license. We have given too much away and need to recover some of what was lost. The British may or may not be in the middle of doing something like what they badly need to do for the sanity and integrity of their own culture, but it will take more than the efforts of a single reporter to make it stick. And since a free and open press is fundamental to democracy, what’s going on right now in Britain could well set the stage for what we do in America about a similarly serious problem–corporate control of public media.

What’s happening in Britain is a political and social scandal that is unraveling the power of a single person, Rupert Murdoch, who is trying to hold onto the deceptive image he has of his authority and power to continue his strategy of denial in the face of stark evidence to the contrary. Will he take David Cameron down with him or will he survive and come back to complete his control of BSkyB and return as a more sanitized restart media mogul?  No matter what the future is for Rupert Murdoch, one thing is certain: thanks to excellent reporting by Nick Davies and others at The Guardian, Rupert Murdoch has lost complete credibility when he appears before different investigative committees. At the pinnacle of his power he had instant access to the highest levels of political authority in Great Britain beginning with Margaret Thatcher.  At that point, people thought Murdoch could make or break politicians and even Murdoch himself would strut on his lofty perch of power. I recently listened to an interview with Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor who seems certain that the coverup by the Murdoch empire folks continues, but they have to deny an increasingly smaller part of the story and it now seems that everything will come out eventually. Will Rupert Murdoch or his son James face charges like those that have been made against his former editor Rebekah Brooks? It has been the persistence of reporting in The Guardian, particularly that of reporter Nick Davies that continued to bring new facts into the picture in the face of persistent criticism of The Guardian by News of the World.   At least in Britain there is evidence that a single reporter, given the license to pursue what was initially regarded as wrong-doing by a single, rogue, phone-hacking reporter from News of the World, is still able to weave the facts into a compelling story that has not only crippled Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Britain, but has also shaken the foundations of the government of the country which is now going through the soul-searching task of asking where did they go wrong to allow tabloid newspapers to shape the policies of their own elected government and Scotland Yard? This is a story that has a beginning, a middle, but no end and no end in sight. At the moment, how far it will go depends entirely on newspaper reporting, because the government and the police have been too far corrupted to address the issues raised in The Guardian. Thus an aroused public must stand up and insist on changes that deeply affect their democracy. Those of us who live on the American side of the Atlantic, have some interest in this story, as we are are waiting for a similar investigation to begin and ask similar questions about the suitability of having public airwaves (Fox Television) given license to serve as a propaganda news outlet for the Republican Party. How is that compatible with democracy? Faux television would not have been granted a public broadcasting license until Ronald Reagan changed the rules of the game. We should change the rules back again. If America is ever going to have a healthy public information and media enterprise, we will have to limit corporate control by introducing regulations. Complete corporate control of our sources of news has destroyed the credibility and believability of our news sources and when we see a reporter like Nick Davies come along, we realize just how much we have lost. We downsized news in America and eliminated Nick Davies’ jobs. Could Woodward and Bernstein repeat their Watergate reporting in today’s Washington Post? Are such reporters even employed by the Washington Post?


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Paul Krugman as a celebrity

Posted on June 5th, 2012 in Economy by Robert Miller

About the only time I get exposed to economist Paul Krugman is by reading his column in the  NYT  or periodically seeing him on television programs such as the Bill Maher show on HBO. That’s about it. The mainstream press has not adopted Krugman as an economics expert, despite his Nobel Prize and his many books on current economic policies. He’s too liberal. But, as an article in Salon points out, Krugman is a national celebrity in many European countries, especially those going through gut-wrenching times of neoliberal austerity, such as Spain, where the unemployment rate for young people under age twenty-five is at 50%. His latest book “End This Depression Now,” is in its fourth printing in Spain (“¡Acabad ya con esta crisis”). So as the article in Salon points out, in America, Krugman writes columns, but in Europe he makes headlines. Krugman favors government intervention to generate full employment. One of his ideas is that, in recessionary times,  governments should take on the debt required to maintain full employment and repay the debt when the economic good times return. He writes consistently about how the austerity programs in Europe, the United States and Great Britain are making the economy much worse, because while belt-tightening for an individual may work, because his or her income would not change, it does not work for an entire country since everyone’s income will drop, creating a tailspin economy where all members suffer. According to Krugman,  Obama should be declaring a jobs emergency program right now, based on the most recent anemic jobs report and the sluggish growth or our economy. I have referred to this period as the Great Depression for young people and if anyone has a son or daughter trying to get a job right now, they know how difficult it is to get employment, how much more employers are demanding for reduced pay scales and how insecure almost any job is these days with respect to one’s economic future. We are not moving in the right direction, and there is no excuse for not doing more to make right our very sour economy. Even though policies implemented during the Obama administration have reversed the trend of job loss in manufacturing, which began in the late 1990s,  and replaced that picture with net job growth in this vital sector, this anemic growth is not strong enough to stimulate a more significant recovery.  But as Krugman points out in his most recent column, America is already going through its Republicanized economy, and we are one election away from going down the austerity road even further, in which case we will join Europe by sliding back into a more devastating recession. Isn’t the one we’re in bad enough?  Republicans hope to use this stark economic news to make serious cuts in our social programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, in addition to the elimination of safety net programs that protect us from economic devastation.

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