"End This Depression Now!" By Paul Krugman, W.W. Norton & Co., 271 pages. Hardcover, $24.95.CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The current recession that began in 2007 continues to leave more than 8 percent of American workers unemployed. That could change if federal government leaders became more active in creating jobs to put people back to work.
Today, Americans face the greatest economic downturn since the Depression in the 1930s. But federal leaders -- in both the White House and Congress -- refuse to take the dramatic steps needed to move the nation back into prosperity.
Instead, counterproductive blame games dominate our "halls of power."
Today, at least 6 million Americans have been without jobs for six months. Another 4 million have been without jobs for more than a year.
But 24 million people are unemployed, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you include those people who have given up looking for jobs.
One in four recent college graduates are either unemployed or working only part-time.
These are among the disturbing facts presented in "End This Depression Now!" a new book by longtime "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman.
Krugman is also an economics professor at Princeton University and winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics.
Throughout his book, Krugman argues against economic austerity promoted by many leaders in Congress, especially Republicans.
"When everyone tries to save more (and therefore spends less) ... income declines and the economy shrinks."
John Maynard Keynes, a leading economic theorist who lived from 1883 to 1946, once wrote, "The boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity." Krugman believes government officials should focus more attention on his work.
Robert B. Reich, an economist and U.S. Labor Secretary from 1993 to 1997, wrote in "Time Magazine" in 1999 that Keynes' "radical idea that governments should spend money they don't have may have saved capitalism."
Government regulations and economic equality are major issues discussed throughout this readable new book.
During the 1930s, our government enacted many pieces of legislation, most of which have been gutted or eliminated during the past 30 years.
"Step by step, the rules and regulations that had been put in place in the 1930s to protect against banking crises were dismantled," Krugman writes. Both Republicans and Democrats participated.
During his presidency between 1977 and 1981, Jimmy Carter began deregulating airlines, trucking companies, oil and natural gas producers and financial institutions.
The "final blow to Depression-era regulations" came when Bill Clinton was in the White House, Krugman argues.
The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which separated commercial banking from risky investment banking, was repealed in 1999. That act had gone a long way to protect the banking deposits of ordinary people for 66 years.
Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic Senatorial candidate from Massachusetts who headed the federal Consumer Protection Bureau in 2010-2011, is among those urging reenactment of Glass-Steagall today, particularly in the wake of JP Morgan Chase's recent $2 billion loss from risky, questionable investments.