blame Hoover for the right reasons

There are many pernicious myths of modern history — about the Industrial Revolution versus the working poor, about Jefferson versus Hamilton, about Lincoln versus slavery, about robber barons, railroads, trusts, imperialism, central banking, labor unions, and on and on — but in our current situation, the most dangerous of all these myths is probably the old canard that Hoover’s laissez-faire policies got us into the Great Depression and that FDR’s New Deal got us out. The first piece to take apart is the claim that Hoover’s policies were laissez-faire. Yes we should blame him for the severity and length of the early Depression, but to portray him as a president who was unwilling to intervene in the economy is to get his legacy exactly backwards. See chapter 7 of Murray Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression: “Prelude to Depression: Mr. Hoover and Laissez-Faire.”

Postscript: Paul Marks, in a comment at the Mises Blog, calls this chapter “A good section of a good book,” but does see a couple of weak spots. Here’s one:

I am not sure that the oft repeated claim that Hoover supported laissez-faire is an “ironic twist of fate” – after all this claim was first made by people who knew perfectly well that Hoover was an ardent interventionist.

So “bare faced lie” would be more accurate than “ironic twist of fate”.

Of course, now several generations have passed, people (such as media types) who make the “Hoover was a free market person” assumption are NOT telling lies – they are simply comming out with the nonsense they were taught at school and college.

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2 Responses to blame Hoover for the right reasons

  1. Jeremy says:

    Sorry, this is bugging me to no end… what is the pernicious myth about Hamilton vs. Jefferson to which you refer?

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