Friday, July 29, 2011


Memory of Herbert Clark Hoover

I was five years old when Mr. Hoover was elected.  I was not paying attention to politics then and I have no memory of the 1928 election.  All I know about it comes from reading and watching television.  I once read that Mr. Hoover had some plans for easing the misery of the Great Depression.  The Democrats controlled the Senate - or at least they could use the 2/3 vote to end a filibuster rule then in effect - and refused to enact any of Mr. Hoover's plans.  It was left for the next President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to use some of Mr. Hoover's ideas and enjoy the credit for trying to ease the pain of the depression.

Poor Hoover!  For two generations the public blamed him for the depression and for not doing anything about it.  We now accept as fact that Hoover did not cause the depression.  The blame has to be assigned mostly to his immediate Republican predecessors, Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding.  Of course they weren't totally at fault, either.  Mostly the depression just happened because of the bursting of a bubble of speculation about eleven months after Hoover was elected.  People didn't know then how to prevent such speculative bubbles.  We don't know how to today, although there are valuable lessons from the history of the 1929 crash and the following world-wide recession that we should study today.

Are the Republicans in Congress hoping to do to President Obama what the Democrats did to President Hoover eighty years ago?  There are some similarities.  Both men inherited situations that were largely the fault of their predecessors.  Both men had proposals for shortening ans easing the recession/depression that were stymied by one of the Houses of Congress.  The opposing party was more eager in winning the next Presidential election than in doing anything effective about the economy.

I think this is a good analogy.  What do you think?

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