Saturday, January 31, 2009

We All Need To Remember Herbert Hoover

Columnist Colbert I. King writes in the Washington Post that "Republicans need to remember Hoover". I agree with that, indeed I think that everyone -whether Republican or not- should remember Hoover.

However, they should remember the real Hoover, not the mythological version. Colbert certainly doesn't seem to remember the real Hoover as he claims that:

"In truth, what really gets them [Republicans] hot and bothered is the thought of government taking on more responsibility to fight this deepening recession, and the huge amount of public spending it will take to pull the economy out of the doldrums.

It so happened that the Republican standard-bearer in the 1920s, Herbert Hoover, felt that way, too.

Hoover's distaste for government, and his belief that business was the answer to the country's economic tailspin, got Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected president in 1932

Hoover was hardly the "standard-bearer in the 1920s" as he became President only in March 1929. And he definitely did not have "distaste for government". As Rothbard documents in his boom America's great depression ( An excerpt from the chapter specifically on Hoover can be read here) he was the most activist government the United States had ever had at the time, and expanded government more than anyone had in peace time. And you don't have to read Rothbard to get that confirmed. As you can see on the Bureau of Economic Analysis web page, government purchases increased from 9.0% of GDP in 1929 to 14.8% in 1932 and in fact increased in not just in relative but in absolute terms in both 1930 and 1931.

Add to that Hoover's protectionism and his wage controls, and you can see that he had anything but "distaste for government".


Blogger Aragon said...

Interestingly this myth about pro-market Herb doesn't die although a relatively new biography of Hoover by Joan Hoff Wilson is titled ”Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive”.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Ke said...

It's amazing how history can be rewritten in just a few decades.

7:34 PM  

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