Monday, August 24, 2009

The Hoover myth

The more I read about Herbert Hoover the more astounded I become that this guy has somehow become synonymous in popular culture with a hands-off laissez-faire approach to the economy. From wikipedia:
After his successful election in November 1928, Hoover entered office with a plan for reform of the nation's regulatory system. A dedicated Progressive and Reformer, Hoover saw the presidency as a vehicle for improving the conditions of all Americans by regulation and by encouraging volunteerism. Long before he entered politics he denounced laissez-faire thinking. As Commerce Secretary he had taken an active pro-regulation stance. As President, he helped push tariff and farm subsidy bills through Congress.
I've already written about Hoover's statist approach to the economy here and here. Other actions undertaken by Hoover:
  • Canceled private oil leases on government lands
  • Appointed a commission which set aside 3 million acres (12,000 km²) of national parks and 2.3 million acres (9,000 km²) of national forests
  • Doubled the number of veteran's hospital facilities
  • Wrote a Children's Charter that advocated protection of every child regardless of race or gender
  • Created an antitrust division in the Justice Department
  • Required air mail carriers to adopt stricter safety measures and improve service
  • Proposed federal loans for urban slum clearances (not enacted)
  • Proposed a federal Department of Education (not enacted)
  • Advocated fifty-dollar-per-month pensions for Americans over 65 (not enacted)
  • Chaired White House conferences on child health, protection, homebuilding and homeownership
Don Boudreaux, meanwhile, highlights Hoover's statement that he rejected the advice of "reactionary economists [who] urged that we should allow the liquidation to take its course until it had found its own bottom." Hoover may have been many things, but an economic libertarian he certainly wasn't.

No comments: