The Real Issue of Productivity; — Catching Up to China and the 'Eurasian Power'

August 15, 2016
China's domestically produced fast trains await departure from Hankow Railway Station, April 19, 2016. [flickr/Gwydion M Williams]

Will the United States revive the scientific creativity and economic productivity to collaborate peacefully, over the long term, with China's progress?

Will Europe decide to leave what Helga Zepp-LaRouche calls the "suicide pact" with Obama and a NATO command planning for wars with both Russia and China? When will Europe join instead with Eurasia's New Silk Road of great infrastructure projects — not to mention deep space exploration and fusion power development?

Those are the real questions citizens should be involving themselves in — not the disasters who are currently running for election.

The announcement today that German fusion researchers are joining a Russian national laboratory in developing a new "polarized deuterium" fuel for fusion power shows the creative direction for Europe's best capabilities, for example. The result can leapfrog over the recent breakthrough in Germany's fusion program — but those result have already been far exceeded by China's. China is making technological innovation and growth the theme of the G20 meeting it will chair on Sept. 4-5 in Hangzhou. The same is true of Putin's Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok Sept. 2-3.

The Eurasian nations are pulling together in a process capable of winning peace as well as development; and it is leadership actions initiated by Russia's President Vladimir Putin which have largely made that process possible.

It has put the United States in front of a choice — and it is not the choice between two Dick Cheney impersonators for President.

The IMF on Aug. 12 forecast China's annual economic growth could fall to 6% by 2020. Were this true, then the United States — if guided by a revolutionary new presidency deploying national credit for new infrastructure, space exploration, and fusion technologies — could hope to catch up with China's growth by that time!

U.S. and Federal Reserve officials have at last admitted recently that they are worried by the very low productivity of the U.S. economy, as well as its very low growth. The Obama economy has exhibited unprecedentedly low productivity growth, no matter how measured.

A common measure of "productivity" merely divides GDP by hours worked. By that measure, labor productivity growth has never reached even a 1% annual rate since Obama signed his "stimulus act" in his first year in office. U.S. economic growth has been a pitiable 1.2% for the past 12 months.

But real labor productivity increases come from scientific and technological advances, and education. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) report on the very high productivity growth during Franklin Roosevelt's presidency says, "This was due to the very strong growth in electric power generation and distribution, transportation, communications, civil and structural engineering for bridges, tunnels, dams, highways, railroads, and transmission systems; and private research and development." The challenges of all this modern infrastructure-building produced technological advance in large numbers of industries, and R&D was sharply increased.

Economists grade the 1930s, '40s, and the Apollo Project '60s as the peaks of real productivity growth in U.S. history — nearly 3%/year improvement in productivity.

According to the San Francisco Federal Reserve and the NBER, George W. Bush's eight years saw such growth at 1.0% annually; Obama's near-eight years, 0.75%.

Time to create a new presidency, and try to catch China.



New German-Russian Cooperation In Fusion Power Research

The German nuclear research center in Jülich and Russian research at the Budker Center in Novosibirsk have signed a cooperation agreement for the joint construction of a special facility to produce polarized deuterium fuel from unpolarized deuterium. This will generate pre-ordered "nuclear spins" — alignments of the deuterium atoms — for fusion power experiments involving both deuterium and helium fuel. The joint project is funded by the German Research Association DFG and the Russian Science Foundation (RSF).

Departing from traditional generation of pre-ordered spins from already-polarized deuterium, the Russian scientists and engineers will contribute a specific magnetic field configuration, which will pre-order the isotope spins already during the polarization process. This enables the desired spins be more easily filtered out and, in the same process, separated from the spin alignments not wanted for the experiment.

Why? The efficiency of the fusion power reaction is considerably higher with completely polarized fuel than with the traditional method. It gives a larger "cross-section" to the reaction which combines the atoms of deuterium and/or helium, at extremely high temperatures and pressures produced by magnets or lasers.

The reaction is thus longer-lasting — one major goal of fusion power development — and the energy and particles produced can be directed magnetically for technological purposes.

The configuration design for polarizing the deuterium fuel comes from the Russian center. The German contribution will be the construction of four Lamb Shift Polarimeters from the Juelich center. There are only five of these worldwide at this point, so Jülich will take a global lead in this kind of research. Related research teams at the Universities of Düsseldorf and Darmstadt are part of the effort.

The key for German fusion power testing is the availability of this polarized fuel for the national fusion research center in Greifswald—an advanced magnetic fusion confinement design known as a stellerator. In early February, Greifswald, with unpolarized fuel, achieved 80 million degrees Fahrenheit temperature for one-quarter of a second of complete confinement of the fusion plasma by the magnetic fields.

But then in late February, China's tokamak magnetic confinement design — the Experiment Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) — achieved 90 million degrees for 100 seconds of confinement!

The combination of polarized fuel and stellerator design was widely discussed and described in Lyndon LaRouche's Fusion magazine 35 years ago, as key to achieving fusion power.