Monday, April 20, 2009

Finally, The Truth About Herbert Hoover, FDR, the Great Depression and the New Deal

A great and dangerous myth exists that Herbert Hoover was a do nothing president and that his laissez faire attitude toward the economy resulted in the prolonging of the Great Depression. The myth continues with the claim that it was the activist policies of Franklin Roosevelt that finally turned the economy around.

This myth is so prevalent that the current President, in his inaugural address, touched on the myth as a source of inspiration during the current downturn. "[We] saw a nation [during the FDR era] conquer fear itself, and a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can," said President Barack Obama.

Belief in this myth leads to economic policies that are downright dangerous. The myth needs to be slayed so that the country can be put back on a road to sound economic policy.

Fortunately, a myth slayer has stepped up to do the job. In his new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal, Robert P. Murphy has brilliantly destroyed the inaccurate beliefs that are held by many about the policies that were conducted by Herbert Hoover and FDR . Government interventionists have lost a major justification for their interventionist schemes.

In his book, Murphy methodically reviews and rips through Hoover actions that prolonged the depression. From Hoover's attempts to prop up wages, Hoover's crippling of international trade, and Hoover's tax and spend policies, it is all reported and analyzed here.

Murphy doesn't stop there, he details the outrages of FDR's New Deal. From bank holidays to going off the gold standard. From Social Security to the WPA (the Works Progress Administration). It's all dissected and demolished.

With the stamina of a master slayer, Murphy is not finished with destroying the myth about Hoover and the outrages of the FDR administration. He goes on to slay the myth of World War II as ending the depression and bringing prosperity.

Finally, he looks at the current economic condition and explains how the Federal Reserve was responsible for the housing bubble and, also, reports that "Barack Obama does sound like FDR" and discusses lessons for today from the Great Depression

Through out the book, Murphy maintains a breezy style, making the book easy to read, even fun. He is not only a master slayer, but rescues from the dust bins of history, true heroes of the era. By the end of the book, you will be cheering for Murphy's heroes, President Calvin Coolidge and Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. Time after time, after Murphy has completely destroyed an error in the thinking of Hoover or FDR, and you are certain the entire world has gone mad, Murphy brings balance back to the picture by quoting from the reasoned thinking of Coolidge or Mellon.

And, if you are a reader of New York Times columnists, you will never look at the analysis of the Keynesian, Nobel Prize winning, columnist Paul Krugman the same again. Murphy takes nearly a full chapter to destroy the Hoover myths as spread by Krugman.

If you don't know the complete story behind the myths of the Hoover and FDR eras, this book is must reading. The details you will learn will be a new weapon in your arsenal the next time someone says the Great Depression was extended because of the do nothing attitude of Herbert Hoover.

If you are simply a concerned citizen who never before paid much attention to the causes of the Great Depression and what finally ended it, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It's relevancy to current day economic policy debate is obvious.


  1. Another forgotten aspect of Hoover's career was his lifelong and consistent anti-war attitude. He was arguably the most "antiwar" President and / ex-President of the 20th century. So maybe we should remember both his foreign and domestic policies, honour the first and avoid repeating the second.

  2. My grampa died in 1968. I remember him saying president Hoover was blamed for everything and is the most misunderstood man ever. I had no idea what he meant but I do now! We have been force-fed liberal activist media since prior to WWI. We haven't had balanced media in at least 110 years, maybe longer, maybe never. Today's "progressive" big gov't/big business and media types see us as a resource to be exploited and controlled, not individuals to be well represented and treated with respect. That is why the news media do not inform us, but rather tell us what to think.

  3. In 1957 I wrote a term paper for my college history class revealing these same facts concerning the depression. Much to my horror, the class instructor lambasted the paper and disputed every thought favorable to President Hoover. He was a died-in-the-wool new deal proponent, a staunch Democrat who grew up during the depression, and was fed reverence for FDR in his mother's milk.