Posts tagged: manufacturing jobs

Paul Krugman and The Return of Depression Economics

I went to see Paul Krugman speak at the Riley Center for the Arts at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont Saturday night. He was there to promote the softcover release of his book, “The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008.” Paul is one of my favorite columnists at the New York Times and I read him religiously (don’t tell Bill Maher). He is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for 2008 and a Professor of Economics at Princeton University. He also has a blog called, “The Conscience of a Liberal.”

It was the first time I had been to the Riley Center for the Arts. I got there early and parked right out front. There were only a few people there when I arrived. I had purchased my tickets in advance and they were waiting for me when I arrived. The $10 price of admission was also good for $10 off the price of the book, which I thought was a pretty good deal. The cover price is $16.95. Mr. Krugman was going to sign the book after he spoke. I went into the theater to find a seat. It’s a very cozy, comfortable auditorium that holds about 250 people. They are all good seats. I sat four rows back on the center isle. I could see and hear perfectly.

Mr. Krugman was introduced by one of the owners of the Northshire Bookstore who sponsored the event. He gave an interesting talk for 45 minutes or so about the current economic crisis. At times he was funny and at times he was serous. He then invited the audience to ask questions.

One of the more interesting questions was, where are the jobs going to come from for our kids. Paul said that he wasn’t really sure but, green jobs were one possibility. Where are those green jobs anyway? I think the person who asked the question was retired. He may not realize how many people over 50 are looking for work after having been laid off from a job they held for years. In recessions that I remember, it was always assumed that even if you were laid off, you would probably get hired back by the same company when the recession was over. Nobody is assuming that now. A lot of manufacturing jobs are gone and they aren’t coming back, unless by some miracle something changes drastically.

I was listening to the different questions people were asking and trying to think of one of my own. I finally came up with a question about the Glass-Steagall Act but, by then it was too late to ask. I wanted to ask him if he thought the Glass-Steagall Act, that was enacted in 1933 during the Great Depression and repealed in 1999, should be brought back to prevent another financial crisis. It seemed to work pretty well for 70 years or so.

I’m not going to try and tell you everything he said. I don’t remember it all and I didn’t take notes. You can read his column, blog and book if you want to know what he thinks. Having said that, here is a quote from his October 2, 2009 column in the New York Times:

“But while not having another depression is a good thing, all indications are that unless the government does much more than is currently planned to help the economy recover, the job market — a market in which there are currently six times as many people seeking work as there are jobs on offer — will remain terrible for years to come.”

Wow. I don’t think a lot of politicians realize how bad the economy really is. There is far too little being done to create jobs in this country. The politicians  just don’t get it.

This March 28, 2009 Newsweek story about Paul is interesting. The title of the story is, “Obama’s Nobel Headache” and it refers to Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize not President Obama’s.  Apparently Paul and I have some things in common. We are both the same age (56) and we both came home from school once with a bloody nose. The article implies that it was from a punch in the nose. Mine was too and it was well worth it. Based on the picture that goes with the article, he needs a bigger umbrella too.

After he spoke Mr. Krugman signed copies of his book. I was lucky enough to be one of the first in line. When it was my turn, there was a young man standing next to him talking to him as he was signing. I always thought that when an author was signing his book for you, that you should be able to have a quick converstation. I leaned over the table a little bit and got his attention by saying that I enjoyed his column in the New York Times and that I enjoyed his speech tonight. He looked at me and said thank you.

It was nice to get to meet someone that I read all the time and see on television. It only lasted a few seconds, but by the time I left, the young man was gone too.

As I was leaving the building, I noticed a woman next to me wearing a very interesting “peace button.” I told her that I liked it and she offered to give me one. She ended up giving me three buttons. Twice I offered to pay her for them, but she would not take any money. She said she had been making them since 2001 and giving them away. She never accepted payment. She gave me a business card and said that I should email her and explain how we met and she would send me another button. I am going to contact her today and find out the “rest of the story.”

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