Friday, May 22, 2015

Monckton and Watts inadvertantly reveal global warming "Pause" to be clumsy fraud

The idiot climate denialist website, run by the idiot climate denialist Anthony Watts, is fond of running graphs proclaiming NO GLOBAL WARMING FOR ‘XX’ YEARS ‘X’ MONTHS. Most of these entries are written by another ignoble denier, Christopher Monckton. The British Daily Mail does similar things.

 Below are some recent examples from Watts/Monckton. (I've linked the WUWT articles, if you want to read them.) What Monckton did is to produce identical-looking graphs, month after month, with the time of the "pause" in global warming lengthening, ever lengthening, implying that since the time he started, the world has not warmed one tiny jot.

Below are the graphs from March 2014, November 2014, and April 2015. For each graph, Monckton took a carefully-selected stretch of time and added a linear regression line. Look closely though. Without meaning to, he has revealed his fraud. Notice anything odd? Join me underneath after you've thought about it ...

Okay, did you catch it? I’ll tell you. Ready?

 All these graphs start in different months.

 The first one starts in August 1996. The second starts in October 1996. The third starts in December 1996.

Notice the end date on the first graph -- March of 2014. Then look at the end date on the third graph -- April of 2015, thirteen months later. Monckton helpfully tells us the time period each graph covers -- the first covers 212 months, and the last one covers 221 months. Thirteen months have passed, but the third graph is only nine months longer than the first one.

In March of 2014, global warming had stopped in August of 1996. But in April of 2015, global warming hadn't stopped until December of 1996. What's up with that?

In almost any noisy time-sequenced dataset such as monthly averages of world temperatures, it is easy to find a stretch of time ending at the current datapoint that shows a flat trendline. You just need to do a little trial and error, find the longest recent stretch you can that has both ups and downs, and add a linear regression line. Nothing to it. That's clearly how Monckton started.

But as time goes on, Monckton has to keep changing the start date in order to find the flat trendline. This is an almost perfect example of cherry picking for the purpose of committing a fraud.

If in fact there had been “no” global warming over this period, he wouldn’t have to change the start date. He’d only have to change the end date in order to show that "no" global warming keeps happening. Which is the impression he wants to give.

Monckton keeps using a later and later start date. Why does he do that? Well, compare the rightmost part of the squiggly line on the first graph with the rightmost part of the squiggly line on the third graph. Notice what happens there? For most of the period between the time he drew the first graph and the time he drew the third one, the squiggly line is above his "flatline". In other words, for nearly that whole period, the Earth was warmer than the "no global warming" flatline.

If he drew a linear regression line from the beginning of his first graph to the end of his third graph, that regression line would slant upward. It would show that the Earth has warmed during this period. It would reveal his lie.

What to do? Well, since the average temperatures got warmer from the time of his first graph to the time of his third graph, in order to have a flat trendline, he's got to eliminate some readings from the left side that are below the trend. So he does. Compare the leftmost part of the squiggly line in the first graph to the leftmost part of the squiggle in the third graph. See that?

Monckton dropped the lower temperature readings at the beginning of the graph in order to maintain a flat trendline. He is purposely cherry-picking new dates in order to perpetrate a fraud.

To summarize: Monckton wants to pretend that the Earth has stopped warming. And yet, the average of the temperature readings went up in the thirteen months between March of 2014 and April of 2015. To hide this, he dropped the colder temps at the left end of his graph, and he wants you to think there has been "no global warming" during this entire period.

The whole exercise, of course, is a classic example of cherry-picked dishonesty. Monckton is intentionally selecting a stretch of recent time to create the false impression he wants to show. And since 1998 is so warm, he’ll be able to keep doing this for a while, probably at least a couple more years, regardless of what happens to global temperatures. As warmer temperatures continue to get added onto the right end of the chart, he can continue to chop colder temps off the left end.

And by the time the lefthand edge of his graph reaches that huge 1998 spike and his dishonest technique stops working, people will have forgotten he was doing this, because he’ll have gone on to some new dishonest technique.

After that he'll merely have to choose a flat line slightly higher than the one he's using now, continue to cherry-pick start points, and keep merrily on with his fraud.

Let’s also note that 1) he is cherry picking the dataset he wants to use (the Remote Sensing Systems satellite data, a.k.a. RSS), and 2) the time period he’s chosen is ridiculously short. Below is the real temperature trend, using some other datasets (the Met Office, NOAA, and NASA). I’ve circled the part in the upper-right-hand corner, which is the cherry-picked sub-selection that Monckton shows. In context of the overall dataset, it isn’t flat at all, but is part of a clear long-term upward trend –- which is why Monckton has to keep changing the start date for his cherry-picked subset of his cherry-picked data set.

 Because the Earth keeps warming.
The main difference between RSS and the other datasets is that RSS looks at lower troposphere temperatures, and the others are surface temps where humans live. Most of the troposphere is warming at a slower rate than the Earth's surface is, so it's easier for Monckton to cherry-pick a longer flat trendline with the RSS data.

Note also that all four of these data sets – RSS, Met, NOAA, and NASA – omit ocean temperatures, where over 90% of the earth’s excess heat is being stored. So you can take the graph above, and make the slope more than ten times steeper to show the actual amount by which the Earth has warmed during this period.
Stolen from here
So, did global warming stop in August of 1996, or in December of 1996? Neither. It continues. In fact, in the thirteen months while Monckton was producing these fraudulent graphs, between March of 2014 and April of 2015, the Earth continued to warm. During the period Monckton and Watts claim there was "no global warming." Even in the cherry-picked dataset that Monckton uses.

Of course, anyone knowledgeable about these matters will tell you that thirteen months is far too short a span of time from which to draw any conclusions at all. So is the five months at the beginning of the first graph, which Monckton had to hide because they reveal his fraud. So is the entire span of time contained in these graphs. But that's the point. Short-term cherry-picked time periods from a cherry-picked dataset mean nothing.

And to pretend it does mean something is fraud.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Great Expectations, part 2 -- The World that Was

As I showed in my previous article, Americans are deeply dissatisfied with the long-term course of the economy. Fewer Americans identify themselves as "middle class". They fear they will not be comfortable in retirement, and will have to retire later in life, if they can retire at all. They're convinced wealth in America is distributed unfairly, and that wealth disparity is increasing.

There are reasons for these fears and concerns. The "middle class" is a recent phenomenon in human history. There is no economic law that forces a middle class to exist. For most of the time civilization has been around, people have been divided into a tiny group of immensely wealthy rulers, and the great mass of extremely poor workers who support them. The middle class only came into existence about a hundred years ago. It was brought about by changes in policy, and it can be easily dismantled -- or can be saved -- by further changes to policy.

What created the middle class? What is its likely fate over the next generation or two?

What is the Middle Class?

Much of what follows is taken from Thomas Picketty's groundbreaking Capital in the Twenty-First Century, from which I will unabashedly steal a number of graphs and much of my analysis. (Buy the book. Read it. Learn it.) To have a clue as to where we're going, we have to understand how we got here.

To begin, let's ask the question, "What is the middle class?" We can answer this in any number of ways. One of the clearest and most meaningful is the approach Picketty takes. In the developed world today, we can divide people into three distinct groups based on ownership of capital. (And what is "capital"? I'll get to that in a minute.)

1) There is the bottom 50% or so, who own practically nothing. Half of all the people who live in developed countries have zero (or even negative) net assets. That is, if you take the value of everything they own, and subtract from that the amount of money they may owe, you will come out with zero net worth (or close to zero, or even negative net worth). Between them all, the bottom 50% may own about five percent of a nation's wealth.

2) At the other extreme, there are the richest 10%, who own around sixty to seventy percent of a nation's wealth. We can further divide this group into smaller subsets, which I will do later -- for now, treat them as a single group. Consider this for just a second -- we're talking about one tenth of the population, who together own significantly more than half of all the wealth that exists in the country. That's called "wealth disparity".

3) With fifty percent of the people on the bottom, and ten percent on top -- that leaves 40 percent in the middle. If the bottom half own as much as 5 percent of the nation's wealth, and the top group owns 60 to 70 percent, that leaves about 25 to 35 percent of the wealth -- between one quarter and one third -- to be owned by this middle 40%. This is the "middle class".

What I have just described is the situation as it exists in developed nations today. Each nation varies from the others in detail, but not in kind. This is true for America, Canada, France, England, Germany, Australia, China, Japan, Scandinavia -- virtually all developed nations, and most of the developing ones, too. About half the people own pretty much nothing. About one tenth own the lion's share of around 60 or 70 percent of everything. That leaves a group of about 40% of the people, who own between one quarter and one third of the things that can be owned.

From Piketty, Capital, p215. In Europe and America, the top 10% own between 60% and 70% of everything. The bottom 50% own about 5%. The middle class owns between 1/4 and about 1/3. This inequality is worse in America than in Europe, and was worse in the past than it is today.

I will note in passing that this wealth disparity is greater in the United States than it is in any other developed nation. The top 10% of Americans own a bigger share of America than the top 10% in England own of their country. The middle class in America owns far less of America than the middle class of France owns of France. The Scandinavian countries are most equitable and have the smallest wealth disparity. American wealth disparity is the greatest of all the developed nations.

Capitalists will say this is a Good Thing, and that it is one bit of proof that America is the Most Greatestest Country in the World Ever. Well, a capitalist would say that, wouldn't he? After all, if you're a capitalist, you can be richer here than you can be anywhere else. Not only can you be richer, but the contrast between the rich and everyone else is greatest here, which is emotionally satisfying if you're one of the rich.

As I said, this division -- from bottom to top: 50/40/10, owning roughly 5/30/65 -- This is the current state in the developed world. It was not always this way.

Before the Middle Class

For most of human history, there were really only two groups, not three. The top 10% owned about 90% of everything. Picture a city block with ten houses on it, and 100 people living in that block. Ten of the block's inhabitants together own nine of the houses. The other ninety people on the block are crammed into the last house at the end of the line. That was the state of the world from the invention of agriculture, in around 6000 BCE, up until about the beginning of the twentieth century.

We can subdivide those two groups. The top 10% had its own top group -- the top tenth of the top tenth, amounting to maybe 1% of the total population.  They owned about 50% of everything. You can think of them as royalty -- the kings and queens and princes, who never worked a day, and could acquire or appropriate anything they wanted. In out "city block" example, one person owns five of the ten houses on block. The rest of the wealthy people -- the next nine (think of them as "nobles" instead of "royalty") -- between them own four of the ten houses. The one King owns five houses, the nine nobles between them own four, and the last house is split between the ninety serfs.

The poorer 90% of the population was made up of A) tradesmen (who may have owned, say, a forge or a kiln or a loom), and B) peasants (who owned nothing). Wait -- "nothing"? Don't things like clothes and furniture count? No, they do not (but don't amount to much anyway). We're talking about economics here. We're concerned with what's called "capital", which you can think of as "stuff you can use to make money -- or to make other stuff." A house counts as "capital" because you can charge someone rent for living there. Clothes are not capital. The rags on your back can't be used to make money (unless perhaps you're in a very particularized sort of profession -- say, an actor -- and then they're not "clothes" but "industrial equipment").

In our city block, a group of maybe 20 people -- the tradesmen -- jointly own that last house, and they use it to produce goods and services. The final 70 people own nothing, and have to rent rooms to from the people who do own something. They earn their money to pay rent by working for the tradespeople -- or, more likely, by working as farmers to produce food for the nobles and the King.

This was the state of the world up through the seventeenth and eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries. The wealthy 10% owned the land and the farms, which were worked by peasants, who paid rents to the nobility in order to purchase the privilege of working the land. A few tradespeople made tools that the peasantry bought from them -- and made weaponry, and built houses and castles that were purchased by the nobles and kings. But often, even the forges and kilns of the tradespeople were owned by the nobility, and were only rented by the tradespeople.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, most wealthy people got their income from two sources -- either from rents, or from interest on money they'd loaned to the government. Governments, you see, would often borrow money -- sometimes for public works (roadbuilding, dams and flood control, police and constabularies, and so on), and often to pay for wars. Landowners would loan this money to the governments, which would tend to run long-term debts. The interest payments made by the government to the lenders would be financed by taxes and by conquest.

So the major forms of capital before the nineteenth century were: 1) land and real estate, from which the owner could obtain income in the form of rents, and 2) government debt, which furnished (usually) reliable interest payments. The people who owned capital -- and who lived off of this capital -- were "capitalists". All other people were serfs.

This pattern changed slightly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Real estate and rural lands were reduced in importance with the coming of factories. Now, buildings, mines, machinery, and urban land (along with the ever-reliable government debt) became the things to own. Financial assets also became important -- investors could own companies, and then ever-more elaborate investment entities and various forms of "intellectual capital" including patents and trademarks.

The nature of capital changed --but not its distribution. Serfs moved into the cities, and technological changes made it possible to support the population with fewer people working the farms. Throughout the nineteenth century, the "developed world" still had about 10% of the population owning about 90% of everything, and the great mass of serfs now working the factories and the streets instead of merely the land. There still existed no "middle class".

Growth, Inheritance, Inflation

The world as I've just described it was quite stable. There were wars and various forms of civil unrest from time to time, even the occasional plague or banking crisis to mix things up a bit. But certainly until the eighteenth century, technological change was glacially slow, and population grew no faster.
From Picketty, Capital, p96.

The data Picketty presents shows that, over a period of centuries -- even millennia -- annual population growth averaged on the order of 0.01% or less. It stands to reason -- if the world population was in the tens of millions two thousand years ago (it was actually far more than that), then annual growth of even 1% per year would mean we'd have over 4,000,000,000,000,000 people today -- almost a half million times the number of people we actually have.

The same sorts of considerations apply to economic growth. The lot of most people changed very slowly, if at all. It could take dozens of generations to see any difference in the lives of most people.

Consider this fact carefully. For most of human history, economic growth rates were very slow indeed. Today, if our economy doesn't grow at a rate of at least 2 or 3 percent every year, we consider that to be a crisis. Until the eighteenth of nineteenth century, it might take many generations to see an economic growth of 2 or 3 percent.

From Picketty, Capital, p 102
With little growth (in either population or the economy), there also was little inflation. Prices for things like food or housing or clothes -- or land, or labor, or ships or raw materials -- remained virtually constant for centuries at a time. Writers and novelists and economic theorists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries could talk about the prices of good and services, or the incomes of tradespeople, or the wealth obtained by selling a parcel of land -- and those prices, whether expressed in gold or in national currency (the pound, the franc, the ruble) would be comprehensible and pretty much the same two or three hundred years later.

The world is different now from how it was before the beginning of the twentieth century. The distribution of wealth has changed -- there is now a middle class. We now have the phenomenon of inflation. Population growth and economic growth is now far greater that it has ever been.

Are there laws of economics, as inevitable as the laws of physics, that brought about these changes? Is there any force that will ensure the middle class continues into the future? I showed last time that actually fewer people consider themselves "middle class" than there used to be, and they have a profound unease about what is to come.

What created the sea change in world economics? Where is it likely to go? I'll address these questions in my next post.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Great Expectations -- reality vs perception, part 1

America is going through great changes. We always have done so -- it is the nature of our nation, and the nature of the times. But this is a recent phenomenon. In ancient eras, it could be millennia between great social transformations -- the discovery of fire, the invention of hunting or agriculture, the creation of the nation-state. Today, changes of comparable scale happen at least every generation, perhaps every decade.

How do Americans feel about where we are, where we've been, and where we are going? How accurate are their perceptions? America was built on the concept of giving one's descendents a better world than one inherited. Is that idea still possible?

Let's start with an overview of where we are, and how we feel about it. Gallup polling furnishes a wealth of data we can draw upon to form some idea of how Americans feel about our present, our recent past, and our future. In another article, I'll present some long-term objective data about where we have been and where we are likely to end up. For now, let's take a snapshot of how Americans are feeling.

According to recent Gallup polling, Americans are pretty pleased with the Obama economy. A record 81% of Americans say they are "satisfied" with their current standard of living, and with the things they can buy and can do. Of course, that question addresses only how Americans feel about their current situation, not whether they think they would continue to be satisfied if nothing were to change. Still, it's a good place to start. To an overwhelming extent, Americans say they are "satisfied".

If past is prologue, Americans expect things to change. A full 61% of Americans say their standard of living is getting better, nearly twice as many (33%) who felt that way in October of 2008, just before Barack Obama was elected President. Note that this is not merely a question about whether Americans' lives have gotten better. It is about expectations, which implies that if their expectations were to be dashed, they would not be so satisfied.

There is good reason both for Americans' feeling that things have improved, and for their expectations for the future. Since President Obama's election, Gallup's "Standard of Living Index" has improved from a low of 14 in October and November of 2008, to today's stunningly-improved high of 50. Of course, Gallup being a pollster, this "Standard of Living Index" is not based on any objective criteria or econometric data, but only on how people say they feel about how well they're doing. This index is a combination of the previous two questions, a combination of: "Are you satisfied with how things are?" and: "Are things getting better?" It says nothing whatever about a question like, "Are you over or under the federal poverty level?"

Americans do seem to love the direction of the Obama economy. Whether they are "objectively" doing better or not, they say they are "satisfied."

But let's look a little deeper. What is it, exactly, that Americans are happy with? Are they getting ahead in the world, in their own estimation? Are they moving up? Is that why they're so happy?

According to Gallup, no. Between 2001 and 2009, between 55% and 63% of Americans considered themselves "middle class". Since 2009, that number has fallen to 51%, with a low of 50% in 2012. Between 2001 and 2009, between 33% and 42% of Americans considered themselves "working or lower class". Since 2009, that number has risen to 48%. Those considering themselves "upper class" fell from 3% in 2001 to 1% today.

Paradoxically, though Americans say they are satisfied with their economic lot -- and even feel it is "getting better" -- increasing numbers of them feel they are losing ground, class-wise. Perhaps being "satisfied" is not synonymous with "doing well" -- or even with "doing well enough."

What does this mean, that Americans both say they are happy with where they are -- even that they are doing better, and expect to continue doing better -- and yet that they feel they are falling in American's class structure? Perhaps it means they are convinced the whole economy is improving so much that their improvement isn't quite keeping up. To put it in technical terms, perhaps they are aware the GDP is improving faster than the rate of increase of their incomes.

Something like that explanation seems likely. According to Gallup, a significant majority feel the distribution of wealth in America is "unfair". The number of people who feel this way has fluctuated between 59% and 68% from 1985 to the present, with a peak in 2008. The idea of "unfairness" actually hit a low point shortly after the inauguration of G. W. Bush, but then rose throughout his presidency, indicating that his policies struck Americans as increasing unfairness. The current number, at 63%, is almost precisely halfway between the two extremes. The economic collapse of late 2008 caused a significant drop in this number -- Americans apparently felt the crisis improved economic equality.

A small minority of Americans -- around one third, between 27% and 37% -- feel the distribution of wealth is "fair".

In what way do Americans think the distribution of wealth is "unfair"? Do those lazy poor people have things too easy, what with all those giveaway programs? Are rich people being strangled by outrageously high taxes?

The following graph is particularly stunning. The change in American attitudes that it displays is nothing short of amazing. When asked, "Do you think our government should or should not redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich?" increasing numbers of people think the government should do that, and the numbers have dramatically altered since the 1940s.

In the late 1930's, at the end of the Great Depression, 54% of Americans were opposed to this idea of redistribution, and only 35% agreed with it. By the late 1990's, the gap had narrowed to 51% opposed and 45% supportive. That has now completely reversed -- 52% of Americans agree that the government should redistribute wealth through higher taxes on the rich, and only 45% disapprove of this idea.

It is unfortunate that the question was apparently not asked between the late 1930's and the late 1990s, so we have little idea when the majority of the change happened.With more regular polling since about 2006, we can see that the numbers are fairly volatile. Even so, the magnitude of the change is striking, and the overall trend is undeniable. The idea of redistribution through aggressively progressive taxation is quite popular, and will figure in the next article.

To what can we attribute this amazing turnaround in attitudes? Perhaps it is the realization that programs once criticized as being "redistributive" actually work to improve Americans' lives. Not only do they work; they are necessary to the well-being of America.

As one example, consider Social Security. Though there is a segment of political rhetoric dedicated to convincing us that the program is near-bankrupt, and that it will not be there for the next generation of retirees, according to Gallup, Americans are increasingly relying on Social Security. Just since 2001-2002, the percentage of Americans asked if they think Social Security to be a major source of their retirement income has risen from 27-28% to 36%.

According to the linked article, this increase exists in all age groups; the campaign to convince younger Americans that the program won't be there for them, or to pit younger against older Americans, seems to be failing. In the period 2005 to 2014, among Americans 18 to 34, the percentage expecting to rely on Social Security as a major source of retirement income increased thirteen points from 13% to 26%. Though the number of adults aged 55+ who expected to rely on Social Security increased in that period only 6 points, it was already very high -- it went from 42% to 48%.

In contrast, though powerful forces have been urging Americans to rely on private investment programs such as IRAs and 401(k)s, the number who expect these programs to furnish a major source of their retirement income has dramatically decreased, from 58% in 2001 to only 49% today, with a low of 42% just following the worldwide economic collapse of 2008.

This question of retirement matters, for it relates to how Americans view themselves, both now and in the future, and how they view the assets they own (as I will deal with in the next article). According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who are retired, and who are comfortable in their retirement, is falling, from 52% in 2002 to 40% today (with lows of 34% and 31% in 2009 and 2012). The number who are not yet retired, and who say they are comfortable now, but who do not think they will be comfortable in retirement, has remained relatively stable in the range 20% to 29%. The number of non-retirees who say they are not comfortable now, and do not expect to be comfortable in retirement either, has increased from around 20% in 2002-2004 to 30% today, with a peak of 36% in 2012.

Talking to people who are not retired, and separating the questions of whether one is comfortable now, and whether one expects to be comfortable in retirement, yields other revealing results. The number who say they are comfortable now has fallen, from 74% in 2002 to 63% today, with a 2012 low of 57%. The pattern of those who expect to be comfortable in retirement matches this trend, but shows a profound pessimism. The line very nearly parallels the "current comfort" line, but is lower -- falling as it falls, from 59% in 2002 to 48% today, with again a lowpoint in 2012, of 38%.

This is important. Significantly more people view themselves as being comfortable today, than who feel they will get along well in retirement, with a gap of around 15%. And note that less than two-thirds say they are "comfortable" today, even though the very first graph presented in this article said that 81% of Americans are "satisfied" with their current lot.

Clearly, "satisfied" is a very different thing from "comfortable." Almost 20% more people are "satisfied" than are "comfortable" -- and 15% less than that think they will be "comfortable" in retirement.

This does not seem to imply that all Americans are happy with their current lot. Being "satisfied" may be something like "resigned to". It certainly does not necessarily mean people think they will be able to accumulate sufficient wealth to have a "comfortable" retirement.

There may be good reason for this possible sense of unease. Americans expect that they will be required to work longer before they are able to retire. The number who expect to retire before age 65 has fallen quite a lot since the mid 90s, from 49% to only 32% today, with a low point of 27% in 2012-2013. In contrast, the number who expect to have to work beyond age 65 has more than doubled, from a mere 14% in 1995 to more than a third -- between 36% and 39% -- in recent years.

These expectations may be a bit too pessimistic, however. Predicting the future is dangerous, but we can compare what actually happened in the past to what people expected to happen. When retired people were asked at what age they retired, the number of younger retirees can be seen to have fallen over the years (i.e., people worked longer before they retired), but not quite as dramatically as was feared. In 1991-1996, between 70% and 76% of respondents said they retired before age 65, as contrasted with around 49% of people in that era who said they expected to be able to retire that early. The number of under-65 retirees has fallen some, but not much, to around 65% today (give or take a few percentage points).

This may, however, be due to forced retirements, as employers push out older (and therefore more expensive) workers, in favor of younger, cheaper labor. If someone is forced to retire before he or she is ready to do so, that could well contribute to the expectation of being unable to retire in comfort. Note, though, that the number who retired past age 65 has more than doubled, from 7-8% in the early 90s to around 20% in 2014-2015.

All this, however -- everything above -- is a matter of surveys. The questions about when people actually retired are the only ones that deal with real data, as contrasted with perceptions. Perception is not necessarily the same as reality.

But does that matter? If people say they are happy with the way things are, does it matter whether they are objectively richer or poorer, healthier or longer-lived, better-off or barely getting by?

To some extent, that question deals with Orwellian brainwashing, and the ability of elites to convince serfs to be happy with serfdom. Or does it? It is meaningful to ask whether people are "justified" in being "satisfied"?

Let's look next time at a long view of how our economy has evolved, on the scale of centuries. There are aspects that are very special about where we are now. There is nothing -- there is no "law of economics" -- that requires we stay here. We can choose to return to a prior state, or to stay where we are, or to progress so some desired condition. Let's look at the possibilities.