Steve Horwitz has a new briefing paper on Hoover. I'm a little curious about phrases like this: "Hoover's big-spending, interventionist policies prolonged the Great Depression, and similar policies today could do similar damage." That seems a little strong. Big spending? I'd have added a "-ger" to the end of Horwitz's chosen adjective. And "interventionist" is pretty vague too (it's such a strange word - "interventionist" - as if tariffs and tax increases are interchangeable with public investments or targeted tax cuts... it seems to me that talking about "interventionism" in general doesn't get you very far).
This is the fate of Hoover, though. It is bound to happen when anyone talks about him. Hoover was not the Ron Paul of 1931. But he wasn't the FDR of 1931 either. Is he the "father of the New Deal" as Horwitz asserts, or is he a "moderately proactive Andrew Mellon"? That's really in the eyes of the beholder, is it not?
Is he a "big spender" or was he just a "bigger spender" but not a "big spender"? Again - interpreting the facts is trickier than it first appears. One thing is for sure - and Horwitz does a service by pointing this out - he was not a smaller spender.
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