Thursday, May 12, 2005

Econ for the Future 101

'>THE GREAT UNRAVELING by Paul Krugman. W.W. Norton & Co.
'>THE END OF POVERTY by Jeffrey D. Sachs. Penguin Press.

by William S. Kowinski

It's called the dismal science because of all those gray lines of figures, but the name might stick because as a science it has been a dismal failure. Abused by ideologues and self-serving liars, puffed up beyond its accomplishments in academia, with a deserved reputation for predicting the obvious and getting even that wrong, economics has failed its function and its potential. In this, a world predicated on economic relationships. Dismal.

Here are two of the few books that do better. There is no better analyst of the economics of our time, especially those involved in political machinations at the federal and global level, than Paul Krugman of the New York Times. His ongoing analysis of the chicanery and cynical foolishness applied to the Social Security debate in Washington is only his latest invaluable contribution to truth, justice and the American way.

His columns should not be missed, and though this book is a few years old---a long time in political economics---it is still the best analysis of what's going on. The venerable Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., author of POLITICS OF HOPE, calls THE GREAT UNRAVELING "required reading for anyone concerned about the American future."

Concerning the world's future, Jeffrey Sachs in his new book offers convincing proof and a practical plan for addressing and essentially ending poverty in our time. We've known since President Kennedy said so in his Inaugural Address in 1961 that eradicating poverty is within our power. This book, which is both based on information gathered for the UN Millennium Project and is the basis for the 20 year effort inaugurated by that project this year to eliminate poverty, offers the blueprint for actually doing it. At very little cost to the wealthy nations and their citizens.

What little hope there seems to be rests with courageous individuals like Krugman who step up to the possibilities that they've been given, and to organizations like the Millennium Project that operate doggedly, under the media radar, to achieve goals that amount to justifying our claims of humanity. The future depends on them, and individuals and organizations like them in many categories of knowledge and endeavor.

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