Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Herbert Hoover, Wild-Eyed Activist

Here's my just-submitted letter to the editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
In chiding the House for initially rejecting the Wall Street bailout plan, you wrote, "Monday’s performance in the House, or rather non-performance, would have made Herbert Hoover look like a wild-eyed activist." But considering that after the stock market crash in 1929, Hoover raised taxes; signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which destroyed world trade; created the Reconstruction Finance Corp. to funnel taxpayer money to failing railroads and banks; and jawboned employers to keep wages up while the Federal Reserve shrunk the money supply by a third -- Hoover WAS a wild-eyed activist. And his activism helped turn a recession into the Great Depression.

Since your economics is no better than your history, I'd say the House was right the first time.


Rorshak (1313) said...

How did Hoover get to be known as a "do nothing"? It seems after all that there's no way anyone could see him that way.

Sheldon Richman said...

A couple of reasons explain this. First, Hoover later criticized FDR for not relying on voluntarism. Remember, he jawboned employers to keep wages up when prices were falling. He didn't ask for an act of Congress. (Of course, his tax increase was not voluntary--don't look for logic here.)

Second, Roosevelt's idolaters and American left-statists in general had a stake in magnifying FDR's "achievement." Their cause was helped by portraying Hoover as a do-nothing laissez-faire advocate. Rothbard has several informative essays on the real Hoover. See my article "America's Engineer" here.

The best line about Hoover came from either William Appleman Williams or another New Left historian: Hoover was not the last of the old presidents. He was the first of the new.